From "Our devotion to idols is killing the planet," posted
on the website of THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF MELBOURNE:
At its heart, the ecological crisis is fundamentally a moral and spiritual one, (Prof. Michael) Northcott believes, with the marketing of consumption and the power of advertising a significant factor. “In 1970, Britain’s emissions were at a sustainable level. We made most of what we consumed in the country and we didn’t consume nearly so many products. And what we did consume, we tended to keep much longer. So people in 1970 might have had a washing machine in their home which was 30 years old and was endlessly repairable by a local mechanic. They might have had a car, which my father did, that they could actually tinker with themselves and fix and keep on the road. They typically commuted to work on trains or buses. There was less than one car per household. “Now, what’s changed over the last 40 years isn’t that people have got happier as a result of having more stuff, it’s that they’ve been persuaded through advertising and the media that having lots more stuff will somehow increase human flourishing, but that hasn’t happened.”
In theological terms, western societies are in the grip of idolatry. “In the Old Testament, an idol was something made by human hands that people worshipped and bowed down to, and gave their soul force in the service of. In his book City of God, which is an answer to the charge that Christians caused the fall of Rome because they had Christianised the Empire, St Augustine said, ‘No, what has caused the fall of Rome is Rome’s devotion to idols, to luxury wealth and sexual immorality. And further more, a people are made a people by the things that they love in common, the common objects of love. It’s their devotion to these objects which identifies them, which marks them out as a people who belong together.’”
COMMENT: One huge problem Australia faces as it tries to persuade its own people and the people of the world that human greed and complacency is causing great harm to their country and its inhabitants, is the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Pell, one of the most bigoted, right wing spokesmen for that denomination, often loudly reputes the existence of global warming as a danger. People will naturally grasp at any straw, especially those handed out by people of so-called authority, rather than give up the things they believe they need and love. As professor Northcott's words demonstrate, not only are the false teachings of people like Pell downright wrong, they are, along with so many of the cardinal's pronouncements, an attack on God's creation and a boon for the Tempter.