I just finished reading the book Anointed with Oil. It Is the history of oil and Christianity in America. I did not know that oil production in the U.S., Canada and other parts of the world has been driven by men with a deep Christian faith. The best known is John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller dominated early oil production in western Pennsylvania and its refining in Cleveland, Ohio. Rockefeller was a “mainline” Baptist who used his vast wealth to support many Christian mission projects. Rockefeller differed from other oil producers in that he also supported other endeavors such as founding the University of Chicago.
“Wildcatters” were responsible for the oil discoveries in Texas, and California (including Kern County). These independent producers were often of a more fundamentalist faith. They believed that Jesus’ second coming would be soon. Saving souls was important to them, but they did not see the need to support any charitable giving outside of evangelism.
These groups had one thing in common, the belief that man’s God-given dominion over earth gave them the right to determine where they drilled. This belief is still widely held today, even though we know the damage it causes to the planet.
As I think about my relationship to earth and the idea of “dominion over the earth” – which was given to humanity by God in Genesis-- I find that in some sense I do believe that the earth is here to fit my purposes. I'll go out on a limb and guess that I am not the only who harbors this sense of entitlement. Maybe deep down there is a fear of scarcity that lends us to believe we need more. In Mark 6:8-9 Jesus sends the disciples out with no food, money and only one tunic. That sounds a bit scary to me. I do pray that I can at least pause as I walk through Costco, so I don’t buy the supersized version of something I don’t really need.