Pan: The god of green as preached from the university

By Rebekah Reimers 

Contrary to popular belief, there is a god in the public universities of our nation.  His name is Pan and intellectuals everywhere adore him.  They bow before him reverently, teach the proper respect and worship of him, praise him for his beauty and bounty, and even warn sagely of his wrath at our disregard for his health.  Students in turn sew green insignia on their packs and clothing like good soldiers and go on to bright futures of community clean-up projects, recycling rallies and sustainable commune plans.  In my own dear Whatcom Community College, this zealous regard for Pan has inspired the faculty to vote “sustainability” as the 2006-2007 issue of the year, and all instructors were more or less duty-bound to incorporate environmental concepts into their classrooms—all done in the name and to the glory of Pan.  Such zeal is commendable in any true follower of religion, but there is something stronger, more desperate, and more real in this religion than many incredulous conservatives realize.

The devotion to Pan so evident in our universities derives its strength from an ideological survival instinct that has become a force desperate enough to be reckoned with.  What could be more important to an atheist than the survival of mankind?  If there is no almighty creator God, there is no sustainer of life.  If mankind, motivated by greed and the excess that only long years of habitual waste can teach, exhausts the earth’s natural resources, there will be no more planet.  If there is no more planet there is no more hope (except for the life-on-Mars enthusiasts among us).  Desperate indeed.  Desperate enough to become reason for legislation that picks away at freedom as furiously as a woodpecker to a tree.  And what reasoning, intelligent person could deny its necessity under the influence of such sound logic?  Before you start sewing your own green insignia however, grab your Bible and step back with me for a moment.  Let’s talk about stories.

I have always loved stories.  From Johnny Appleseed to the Knights of the Round Table, I have spent my life half in a drafty, dusty corner dreaming up adventures and the other half embarking upon them.  There is one story, however that I love above all others.  It begins with God and it ends with God.  It begins withdarkness and a strange void, tells the creation of a vibrant cosmos full of brilliant color and wonderful creatures, the rebellion of God’s people, a promise of restoration, the preservation of God’s people, a great sacrifice and even now I sit in my corner with trembling hands and fluttering heart for the last pages to be filled.  My waiting is like a child’s who longs for the coming of the undoubted fairy tale ending, confident in the certainty of its goodness.  Yes, I am confident that the end of the story will be better than even I or Tennyson could dream up.  I am confident because God promised.  Suspiciously optimistic?  Unreasonably idealistic?  Perhaps I am.  Just as environmentalists will die to save Pan, my Jesus Christ has already died to save me and He lives now, with dominion and power over all things, sovereign even to the last centipede on the last leaf on the last tree—regardless of any Pan worshipper or any lawmaker, or any world power.

So what shall we say then?  If Christ has dominion over the last centipede, what of our Pan worshipping friends?  Are all their labors in vain?  I think not.  They serve a purpose that radical liberals and conservatives alike don’t seem to understand.  Despite their purpose of self-preservation, they take care of creation the way we all should be taking care of it.  Not because we worship it, and not because we are terrified of the extinction of the human race, but because God commanded that we do so.  Did I forget to mention the mandate in my story?  How careless of me.  In the very beginning, after God had finished his work, and light and water and creatures and joy filled created space, He spoke.  He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1: 26).  To have dominion over the entire cosmos is quite a responsibility—one suited for wise stewards—not radicals.  Thus stewardship of our planet becomes a Christian virtue and a citizen’s duty—and thus it should be.

Rebekah Reimers is a recent graduate from Whatcom Community College and currently an intern for Washington Eagle Forum