December 1, 2020

Open Mic: The Gulf Oil Disaster

By Chaplain Mike

Though I’ve made my opinions clear about “culture war” political machinations, I have also tried to say that Christians should care about public issues.

With that in mind, I’ve been waiting and watching for Christian spokespersons to weigh in about the Deepwater/BP oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico from a Christian perspective. I’ve wondered about the silence of the evangelical community. Perhaps I’ve missed some commentary, I don’t know.

At any rate, today, I found two articles:

I encourage the IM audience to read these responses and step up to the mic to discuss the whole matter of the Gulf disaster.

Are there ways to look at this crisis through “Jesus-shaped” eyes? What should characterize a distinctively Christian response to this tragedy?


  1. Allen Krell says

    Mr . Moore did a great job stating that the depravity of mankind applies equally to corporations. Along with my journey in the post evangelical wilderness, I also left a good job in a mega corporation where I saw the depravity caused by sin. We may never know what happened on that rig, but I know from personal experience that money and schedule in large corporations override all. I also have seen where the depravity equally applies to the government workers who are supposed to be monitoring the corporation.

    And while we are on the subject, the next time you use your consumer electronic device made in China, look at Foxconn.

  2. This event calls two doctrines to my mind that tie together how we should approach issues like off shore drilling. The first is stewardship and the second is the cultural mandate. The whole earth belongs to God and how we treat His stuff reflects our relationship with Him. But He also gave us this stewardship so that we might use these resources for human flourishing. That requires energy which is efficiently provided by oil. I’m still in favour of off-shore drilling and I’m even more in favour of mandatory redundant safety systems on industrial projects.

  3. Savannah says

    This incredible disaster seems to underscore the tenuousness of the whole off-shore drilling situation, as more and more is coming to light about the actual infrastructure, and not just that owned and operated by BP.

    The bottom line is that we have to break our dependency on fossil fuels and learn other ways to live and get around. It is possible, but we, thus far, have not seemed to have the will to start bringing these things about. I don’t want to pay $5 or $6 per gallon of gas any more than the next person, but that may be what it will take. We cannot just continue to pillage the earth in the name of “dominion” and “stewardship”.

    At least this has mercifully shut up the “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd.


    • There is apparently plenty of oil in Alaska, but some people are afraid that a few reindeer might be scared by the sight of an oil pump. Plus, land-based oil wells are easier to cap than those a mile underwater. On the other hand, a hundreds-and-thousands-of-miles-long land-based oil pipeline is harder to protect from terrorist (including Islamic as well as eco terrorists) attacks than a single offshore oil well rig.

      We aren’t breaking our dependency on fossil fuels anytime in the next 100 years, esp. since the military is perhaps the largest consumer/user of such.

      Drill, Baby, Drill for oil and natural gas, as well as Dig, Baby, Dig for coal, is the proper policy for now and the foreseeable long future, though I assume cities could do more conversions of their buses to natural gas to lessen use of gasoline and hence oil.


      • You way over simplify things.

        In the Alaska and similar places there are huge issues to deal with when drilling. One rule that the oil companies don’t like is you can’t drill a well unless you can drill a relief well in the same season. Because you can’t drill in the winter. So if there’s a blowout you must have time before everything freeze over to drill a relief well without waiting for spring.

        And on top of that drilling is just plain messy. Very messy. And it’s hard to deal with the mess when it’s in the frozen north.

        I’m not for banning drilling in Alaska, but doing with with the risks taken into account in a realistic manner.

        As to the military being the biggest user of fossil fuels, I’d like to see a source on that.

    • Christiane says

      Unfortunately not.
      The Republican governor of Virginia is ‘full steam ahead’ on drilling off the Virgina coasts.
      He is a ‘conservative’ with all that means in the fundamentalist extremist sense of the word.
      Problem: more states than Virginia will be affected if faulty deep water drilling equipment and techniques ruin the Chesapeake Bay. When the oil companies, for profit, take out the Bay, they will move on to the next gulf or bay and leave behind a ruined way of life like no other.

      For a while, there is a ‘hold’ on drilling off the Virginia shores.

      But it is just a ‘hold’.

      The governor WILL procede eventually.
      His politics and his ‘religion’ support ‘laissez-faire’ captilism.
      “It’s ‘get out of the way’ and let us use these resources. Government interference is the problem.”

      Some things never change. Mendacity rules in capitalism.
      Not even common sense warnings could over-ride what happened on that rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
      And the extremist fundamentalist Christians? It was ‘theodicy’, an act of God.
      And the REPUBLICANS? ‘it was God’s Will’.
      Sure. And on to the next oil disaster.

      Who was it who wrote ‘this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. ????’
      Talk about prophecy.

      • And so much for the argument that off-shore drilling is “safe”.

