Christianity and the Lorax

Published 10:40 pm Friday, March 16, 2012

By Chris Surber

When I taught my now 4-year-old son not to litter, I never knew it meant he would become the litter police. I can’t even drop a straw wrapper in my own yard without him scolding me.

I’ve probably only reinforced the ideology of the little-litter-policeman, having taken my family to see the recent Dr. Seuss movie, “The Lorax.” In a fun and entertaining way, the film touches upon conservation, ecology, deforestation, and how we humans are generally plundering the natural resources of the celestial body that we inhabit.

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As a Christian and as a pastor, I find it fascinating that those of us who view the earth as the creation of an intentional, eternal and involved God tend to be less likely to be involved in or concerned about things like conservation and Earth care than more secularly minded people who view the earth as a convenient product of chance natural processes.

How can it be that someone for whom the earth is like a treasure stumbled upon accidentally, rather than a gift given, can care more for it? It boggles the mind.

Christians believe that care for the earth is the assignment of God. Indeed, responsibility to care for creation was assigned to Adam when he was told to care for the Garden. From the beginning, God gave humanity a responsibility to care for this earth. Conservation and environmental science, when rightly considered, are rooted in the Bible. Consider Adam’s first job. It was to name the animals and plants.

The title character of the film, the Lorax, speaks for the trees. The un-intending villain of the film, the Once-ler, becomes a villain, not by hurtful motivation, but through the consequences of his selfish and irresponsible ways.

The film reminded me that my son is right. It is villainous to make a garbage pile of our streets and highways. It is wicked to consume so much more than we need and then discard the remains of what God has created as though it was so much rubbish.

I, for one, know we can do better. Society can do better, and the Church ought to lead the way. Having realized how bloated our lives had become with junk and waste, my wife and I have, in recent years, been on a journey to reduce, reuse and recycle.

This former Marine with all of the man credentials that go along with it, left the theater with the glint from a tear in his eye and an increased desire to live up to my son’s chastising and this film’s central message. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”