environment & naturereligion & philosophy

PCUSA … and PRO-Fossil Fuel … Part 1

No Gravatar

Consider how Christians might respond to a call for a blanket divestment from Christianity, inspired by a variety of things that have taken place in the past, or are taking place right now … things that had (or have) nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus Christ and the kingdom He proclaimed, yet were done (or are being done) in His name, and in pursuit of a very worldly and wrongful pursuit of His kingdom.

How might Christians respond to such a call?

Me? My response is that a blanket divestment from Christianity is NOT the answer … and would suggest, rather, a reinvestment. That process would begin with a thoughtful and considered look at Christ’s message, and how that message – and Christ’s love – is being lived and shared by others. Based upon that search, and upon what that search revealed about other Christian gatherings, I would reinvest my heart and my mind, my body and soul into where those others are gathered, and join them in their mission.

This is what comes to mind when I read about those within the Presbyterian Church USA who demand an immediate and total, blanket divestment of the denomination’s investment funds from “fossil fuel producers.” I have to ask … is blanket divestment the answer? Shouldn’t we, instead, consider reinvestment of those funds into responsible – even moral – fossil fuel producers?

Before I go any further, let me give you some idea of the context in which I am composing this post. It’s important to the consideration – if any! – that you will give to what follows …

For the past 31 years, I have lived and worked in and around the city of Midland, in the western region of Texas … smack-dab in the middle of what they call ‘the oil patch.’ There is some cattle and some cotton in the foundation of this community, but most of Midland today is built upon the energy industry, and the production of oil and natural gas plays a major, even predominant role in our local economy.

I do not work directly for the energy industry … though I have been happily married those same 31 years to someone who is. As for me, I first worked in in this part of Texas as a contract archaeologist … but my vocation has changed more than once with the ups and downs – especially the downs! – in the energy industry over the past three decades. So I have also worked as a television writer/producer, a newspaper reporter/editor, a website/social media manager, and for the past seven years in the public information and media office of a community college.

This has given me a tremendous opportunity to observe the industry ‘up-close and personal,’ as we used to say in the news business. I suggest that I might have more insight than some others into the industry, its people, its technology and practices, and the changes in said technology and practices. I have seen, reported-on and learned from – to borrow a phrase from a movie title – the good, the bad and the ugly of fossil fuel production … and the beautiful, as well.

Let me qualify that last paragraph, though … my experience observing fossil fuel producers has been exclusively with oil and natural gas. I have no such experience with the coal industry, and I am not qualified to comment upon changes that may have taken place in their technology and practices. When it comes to coal, all I have to go on are the 50-year-old memories I have of that industry – actually, the remnants of that industry – in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area of northeastern Pennsylvania … which helped set my course down the environmentalism path as a teenager way-back-when.

Anyway, that is where I come from. Where I am going, in the weeks ahead, is to develop my pro-fossil fuel thesis, and to suggest options for a position within the Presbyterian Church USA that still promotes protection and restoration of God’s creation, yet encourages responsible – even moral – energy production that includes fossil fuels. Beyond that, I am hoping that those options might make their way into a ‘fossil fuels reinvestment’ overture that would be submitted to the next PCUSA General Assembly for their consideration/approval.

Thank you for your time in reading the above. I welcome any comments you wish to make in the space below … regardless of your stance on fossil fuel production. It is my hope that this will be the start of a discussion among those who ultimately share a common goal, a common destination … though for now, we may be reaching it by different paths.

There's a saying around here, something like, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" That's me. I'm a 'dang Yankee from back-east' who settled in the Lone Star State after some extended stays in the eastern U.S., and New Mexico. I worked as an archaeologist for a few years before dusting off my second major in English, and embarking on a 25-year career in journalism. Since then, I've embraced the dark side of the force, and now work in PR for a community college in Midland, Texas.

Latest posts by Jeff McDonald (Posts)

Print This Post Print This Post

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment