I recently heard an interview with a financial analyst who has written a book interpreting the novel Moby Dick as an allegory for our stewardship of the earth. The premise of the interview is that we are approaching or have actually entered the era of declining petroleum production and that our energy-dependent lifestyle is about to get a dramatic make-over.
The facts of petroleum production currently tend to support this idea but that’s not the point of this article; I’ll save that for another day. Instead, I’d like to focus on a statement made by the author near the end of the interview.
Given their bleak outlook on the supplies of inexpensive energy, the interviewer asked whether better stewardship of earth’s resources is called for. The author said:
“Well, becoming stewards of the planet obviously is critical. Figuring out how we get away from this idea that we have dominion over nature – that we are really a part of nature – man can only exist in concert with nature – making that kind of pyschologicial shift is the first thing.”
This statement raises some obvious questions:
1. How can one be a good steward (or a bad steward or any other kind of steward) unless one has dominion?
2. Can one be a steward unless someone else owns the goods and grants the stewardship?
3. Can’t we be good stewards and have dominion?
This idea that we have dominion over nature is, of course, completely biblical and shouldn’t be so dismissively waved off. The illogic of his statement brings into question anything else he has to say.
Confused thinking plagues us. Consciously or not, the man is doing mental contortions to avoid confronting Who it is that owns the planet and nature and how mankind fits into that scheme.
Al Gore must be proud!
~ John Bingaman
Interview: Click here to listen.