Monkey Wrench

February 21, 2012

“We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.” This is what Rick Santorum told a Colorado crowd earlier this month.

This, in a fundamental sense for some, is God talking to Santorum through the Bible because many believe the Bible is God’s word. Of course the Bible says lots of things that, in their personal lives, even Bible literalists don’t adhere to these days, but we’re all a little selective when it comes to the things we choose to set the course of our lives upon —cherry-picking scriptures included.  It’s what many call free will.

Among other things, free will is the inclination and capacity to skew facts or fable in our favor.  If “free will” means ignoring some of God’s words and coming down like a sledge hammer with others —well, history will attest to the truth of that, so let’s not waste time rehashing old idiocies, let’s turn our attention to current ones.. What’s important now is that Santorum’s rhetoric is very much like that of the middle ages when heresies clashed with church-think  —which it looks like we’ll never be rid of.

Here’s the trouble with Santorums thinking: it rejects the actual and embraces the fantastic. Religious thought rejects huge slices of the obvious because it’s locked in metaphorical concrete set when human minds were profoundly ignorant —the concrete of holy books. Santorum’s problem is that his grasp of reality is not as ardent as his grasp of ignorance. He simply cannot or will not set aside the rigid duality of his Judeo-Christian childhood, grow up and open his mind to the universe as it is; the one he claims God made. The one that changes constantly, without cease. The one that’s intregal in all its parts and physical laws —a system; entwined, organic, enveloping, dynamic and, yes, I’ll utter the evil word: evolving. In god’s world everything touches everything else, and all things constitute a system in motion.

In a system every part is a potential good or evil for other parts so every part is a potential monkey wrench in the works. Not acknowledging this is where Santorum’s thinking is a clear and present danger. The earth is not something over there to have dominion over. It’s not something alien to go to war with and conquer. It’s not an entity to steward but is something that shoulld be attended to as we attend personal grooming. It is not, in fact,”other” but is, instead, something we are an aspect of. And whether God created the system or not does not matter.  It is —and the business of its is-ness must be understood in order to conduct our affairs morally withhin it: to have positive, and avoid any negative, effects upon it.

Without the proper functioning of the system “earth” we are toast. When we mis-use the earth in a very real sense we misuse ourselves. We are inextricably linked in its processes. Without the oxygen the earth’s vegetation produces our lungs would be as irrelevant as the biblical sabbath Santorum disrespects everytime (as the bible in places says) he lifts his hand in any work (and which is especially profaned when Santorum makes a political pronouncement).  Without the earth’s water we would become as uselessly dessicated as the fig tree Jesus seemed to despise. And without its wheat and corn and every food source the earth puts forth we’d be as weak and powerless as the utterly poor that Jesus loved. Rick Santorum should read between the lines of his great book (where the real truth lies) —and realize also that there is truth as significant in other books besides. If we were not of the earth and integrated into its fabric we would not be at all.

That last is a truth Santorum and those who think like him reject, either willfully or ignorantly. And what they reject out of misunderstanding or corruption is dangerous to the earth and, therefore, to us all.

Rick Santorum nutures a great ignorance; but what’s worse, he’s proud of it.

Jim Culleny, 2/21/11


2 Responses to “Monkey Wrench”

  1. David Says:

    Jim: As a friend who reads your editorials so often and you as one who provokes my thinking, in this line about Santorum your so close to truth but falling short of it. We know Santorum speaks freely, spontaneously and without many times clarifying what he really means. He’s not anti-environment. He’s against all kinds of environmental laws that put people and businesses out of work. and deny people opportunity to have water and jobs (California, for ex). They Cut the water off in California to save a few fish and shut down jobs for people to make a living and have water for their farms and towns. That’s Obama. Fish are more important than people and jobs. The fuel pipeline in the mid west not allowed by Obama while thousands of jobs could be created. Regulations and policies such as these are what Santorum is campaigning against. It is true there are necessary laws and regulations needed to prevent earths destruction but not in many of the rediculous policies that have not much effect on the total environment and jobs needed. I could spend time mentioning many of them but will not do so. We are to appreciate the earth and take good care of it. That is our Biblical responsibility. It is a sin not to. Your article sounds more like a panthiestic defense. But I know you better than that. Panthiesm – everythng is god and god is everything. S o close to humanism isn’t it. Truly a branch of evolution too. How close they relate to each other. I will stick with Monotheism – a Creator – The Good Earth (Pearl Buck – remember her) take good care of our planet – but not worship it. I’m rambling so will stop.

  2. jimculleny Says:


    As I said in my post, we are of the earth and inextricably a part of it. Without the earth we would not be. The earth not something apart to be cared for after we’ve taken care of ourselves, it is integral to our being to be attended to as we attend to our selves.

    This idea of being apart from the earth is one of the dangerous falshoods that come from the idea of a creator god out there. The dualism it mistakenly leads to encourages blind guides like Santorum to make pronouncements that have nothing to do with reality.

    I think the guy’s a (maybe well-meaning) idiot.

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