Back in the 1970s there was a "Back to Nature" movement where people gave up on the modern life and tried to simplify. They would go from one extreme to the other - living on the beach to living in four-story treehouses. The music of choice was John Denver. It was all peace and love and VW buses.
Even earlier, there was a "back to nature" movement called the Arts & Crafts movement (which "incidentally" also occurred around the turn of the century) where again there was a movement in reaction to all the frills and hoopla of the Victorian era and the mode of that day was to simplify and go natural. We got the Bungalow house out of that era, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright and William Morris. It was all about using natural materials and living a simpler lifestyle. Shrine Mont in Virginia was built during that era.
It was clear that these were movements because there was a spiritual and artistic expression of a philosophy of living. They were creative. They were inspiring. They gave people hope.
Now there is a new "movement" and despite the Nobel Prizes and the speeches from bishops and politicians, it's not quite catching on. It's spawning money-making enterprises, that's for sure, but not art. It's not a spiritual movement, it's spokesmen are politicians. It appears to be political, not spiritual - and many believe, scientifically flawed.
And it's based on fear.
Both the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s and the global climate change efforts now are based on fear - on a political fear. It's hard to be creative when one thinks the world is coming to an end.
It seems based on the fear that the world is going to melt down, literally, and we've got to stop it. But it also seems curious that most of the leaders who are spinning this whole thing are now Boomers entering their retirement years and they are afraid. Their fear seems to be projected onto this particular issue - climate change as though that's the latest fear-fad, like the nuclear freeze was back in the 80s.
It's a political issue, as even Bishop James Jones recognizes in his recent editorial in the Guardian. But it's a political issue based on fear and it's approached with a nearly fundamentalist-style finger pointing. Repent, or the world is going to explode.
But I just have to wonder if it's a diversion from the real fear, which is the war. Not able to comprehend and control the likelihood that the terrorists will strike at any time (and this goes against the idea that humankind is progressing - you don't send girls with down syndrome into a crowd and blow them up - it's beyond comprehension it's so evil), these fads spring up to give us the security that we can change our environment. Then we get on the fad-bandwagon and pour lots of $$$ to make us feel better and look good, until it just becomes too expensive (as recycling now is, as is a Frank Lloyd Wright chair) and we move on.
Living a life that values simplicity and the spiritual benefits of being good stewards with what God has entrusted to us is a challenge all by itself. Our care for the created world is an expression of our love for Him and for His creation. Our care is based on love, not fear. Is it not time to simplify as an expression of our confidence in His care for us? Perhaps if the politicians - often the very same ones who seem to take the war lightly - stopped preaching fear we might listen.
We may need to be ready to live simply anyway - and not because the world is too hot. Might as well start now.