Carl Teichrib | Forcing Change | April 19, 2011
“More than 6 million Canadians join 500 million people in over 180 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues. Nearly every school child in Canada takes part in an Earth Day activity.” – Earth Day Canada
“Earth is more than just a spaceship. She is our Mother. She gave us life. There is nowhere else to go but to stay and love her.” – Reader’s comment regarding John Kerry’s Earth Day blog.
Just as in olden days, the Earth has become the focal point for worship. In Grecian times the supreme Earth deity was Gaia, also known as the Universal Mother. Sacred oaths were given in her name, and worshippers performed rituals in her honour. One commentator tells us,
“The classic artistic representation of Gaia is a woman emerging breast-high from the earth. The goddess arises but never leaves her planetary body. Visceral rites, including plant, animal, and (presumably ecstatic) human sacrifice as well as unabashed sexual ceremonies were held to adore the goddess’s fecundity.”
In our contemporary era, Earth Day has become the modern celebration of Gaia. Partakers of this event, whether aware of it or not, play off the ancient pagan beliefs of a Universal Mother. Like the sacred oaths taken in her name, today’s Earth Day celebrants sign environmental petitions, make pledges, and announce resolutions in support of Mother Earth. And like the old sacrifices to the deity, today’s Earth Day practitioners offer sacrifices of “good works” to the planet. Not only is the Earth a deity to be venerated, but the Earth itself – as the representative and embodiment of the Goddess – has become a modern day idol.
Do all who engage in Earth Day festivities realize the connections between this event and the ancient pagan deity? Some do, especially those who take a neo-pagan position, but many are unaware, thinking it’s a family-oriented way to engage in environmental conservation (much good is done during Earth Day, such as cleaning up stream beds or planting trees – but that’s not the issue). Motivated by good intentions, scores of individuals (including professing Christians), participate without ever considering what Earth Day is actually about or the philosophies that underpin the movement.
James Coburn, the American actor (deceased in 2002), understood the overt pagan linkages. Consider his 1990 interview with journalist Caryl Matrisciana during the Malibu Beach, Earth Day festival.
“Mr. Coburn, why should we care about Earth Day or Mother Earth?”
“Mother Earth is our Mother! She’s the Mother Goddess. She’s the one that we should be praising rather than raping.
I mean all of these people here today are here for one reason: Because they’re concerned about what’s happening to the Earth – what Mankind is doing to the Earth. I mean the negative emotions we carry around, a lot of us, is another contributor to it; it feeds the Moon. [Author’s Note: the Moon is significant in pagan circles.]
What we have to do is be true to ourselves, if we’re true to ourselves we’ll be true to Mother Earth. Mother Earth’s going to be bountiful; she’s going to give us everything we need. She has for a long time.
We’ve lost our way. The pagans used to know how to do it. And the Indians, some of them still remember how to do it.
The Earth is a living organism. We’re killing the one we love the most, and she loves us. We’ve got to praise our Mother Goddess!”
When Earth Day was first inaugurated in 1970, Newsweek called the event “a bizarre nationwide rain dance.” The New York Times, however, said it was an idea “whose time has come because life is running out.” Earth, and the race of mankind, needed to be saved “from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
Now, almost forty years later, corporate sponsorships pay for community Earth Day events. Federal and local governments spend tax dollars in promotion of April 22nd, and a myriad of grassroots organizations add energy to the cause. It’s an event that captures the attention of local and national media outlets, politicians of every stripe, and fuels the imagination of school children everywhere. From the automotive giant Toyota to every urban center in North America, from the United Nations to the National Council of Churches – Earth Day is far more than a bizarre rain dance; it’s a platform for global citizenship and Earth loyalties.
Earth Day is Born
The idea for Earth Day goes back to 1962 and Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Convinced that environmental issues needed greater exposure, Nelson suggested to President Kennedy that he embark on a “national conservation tour.” The following year Kennedy went on a five-day excursion promoting environmental conservation, but it never generated the political interest Nelson was hoping for. However, according to the Senator, “it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.”
