On Tuesday, April 1 at Embarcadero Hall â€œA Rocha Santa Barbaraâ€ brought in Dr. J. Mathew Sleeth, M.D. to give a talk about his book Serve God, Save the Planet: A Christian Call to Action. The former ER doctorâ€™s journey to develop this book began seven years ago. His wife posed him the question â€œWhatâ€™s the biggest problem in the world?â€ and his response was, â€œThe world is dying.â€
He had begun to suspect that climate change was heavily correlated with his practice as a doctor. He stated â€œWhen I started practicing medicine only about 1 in 19 women had breast cancer and now its about 1 in 7!â€ Also, he has seen the steady increase in asthma and autism cases. â€œThe fact that in our modern world life spans
are shortening is a scary thing and radical action must take place.â€ In his opinion, the major problem with moving people to make radical changes in their lives is that for the most part, people with religious beliefs do not see climate change as a problem.
Dr. Sleeth begs to differ, he states that the Bible shows the importance of taking care of the Earth. As he stated that the Bible begins with a symbol of the Lord which is the tree of life. Trees are an overwhelming important element in the Bible because they signify life, without trees there would be no oxygen, and without oxygen there would be no life. Further more trees are mention about 1,000 times in the Bible. Even some of the most important people in scripture like Moses, Abraham, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jonah had something pivotal happen to them around a tree. Dr. Sleeth went on to point out that the most important figure in the Bible, Christ, appeared to Mary Magdalene as a gardener after he resurrects. The fact is that the Bible is full of information of how we need to take care of nature. In Numbers 35:33-34 it states â€œYou shall not pollute the land in which you liveâ€¦You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I also dwell.â€
In the beginning of this talk, he posed a question to the audience, had they ever attended a Sunday church service where the sermon was about the environment? Only one person raised their hand. And even though some of the great religious leaders of our generation like Pope John Paul II, Rick Warren, and Billy Graham have stressed the importance of caring for the greatest gift that God gave us, the Earth, many religious people do not see or give importance to the global climate change problem, so this is what Dr. Sleethâ€™s crusade has been all about for past 7 years. After becoming an evangelical Christian and selling his big house, cars, and completely changing his lifestyle he decided this was going to be his lifeâ€™s work, informing religious and nonreligious people to wake up and change the environment.
Dr. Sleeth sees Americaâ€™s churches as a huge factor in for radical change because in the past churches have had a role in ending slavery, the civil rights movement, and now Dr. Sleeth claims they must be the forefront in the global climate change problem. He suggests things in his book that everyone should partake in: give more, travel less, figure out their carbon footprint (www.carbonfootprint.com), and like the Bible says in the commandments we need to come to rest at least 1 day a week.
One of Dr. Sleethâ€™s statements put everything in perspective: â€œWe can agree to disagree on the origin of the world, but weâ€™ve got to agree to save it.â€