Deforesting Reality

“Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” ~ Mark Twain

I changed the oil in both cars last night and as I was underneath I first pondered how long it would take me to die if the car crashed down on top of me (I have ridiculous fears, which I can not escape. I do not put the car up on blocks, so the tires would all have to deflate or the suspension cave in… but still, every time, I wonder… crunch!). Afterward I pondered how I must be one of the last people who still change their own oil. I am sure at one point the oil change was routine in driveways, but now the routine change happens while you wait inside, deciding between last month’s Car and Drive or watching Judge Judy.

Of course I am not the last oil changer, in part because stores still sell oil, but also because my dad made us learn all kinds of things before we hit the road. One of those lessons was changing the oil—exciting for me and my brother, but an angry tirade for my sister. Still, all the family can be found changing their oil.

Which brings me, however randomly, to an editorial on a decision by the Texas Board of Education to approve a new set of social studies standards. Of course the action is political and an attempt to move away from the current “liberal” history focus towards a “balanced” history. Which really means “conservative”. While I know little beyond the article, we all know that no one is balanced. Take me, I am worried the tires will deflate and crush me! – a poster child for unbalanced. Seriously, few, if any, are politically balanced! Everyone who is taking action comes with an agenda.

I was in middle school when I first realized my text book had an agenda. We were studying deforestation and there was a picture of the forests left in the United States (similar, but not an exact copy of the picture on the right). Living in Missouri I looked first at my home state, only to realize there were no forests. Of course I knew this was not the case—I could picture the Ozarks covered in trees. But as I looked over the nation there were lots of forests in the Northeast—which was impossible to me, since as a Mid-Westerner I knew New York was all concrete (HA!, but having never visited that is what I believed). Of course the book was published in the New York City…

The world is changing and the sides are growing more extreme. As Christians we know neither side is totally correct, because they both bow to the altar of political power (of which we must be wary!). But it is strange that in this moment, without a common agenda, we have outsourced much of our lives to others. While oil changes are rather trivial, they demonstrate our society. It is a place where a job’s work lasts long past the time sheet. And after work parents do not leave the car as they travel activity to activity. From drop-off to pick-up. A place where the dinner plate is often replaced by a bag, the table by a car seat…

We fear so many silly things, while in reality we are being crushed by the agenda of society. An agenda which demands for us to stay busy. And in the process we don’t just outsource our dinners, but also our time and influence. Yet if we realize there is a problem, society tempts us to use its own weapons, rather than change our ways. But when we try to fight back with politics and power we find that we have become part of society’s agenda. Another weight smashing the Spirit.

We must join the mission of Jesus. He did not come for a political takeover, but to feed the people of God (John 6). He passed over the power structures of government and religion. Instead He joined the people, he walked among them. We need to step back from the chaos, the shouting, and follow the lead of our savior. We need to love our neighbor—starting with our own family!

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