        It doesn’t matter that it’s environmentally safe “most” of the time; as horrific as this disaster is it shows that when something bad happens it is quite likely horrifically bad. So I hope that it does not happen off the coast of VA. From what my wife tells me (I haven’t been following the news as closely as I ought), the coast of VA is going to see effects from this current disaster as it is, due to ocean currents.

      • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

        I think the oil spill is an act of God as in God is giving us a good old fashioned spanking for our greed, our refusal to make even small life styles adjustments that could significantly reduce our dependence on oil, and our arrogance in thinking that somewhere in the Bible or the Constitution our right to drive gas guzzling tanks is guaranteed.

        My goal during the warm weather months (I’m in Virginia too) is to ride my bike anywhere I need to go within 3 miles of home. This is for health/weight loss as well as for reducing my dependence on oil. But, since it has turned hot here over the last couple of weeks an astounding number of people have pulled up along side of me, rolled down their window, and informed me that it’s too hot to be riding a bike. I told the last one to mind his own buisness.

        Right now, one of the things I’m really struggling with is the fact that my meeting (I’m a Quaker) is a good ten miles from my home. I have to drive there. Is it right to do that when there’s probably any one of a dozen or more churches within biking distance – that while probably not as good as my meeting – would be okay.

        • Ya know, I’ve never been big on the whole environmentalist thingy, especially after the whole “global warming” thing. But recently, with the whole oil spill thingy, I’ve really been thinking…. Riding a bike is sounding better and better every moment. In fact, I actually want to do that. I really need it for my health, but it will also ease my budget, the environment, and assuage my white guilt. Win/win, imo. I think it will become more popular soon.

          • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

            Miguel – according to the American League of Bicyclists, the average cost of maintaining a car for a year is $3000, and that is if you don’tt have a payment. If you do have a payment, it’s closer to $8000. The cost of owning and operating a car is second only to the cost of housing. It costs less than $300 a year to maintain a bicycle. That doesn’t count the year you buy the bike. I just bought a new bike this year. With all the modifications I’ve had done on it, it’s cost me about $800. But, I’ve made MY bike, so that I want to ride it.

            And once you start riding you’ll start finding little benefits you never dreamed of. The other day, I got caught a a railroad crossing. We were all sitting there a good 20 minutes. The benefit? While I was sitting there – another cyclist and two pedestrians came up and we all just chatted while we waited for the train to pass. These people aren’t going to become my life long pals. I’ll probably never see them again. But, it was pleasant, and it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been sitting in my car. I could tell you hundreds of stories like that. A guy I know through my gym told me it always amuses him when he sees me out on my bike because I always look like I’m having fun. I thought to myself, “Well, that’s because I am having fun.”

          • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

            Oh and I was going to add when I drive my car every day, I spend between $30-40 a week on gas. When I ride my bike I spend about $10.

  4. This is a tragic disaster and one that we should be praying fervently for a quick end.

    At least one issue that needs to be addressed in the aftermath of this incident is deep-water drilling. One of the main reasons that BP is having such a challenging time capping this leak is the depths / conditions in which they have to work. The intense pressure, inaccessibility, darkness, and dependence upon robots are all factors. My friends in the industry are quick to say that had this happened in 200′ of water it would have likely been resolved shortly after the fire was extinguished.

    Let’s pray, stop finger-pointing, and learn from all of this.

  5. “Evangelicals for Social Action” posted this link on their Facebook page:

  6. I wonder why we haven’t heard the usual buffoons talking about “the judgment of God on the people of the Gulf Coast.”

  7. Dan Allison says

    The rich protect themselves from things like this. Oil spills never threaten the Hamptons, Cape Cod, or Martha’s Vineyard.

    • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

      It will if there’s a hurricane and it rains oil all the way up the coast. Where do hurricanes form and get their water from? The Gulf – which means that a good hurricane could pick up thousands of gallons of oil and carry it up the eastern sea board. We are screwed in ways we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

      • Christiane says

        I don’t think the oil will be in the rain.
        I don’t think that it works that way when water ‘evaporates’ from the Gulf, the vapor rises and condenses into cloud form.

        But the CURRENTS . . .. OH WOW . . . .

        • Hurricane formation takes place in the Atlantic. However, once a hurricane is formed, it does not rely on evaporation alone to fuel it. It will actually scoop up water from the ocean (or Gulf) surface and transport it far inland.

      • A guy on the radio this morning, a resident of the bootheel(?) area of Louisiana, said that if a hurricane occurs and picks up and dumps the oily water in their marshes, etc., they’ll be financially destroyed. So there is a real fear of what hurricanes may do – not because of the rain but because of what they’ll blow/dump with the rain.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Oil spills never threaten the Hamptons, Cape Cod, or Martha’s Vineyard.

      That’s because drilling is banned anywhere near there in the name of SAAAAAAVING the PLAAAAAAAANET…

  8. I have a question.
    What would make a response to this disaster Christian?
    Is a response Christian because it quotes the Bible in making a judgment concerning this disaster, a judgment that is otherwise shared by most if not all?
    Is a response Christian because a Christian has uttered it?
    Is a response Christian because most or all Christians share the same sentiments, along with everyone else in America?
    What would make the response Christian?