Only a few years later, during the height of the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, Senator Nelson hit on the idea of a national educational event to create environmental awareness; the “first national environmental teach-in.” This event, planned for April 22, 1970, was to be styled after the war protest movement, and it was aimed at capturing the interest and energy of young people – a generation going through one of the largest cultural shifts in the history of the United States. Not surprisingly, Nelson’s first Earth Day speech reflected this cultural shift, boasting that April 22 was to be the “birth date of a new American ethic that rejects the frontier philosophy that the continent was put here for our plunder…”
Decades after the initial event, Nelson’s assistant who coordinated the Earth Day national teach-in campaign, Denis Hayes, told an interviewer that: “We consciously set out to build a movement to bring America back together, and let everyone under the umbrella with a shared set of values.”
New ethics and a common set of values were to guide this movement and act as the inspiration for college students in their environmental advocacy. Remember, this was 1970, and the students of that era represent a wide swath of today’s political, business, academic, and religious leadership. Senator Nelson understood the potential power of tapping the nation’s youth.
Helping to make this inaugural Earth Day a success, a special book of essays was compiled through Friends of the Earth and distributed nation-wide to teachers and professors. Titled, The Environmental Handbook: Prepared for the First National Environmental Teach-In, April 22, 1970, this volume introduced a new set of social ideals that would point America to a better world. Tens of thousands of copies were distributed, and 20 million young people across the US celebrated what was to become a global movement: Earth Day.
But what of those values laid out in The Environmental Handbook? Were they based on the core Judeo-Christian tenets of Western thought and law? Did they support common sense conservation: erosion control, maintaining a balanced wildlife population, curbing toxic pollutants, or stemming the tide of invasive species?
Pollution was addressed, with a population control twist. Land use was also discussed, while demeaning “conventional cattle ranching.”
Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, contributed a doomsday scenario to ignite impressionable minds: By 1973 air pollution would be choking cities, causing single-event smog disasters with death tolls in the hundreds of thousands – all heralding the advent of a global air quality collapse that would make the “planet uninhabitable” sometime before 1990. By the mid-seventies, the US grain belt would be turning into the great Mid-western desert, wiping out food stocks. During this time period, Ehrlich speculated, America’s resource sector would be collapsing and a national “family planning” program would have to be set up alongside an international agenda to curb the human population. By the summer of 1979, the world’s oceans would be dead and all sea-based animal life extinct.
For high school and college students participating in the first Earth Day, this future-tense story would have had a chilling effect. As Mr. Ehrlich explained; “A pretty grim scenario. Unfortunately, we’re a long way into it already.”
Does any of this sound familiar? “Warming may trigger agricultural collapse,” so reported the Inter-Press Service in 2007. “Fish stocks could collapse because of global warming,” announced an Associated Press article in 2008. Professor John Brignell, an author and social researcher, posted his observations regarding climate change and fear.
“Got a problem? Blame global warming! From allergies to maple syrup shortages to yellow fever: apparently every contemporary ill is caused by climate change.”
Brignell’s website lists no less than 300 alleged problems, or pseudo-problems, attributed to global warming. This documented list includes crabgrass, kidney stones, inflation in China, invasions of jellyfish and giant oysters, the Loch Ness monster dying, fish getting lost, an upcoming Ice Age, conflict with Russia, sour grapes and stronger wine, farms going under – and farm output boosted, the Atlantic becoming more salty – and less salty, smog, terrorism, fainting, and smaller brains. I tend to believe this last one.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Is this a scare tactic for global transformation? Consider the following quotes,
“During any ‘issue-attention-cycle’ in environmental campaigning, there is a phase in which the issue needs to be strategically exaggerated in order to establish it firmly on an agenda for action.” – International Institute for Sustainable Development.
“We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have.” – Professor Stephen Schneider.
“No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits… climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.” – Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of Environment.
“Collateral environmental benefits…?” This is questionable at best; so much so that over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition that challenged the human-caused global warming line, and openly suggested that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide may have benefits. Moreover, “justice” and “equality” are legal and social issues – not atmospheric. Again, this points to the heart of the matter: social transformation.
But scare tactics are effective. They leave the masses wondering: How can the human race reverse our imminent environmental demise? What can be done to save Mother Earth?
