Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last week as 210,000 gallons of oil continued to gush daily into the Gulf of Mexico, my son coincidentally happened to be studying "Ocean Pollution" in his 6th grade Earth Science class. It's been sobering to read how devastating and even unprecedented this disaster may well be when it's over...if it's ever truly over...especially for the environment, wildlife, and those who live and work along the shores of the Gulf. It's even hard to fathom just how much oil that is pouring into the sea at one time. Even today BP CEO Tony Hayward was quoted on NPR as saying that the massive leak may still not be shut off for weeks or even months...unbelievable.

With that fresh in my mind, I was taken aback by a pie chart in my son's text book showing a breakdown of where most of the oil that pollutes our oceans actually comes from. It goes like this:

51.4% Runoff from land
19.4% Routine ship maintenance
13.0% Air pollution
8.8% Natural seeps
5.2% Oil spills
2.2% Offshore drilling
(Holt California Earth Science 2007)

If these figures are correct, then the kinds of devastating spills like the one in the Gulf make up only about 5% of oil pollution in the ocean. The rest is mostly caused by us consumers, which is a reminder that even as we may be tempted to wag our fingers at BP and proponents of off-shore drilling, we are not innocent in all this. If a majority of the oil polluting our oceans stems from non-point sources such as oil and gasoline from cars that washes from streets into storm sewers and eventually to sea, the underlying issue is not just how to prevent platform disasters from happening, but our entire nation's dependence on oil.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Missional Church Part I

If you're reading hoping I have something clever to say about the missional church, I'm sorry I may disappoint you. But I've been meaning to mention this for over a year now especially when it was really getting tedious. What I don't get is the latest obsession and attention with all things 'missional'. Well, yes, on one hand, I think I do get it: In an unintended way, it's seems to be a commentary on the sorry state of the church in the U.S. which gives rise for the need to write, discuss, conference, and program our way out of insularity and irrelevance. But when mission becomes an agenda or identity, it too often takes the practice out of the realm of neighborliness and into presumption. Seriously, do we really need another adjective in front of the word "church" to make us feel like we're onto something new and revelatory? To say we're the 'missional' church seems about as useful as saying we're the 'loving' church, or the 'hospitable' church, or the 'faithful' church. Isn't that a given? I mean, is there any other kind? I find it slightly tragic that we have to convince our congregations to be missional, as if it is the next wave of church development, as if it is a cool thing all of a sudden to actually know our neighbors and to care about people in our communities. Last time I checked, the church was inherently missional because God himself is missional. To say we are a missional church, then, is to be redundant; it is not stating the new, but the obvious. My hunch is that by needing the word 'missional' in front of the word 'church', we are actually betraying who we think we are by what we actually are not.