My 21 month old granddaughter is into saying “mine.”  It’s cute when a toddler says it, but that attitude is the cause of many problems when adults think like toddlers.

“Mine” thinking has terrible implications for our home the Planet Earth.

The psalmist says, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.”  That’s the view of Jews, Muslims and Christians.  We don’t own anything.  We’re living in a big, beautiful, amazing mansion, so to speak, and we’re allowed to enjoy it, but we’re always to remember that we’re guests here.  The owner wants us to enjoy our time in the mansion, but to remember that we cannot do anything we want in it.  The owner has set rules:

  1. because the Owner knows that without rules, we misuse what we’re given;
  2. because the Owner wants the mansion to be habitable for future generations;

Euclid Methodist Church is in the vanguard of the green movement, not only in Oak Park but in the nation.  Their parking has water permeable paving.  Their building is heated and cooled with geothermal, and they have 99 solar panels on their roof.  In their social hall they have three containers for waste—one for composting, one for recycling and one for trash to go to the landfill.  On their bulletin covers is printed, “This Congregation is powered by geothermal and solar energies and God’s Love!”

Last weekend, May 1-2, they held what they called an Earth Revival.  At the Friday service the preacher was the Rev. Otis Moss III who said in his sermon that theological thinking has to be connected to ecological thinking because the earth belongs to God and recognizing our place in God’s economy means acknowledging they we are called to be stewards of creation, i.e. with vocation of caring for what belongs to God instead of exploiting it.

At the end of the service, worshipers were invited to make the following pledge.

            A pledge to the next generation

  • I pledge to re-direct my life, through sacrifice, action and prayer, into one of stewardship of God’s creation.
  • I pledge to model with my words, my attitudes and my actions, a lifestyle that demonstrates a commitment to the next generation.
  • I pledge to advocate for policies and practices that forge a more sustainable and creation-aware path into the future.

The following day Euclid held a workshop at which participants could explore several courses of action to restore the earth and live green.

“Mine” thinking has terrible implications for the human ecology we call society as well.  I heard a 20something woman explain why she doesn’t think she should be forced to buy health insurance. “I’m young and healthy,” she said.  “I don’t need a lot of medical care, so I wouldn’t get my money’s worth for what I would spend on insurance.”

The lady just didn’t get it.  Insurance, by definition, is a lot of people pooling some of their assets, so when some of them need financial help, those who do not in effect pay for the health care of those who do.  It’s a classic expression of “I am my brothers’ keeper.”

Ironically, it was the father of communism, Karl Marx, who held up what sounds like a very Christian principle for organizing the human ecology: “From each according to their ability; to each according to their need.”

Almost everybody I know agrees that it takes a village to raise a child, but when it comes to investing time, talent and treasure into maintaining the village, many beg off the responsibility with excuses like “I don’t have children” or “that’s what we pay the government to do.”

“Mine” is cute coming from a toddler.  It’s a sign of immaturity coming from an adult.

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Tom Holmes

Tom's been writing about religion – broadly defined – for years in the Journal. Tom's experience as a retired minister and his curiosity about matters of faith will make for an always insightful exploration...