    That said I think this is a total disaster, and I wish someone would fix it already. And there better be inspections happening at every other oil rig in U.S. Waters. BP, ought to be paying the families of fishermen effected salaries for a decade or longer. And be refused the right to drill or make a profit until the mess is cleaned up.

    • Good questions.

      Esp. since we can’t even seem to agree on what a “Christian” is other than to say that it probably has something to do with believing something(s) about Jesus Christ. Once we get more specific than that, the arguments begin.

  9. It is tragic, but all of these comments and articles have been written on keyboards made with plastic which is a by product of oil.
    This virtual Christian community would not be here without it.
    I’m not a fan of the oil barons, but it looks like we’ve painted ourselves into a corner.

    Now, let’s talk about all of the trees that have been sacrificed so we can read the Word of God…

    • Christiane says

      My, my. One wonders how the early Christians could possibly have converted the Roman Empire without the oil companies.

    • “trees that have been sacrificed”?

      Methinks thou dost protest too much. Trees grown for paper and lumber are replanted/replaced by the companies that grow and harvest them for paper and lumber.

      “Now, let’s talk about all of the tomato plants and corn plants and bean plants that have been sacrificed so we can eat tomatoes and corn and beans.” 😮

      • EricW, True. Woe to all tomatoes!

        We can make more oil too…it just takes a long, long, time…no matter how old you think the planet is.

        My real point is, we don’t think about using the products produced by the good earth until something goes wrong.

        I can see by your earlier comments you know the drill. (No pun intended)

        Christiane, I did say “this VIRTUAL Christian community”. I was not referring to the one in the real world. Personal testimony is the most effective witnessing tool.

        • Christiane says

          Would you have had a ‘virtual Christian community’ were it not for the ones who came before us?

          Or did Christianity begin with the Reformation ?
          Or maybe with the advent of capitalism ?

          Strange this is a topic here.

          On another blog I follow, the theme is the need for money in order to spread the Gospel.
          I suppose if the ideas on that blog are to be seen as valid, then we must also consider the early Christians to have maintained tremendous wealth, when you look at how THEY were able to spread the Gospel in the world at that time.

          Thanks for listening to me rant, but sometimes it is good to vent.
          Wished I’d done it sooner.

          • Glad to provide the opportunity for the rant.

            The subject of this particular blog being the oil problem, I was simply referring to the technology that makes this web site and our participation on it possible. The keyboards and many of the components in our computers are made of plastic or some other byproduct of oil.

            As far as money to spread the gospel, well, I guess you might need some. My take on true Christianity is that it is something way beyond anything that is man made.

            God is Spirit and should be worshiped in spirit.

      • THANKS Eric… you’ve awakened the KILLER TOMATOES……..there WILL be retribution, and something colored red spilled……..just watch….

      • Actually growing tomatoes causes a huge loss of trees. You see everyone grows too many and they take paper grocery bags, fill them up with their surplus, then leave them on neighbor’s porches. Usually in the middle of the night so people are excused from making up wild lies, err reasons, as to why they can’t accept them.


    Over at Sojournor’s they’ve been writing from a Christian perspective about the oil disaster for weeks now.

    • I was just about to post a sojo link. Thanks!

    • I, for one, would expect a socially conscious org like Sojourners to be commenting. I’ve been anxious to see what the more conservative voices would say.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I’ve been anxious to see what the more conservative voices would say.

        Given my experience in-country years ago, I’m half-expecting a claim that this Fufills such-and-such End Time Prophecy.

        Or this is all God’s Punishment on us for culture war cause du jour — remember Pat Robertson after Katrina & Haiti and Jerry Falwell after 9/11?

  11. Allen Krell says

    Most comments on this blog are missing the point. To me, it is not about whether we should drill or not, the point is the inherent depravity of humankind and the effect of this depravity on the Earth that God created.

    I notice, in general, most Atheists and Agnostics I talk to understand this depravity better than most of us evangelicals/post-evangelicals.

  12. I think both these articles are good. Maybe another theme that Christians ought to bear in mind is God’s redemptive power. We mess things up. He wipes the slate absolutely clean.

    Remember Ixtoc 1?

    Chances are good that you don’t, but it was the biggest oil spill in history, apart from the deliberate destruction of Kuwaiti wells by Iraq in the first Persian Gulf War. (Exxon Valdex ranks 35th in the all-time list of oil spills.)

    Ixtoc 1 gushed oil for 290 days into the Gulf of Mexico, and at a faster rate than Deepwater Horizon is doing now. Shrimp and other wildlife were devastated. Yet two years later, the shrimp harvests were back to near normal.

    The human irresponsibility and negligence was horrible. But God’s power to do good was greater.