According to the first Earth Day and The Environmental Handbook, we can start by placing the blame on Christianity and Western values, and then adopt pagan and radical socialist solutions. Consider the following quotes from The Environmental Handbook. Keep in mind that this text established the ethical ideals of a new Earth reality, and set the tone for the first Earth Day – and subsequent celebrations.
Note: the author’s name and page numbers are at the end of each quote, and all misspellings are in the original.
“Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions…not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.
At the level of the common people this worked out in an interesting way. In antiquity every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci, its guardian spirit. These spirits were accessible to men…Before one cut a tree, mined a mountain, or dammed a brook, it was important to placate the spirit in charge of that particular situation, and to keep it placated. By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.” [p.20-21, Lynn White Jr.].
“What we do about ecology depends on our ideas of the man-nature relationship. More science and more technology are not going to get us out of our present ecological crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink our old one…” [p.24, Lynn White Jr.].
“No new set of basic values has been accepted in our society to displace those of Christianity. Hence we shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.” [p.25, Lynn White Jr.].
“Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.” [p.26, Lynn White Jr.].
“What was it that enabled Eskimo shamen, their minds a product of the taiga, tundra, and sea ice, to travel on spirit journeys under the ocean and to talk with the fishes and the potent beings who lived on the bottom? How did the shamen develop the hypnotic power they employed in their séances? What can we learn from the shamen who survive about thought transference and ESP? The answers are in the arctic wilderness still left to us.
Wilderness is a bench mark, a touchstone…New perspectives come out of the wilderness. Jesus, Zoroaster, Moses, and Mohammed went to the wilderness and came back with messages…This handbook, and the teach-in it serves, have their beginnings in wilderness.” [p. 148, Kenneth Brower].
“Freedom to breed is intolerable.” [p.41, Garrett Hardin].
“No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all… The only way we can preserve and nature other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed.” [p.49, Garrett Hardin].
“…it is sinful for anybody to have more than two children. It has long since become glaringly evident that unless the earth’s cancerous growth of population can be halted, all other problems – poverty, war, racial strife, uninhabitable cities, and the rest – are beyond solution.” [p.139, John Fischer].
“Stabilizing the U.S. population should be declared a national policy. Immediate steps should be taken to: 1. Legalize voluntary abortion and sterilization and provide these services free. 2. Remove all restrictions on the provision of birth control information and devices; provide these services free to all, including minors. 3. Make sex education available to all appropriate levels, stressing birth control practices and the need to stabilize the population…” [pp.317-318, Keith Murray].
“Explore other social structures and marriage forms, such as group marriage and polyandrous marriage, which provide family life but may produce less children. Share the pleasure of raising children widely, so that all need not directly reproduce to enter into this basic human experience. We must hope that no one woman would give birth to more than one child.” [p.324, Four Changes section].
On Nations and Economies:
“Nations… must be phased out as quickly as possible and replaced with tribal or regional autonomous economies…” [p.6, Keith Lampe].
“Interdependence of course can be sustained only in a context of cooperation, so competition (capitalism) must be phased out and replaced with cooperative economic models.” [pp.6-7, Keith Lampe].
“Looking beyond our borders, our students will be encouraged to ask even harder questions. Are nation-states actually feasible, now that they have the power to destroy each other in a single afternoon? Can we agree on something else to take their place, before the balance of terror becomes unstable? What price would most people be willing to pay for a more durable kind of human organization – more taxes, giving up national flags, perhaps the sacrifice of some of our hard-won liberties?” [p. 145, John Fisher].
On Global Transformation:
“Nothing short of total transformation will do much good. What we envision is a planet on which the human population lives harmoniously and dynamically by employing a sophisticated and unobtrusive technology in a world environment which is ‘left natural’…Cultural and individual pluralism, unified by a type of world tribal council.” [p.330, Four Changes section].
