Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci: Caricature of a man (1495)
So there it is, the first part of the new, big IPCC report on the state of the climate. Published a few days ago, the remaining parts of the report will follow in the next few months. With it comes a new, interactive world atlas that gives you access to maps and many data and scenarios in a clear, if somewhat scientific, form. And yes, this new report made some headlines in the public news. Judging by the explosive power of the content, the response remains very, very quiet though.
High on drugs?!
That’s probably why I find myself thinking about drugs – from all things. Repeatedly. Not that I feel tempted to start suddenly and take some (although, at this point I might want to admit publicly that I – as a morally sensitive Christian – now consider the use of drugs to be more ethical than the consumption of meat. Yes, that’s right. Although my attitude about drugs has hardly changed in the past few decades, but the numerous deadly and occult dangers that factory farming pose for the whole of creation have become all the more conscious to me, so that had to become the only logical and ethical conclusion. But this is just a little side track). I rather keep wondering what kind of unknown drug it can be that makes us so stoned and completely floating around in greedy intemperance and excessive overindulgence. It must be some form of mass ecstasy, making us super-duper hyperactive and yet benumbing our awareness of what we are actually doing. Because it seems to be a civilized party with plenty of intelligent and highly educated people enjoying themselves, but the house in on fire and the fire alarm is ringing, and we keep dancing like crazy, as if nothing had happened. What drug can paralyze our senses in such a way?
Back in the day, 1997 …
Let’s just remember briefly. In the so-called Kyoto Protocol, that was in 1997, it was decided to reduce the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane or nitrous oxide. A global warming of 1.5°C was still considered to be the worst that could be done to both mankind and the planet. A warming of 2°C was considered a horror scenario. So far so good. But then: more than one third of the total of all greenhouse gases that are in the atmosphere today were only blown out after Kyoto – yes, after the decision to reduce them! So after Kyoto we didn’t reduce, we really turned it up! In other words: in the past two to three decades we, yes we, our generations, have emitted and scattered more than all the steam engines and locomotives in the world plus two world wars including Ludwig Erhard’s post-war economic miracle all together. That is really an achievement, isn’t it ?! Now it’s almost certain we won’t make the 1.5°C goal, the former horror scenario of 2°C has become very likely, and it’s even more likely that we will exceed that. Ladies and Gentlemen, none of us ever wants to experience a world like that, it will be a living inferno, we’ll not only be fried like Kentucky chickens, it will not only hurt like hell, today we cannot even imagine all the myriads of details that will entangle our daily life. Yet the Greenhouse trend is still increasing, despite Corona, despite more and more really annoying and damn shrill alarm bells. We keep rocking on, on and on and on, as if nothing had happened at all. What’s wrong with us, the Creator’s image ?!
Did our cell phone screens mesmerize us with “Trust in me, just in me!”? Are we so concerned about our jobs that the future of the economy means more to us than the future of humanity? Have we got so used to the upward trend since the post war economic miracle that it appears to us like a total failure, should it go downwards again? Are we fearfully scared of a scary fear? Do we really see technology as the savior from all our sins? What the hell is wrong with us?! Speaking of which, has a certain lying guy inoculated us long enough that there is no hell at all that we have now developed stable herd immunity against every warning from hell?
It’s a little despairing…
As a slightly desperate missionary, I have long asked myself: How can you warn people of the eternal consequences of life if they are not even impressed by the earthly, measurable, obvious and demonstrable consequences? As a missionary, it is my job to help people repent, but what should I do if no one wants to repent? What should I do when even many of my brothers and sisters in the Lord (or who I believe to be) are lame ducks in repentance as well because we have never really learned to CHANGE, to fight against the headwind. Christians have often been a weird opposition, but instead of becoming a healthy opposition we either remain weird or we’ve turned as mainstreamy as everybody else, we camouflaged ourselves as great as a chameleon. No wonder nowadays nobody is even talking about us anymore.