  13. Interesting quote in an op-ed article in the NY Times, by Paul Krugman:

    “If this sounds familiar, it should: it’s the same formula the right has been using for a generation. Use identity politics to whip up the base; then, when the election is over, give priority to the concerns of your corporate donors. Run as the candidate of “real Americans…”

    I have seen this for years, and wondered why no one noticed. Religious conservatives push to elect representatives who once in office do little on “moral” issues, but sell the farm to corporate interests. It’s almost like the religious conservatives know how the game is played and go out of their way not to criticize the corporations who are also funding their candidates.

    • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

      I’ve been noticing THAT for years. The Republican party throws abortion and gay marriage to the Christian right to get them on their side – yet almost every one of their other positions is decidedly un-Christian. But, somehow because of the abortion and gay marriage thing – the Christian right has adopted those values and who gives a rat’s patootie what the Bible says anyway?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        The Republican party throws abortion and gay marriage to the Christian right to get them on their side – yet almost every one of their other positions is decidedly un-Christian.

        Abortion and Homosexuality are Automatic Red Murder Flags for Christian Culture War Activists. Once the Red Murder Flag is raised, the wall in the mind slams down and there is no more conscious thought, only pure duckspeak.

        Stimulus –> Response.

      • You know, the tenor here is really decaying, especially for a peace-lovin’ Quaker. I get it: you vote liberal because you think it best reflects your Christian principles. And I vote conservative for the same reason. I think it’s dangerously arrogant to spew blanket “un-Christian” about one party or other. Neither reflects the glory of Christ, neither is perfect. I know several committed liberal Christians. We all give a rat’s patootie what the Bible says, but I have come to notably different conclusions from you. Please simmer down.

        • In reading Frankie Schaeffer’s book, Crazy for God, he said that early on the pro-life movement was nonpartisan. At the time, the Democrats seemed to be a more natural fit than the Republicans for the nascent Moral Majority but they were rebuffed by the Democrats. I long for the day when Christians once again become nonpartisan seeing both the good and evil in both parties and advocating for issues rather than parties.

        • I think it’s dangerously arrogant to spew blanket “un-Christian” about one party or other.

          Every human soul matters.
          Every relationship matters.
          The creation matters.

          But ideologies don’t matter at all. Nobody will enter heaven because of the good work he did for his party. Oughtn’t Christians to hold all political parties in contempt?

          Maybe the best thing is to ignore political parties and ideologies utterly and look for right action where ever it can be found. But showing the fault in a thing that is, in fact, fundamentally un-Christian, can’t be wrong.

          If the pot and the kettle are both black, it is not wrong to comment on the blackness of either. Only when we claim one or the other is better than it is do we begin to err.

        • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

          Actually, I hate on both parties equally. As far as I’m concerned they’re just two sides of the same wooden nickle. That’s just the bone I see the Republicans throwing to the Christian right. The Dems throw out things like (supposedly) workers rights, universal health care, and other social justice issues that many Christians care about, but then they support things that are decidedly un-Christian.

          I hate election time because if I’m going to vote, I have to choose between the lesser of two evils. But, ultimately, it is still choosing evil.

      • Christopher Lake says

        Melissa, it is your opinion that “almost every other one of their (the Republican party’s) other positions is decidedly unChristian.” Opinion does not *necessarily* equate to objective fact.

  14. I think our response should be a little more even-handed. It wasn’t simply BP’s fault or the government’s. Both were involved. It seems conservatives (of which I am one) tend to blame government, while liberals are equally spring-loaded to blame corporations. As Christians, we understand the depravity in which man cuts corners to save a buck, regardless of his employment. Yet we also see the ingenuity and creativity of man set loose in the free markets. I think oil is a great resource, but it is a huge tragedy that this leak has occurred.

    I just thought of Gal. 6:1, where those who are spiritual are to restore one caught in a sin with gentleness, looking to our own weakness. Perhaps, applied to the public square, we as Christians ought to still call for justice and wrongs to be righted while graciously realizing our own incompetencies in our own jobs and political blind spots.

    • Petersen says

      BP did more than cut corners to save a buck. Eleven people were killed when the rig blew up, starting all this. It’s strange that law ‘n order Americans seldom hold corporations to the same standard they hold a criminal street gang, even when the corporation’s actions are much worse.

      • It is tragic, and that can be the result of cutting corners. We all ought to take our ethical commitment to our jobs seriously, again regardless of employment, realizing that by nature we are no different than those who skirted standards and skimped on quality both in BP and in the government causing those deaths.

  15. This appears to be a straightforward case of human evil. Corruption, willful negligence, and perhaps even criminal activity, resulting in ecological catastrophe. It even appears to be more sloth-driven than greed-driven which seems almost worse, because it indicates the wantonness of evil perpetrated against even one’s own self-interest.. Christians wanting to talk about it would do well to point to their governing authorities’ God-appointed responsibility to punish evil.

