The Common Good

addict

Oil Addicts Anonymous

If the United States is a fossil fuel addict, then the Alberta tar sands are our next big fix.

The tar sands contain the largest oil reserves in North America and their extraction has been called "the most destructive project on earth". The proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would carry oil from the tar sands down to Texas refineries, making it available for our consumption and pushing a turn to green energy sources even further down the road.

Borrowing wisdom from the twelve step program pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous, theologian Ched Myers contends that addiction -- "the inability to say no because of captivity to pathological desires" -- names our spiritual and cultural condition. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in the case of fossil fuels.

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A Sermon on My Alcohol Addiction, the Tyranny of the Will, and Romans 7

Crossphoto © 2004 Phil Whitehouse | more info (via: Wylio)Even I can't help admitting that there is a bunch of stuff in the Bible that's hard to relate to. A lot has changed in the last 2,000 to 4,000 years, and I have no form of reference for shepherds and agrarian life, and I don't know what it's like to have a king or a Caesar, and I don't know a single fisherman, much less a centurion, and I guess I can't speak for all of you but personally I've never felt I might need to sacrifice a goat for my sins. That's the thing about our sacred text being so dang old -- it can sometimes be difficult to relate to. Things have changed a bit over the millennia.

But one thing has not changed even a little bit is the human condition. Parts of the Bible can feel hard to relate to until you get to a thing like this reading from Romans 7, in which Paul says, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do."

Finally. Something I can relate to. This I know about. I too do not understand my own actions. I too can't manage to consistently do what I know is right. Paul's simple description of the human condition is perhaps a most elegantly put definition of what we now call addiction.

It's no secret that I am a recovering alcoholic. By the grace of God I have been clean and sober for more than 19 years. But, boy, do I remember that feeling of powerlessness that comes from not being able to control your drinking. I'd wake up each morning and have a little talk with myself: "OK Nadia, get it together. Today is going to be different. You just need a little will power." Then, inevitably, later that day I'd say, "Well, just one drink would be OK," or, "I'll only drink wine and not vodka," or, "I'll drink a glass of water between drinks so that I won't get drunk." And sometimes it worked, but mostly it didn't. In the end, my will was just never "strong enough" Like Paul, I did the thing I hated. But that's addiction for you. It's ugly. Yet on some level I feel like we recovering alcoholics and drug addicts have it easy. I mean, our addictions are so obvious. The emotional, spiritual, and physical wreckage caused by alcoholism and drug addiction has a certain conspicuousness to it.

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Homeless Men and Women Donate $1,000 to the Hunger Fast Movement

A quilt hangs in the dining and fellowship hall of Christ House, a medical facility for homeless women and men in Washington, D.C. The patches in the quilt tell the story of its creator, a former resident at Christ House
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We Must Ask Moral Questions About Our Oil Addiction (Part II)

Yesterday, I asked some moral questions about our oil addiction.
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We Must Ask Moral Questions About Our Oil Addiction (Part I)

At the same time oil is spewing from the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, some politicians are already calling for more drilling, accompanied
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It Will Take a Mission

This week, in President Barack Obama's Oval Office speech on the oil spill, he used the term "mission." That's the right word.
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Stop the Crippling of the Clean Air Act

The brazen chutzpah of Big Oil and Big Coal is amazing.
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A Step Toward Recovery from Our Oil Addiction

My mother taught her children never to "toot our own horn." So last year, when Sojourners became the first publication ever (so far as I know) to win the best general interest magazine awa
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What Gamblers Anonymous Can Teach Us About Wall Street

The defenses that Goldman Sachs execs gave to this week's Senate hearings for their actions were full of emotion and denial. They claimed shock that anyone could question their actions.
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'My Prayers Were Heard'

An immigrant woman's testimony, as told to Juan Daniel Espitia, a pastor in Solana Beach, California.
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