Monday, July 16, 2007

A Christian Perspective on Peak Oil

I've been reading about Peak Oil for the past couple of years. For those of you new to the subject, it simply means we are approaching, or have crossed, the point where the amount of oil we can profitably pull from the ground has reached its highest point. Despite surging demand, there won't be enough oil to meet demand once you've passed the "peak." For further information and analysis, please see the web's best site on these issues here: http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Index.html

What I want to talk about is our response to this issue. Most of the people who are aware of Peak Oil (hereafter PO) don't profess faith in Christianity. As I've been reading volumes of information, the general attitude is one of what we can do here and now to prepare. Yet the articles leave little room for hope. They're negative. Headlines read "Doomsday for the Greenback" or "The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)" or "The Last Days of the Oil Age." While this may be true, the solutions tend toward one of three paths. Either get into community and start preparations, get yourself barricaded in a solitary fortress (equipped with guns, ammo, food, and water), or move to a distant, remote land free of any dependence on fossil fuels.

After reading my daily quota about PO, I often come away depressed. What is missing from the debate is a hope in God, a hope in Christ. Now to most in this community, this idea is laughed off. Many of them really do have an animosity and disdain for the intellect of those who claim belief in God. A favourite quote is "Who the hell are you to say I have to believe in the son of your sky god?" So naturally, this type of person is looking to current man-made efforts for a solution, even if that solution is merely survival.

But what if we have other options to approach the issue emotionally and spiritually? I'm not denying that there is a real problem. Corporatism, the dumbing down of Education, Consumerism, Greed, Apathy, and other social ills plague and threaten us. In the face of these problems, we can still look to God for our salvation and our comfort. When I say "salvation" I mean salvation of our souls, our spirits. I don't mean to imply that we are going to survive physically. Yet, there is a better response than depending on our own efforts and remaining depressed and overcome by fear of what's coming. To prove my point, walk back with me through Christian history and see if our fore bearers have any lessons to teach us.

During and for decades after the Apostolic age, Christians faced persecution, social isolation, and martyrdom. Yet a perusal of Foxe's Book of Martyrs shows that hundreds and thousands willingly died with hope in their hearts for something better. These societies had no oil. Yet they persevered. They didn't have cars and planes, but war and death were much closer to them. They had a correct view of life and death. For the Christian, this life is meant as preparation for eternal life. That we all must someday die, no one would question. How we approach that impending death makes all the difference.

A common fallacy attributed to the Christian faith is that becoming a Christian means that all will be well and you'll live in peace and security for the rest of your life. This is not at all what the Bible teaches. Our purpose is to learn to love God and show that we are good stewards over what little we have here so that we are ready to steward whatever God has for us in the next life. Often, God asks us to give our lives for what is right, not knowing whether He will save us or let us pass on to eternity. I always loved the lesson of the fiery furnace. These men stated their faith clearly: "Our God is able to save us. But even if He doesn't, neither will we bow down and worship." I submit that this is the attitude we should have towards PO.

As I've been reading, I regard my obsession to be an idol. In other words, I'm worshiping at the idol of PO. I believe all of the bad things written and so wring my hands and try to figure out what emergency measures I can take to be prepared. This attitude has led not to action, but to inaction, despair, and apathy. However, when I put my faith and focus on God, He gives me the wherewithal to weather this storm much like any storm.

Is PO going to change our lives? I believe that it will. But I also believe that as Christians, we can depend on God to help us in our planning for this event. We can depend on God to care and sustain us through it if that is His will. If it is not His will, then we can depend on God to see us through death's door. Whether that comes from defending my family, starvation, or work camps, I know that God has a reason in all that He does. Of course, this is a worst-case scenario that I don't believe is going to happen soon, if at all.

I don't believe PO is going to bring a crash quickly. The U.S. is currently the world's number one consumer. I know all the economic theories about why this is a bad thing, but this has been decades in the making and will be decades in the unraveling. Were it to crash suddenly, many fortunes of the elite would be lost and I can't see them allowing that to happen. No, we are going to slowly draw down. Unemployment will increase to as much as 30% to 40%. Fewer people will be able to afford the cars or the fuel to run them. This is actually going to be worse for us as that softens the blow but extinguishes the resources upon which we all depend. Ethanol is already driving up the price of food all along the food chain. So the rich are going to literally be driving our food while many will starve.