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.(Rom13)

    • LightTheFires says

      This might this just be an accident. Stuff happens. The poltics of blame just drives me nuts. Get over it please and acknowledge that all of us are accountable for the ecological disasters that our life style choices bring. Most of us drive cars, we heat and cool our homes with electricity, buy food and other things were brought to our neighborhood stores via large truck, rail car etc. Besides the Amish, does anyone honestly want to roll the clock back to 1850? Very unlikely. Indoor plumbing is great. I love the fact that I can get FRESH FRUIT IN JANUARY IN MINNESOTA!

      All of this comes at a price and every now and again we have to pay the piper. This isn’t Obama’s fault and it doesn’t belong entirely to BP either. We share it folks…

      • Christiane says

        The oil industry has lobbied for its own interests for decades.
        Our politicians took their money . . . er, ‘contributions’
        but WE VOTED REPUBLICAN . . . . because those politicians SAID they were ‘pro-life’ . . . anti-gay-marriage . . . . and anti gov’t restrictions on idustry that limit laissez-faire capitalism.

        yeah . . . the responsibility is as broadly spread as the oil slick in the Gulf, isn’t it.

  16. Jeff Lee says

    I think a response is Christian if it reflects a Christian worldview. However, as noted, what that worldview should be is subject to some debate.

    At any rate, the Orthodox Christian worldview is, I think, well reflected in this statement.

    Now, I do tend to disagree with the Patriarch’s views on Global Warming, as I think there are numerous problems with both the science and the conclusions, but the underlying understanding of our responsibility to care for the environment is, I think, quite sound. At least from an Orthodox perspective. I would argue from a strictly biblical one, as well.

  17. Oil. It is a tough issue. Whenever I read about it in the context of Christian stewardship, the focus seems to mainly be on things lik edriving SUVs, disasters like this BP mess, pollution and fat-cat CEOs.

    Yet, I cannot help but think about how oil have given us plastic and how that innovation has been so incredibly helpful in fields like medicine and in technology for the disabled. It is great that a person might give up driving his vehicle for walking or bicycling, but I thinking of the few people who are in wheelchairs and are able to drive and use computer technology to accomplish daily tasks they would not be able to otherwise. Bringing a heavy hand on oil and energy, which may be in the future of our government, will affect those who may not have the option of simply letting go of their energy needs.

    Frankly, I would love to be able to get rid of my computer, write on a manual typewriter, do my accounting with a calculator and a pencil and minimize my dependency on electricity. Of course, that’s in an idea world and I am not sure going tech-primitive would make me a better steward.

    • Savannah says

      Again, it’s not all or nothing. I haven’t seen anyone suggest we do not use fossil fuels at all, ever. Can we all agree that there is a lot that can be done just on the conservation front?

      There is no doubt, though, that most Americans are not particularly mindful of conservation. There are enormous amounts of energy waste in all sectors, and it begins in the family home and goes all the way to the top. When gasoline approaches $3 a gallon, Americans act like THAT is the natural disaster. Until the use of these fuels become a lot more expensive, everything will remain status quo.

      • “Can we all agree that there is a lot that can be done just on the conservation front?”

        Yes but even with a “lot” there would still be a huge need for coal and oil. HUGE.

        And while this is a real mess, how many of you have lived in area where miles and miles are stripped bare for coal mining.

        We can’t conserve our way any where near out of this addiction. We need a fundamental change to either our life style or our energy production. Wind and solar will not get us there.

        Nuclear can but not the way we do it now.

        The entire western world is stuck in a rut of demanding perfection in the solution when at least we Christians know perfection isn’t an option.

    • Friarbones says

      I am a driller and I work in the oil industry. People don’t realize that a drilling rig that takes up a little over an acre can drill 20 different wells going horizontally in all directions at different depths…I know…I do it. The amount of disruption of the environment is minimal if done correctly.

  18. David Cornwell says

    At many levels this is the result of systemic evil lurking deep in the soul of the corporate/military/governmental complex. This Creation is God’s and we have and continue to corrupt it at every level. The Church is complicit when it aligns itself to any political or economic ideology. We can never speak truth to power when we are joined at the hip to that power. This goes far beyond simple mistakes and human error.

    • Savannah says


    • David Cornwell says

      Mark Galli’s piece was excellent.

    • Friarbones says

      David…I am quite confused with your post. Are you saying that drilling for oil is a result of “systemic evil lurking deep in the soul”? I work for a large multi-national oil and gas company does that mean I am “joined at the hip” to “that” power? I have drilled for natural gas in Wyoming and Colorado and Utah…is that evil? Could you please clarify…there is a biblical mandate for a man to provide for his family and I do not think that what I do for a living is a result of systemic evil lurking deep in my soul.

      • David Cornwell says

        No, sorry I definitely did not mean that. I apologize for anything that sounds mean to you or anyone else. We all work to make a living for our families. I can only respect and honor that. I didn’t say or mean anything about evil lurking in anyone’s soul personally. I was speaking of systemic evil, or the soul of the system. My choice of words was poor.

