He is young and fresh-faced, wearing a blue Greenpeace T-shirt. As I push my grocery cart out of the store, he calls to me,
"STOP AND SPEAK WITH GREENPEACE!"
"You can talk to me if you help me carry my groceries to the car," I say.
"Absolutely!' he says. As we walk through the parking lot, he has lots to tell me about climate change, the deforestation of ancient forests, sustainable energy and why this is the preeminent concern of our time.
I listen. I admire his enthusiastic dedication to his cause. He reminds me of a missionary, eager to share, zealous to convert souls--albeit, his is different kind of gospel.
But I have a question for him: wouldn't killing off at least a billion human beings be the quickest way to stop global warming? After all, it's human beings who are ruining "Mother Earth." He laughs,
"Touche," he says. "well, if we start talking population control then we'll end up like China with their one-child policy."
"So, you don't support population control?" I ask. He still doesn't know I have five kids.
"No. I come from a Catholic background so I know all about big families," he says.
He is touchingly genuine. Thirteen years ago I was like him, standing in public places, speaking with complete strangers. Except I was preaching the Gospel of Christ, begging them to repent and confess Jesus as Lord. I had the same zeal, the same enthusiasm.
"Are you still Catholic?" I ask as we load groceries into my car.
"No," he answers. "I'm an atheist. But don't let that besmirch the reputation of Greenpeace."
"Your personal beliefs don't besmirch my opinion of Greenpeace," I chuckle, glad for conversation with someone who actually uses the word besmirch, "In fact, I think it's sad that more Christians haven't been more pro-active in their stewardship of the earth."
"EXACTLY!" he crows. "And you know, Greenpeace was actually founded by Christians. I mean, I value all life from the little squirrel to the little child."
"It's is interesting that you believe in the sanctity of all life," I say, "so, what is your position on abortion?"
"I am pro-choice," he answers. Which strikes me as deeply contradictory: how does one believe in the "value of all life" and then, in the next breath, become the arbiter of which lives are worthy of being born? What illogical belief leads someone to defend the life of say, a coral reef, while leaving defenseless the most vulnerable of human life?
He tells me that Greenpeace does not involve itself in political issues like abortion. Stopping climate change, however, is a moral issue.
I have managed to disagree agreeably up to this point. He still doesn't see the contradiction and I'm running out of time. It would take me an hour just to re-define the language, ie. abortion=politics; and global warming=moral issue.
He asks me to become a paying member of Greenpeace. I say I have to research it more (which I did that afternoon). I'm still not convinced that carrying a canvas bag to the grocery store is a moral issue on par with saving unborn babies.
We shake hands and he walks back to the store. As I drive past him, he is smiling and I wave to him. He waves back. I didn't convert him, but I know I was kind. Like Frederick W. Faber once said, "Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence or learning."
The only Gospel that can save our world is that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him, fighting global warming is just as good as bailing water from a sinking ship.