- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

The preachers in England have fallen on hard times since they pretty much turned Jesus out of the church, but the archbishop of Canterbury has come up with a novel idea to make himself relevant: If you can’t get ‘em to church, get ‘em to the greenhouse.

The churches of England — the churches of the Church of England — are going eco-friendly.

Dr. Rowan Williams wants his vicars to serve only organic bread and wine for holy communion, to urge parishioners to ride to service in car pools, recycle “waste products,” and to sell only “fair trade products” at church fairs and Bingo suppers. Anglicans should consider the ethics of the High Streets and shopping malls.

If he can’t save the world, the well-meaning archbishop has set out to save the planet, one weed at a time. He will outline his vision of a green world at a session of the General Synod of his church later this month. The gospel of global warning, not the Gospel of the Good News, is the challenge with which he wants his church to confront Britain and, naturally, the United States. Organic brussels sprouts, not organic accompaniment to the mighty hymns to the faith, should be the first order of Sunday worship in the stately empty pews of England.

A “discussion document” has been distributed among the churches, and it deals with climate, not Christ, warning that the planet’s climate is close to a tipping point. (Tipping points have suddenly become the vogue; only this week we heard our own pols speculate that the elections last Sunday were the tipping point in Iraq, whatever that may mean).

“The sudden changes that would occur in weather systems, the fertility of the soil, the water and the world of living creatures if this ‘tipping point’ were reached,” the archbishop’s discussion document warns, “would be devastating.” Growth without limit “has to be curtailed.” The archbishop is an authority on no-growth; if it works for him, why not the world?

The greening of what remains of the British state church is part of a fresh effort to shame America into stunting the nation’s growth on behalf of the lazy buggers of the world, mostly Europeans. If the lazy buggers have a prayer of making themselves equals of the Americans, the Americans have to be brought down to size. Going green, to match the color of the envy of American prosperity and power, is the lazy-bugger recipe for an equality of shrunken expectations.

The archbishop’s organic bread and communion wine accompanies the British offensive in behalf of the Kyoto Protocol, which a succession of presidents and a unanimous vote of the U.S. Senate consigned to irrelevance. But Kyoto, as disastrous as it would be if a president or the Congress should be so suicidal as to attempt to impose it on the American economy, does not go far enough.

“It has taken far too long to be ratified as each country fights for its own interests (the United States is notable among countries which have declined to sign),” the ecclesiastical discussion document goes on, and “its targets fall very far short of what is necessary.”

The archbishop will ask the Synod to support a formula for reducing carbon emissions based on a nation’s population, not its industrial strength. Such a formula would penalize the United States most of all, and work to the advantage of China and India, first and second in population size and among the very worst of the polluters.

So the game is afoot. Prime Minister Tony Blair, eager to restore his standing among the worthies of Europe, wants to put global warming atop the agenda of the G-8 group of rich nations. Only this week, the London Independent, the newspaper voice of the Little England that aspires to be even smaller, reported that global warming “experts” have come up with a timetable of distant doom that is every bit as precise as an airline or railroad timetable.

When the temperature climbs 3.6 degrees above the planet’s temperatures prevalent before the Industrial Revolution, the arctic sea ice will melt and polar bears, walruses, the succulent karroo of the South African veldt and the flora of the Fynbos will suffer.

Or maybe not. Environmental fundamentalism has become the catechism of evangelical atheism, to be taken blindly on faith. Evelyn Waugh, the master of English satire, would surely regret abandoning the Anglicans if he were more than a handful of dust. He would never discard such a rich source of material for his rollicking scoops of earnest upper-class spoofery.

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.


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