        I do, however, think that these kinds of incidents are the end result of a culture of greed, corruption, and over consumption at almost every level.

        What I meant about “joined at the hip” is that the church itself has been so closely allied to our political and economic systems that we fail to recognize this kind of evil when it stares us in the face. We like to stand with the powerful and are too often captured by them. The parties and politicians and the economic systems will always fail and eventually disappoint us.

        The gospel is more than personal. We pray for the coming of the Kingdom.

        I didn’t read Mark Galli’s piece in Christianity Today until after I made my comments above. That was my mistake. I’d probably have been better off commenting on his piece.

        Again, my apologies for offending you.

        • cpilgrim says

          Don’t apologize. You are right. What you’re saying is that the Church body doesn’t need to identify itself with one particular politic, lest it become corrupt in that connection. Not that an individual should not work on an oil rig or for an oil company. However, although I am sure the person who posted does not have this issue, I think every individual does have a responsibility to select their occupation based on a Christian moral rubric. And sometimes that rubric could force you to leave or not apply for an otherwise suitable job. I mean, Christians aren’t supposed to be drug dealers….so why should they shill for a corporate body that is objectively amoral in some way, even if it is less apparent to the public? I have a MA degree in Technical Writing and one of the things we talked about is how important it is to do business with the right people, if only because one can get caught in litigation if they’re not careful. Now that is a practical reason to avoid immoral business practices, but Christians have a higher calling.

          • David Cornwell says

            Thanks. My father worked for a Ford dealership way back in the 1940’s. When they asked him to set back odometers on cars he quit his job. Some of these decision we just have to pray our way through.

  19. Somehow in these comments I haven’t caught any sense of mea culpa. After all, we are all oil-addicts. Oil is an obvious necessity in our world. Oil companies produce it for us, and because we have an insatiable appetite for it, they are happy to do so and make a handsome profit. Imagine all the tankers continually headed through the Straits of Hormuz to fill our cars. This is high season for factories in Singapore, Shanghai and a dozen other places. They are churning out Christmas gifts that must be on a flotilla of containerships by September so we will have full shelves in Wal-Mart. For better or worse, a great deal of the demand we place on a world of dwindling resources is thoughtless or even capricious. We “need” all this stuff. But most of today’s “must haves” will lie buried in a landfill within 5 years. This is our consumption-driven lifestyle, and Christians are no less guilty in that regard than anyone else. Evangelicals in America by and large have not had an uneasy conscience about environmental issues. Regrettably, there has been little or no attention paid, at least in my experience, other than occasionally singing “For the beauty of the earth”. Perhaps it is because we are instructed doctrinally that things will be going from bad to worse until the Lord comes again that concerns for environmental sustainability are left to the wishful thinking of anthropocentric liberals. I haven’t seen much of this debate turn on how much of the surrounding culture we are absorbing which calls for ceaseless and often needless consumption. Perhaps faiths call for a radical change in the consumerist lifestyle most of us enjoy.

    • You are totally right. In the end it was us, the consumers, who demanded oil, even if it came from such a murky, and fundamentally dangerous and unknown place underwater.

      I think people fail to understand that drilling thousands of miles underwater to depths we have little to no knowledge about is an inherently dangerous operation.

      So before we blame the media/government/corporate/military apparatus, perhaps we should first inspect ourselves and see how lustful we were for cheap prices at the pump.

  20. First of all, this is the meanest discussion around here in a while. I am disappointed.
    IMHO, a Christian approach includes: 1) working in a conscientious fashion; 2) minimizing waste in your life; 3) as per Stuart, reviewing your expenditures and their priority, i.e. is this the best use of my funds; 4) praying for the bereaved and injured; 5) considering implications of policies re: drilling in ocean and debating/voting accordingly.

  21. TH in SoC says

    How should a Christian view the Gulf oil disaster? A good question. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I will speak for myself.

    The Gulf oil spill is an example of ecological limits and the power of advanced technology to ruin things. The Gulf oil spill is one of many signs that the world is running out of cheap resources with which to grow an industrial consumer economy. From here on, the resources we extract in order to try to sustain the unsustainable will come at an ever greater cost.

    I think a Christian response to this would be to repent of our materialism and greed, to adapt wisely to our new circumstances and to be charitable toward the poor. Yet that is not the response of the loudest mouths in American evangelicalism just now. They are acting like children in adult bodies, full of greed and the desire to jack anyone who has anything they might want. They are the true believers in Sarah Palin, Fox News and “Drill here, drill now, pay less.” They have bought into the religion of Americanism – the notion that “God has blessed this great land of ours with abundance, and it’s our Divine right to chow down on that abundance to our hearts’ content.” They can’t accept the notion of limits. They escape facing those limits either by appealing to the pre-Tribulation Rapture to rescue them from having to make do with less, or by hoping in some sort of miracle of renewed abundance. It’s nearly impossible to have an intelligent, adult conversation with many of these people.

