Faith to Mine Mountains

Mining by Mountaintop Removal

Mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining in southern West Virginia in May 2003, Photo by Vivian Stockman, May 30, 2003

If you believe God has a plan for everything, that’s fine.

Just please, please, please don’t let the man in this video be you.

Does God Support Mountaintop Removal?  (Video on CNN.)

In case CNN doesn’t keep that video up forever, here is a transcript of the entire thing. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien is interviewing Art Kirkendoll, a former West Virginia county commissioner.

Art Kirkendoll: Why do you think the oranges grow in California, or the tobacco in the Carolinas? I mean, I believe God has a plan for everybody to have certain areas with certain economic availability.

Soledad O’Brien: And do you think God thought, “…and I hope they lop the tops off the mountains and dig in and get that coal?”

AK: I think … yes I do.

SO: You really think God is saying, “I prefer mountaintop removal to underground mining”?

AK: Well, if God wanted underground mining, why would have have put a 13-inch seam of coal that you can’t mine underground? Why would he have done that?

I don’t know much about mining, but I do know about faith. I know enough to be frightened when public officials let their supposed insight into God’s plans guide their policy. They ought to realize (and don’t) that God’s plans in this sort of situation are impossible to divine.

For instance, even I, as a non-believer, can think of many answers to Mr. Kirkendoll’s final questions. (You remember: the ones he thought there was only one answer to.) God put that 13-inch seam of non-underground-minable coal there so…

  1. …we would strengthen our character by resisting temptation.
  2. …we would hold it in reserve for the coming times when energy will be so expensive that it will be economically viable to mine that seam underground.
  3. …we would know that he is a God of Abundance, creating extra coal that we can see and appreciate him for, but not mine.
  4. …we would be spurred to invent new, ecologically responsible techniques for mining coal underground.
  5. …we would blow the top off of exactly one mountain and then ask in bitter remorse, “What have we done to God’s green earth???” and never do anything like that again.

If you get comfort from a notion that God has a plan, that’s wonderful. Just please don’t imagine that you know what that plan is…especially if you’re a public official.

One response to “Faith to Mine Mountains

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