Confessions of a Non-Sustainable Carnivore

By Joe Webb

I have a confession.

I like the idea of sustainability. I even talk a pretty good game.

But, to be honest, I suck at it.

I don’t garden. I shop at Wal-Mart. I drive an 8-cylinder Jeep. I only recycle about a third of what I should. I eat a LOT of meat. And I like it.

In fact, for all my talk about conservation and protecting wild places, I’m not really very “green” in my own home.

I don’t say those things pridefully. In fact, there’s a good bit in those statements that I’m not at all proud of. Some of them I even feel a little guilty about. Except the meat part. I do like meat.

So why would I tell you all of this? And why, of all places, would I write these statements for a blog devoted to practices I’m admittedly not good at following?

Because it is what it is. I’m human. I mess up. I’m lazy. I’m stuck in a lot of patterns and habits.

But also because I care. I care about our planet and our society and our cultures.

I care that my impact means something. That the things I do (or don’t do) don’t happen in isolation.

I could make a ton of excuses. My community doesn’t offer curbside recycling. I need that 8-cylinder Jeep to haul my camper around steep West Virginia mountain roads. Our busy schedule often forces us to shop for price and convenience over fresh and local.

Those things are all true. But I have to be honest. They’re excuses. I know I could do better.

And I think there are a lot of people out there like me. People who care. People who want a cleaner, greener world, but because of circumstances or some other reason simply haven’t prioritized sustainable practices.

I’ve always seen myself as a conservationist. I’ve been involved in organizations like Trout Unlimited and worked as an advocate for clean water issues for almost 20 years. I understand the interconnectedness that happens in watersheds between things like land use and wildlife habitat and riparian zones and benthic viability and all kinds of other things that come together to make sure that the water upstream of all of us is as clean as it can be.

So for me, the whole sustainability movement is something that just makes sense on a very basic level.

And that’s why participating in the conversation in places like Composting Faith and keeping up with various sustainability issues are important to me.

Because I need you.

I need to surround myself with people who are better at all of this sustainability stuff than I am. People who can encourage me, who can be an example, who can show me how to do the things I’m not very good at.

At its heart, that’s what community’s all about, isn’t it? It’s about people coming together to help each other be better people.

The British theologian Lesslie Newbigin says the gospel is most clearly proclaimed in the world by communities of people living out the truth of the Kingdom of Heaven. By people living and sharing with one another in the kind of unconditional love modeled by Jesus.

So when people like me (and I know there are lots of us!) can admit that we suck at things we care deeply about, we have others who can lift us up and inspire us and help motivate us.

We need each other. We need to be those kinds of communities who don’t have time for scolding and correcting and proselytizing because we’re too busy loving and caring and helping.

Because that’s when the gospel comes alive. When it becomes a compelling force in the world. When it shows people there’s a way of living that elevates us above ourselves and that just makes sense in a way nothing else possibly can.

So that’s my confession. I suck. And I need people to make me better.

Maybe I’ll start by planting something to go with the steaks I’ll grill this spring.

Re-Posted with Permission. You can view the original post here

Joe Webb is a proud life-long West Virginian, a child of mountains and rivers. His website, The Awesomeness Conspiracy explores the intersections between faith and culture in a post-Christian context. He writes a regular column, “Benthics,” for The EcoTheo Review online magazine and also blogs for Orphan’s Tree, an agency devoted to teenage orphans in Russia. A United Methodist lay speaker, Joe’s a veteran of youth ministry and clean water advocacy. He’s frequently invited to speak at a variety of faith-based and environmental events in West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Christian Ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary. An unapologetic Jesus Freak and Trout Bum, Joe resides in the Ohio River community of Williamstown, WV, with his wife Lorie and daughters Anna and Amanda.


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