    • David Cornwell says

      I agree totally with you. And any expectation of ever having a sane discussion with people of this persuasion will probably be met with disappointment. Just try it and see what happens! You might even be accused of not being a “real American.”

  22. I am not American. I don’t live in America. I don’t have a political stance on this catastrophy (I think the term spill became inappropriate a long time back). As a Christian on the other side of this poor trodden planet, I will give a simple answer to the question… What should characterize a distinctively Christian response to this tragedy?” It seems simple. What would you hope Christians would do? Get yourself down to the area. Get dirty. Get into the fray alongside those who are loosing their income, security and hope. Get on you hand and knees and be the stewards we are intended to be. Scrub wildlife. Clean beaches. Comfort those who are distressed. The key here is the word ‘do’ and do it for no other reason than it is an expression of the love given to you. Pray while you do.

    • Sorry … I forgot to add that I am surprised at the focus on discussion. Why this has happened and what role sin has played is important I suppose but none of this is new. All of this was there before the event. It will still be there when this mess superficially looks resolved. The is so much scope for Christians in the US to show Christ in this situation. Don’t miss the opportunity that has presented. Sorry… I have to repeat myself. Get up and go. Think good Samaritan. Talking just isn’t enough. I watch the news here. I am watching to see.

  23. “Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me. (Lk 15,12)” said mankind to the Father and they wasted the Fathers substance with riotous living. They spilled the creation and they spoiled the creation. That is what we see, all around us. It is not BP-oil, it is our way of iiving. Time to turn…. To the Father of course and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and earth and sea, in thy sight. Restore us and give us a new heart that loves you and love your creation a heart that cares for the heritage that you have trusted to us.

  24. One thing for sure, whenever it comes to disasters like this, oil companies like BP become the antichrist and driving an SUV becomes taking the Mark of the Beast.

    Frankly I think God can handle this situation and the earth is much more resilient than the green god worshipers give it credit for. The earth has been year for a very long time and has outlasting thousands of generations.

    • I agree with your first point. Don’t look at BP etc. Look at yourself, take your own responsibility. And that is what I miss in your “God can handle the situation.”

  25. I’m a commercial fisherman. If the spill were in the Gulf of Maine I’d be out of business. I’d lose my boat first (no need for that, and can’t pay for it anyway) and then I’d lose my house. There aren’t many jobs in a small coastal village except for the fishing industry and the tourist trade. And tourism would be way, way down.

    Traditions and skills going back centuries would be snuffed out in matter of months or a few years. Old family names, written on the charts naming ledges, points and islands, would disappear from the communities as their descendants leave.

    The same thing is happening now in the Gulf of Mexico.

    As for a Christian response, besides prayer and cleaning the thing up, I guess I’d encourage pastors to talk about stewardship more. Adopt Earth Day and don’t shun it as a pagan holiday. In the command, “Be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth” the word “subdue” should be read as “cultivate” or “nurture” or “husband.” We are supposed to treat God’s creation as a garden, not as a strip mine—yet always mindful to worship the Creator and not the creation.

    I’m also concerned about some of Obama’s rhetoric. In his press conference last week he was quick to call it “the BP oil spill” and that “BP must pay.” Way too early to be assigning blame in a vindictive-sounding manner. Clean the thing up, let the lawyers deal with liability behind the scenes, and don’t get too belligerent too soon for political purposes. This kind of talk could come back to haunt him if he alienates the oil industry. He needs them on his side right now, and certainly for the next election.

    Christian response? Pray. Start there.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I’m also concerned about some of Obama’s rhetoric. In his press conference last week he was quick to call it “the BP oil spill” and that “BP must pay.” Way too early to be assigning blame in a vindictive-sounding manner.

      It’s all part of the political script he has to follow. Sort of Left Behind for Brights.

      Remember, Obama was elected through a periodic upsurge of Messiah Politics, positioning himself as the Coming Christ figure to overthrow Antichrist Bushitler and all his works. Now comes the follow-through; to keep his mantle as political Messiah, he must step into the role of God on the Great White Throne, Passing Judgment on the Big Oil Goats of BP.

  26. For starters, I hate that the issue of taking care of God’s creation is politicized at all. I just believe he left it in our care and we should take that to heart. I also hate that these disasters are called judgment. We all know that we all deserve judgment, and only by his grace have some of us managed to not be in the midst of one disaster or another.

    Further, things are going to happen. We are imperfect. Period. As believers, we’re supposed to help our fellows in need. We’re supposed to love them at least as much as we love ourselves. It’s not easy to do. Probably because we have so little practice. I’m pretty sure it should be automatic. Just jump right in there and help, all the while thanking God for his grace, and asking for his assistance.

  27. I am just waiting for people to talk about how this thing is the judgment of God against sinful humanity. I am glad that there hasn’t been too much of that yet.

    • It rains on the just and the unjust…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I know. I’ve been expecting some “official Christian media spokesman” type to do a repeat of Pat Robertson’s mouthing off after Katrina or Haiti. Guess BP must tithe regularly or something.

