The ferocity of the wildfires raging in Northern California was given a human face last Monday morning when one of the staff at AMC shared that two members of her family had lost their homes and everything they owned when their town was devoured by the flames. As I write today, the fires have destroyed 1400 homes.
To some, it is human crisis that makes global climate change palpable to them. For me, once a wanderer of the trails above the Conejo Valley, the cries of nature have weighed on my heart for far longer. The day that I first encountered the great Muslim love poem, Yusef and Zuleika, these words caused me to weep as I looked out over the hills:
To my wounded heart this soft balm to lay,
For not beyond this can I wish or pray.
The streams of thy love will new life bestow,
On the dry, thirsty field where its sweet waters flow.
After services at St. Kolbe’s today, I was moved to stand on the floor where the gaze of Christ fell. I was struck suddenly that the last thing that he beheld was the earth under the cross. The earth that held in place the instrument of his destruction, but also that had carried him on his wandering, that had brought forth food for him to eat, and provided all the tools of weather and life that had responded to his authority as he tried to teach his people to heal the world.
We could have avoided this destruction. Not just the destruction of families, cities and nations, but the loss of species and the poisoning of water and earth that will delay their recovery. Both to the reasoning mind and the intuitive heart, these consequences have long been apprehensible. Now, faced with the undeniable evidence of doom, we still hesitate to act, for we think first of what is close to us. Our families, our homes, and our land: they all suffer, and so we take from elsewhere to preserve them. We take from those with no voice: the poor, the uneducated, and the natural world.
But what else are we to do?
I write here because I understand things that others do not, and so I perceive solutions that are beyond their grasp. It may seem small-minded to decry the folly of Elon Musk and his peers, desperately trying to disperse the human species so that it can survive all the threats of the natural world: black holes, solar instability, and human greed. But I do so with sympathy for them, for they cannot see how much power is available to us if only we understand it.
On the New Physics page I offer a model of physics that holds these truths: space is not empty. It is filled with a medium in which light propagates, the medium that physicists once called the “aluminiferous ether”, and now call “dark energy.” That medium is wrought through with threads that appear most obviously to us as electric charge when bound to the medium, but that may also float in the medium. The floating threads interact, merge and evolve to form what we know as “souls.” The souls merge with matter to “live” as plants, animals and people. In that form, they are capable of warping the fabric of space. In most cases, that warping occurs through the use of their physical manifestation – in humans, we commonly use our legs, hands, and mouths.
Through our actions, we join other things in the service of our will. That can be a temporary affair, such as when we throw a light switch or press the accelerator pedal. We are often seduced by the temporary thrill of such expressions, a thrill made accessible through the efforts of engineers to remove souls from the world around us, ensuring that it responds only to our will.
But any great lover knows the permanence of the bonds that arise when we ask permission before enjoying a gift, and attempt to reciprocate in kind. In those exchanges, we make persistent spiritual arrangements – persistent precisely because the participating souls do not seek to escape them.
So this is how we save the world: we surrender our self-concerns. We open our hearts in compassion to the suffering of the world. We marshal the displaced souls of the natural world and join them together to warp the fabric of space to create a lens that bends light away from the earth. And we reward them every day with the expression of our gratitude for their service.
Are we enough to do this, by ourselves? Perhaps, and perhaps not. But we should consider this: there is a billion times as much energy leaving the sun than comes to us on Earth. The source of that energy is not unintelligent. It is, in fact, the “Ancient of Days” described in Daniel’s Dream of the Four Beasts. It would help us if it could, but we are so terribly small, and one mistake would destroy us all. It needs us to guide it.
I had a friend challenge me once that with faith we should be able to move mountains. My response was: “Yes, if every living thing on the mountain and the land around it agreed that the mountain should move, the mountain would move.” But if any voice claimed privilege over that power, the result would be chaos. It is for this reason that I decry the ugliness of the Republican debates. If we are going to save all of the world, the power of such voices will still be among us. The destructive effects of their expression cannot be risked. They must learn self-control.
I was late getting to church this morning. As I organized my thoughts to write this post, I sat down to the reading from Acts. I wept as these words were read [James 4:2-3]:
You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Oh, humanity! Why must the world suffer so?