Mr. Peepers said a forbidden thing in Mr. Right's presence this afternoon. He had seen a TV show in which someone had said that the world is running out of oil.
"There is absolutely no evidence of that," Mr. Right protested. He thinks there are abundant oil deposits in Alaska, for starters, and that observation led him to bemoan the fact that "one major party in this country doesn't want us to be energy independent."
"Why do you think that is?" I asked.
"Because the Democrat party doesn't want to offend its big donors in the environmental movement," he explained.
"So you blame the environmentalists."
"I blame the Democrats."
"But you said they're taking that position because of environmentalists' influence. So why do you think the environmentalists object to energy independence?"
"Look, I don't want to say anything that'll offend you--"
"I don't necessarily consider myself an environmentalist, so fire away."
"Well, the problem with environmentalists is that they worship the planet."
"Worship? You mean with rituals and scriptures?"
"Look, they've replaced God with the planet Earth."
"I don't know if it's that stark. I suppose some of them identify God with the Earth or Nature."
"They don't normally use God's name. I know that much."
"But what's that got to do with the environment?"
"Because I don't think that Almighty God would end the world that way. I don't know because we can't know the mind of God, but I can't believe that He would.do it that way."
"Well, don't you have some idea already of how God will do it?"
"All we know is that he promised that he wouldn't cause another Flood."
"But what about the Book of Revelation? Isn't that a detailed scenario for how God is going to end the world. Isn't that what all those End-Time preachers say?"
His next answer surprised me.
"If someone claims to know the mind of God like that, that's blasphemy. We simply cannot know. Maybe God in His wisdom might let us run out of resources and go back to primitive society. I just find that hard to believe."
It must make for awkward moments at right-wing gatherings if Mr. Right isn't willing to indulge some of his fellow ideologues in their prophetic interpretations, but I suppose his comment was a timely reminder to me that not all right-wingers are evangelical or pentecostal seers. So many people claim the right to interpret the supposed word of God when it gets obscure or symbolic that it's kind of refreshing to have someone say that it's none of his business. But at the same time, while he's careful not to violate his own rule by ruling it out entirely, he feels strongly that God would never starve mankind of natural resources. Something about his concept of God makes that seem implausible to him, or is it something about his idea of man's relationship to natural resources? After all, despite Mr. Right's assertion about environmentalists, I'm sure that many devout Christians of all denominations do feel threatened by global warming or nuclear power or declining oil resources. Rather than blame religion for people denying environmental threats, we should ask whether people use God as a facade to justify their own preferences and prejudices as part of the way God meant them and the world to be.