      And as for the word “judgment”, in the dictionary it means “a binding decision”. In Christianese, it ALWAYS means God Punishing Somebody (usually NOT the speaker); when have you ever heard the word mean something GOOD in a Christian context (and gloating at the damnation of the Infidel doesn’t count)? Does God ever do anything else other than sit there thinking up new ways to punish us?

      • Not entirely so. You’ve met the flagellants, haven’t you? You know, the ones quite good at self-damnation.

        Side comment not directed at anyone specific: You know, I figured out what’s been bugging me the last week or so in the comment logs. Ah well.

  28. In the opening voiceover for the TV program “Design e2: The Economies of being Environmentally Conscious,” (on Hulu), Brad Pitt narrates that the buildings we live and work in, not the cars we drive, consume 40% of the world’s resources and emit 50% of the greenhouse gasses. For me, my Christian responsibility to be a good steward of God’s creation begins there.

    The good news is, there are some practical steps we can take to reduce the footprint of these buildings. Here are just a few off the top of my head.

    1) If you are planning to build a new building, build according to LEED standards.
    2) If you already own a home, see if you can reduce or eliminate your front lawn. Most fertilizer we use is derived from oil, and we use more fertilizer on our front lawns than we do on agriculture in the US. Most front lawns end up being unused space anyway.
    3) If you are in a neighborhood with a Home Owners Association, pressure the HOA to shape the regulations to be environmentally responsible.
    4) If you are shopping for a new home, consider a home in a more densly populated neighborhood, on a smaller lot, close to an urban area. This will give you alternate transportation options besides your car, and it helps reduce the environmental impact of extending utility services to distant areas. What’s one of the main ingredients in asphalt? You guessed it.
    5) Use your political voice to encourage responsible urban policy, such as urban infill and mixed-use zoning.
    6) Don’t buy/build a big house. More sf = more disturbed area, more energy to heat and cool, more materials used in construction…

    In general, I think we should examine our picture of the American Dream (house in the country with the big lawn and white picket fence) and see if it honors God. If we find it wanting, we need to adjust it.

    • “1) If you are planning to build a new building, build according to LEED standards.”

      If you closely look at LEED it is as much a political document as a practical one. You can build a LEED compliant building that’s incredibly energy efficient.

      Basically use common sense is what people need to do.

      The #1 thing most home owners in the US can do to cut their energy use is plant a shade bush to keep their AC condenser unit shaded in the summer.

      • Sorry. Big typo.

        “If you closely look at LEED it is as much a political document as a practical one. You can build a LEED compliant building that’s incredibly energy efficient.”


  29. As steward’s of God’s creation, we all share culpability, because we all use the oil. One way to repent – per se – would be to conserve as much as possible.

  30. One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is a long term solution.

    Teach and encourage the younger Christians to go into business, science and engineering. That way, with luck and more, there might be less short cutting of safety, just to save a few dollars.

    • Good thought, Anna.

      Historically most of the best scientists were devout Christians (Copernicus, Linnaeus, Newton, etc.) We’re a long way from that ideal today, but getting back to it is the right (and perhaps the only) way to go.

      Not long ago, I read an interview with a long-time environmental activist who regretted the time she’d spent in political activism. “If I had it to do over,” she said, “I’d study engineering.” She understood, finally, that business was always read to adopt clean and green processes — as soon as they became practical and profitable.

      I’ve urged my own daughters to study business administration for the reasons you suggest. They don’t like the suggestion, but perhaps the best way to serve others is from a position of authority.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Not long ago, I read an interview with a long-time environmental activist who regretted the time she’d spent in political activism. … She understood, finally, that business was always read to adopt clean and green processes — as soon as they became practical and profitable.

        But as a political activist, she used the power of the State through regulation and litigation to try to club businesses into the Party Line, fueling resentment of anything “clean and green” as well as feeding a Bureaucracy gone wild.

        A Holier-than-thou Commissar dictating “what you unwashed SHOULD do” with wagging finger in one hand and a mallet of litigation in the other is NOT going to win those unwashed proles over to your cause. It’s more likely to get you onto South Park as Kyle’s Mom.

    • The decisions that were made were made by business people, scientists and engineers, none of whom had evil in their hearts. The decisions that were made are simply a product of the way business people and engineers are taught to think — totally rationally and economically. (I’m a mechanical engineer with an MBA).

      I mean, from a business standpoint, the spill is only costing BP about 25% of its daily profit. They could afford 4 spills at any one time and still make payroll.

      Absent government oversight, a company will always choose the route that saves them money right here and now. That is why corporations were created – to reduce the risk to shareholders in order to maximize their returns.

    • Are you saying that the people at BP are not Christians?

  31. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    According to Jason Boyett, the End Time Prophecy types are finally ringing in on the Gulf Oil Disaster. Many days late and many dollars short; I’d expected them to be some of the first and loudest.