A few months ago Rich Blinne posted on the Voices blog a discussion of the BP Gulf oil spill entitled “Where’s the outrage?”–no doubt a warranted critique of evangelical Christians’ response to the human caused disaster. But now that the leak has been stopped–also due to human effort–I have wondered “Where’s the rejoicing?” Indeed, we had prayers in our church about the disaster–prayers of confession and supplications that God would help us put a stop to the spewing of oil into the gulf and that he would assist us in recovering from all the environmental damage. I continue to hear from Christian environmentalist groups that the Gulf spill is an example of human exploitation of the environment and a sin against God and his good creation.
But where is the acknowledgment of the “end” of the disaster? Where is the thanks to God that the well has been capped? Where is the recognition that accomplishing this was due to human technological innovation? Where is the admission that the stopping of the leak was an act of dominion, stewardship, preservation, and even earthkeeping? And while I do hear some reports about the environmental recovery effort (both human and “natural”), I’m not hearing a lot. It leads me to think that things are not as bad as some thought they would be or as bad as they could have been. And what of the good that might come out of this? Safety features for future drilling operations. More consistent enforcement of regulations.
I wonder if this is not the ordinary process of technological innovation in a fallen world. We use the gifts and resources that God has given us. Most of us in the green camp who are Christians would admit that use of these resources is part of our earthkeeping task. We must be responsible with the risks but we must admit that hardly any technology is zero-risk. Sometimes we don’t even know the risks (or at least their magnitude) until disaster strikes. Then we use our God-given abilities, resources and mandates to figure out how to fix what we broke and move on to a better future stewardship.