Saint Gore and God's Gardeners: Greens Get Their Bible

January 4th, 2010 3:04 PM

Lefty author Margaret Atwood has created, in the form of a novel, the environmentalist's bible. "The Year of the Flood", as it is titled, is not merely a figurative bible for a dispersed and sporadic collection of greenies, but rather a sacred testament (the author says as much) for a movement that, every day, looks more like a church--complete with sin, salvation, and saints (one of whom is--you guessed it--Al Gore).

In an interview with Atwood, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep described "The Year of the Flood" as gloriously melding science and religion into a harmonious enviro-theology. Atwood "thinks that in the future we could see a religion that combines religion and science," Inskeep states.

But the more the listener learns about Atwood's novel, the more he or she realizes that the book does not meld science and religion. Rather, it does away with religion and replaces it with radical environmentalism. Here is an excerpt from the NPR interview (h/t CATO's David Boaz):

[RICH] KLEFFEL: ["The Case for God" author Karen] Armstrong sees the role of religion as a guiding force for ethical behavior. Margaret Atwood brings that notion to life in her newest novel, "The Year of the Flood." It's set in a dystopian near future where genetic engineering has ravaged much of the planet. The survivors have created a new religion.

Ms. ATWOOD: This group, which is called God's Gardeners, has taken it possibly to an extreme that not everybody will be able to do. They live on rooftops in slums on which they have vegetable gardens. And they keep bees. And they are strictly vegetarian, unless you get really, really hungry, in which case you have to start at the bottom of the food chain and work up. And they make everything out of recycled castoffs and junk. So they're quite strict.

KLEFFEL: Atwood points out that the beginnings of her religion of the future have already appeared in the present.

Ms. ATWOOD: Indeed, we now have the Green Bible among us, which I did not know when I was writing this book, which has tasteful linen covers, ecologically correct paper, the green parts in green. Introduction by Archbishop Tutu. And a list at the end of useful things you can do to be a more worthy green person.

KLEFFEL: Atwood created a new pantheon of saints, including Rachel Carson, Al Gore and Dian Fossey, the murdered conservationist, as well as hymns, which have been brought to life by Orville Stoeber… But even though God's Gardeners feels like a real religion, Margaret Atwood is not ready to step up to the pulpit.

Ms. ATWOOD: Well, not quite in the same way that L. Ron Hubbard did. I don't have any adherents yet. But, who knows?

No one is chanting Margaret Atwood's name, but given that she has just written a holy text for what could be the largest secular religion on the planet, she may be selling herself short on that last point.

As Matt Sheffield wrote in 2007, the utter failure of socialism during the 20th century left the radical left with no supernatural force for salvation. Historical determinism and righteous revolution were out, but environmentalism swept in just in time, and gave Gore, Atwood, and the rest of the religious greens a divine purpose to rally behind. Atwood's novel is but a logical step in the progression towards a full-fledged Church of the Earth.