As a slightly desperate prophet, it is my job to communicate things that I see, learn, perceive, often uncomfortable truths, and to point out that only repentance and conversion can prevent the destruction of Nineveh. But what if everyone fancies shiny outfits instead of sackcloth and ashes? What if nobody, or at least way too few, are ready to change and to accept the cost of change? Do I really have to be present and watch it with my own eyesight when grandchildren drown, parents starve to death, grandmas and grandpas die of heat strokes? All of this will happen in my lifetime, at least what is my statistically expected life time, and whoever has eyes to see let them see it happening already today. Is it my doom to keep walking soberly among intoxicated societies? That’s kind of a living hell too, I promise, at least for myself. Fortunately not an eternal one.
But comfort is not far away
Paradoxically, I find solace in the Bible’s announcements of judgement – out if all things the Bible says. Not because it gives me some feeling of revenge or malicious satisfaction, oh, God forbid, no, not at all. It feels more like a pain reliever ointment. Take, for example, these verses from Jeremiah 5 that I’m trying to write a song about that expresses my despair over the madhouse of our day:
‘Do you not fear Me?’ says the Lord.Jeremiah 5:22.25
‘Will you not tremble at My presence,
Who have placed the sand as the bound of the sea,
By a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass beyond it?
And though its waves toss to and fro,
Yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot pass over it.
[But] Your iniquities have turned these things away,
And your sins have withheld good from you.
Painful to read, especially at the sight of rising sea levels, but somehow also comforting, as Jeremiah predicted, that the sin of man can be so strong that it permanently pulls entire seas out of their assigned territory, at a speed that is furious for seas, so quickly that no new sandy beaches can be formed there. This is not just prophecy, it is even modern science, but above all it is a wrong world, no longer according to God’s good order. No, God will indeed no longer send a deluge, just as He had promised. Man will be able to create the next one all by himself – and this time it is not God who judges but man who judges himself.
Or what about Isaiah 50?
Indeed with My rebukeIsaiah 50:2-3
I dry up the sea,
I make the rivers a wilderness;
Their fish stink because there is no water,
And die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness,
And I make sackcloth their covering.”
Just recently we had smelly fish on dry river beds even in Germany, e.g. in the River Black Elster in northern Germany. Today, in every day’s news you can see a lot of black sackclothes in the skies hanging over burning land. This statement really makes you shudder at the sight of the dying and drying up Dead Sea, right there in the so-called “Holy Land”. In a few decades it will be gone. Gone! Dried up, a whole sea literally evaporates if nothing happens.
Despite all the desperation over dried up rivers, seas and so much more, there is still a strange glimmer of comfort when reading these lines that God had long foretold all these unlikely details. The complexity of these ancient prophecies also makes me shudder in holy awe: God has the overview. He knew, he knows, and he prepares everyone for the future. Ancient words take on brand new dimensions.
In general, it is astonishing how often God includes or directly addresses creation in his words of judgment.
Hear, O earth!Jeremiah 6:19
As if he wants to give a heads up to creation. Warn it, prepare it. Maybe he evens wants call heaven and earth to the stand. In a former blog post, I had shown that God, with his promise of blessings and curses, calls on creation to stand as witnesses for or against us. Now it looks like the heavens and the earth start speaking louder and louder against us. An extremely embarrassing, but above all miserable situation for us, because we are going to draw the short straw. But we don’t even notice anything. We are so stunned and stoned, so busy with vacation, returning “back to normal” from the pandemic, consumed by consumption that we are suffering from full body anesthesia. Numb people neither recognize death nor fear it, writes Walter Brueggemann.
But the true reason the Old Testament is so comforting is that every earthly judgment is always followed by hope.
For the Lord will comfort Zion,Isaiah 51:3
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
It is a shame that the madhouse world is inaccessible to such hopes as well. For me, however, they are precious pearls, or rather pills of hope, of which I like to treat myself to a few every day – especially after new IPCC reports and the following daily news.