“It seems evident that there are throughout the world certain social and religious forces which have worked through history toward an ecologically and culturally enlightened state of affairs. Let these be encouraged: Gnostics, hip Marxists, Teilhard de Chardin Catholics, Druids, Taoists, Biologists, Witches, Yogins, Bhikkus, Quakers, Sufis, Tibetans, Zens, Shamans, Bushmen, American Indians, Polynesians, Anarchists, Alchemists…the list is long. All primitive cultures, all communal and ashram movements. Since it doesn’t seem practical or even desirable to think that direct bloody force will achieve much, it would be best to consider this a continuing ‘revolution of consciousness’ which will be won not by guns but by seizing the key images, myths, archetypes, eschatologies, and ectasies so that life won’t seem worth living unless one’s on the transforming energy’s side.” [p.331, Four Changes].
The message is clear. In order to save the world, we need to drastically change our present religious, political, economic, and social structures. We need to significantly re-shape society towards a New Age world-view where nature supersedes all, where political and economic structures morph into a type of ecological communism, where the cancer of human growth undergoes radical surgery, and where education and religion are indelibly altered to serve Mother Earth.
This is the essence of Earth Day. It’s the embracing of massive religious and social changes – the sacrifice of our “orthodox Christian arrogance” so that Gaia can be healed and humanity saved. It’s the clarion call of One World. Gaia Rescue, a project of Earth Day 2008, brings this into focus.
“To correct this problem we’re going to have to act as a planet, not separately as groups or countries. It will take all of Gaia’s children to save her from the mistakes we’ve already made.”
Gaia is Mad
If we don’t correct our mistakes, if we don’t change our values, behaviours, ethics, and beliefs – Mother Earth is going to take matters into her own hands. This is the current eco-philosophy fad. Human beings are a blight, and Gaia is going to cleanse herself unless we become good global citizens and respect the Universal Mother.
This is the message of the Dalai Lama.
“Until now… Mother Earth has somehow tolerated sloppy house habits. But now human use, population, and technology have reached that certain stage where Mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with silence. In many ways she is now telling us, ‘My children are behaving badly.’ She is warning us that there are limits to our actions…”
Meanwhile, movies such as The Happening depict Mother Earth striking back against Mankind – chemically inducing humans to commit suicide in order to clean up the people problem. Another Hollywood propaganda piece, The Day the Earth Stood Still, has watchful aliens descending on the planet to save failing Mother Earth from the cancer of humanity. During the last part of the movie, the main characters come to the realization that they must evolve at the global level in order to avert planetary disaster. Many other movies, documentaries, and television shows present a similar message. Man must change, or Gaia will deal harshly with us.
This is also the prognosis of British geophysicist James Lovelock, who wrote the 1979 book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (this volume spurned on the “modern,” pseudo-scientific Gaia theory of Earth as a living construct). Now, his 2006 book The Revenge of Gaia, paints a picture of a planet suffering from a crippling fever – Global Warming – and that Mother Earth is fighting for her existence against the destructive capacity of humankind.
Not surprisingly, this line of thinking is found laced throughout the online deep ecology and Gaia community. Blog and on-line articles proclaim that Mother Earth is growing madder by the minute.
“The reasons why there are so many natural disasters and severe weather changes, is because Mother Earth is angry with the people.”
“The earth is parched. There is not enough water. Fires will rage. Some things are beyond the control of humans. Mother earth is angry, showing us the limits to our power. Let us learn from her.”
Hmmm… Maybe a little party would make her happy.
A Secular Holiday?
Ironically, Earth Day is considered “the largest secular holiday in the world.” Yet there is little secular about it. Rather, a variety of spiritual activities takes place; from Mother Earth rituals to multi-faith Sunrise services, from interfaith Earth gatherings to Spring meditations and “Earth Prayers” – such as the one suggested below,
“Mother, Father, God, Universal Power
Remind us daily of the sanctity of all life.
Touch our hearts with the glorious oneness of all creation
As we strive to respect all the living beings on this planet.
Penetrate our souls with the beauty of this earth,
As we attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of the seasons.
Awaken our minds with the knowledge to achieve a world in perfect harmony
And grant us the wisdom to realize that we can have heaven on earth.”
Unfortunately many Christian congregations across North America have jumped on the bandwagon of Earth Day transformation; Some out of naivety, others with full consent and complicity. One example is San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. During the 2001 Earth Day, Grace held an interfaith song-celebration for the planet.
