Sunday, October 28, 2007

On an old concessions trailer

For all those who enjoy Coca-Cola and who also enjoy Iowa:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Changing the American Way of Life

This past Wednesday evening I attended a lecture/seminar called "The Long Emergency" by James Kunstler. He is a writer and he has published a book called "The Geography of Nowhere" and "The Long Emergency." Both books criticize American suburbia and American consumerism.

Keep in mind that I am attending a secular university and should not expect that all those who come to campus and gives talks are going to be Christian, conservative, well-thought speakers. With that being said, Kunstler had a lot of good things to say as well as a lot of terrible things. The topic was on the declining state of American society... or I guess, the American way of life. Kunstler believes that the oil crisis is now and it will cause major disruptions in the very near future. He says our dependency on being a consumer society is the cause for alarm and that way of life is not sustainable at all.

Since he is a journalist and non-scientific most of what he talks about is his own opinion. Coming from a scientific background I wanted more evidence out of his message. Since he is a "registered democrat" (which isn't bad per se) and very liberal (which is bad when you are extreme about it), he likes to criticize evangelicals and republicans. (I don't want to sound like I am taking sides; there is nothing wrong with registering as "democrat" or "republican" as a Christian.) Kunstler likes to stick his head out there and say things that will provoke and eventually anger. It didn't help that he was quite vulgar and his language was crude. Anyway, most of all, since he is very cynical and pessimistic, I felt very let down and somewhat disheartened with his speech. I think it should be presented without crude jokes and sexual innuendos as that would probably help him be received with more validity.

As Christians, we can learn a lot from Mr. Kunstler. We can learn that we must critically think through the behavior our daily life and see the consequences of that behavior. However, we must be more optimistic since our hope is in God. Actually, during the lecture, Kunstler said that we were probably wondering where the hope was. He said that we had to generate our own hope. Well, thankfully Christians know where their hope lies. We can also learn from Mr. Kunstler that seeing the negative in everything (which is really what he is doing) doesn't provide a fruitful path of change.

So I will leave you with a quote I recently found on a great blog, Fire and Knowledge:
The first thing we must begin to teach our children (and learn ourselves) is that we cannot spend and consume endlessly. We have got to learn to save and conserve. We do need a “new economy,” but one that is founded on thrift and care, on saving and conserving, not on excess and waste. An economy based on waste is inherently and hopelessly violent, and war is its inevitable by-product. We need a peaceable economy.
--Wendell Berry, “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear”
Berry can be our Christian version of Mr. Kunstler.