For the Christian, that does not bring cause for despair. This is the normal state of things in a fallen world! We need to understand that this time in history; this time of abundance and peace (so-called), is an aberration. No matter what our predicament, we should trust God. Prepare as you are being led, but don't let despair or predictions of imminent collapse dissuade you from your work. As for me, I'm going to stop reading about trends and issues I can do little to change. I can't control the fate of the dollar. I can't control the fate of the trade deficit. I can't control who is in which back rooms making secret deals that will wreck me and my family. So why keep reading it? I'm going to stop and put my efforts into productive means. I'm still stuck in suburbia and corporate america, but I'm working to extricate myself. Here are the basics:

0. THROW OUT YOUR TELEVISION!!! Do this before starting anything else. It is the key to putting a halt to the brainwashing in our culture. Psychologically based advertising has been in place for a few decades now and makes us want stuff we don't need, to impress people who don't care. (Don't believe me? What shoes would you rather have? Nike or Trax? Why do you think that is?) Then we put it all in landfills and start the cycle all over again. It's called "planned obsolescence" and is the bane of our society. To quote Neil Postman, we are amusing ourselves to death! I'm serious. Throw out the TV. You won't have time for it anyway if you're serious about preparing for PO.
1. Get out of debt
2. Start buying tools and equipment that you will need post-collapse now. The prices won't ever go any lower than they are right now.
3. Invest in PO. I know it's a bit unsavory; however, stop beating your head against the evil corporate system and use it to profit now while you can. I've read countless books and articles on the terrible corporate system and I'm convinced that no amount of activism is going to change anything. I'm going to stop wasting my time. So, buy oil stocks. If we invade Iran, the price of oil will skyrocket immediately. Sell when it gets to $100 or more after a few days.
4. Build a community around yourself and educate them. Many communities are already starting.
5. Listen and do what God tells you to do. That may be staying in the cities and sacrificing yourself so that someone else might hear the Gospel. That may be staying in your community. In severe circumstances, it is the Christians who make the difference. I don't think God would tell us to hide ourselves in remote places. To do that says that we value this life more than we value other people and God's direction. As one example, it was the Christians who started hospitals in the Middle Ages to care for those suffering from the Plague. This is the example God will want us to set.

In conclusion, PO leads the Christian down the primrose path to despair and inaction. If you're not careful, it could lead you to lose faith. There is little you can do to stop what's coming. Educate yourself on what is happening and why and then get out of that academic pursuit. Spend the rest of your time on preparation and living as God would have you live. That means living simply, working with your hands, doing good to widows and orphans, staying out of debt, not collecting mountains of useless junk, recycling, etc. Steward well what we have because this is the peak of our civilization. But as we are on the downward slope, realize that other Christians in other collapsing civilizations in other ages have gone before you and are the cloud of witnesses spurring us on to our own victories. We are the ones in the arena now. It is our time to shine. Where does the strength come from to see the race to its end? From within. For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you!

2 comments:

  1. thesilentcritic8:34 AM

    Hi Christopher, I saw your last comment over at William Norman Grigg's site, and what do you know, you seem to be interested in a lot of the same things that I am. Since several years ago I feel like I've woken up from a sleep, and I see the world as it really is, and most of what I see and focus on now are dark and disturbing trends and possibilities: Peak Oil, dollar problems, the rise of an american police state, etc. I can't shrug any of these things off and in my mind they are so serious that it's hard to have a positive general attitude.

    Anyway, just thought I'd drop a quick comment on you...

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  2. Thanks for the comment. Grigg's site scares me. I can only read it once a week or so. As for Peak Oil, It's good to hear there's someone else who feels as I do: a bit of an outsider in the movement. I've posted some, but not a lot to those boards. Thanks for coming by.

    My attitude is improved when I simply stop reading the bad news for awhile. I know if doesn't go away, but it helps me to focus on action instead of hand-wringing.

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