Let's talk about pollution control

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pollution control for Christians? Some of you may think that at last I am becoming relevant. Here I am, jumping on the bandwagon for ecology. I wouldn't want to disappoint you, but there are, as you may know, many kinds of pollution.

What I want to say can be stated in one sentence, although I will probably take several paragraphs to say it. The one sentence is this: Pollution can flatten the soul every bit as readily as it can ravage the landscape.

The kinds of pollution I particularly want to talk about are personal ones - pollution of the mind, body and soul. The modern-day world is inclined to pooh-pooh this subject.

Dr. Paul Cornely, when he was president of the American Public Health Association, delivered a presidential address entitled Hidden Enemies of Health. He listed four enemies of health, one of which was "pollution of the mind." He said there are many things contributing to this pollution, among them mass media, pornography, motion pictures, radio. TV and advertising.

What kinds of pollution should we guard against? I would say those that interfere with, or dilute, our effectiveness as human beings. This would include what we take in as well as what we put out. I believe that you and I are responsible for what goes into our mouths, our heads, and our souls, and we are responsible for what comes out. God has given us the freedom to choose these things, and if we accept the freedom, we also accept the responsibility.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul says, "It is to freedom that you have been called. Only be careful that freedom does not become mere opportunity for your lower nature." He then goes into a list of what he calls the activities of the lower nature: immorality, impurity of mind, worship of false gods, hatred, quarreling, jealousy, bad temper, envy, drunkenness.

These are some of the forms of pollution we should avoid, but I only have room to talk about one kind that I think is important, pollution of the mind and body. In one place Jesus Christ said this to his disciples: "See to it that your minds are never clouded by dissipation or drunkenness or the worries of this life."

"Do not cloud your minds by dissipation or drunkenness . . ." Several months after we arrived in Alaska, the figures were published, telling how many gallons, yes, gallons, of alcoholic beverages were consumed per person each year in Alaska. To me it was an unbelievable total - but then I realized that, since neither my friend Claudia nor I consumed any alcoholic beverages, that meant everybody else was also drinking the gallons that we and our other tee totaling friends did not.

I know that many people who are not even alcoholics will insist that it is interfering with a person's freedom to interfere with his right to get drunk if he wants to. All right. It may be an inherent right. But when that right is exercised I believe it is a form of pollution and that it definitely dilutes the effectiveness of an individual's life, as well as oftentimes polluting my environment.

How can we avoid pollution? I can think of no better advice than this quotation from an unknown author: "There's no trick in not going down the drain if you don't live in the sink."

• Bea Shepard is a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church and is a member of the Douglas Community United Methodist Church.

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