Another Week Ends

1. Such a fascinating article about Green Guilt in Wednesday’s NY Times (ht BZ). Substitute […]

David Zahl / 10.1.10

1. Such a fascinating article about Green Guilt in Wednesday’s NY Times (ht BZ). Substitute the eco-language with discipleship-talk and you have a nigh perfect allegory for the double-edged sword of self-righteousness/despair that comes from living by the Law (or  any attempt to live consistently). Again, nothing against the environment – I ride a bike to work after all 😉 – and I know it’s an easy target, but the religiosity lurking behind the movement, especially in its most radical, overtly self-justifying forms, is just so obviously toxic. Pun intended. That is, it’s hard not to chuckle a little when it shipwrecks on the Gordian knot of Romans 7. Grace seems to be a particularly foreign, aka  doubly urgent, concept in this context:

“We tried cloth [diapers] and think it’s totally unrealistic,” Mr. Dorfman [author of The Lazy Environmentalist] said. Like the rest of America, he said, they have gravitated toward disposable diapers “and that’s really environmentally sinful. It’s plastic derived from petroleum. You use them once and then they get tossed in a landfill. It’s a terribly inefficient use of natural resources. 

“Not only do I feel guilt, I feel hypocritical. But it’s the most functional diapers we’ve found. They keep my son dry. They don’t irritate his skin. They don’t clump up and get really heavy. They happen to work the best, and that’s annoying.”

Living in an environmentally responsible way, for the truly observant greenie, can be difficult. Certainly it is sensible to take the position, as do Mr. Dorfman and several others interviewed, that guilt is neither healthy, nor a motivation for long-term change. But when one is acutely concerned about doing the right thing, it can be difficult not to feel guilty on occasion… For those who are concerned about green, life is fraught.


Does Mr. Freed [author of Green Your Home All-in-One for Dummies] — who said his wife, Laurie, is not a greenie and did not even recycle when they met — have any green guilt about his own lifestyle, which includes a 350-square-foot apartment in San Francisco and a 2,000-square-foot house in Palm Springs, Calif.?

“Nonstop, every minute, are you kidding?” he said. “Every time I set foot in the car. I drive a hybrid and I bought carbon offsets for it, so technically it’s carbon-neutral, but with carbon offsets you’re trading the carbon reduction of one company for the polluting practices of another. I have a 2-year-old child, a little girl — there’s a lot of guilt around the baby, because its stuff is horribly packaged, designed to be disposable, and there are times we have to do things I wouldn’t do for myself, such as disposable water bottles and these plastic placemats we use when we go to the restaurant. They’re great for germs, but disposable, awful things.”

Diapers seem to be a stumbling block for everyone. “Yeah,” Mr. Flancman [a Canadian environmentalist living in Thailand] said. “If I could only get my kids to eat grass, then we’d have a solution.” 

2. A new Pew study reports that atheists and agnostics know more about religion than those who would identify themselves as believers. Sigh… One particular note of interest for us: “Atheists and agnostics are also more likely than Protestants to know that Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation (the majority of Protestants could not identify him).” On the upside, a different study finds that losing your religion is bad for your health! (HT JD)

3. The A/V Club reports on the top ten songs most likely to make a man cry, and not surprisingly, REM’s “Everybody Hurts” tops the list. Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is up there, and The Verve’s “The Drugs Don’t Work” even made the grade… Such a subjective topic, but off the top of my head, I might include The Beach Boys’ “Caroline No,” Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet,” Wilco’s “Reservations,” Westerberg’s “Good Day,” Al Green’s version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” U2’s “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” (or “Moment of Surrender”), Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World,” Ian Hunter’s “Michael Picasso,” Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” Radiohead’s “True Love Waits,” Michael Jackson’s “Stranger in Moscow,” and Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up.” Not to mention, my current over-the-top melodramatic favorite, Athlete’s “Black Swan Song”. Come to Pensacola and we’ll have ourselves a good cry (ht CH).

Speaking of which, if you’re planning on attending, we’re getting closer to the time when we need to know. Even if you’re not ready to register, please email Jeff Hual at to reserve your space today. We’re really excited about how it’s coming together.

4. Also on the music tip, our very own DJ JAZ has a new two-disc mix coming out next month, available now for pre-order! This is a very limited run, so order yours today. If the astronaut-holy-spirit cover  isn’t enough to convince you, nothing will.

5. In movies, I’ll be lining up to see The Social Network as soon as I get the chance. With David Fincher directing, Aaron Sorkin writing and Jesse Eisenberg acting (three favorites), it had already hooked me, but the cover piece of this week’s NY Magazine didn’t hurt. If you can get beyond the apparently rampant poetic license, it sounds like body slam of a morality tale, exploring such Mbird-friendly themes as identity, motivation, technology and class, occupied with questions such as, “How much of a jerk are you allowed to be in the name of getting the job done? And if you’re the smartest guy in the room, you know it, you act on it, and you don’t care who gets hurt, then what is the word for what you are? …The film is uniquely Sorkinian: an earnest, unsparing exploration of ‘What exactly does it mean to be an a$$hole?'”

5b. Finally, also in movies, the first bits of casting news about Whit Stillman’s long-awaited new project Damsels In Distress hit the web this week. Sounds like it’s filming later this month – say a prayer!

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One response to “Another Week Ends: Green Guilt, Agnostic Knowledge, Tearjerkers, The Social Network, Damsels in Distress”

  1. Matt says:

    Dave – you make the comparison between eco-concerns and "discipleship-talk" as being, potentially, equal in their propensity to speak the law. Of course I agree with that, but Mockingbird heroes like Martin Luther and (present-day) Michael Horton and Tim Keller will frequently stress the need for catechesis – which by a basic definition would be described as discipleship. Would you make a distinction between brow-beating discipleship on one hand and a more grace-centered approach to teaching the faith that is necessary to pass the faith on to futute generations?

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