Saturday, February 2, 2013

I Had a "Green" Dream: Major Oil & Gas Company Announces Conversions to Solar, Wind, Geothermal

I Had a "Green" Dream:  Major Oil & Gas Company Announces Conversions to Solar, Wind, Geothermal
By The Rev. Leah Schade
February 2, 2013

[The first part of this post is not an actual event... yet.  It is a recounting of a very vivid dream I had on Feb. 2, 2013, written in the style of a news story. A reflection on the dream immediately follows in the second half of this post.]

In an unprecedented move within the oil and gas industry, one of its major players has announced that it will suspend 80% of its oil and gas production and begin the process of converting the majority of its operations to solar, wind and geothermal energy production.  In a press conference at one its largest oil fields, the company unveiled its plans to fast-track the training of its workforce in the deconstruction of oil rigs and natural gas drilling sites to be replaced with solar panels, windmills, and geothermal wells.

“We have seen the future of energy production in this country, and we wanted to be the first to get ahead of the curve and take advantage of this opportunity to invest in clean energy and truly put our country on the road to energy independence,” stated the company’s CEO.  “We believe we’ve got the best workforce to train for this conversion process, and we’ve been conducting research and development on how to best implement this massive, positive change over the last few years,” he said. 

That research had been conducted largely unnoticed by the industry, though several smaller solar, wind and geothermal businesses had been consulted and enlisted in the project of clean-energy conversion for the company.  The owners of those businesses flanked the company CEO at the press conference and expressed their enthusiasm for the new venture. 

“We are pleased to partner with the company to offer our expertise in exchange for the capital needed to grow our sustainable business.  Together we can build America’s energy future that will slow down climate change and minimize the negative effects on the environment and public health,” stated the owner of the largest solar firm in the new conglomerate. 

Response from the environmental community has been mixed.  Many leading ecologists expressed surprise that the company would make such a sudden turn away from fossil fuels which have been their cash cow for nearly a century.  “I’m guardedly optimistic,” said the director of one of the country’s largest environmental groups.  “Given their history, I have to be a bit suspicious of their motives and wonder if there is a hidden agenda.  But if this is truly a move to convert their operations to non-fossil fuel energy production, I will be the first to endorse this new clean-energy conglomerate,” she said. 

“Only time will tell what the result of this undertaking will be,” said another leading environmentalist.  “I know the profit motive is still the underlying driver for the company, so I’m a bit cautious.  But they certainly have the capital and technical know-how to make this happen.  I want to watch and see if they truly make good on their promises.  It will be interesting to see how the rest of the fossil fuel industry responds,” he added.

The CEO’s of the company’s leading competitors were not immediately available for comment. 
A fantasy news story, yes.  But this is the dream that woke me up this morning, clear as a news headline on my mind’s inner screen.  Over the years I have learned to take dreams seriously.  In them are often planted seeds that, given the right soil of consciousness, may sprout into a fruitful harvest.  The Bible is replete with God communicating to people through dreams and visions.  Abraham, Jacob, Joseph (OT and NT), Ezekiel, Daniel, Mary, Peter, and John are just a few examples of those who received divine communiques in the shadowy world between sleep and rousing.  Those are the in-between times and places linking possibility with reality.  The prophet Isaiah’s vision was this: 

“And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and we will be taught God’s ways, and we will walk in God’s paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Holy One from Jerusalem. And God shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. — Isaiah 2:3-4
An ecological vision of following God’s ways would involve converting the “swords” of drill rigs into the blades of windmills; the “spears” of fossil fuel pipelines into solar panels.  The industry will no longer lift up its weapons against the earth, the atmosphere, and human health; neither shall they learn war against life any more.

Pessimists and “realists” will scoff at such a vision.  Impossible, they will say.  The powers of the fossil fuel industry are too entrenched, too curved in on themselves to ever see beyond their immediate profit margin.  Our society is too consumed with consuming to support such a drastic move.

But just as I have learned to take dreams seriously, so have I learned not to discount the often surprising work of God that operates under the radar of expectations, behind closed doors at wedding feasts, converting water into wine.  After all, it was in the shadowy in-between time of the Saturday following Good Friday when the surprise of the resurrection began to germinate. 

Further, how can we expect to live in a different world if we are not open to imagine a new one?  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood this.  His dream of equality between the races and a society built on justice helped to inspire the civil rights movement that, while in no way finished in its work, has made huge leaps in realizing God’s vision for humanity. 

Today we need a “green” civil rights movement that insists on the fundamental rights of all children, women, men, and earth-kin to live peaceably with the basics of clean water, clean air, sufficient habitat for healthy ecosystems, and protections for public health.  If this is God’s vision of the Peaceable Kingdom as well, then God will find a way to inaugurate what Thomas Berry called the “ecozoic age.”  And we just may be surprised how quickly and efficiently it happens.

Call me overly optimistic, but the more accurate description would be “hopeful.”  And this hope is sustained by the God of Surprises who never ceases to amaze me with the power of life, laughter and love that overcomes fear and despair.  


  1. A terrific post and hopeful vision. Thank you for introducing me to Thomas Berry - I look forward to reading his work. Are you familiar with Wendell Berry?

  2. Oh yes! Wendell Berry's "What Are People For" has been a huge influence for me. I love the story of the soil forming in the bucket on the fence post. Great eco-writer!

  3. Leah,
    I just came across another reference to Thomas Berry in The Nature Principle by Louv. Not as good as his Nature Deficit Disorder, but worth a read.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Thanks for posting this information! I think that conservation is so important and should be big part of society. I am interested to learn more about this and will have to do some more research!

    Amber Johnson |

    1. Thanks for your comment, Amber. Just to be clear - the first part of the post - the "news" story - was not a real event. It was a dream that I had. How I hope and pray that the dream is prophetic in the best sense of the word!

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