“The music will be an eclectic blend of the world’s musical traditions. Tibetan temple bells will blend with the Cathedral Organ. Vocal performances will range from Native American and Muslim Chants to Spirituals and Choral canticles. Representatives from a diverse range of religious paths will participate in the festivities, including Native American, Islamic, Hindu, Jewish, Pagan, and Christian.”
Over the years Grace Cathedral has been a beacon for comprehensive religious transformation, and has done much to promote a contemporary global-spiritual model, such as helping to birth the United Religions Initiative.
The United Church of Canada is another example. During the last twenty years, the United Church denomination has been considered a Canadian trend setter in “progressively left” Christian thought. This denomination has also been viewed as a social pillar by academics, political figures, and other leading personalities. Here’s part of a responsive reading for an Earth-centred worship service.
“Speaking to the Earth Community, we say: Brothers and Sisters in Creation, we covenant this day – with you, with all Creation yet to be, and with the Creator. With every living creature and all that contains and sustains you.
All: With all that is on Earth – and with the Earth itself.”
Alarmingly, it doesn’t seem to matter if a church is “right” or “left” in its general outlook. Congregations and denominations that have been historically conservative are focussing on the Earth as a point of service too.
In February 2009, I had a chance to visit with some relatives who attend an evangelical church long recognized for its stalwart stand in proclaiming the Gospel. But things have changed. Instead of messages focussing on the truths of God’s Word, sermons have taken an overt ecological edge. Although not promoting Earth-centric beliefs like the United Church – “we covenant this day… with the Earth itself” – the teachings highlighted typical environmental themes: Global warming, the eco-problems supposedly caused by Man, and the need to change consumption patterns and social behaviours. Does this remind you of anything?
Like hundreds of other pastors and churches across North America, naivety to the true intent of deep ecology and it’s message of global transformation is undercutting Christian based values – right in the church itself.
Does this mean that Christians shouldn’t be concerned about the environment? Not at all. However, a healthy Biblical approach is needed – one that recognizes the rightful place of Man in tending, managing, and using the Earth; not one in which Man is servant to a planetary master made in the image of the United Nations or some other globally inspired environmental agency. Sadly, pastors and congregations around the world are parroting the message of Earth Day and the leaders of global environmental governance.
The quest to involve the Christian community in Earth Day celebrations is especially significant. Not only do individual churches promote Earth Day as a special event, the Earth Day Network (EDN) specifically targets the “faith community” in the hopes that influential religious leaders will move the global agenda forward. And EDN has some clout.
The Earth Day Network is a group that arose from the original Earth Day in 1970. Today the organization’s International Council is comprised of the some of the world’s most influential globalists,
– Lester Brown, Worldwatch.
– Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director of the World Health Organization.
– Robert Kennedy Jr., Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defence Council.
– Gus Speth, former UN Development Programme official.
– Maurice Strong, President of the Earth Council and former UN Special Advisor.
– David Suzuki, Canada’s leading environmentalist.
– Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme.
Presently, EDN works hard to promote their Communities of Faith Climate Campaign, a global warming/Earth Day educational platform targeted at religious groups. In fact, the EDN faith-based website has the motto “Earth Day: Something We Can All Believe In.”
In 2007, EDN reached out a hand to the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities by creating “12,000 sermons and religious events” to empower religious leaders for Earth Day goals. EDN took this a step further during Earth Day 2008 by activating “500,000 parishioners” to support climate change legislation. Many churches also pledged to join EDN for “Earth Day Sunday” in 2008, focussing on climate change and saving the Earth during their Sunday services.
In 2009, the Earth Day Network kicked off their Green Generation campaign, which engaged students, churches, and communities in pressuring the world to adopt a new global climate treaty. Moreover, this campaign continued until 2010 with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
Paradoxically, what originally started as a movement to intentionally place Earth on a pedestal while “demonizing” Christianity, nationalism, and human populations – all focused on driving America’s youth to a pagan, socialist utopia – has now been embraced by churches far-and-wide. Furthermore, by hosting and supporting Earth-centered and interfaith services, churches actually contribute to the systemic attack on Biblical values.
Gaia must be smiling, after all, the party is in her honor. FC
Carl Teichrib is editor of Forcing Change, a monthly online journal on global government and world social change (www.forcingchange.org).