Saturday, November 04, 2006

Annals of unexpected consequences: gay escort to halt global warming?

For all that social sciences are able to figure out patterns of behavior, there's one thing that guarantees a continuing need for old fashioned history analysis: the existence of totally unpredictable twists and turns in culture and politics.

Now I can't say with any confidence that the recent
fall from grace of Rev. Ted Haggard, until this past Thursday the president of the huge and hugely influential National Association of Evangelicals and leader of a megachurch in Colorado Springs, will be one of those surprisingly pivotal events. But there's a distinct possibility that his outing as a repeat customer of male prostitution could lead to major changes in US policy and cultural attention towards global warming.

Here's the historical review of the situation that I'm imagining might be done twenty years from now.

1) Haggard has been president of the NAE.
2) Recently, the NAE has been having internal debates over what the official evangelical response should be to evidence of global warming.
3) Many evangelical leaders, like the Rev. Richard Cizik (vice president for governmental affairs of the NAE),
have realized that global warming is for real and that they should get off the sidelines (or the status quo defense) and on the side of "creation care." (Cizik is profiled in the recently released movie The Great Warming.)
4) But these "green" evangelicals couldn't persuade the overall NAE leadership to endorse their
petition calling for strong action to halt global warming.
5) With Haggard now resigned because he was hot to trot, the possibility exists that someone like Cizik might end up as the new NAE president; and if that happens, then some of the evangelical energy currently expended on sexual politics hot-air might be shifted to a higher calling--in lay minister
Matthew Sleeth's words, serving God through saving the planet.

At this point there's no way to know if this is how our near future will play out, but my fingers are crossed, so to speak.

[Conflict-of-interest alert: I mentioned Matthew Sleeth and link to his book's website. I work at the publishing company that put out the hardcover edition of his book. The plain fact is that without my having worked with him and his book, I wouldn't have been as aware of the NAE and Cizik's role in the greening of Christianity.]


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