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Gulf Oil Spill: A Prophetic Message

Walter Brueggemann wrote that the essential message of a prophet is that the dominant narrative of the culture has failed and God's alternative way of life remains supreme. If the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has taught us anything, it is that the dominant narrative of a petroleum-based lifestyle has failed us. We can no longer count on it to give us the lives we want because it is essentially killing that life now.

While British Petroleum has worked non-stop for over 50 days to stop the oil that gushes from the ruptured pipe 5,000 feet below the surface of the gulf and have invested their best engineers, technology, and ingenuity to stop the flow, the man-made leak continues. Our biggest and best can't stop what our biggest and best created.

Even the President's promise to kick some a__ has and will not change the situation. Pointing the finger of blame will not solve this disaster. We are reaping what we have demanded by our lifestyles and what we have sown to have it. Even if the volcano of oil and dispersant stopped today, the damage to the ecosystem in that area will be damaged for decades to come.

One irony in all this is that the industry on, in and next to the water is dependent on the gushing crude for its survival. The fisherman use oil products to harvest their catches. No one is paddling in kayaks to provide 1/3 of the fish used in America. The businesses use oil products to entertain guests, and, those guests drive on refined oil to get to their pleasure spots. Why are we mad at BP and President Obama? They have simply given us what we have insisted they give us.

This disaster has exposed the failure in our culture's dominant narratives of petroleum-based lifestyles, human engineering and technology to provide it--disaster free, and the fragile nature of our absolute belief in all of them. Point the finger of blame at us. This is our mess.

The prophet Hosea, whose message we are unpacking at Legacy Church these days, warned the Northern Kingdom, "Israel's arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the LORD his God or search for him." (Hosea 7:10) The dominant narrative had failed them, but they were not listening. I pray our arrogance will "testify against US" and drive US back to our Creator, and that as the gulf fills up with oil we will seek Him again.


Larry Ashlock, Ph.D., Baptist Center for Global Concerns, iEthics paper, "Creation Care."

The Science Channel, Disaster in the Gulf: A Race Against Time (TV Schedule)