The irony of emphasis on Amy Coney Barrett’s embodiment of conservative Christian motherhood is not lost on me.
Given that the image of a Mother Earth figure has persisted across world cultures in mythology and religion, it is important to examine matriarchal symbolism with Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings highlighting the GOP’s allegiance to selectively curated Christian ideals.
Republican emphasis on ACB’s fertility and family size lines up with what we would expect, although conservative Christian faith is not a prerequisite for party membership. Despite paradoxically shying away from supporting women for federal office who embody the broader biblical tenets of tending the sick or loving thy neighbor, the GOP has a track record of pushing mostly for those who have proven commitment to Phyllis Schlafly-esque social and political views.
First, it’s interesting to note at which point “religions” become “mythologies.” Think: Greek and Roman mythologies were once popular religions. One might wonder what that means for the future of our contemporary faiths.
It’s clear to religious-studies scholars that the creation stories in the Abrahamic religions represent an important pivot from some preceding polytheistic mythologies in human history.
If you don’t subscribe to the belief that the origin of many modern religions was the adaptation of components of existing mythologies, here is a quotidian example of mythological mashups that you likely use.
Many of the world’s mythologies have archetypal deities, though each embodied culturally specific niches. But in the monotheistic Abrahamic religions, even the Mother Earth archetype has been eliminated.
Creation is instead framed through humankind’s divinely ordained dominion over the natural world and “every creeping thing,” as opposed to the Earth being worshiped and regarded as the source of creation. Specifically, in Genesis 1:26-30, God instructs humankind to populate the earth and “subdue” it.
And subdue we did.
Divine dominion has been used to justify human trafficking via the transatlantic slave trade, the genocide of Indigenous peoples on the American continents, and is a foundational motivation behind the exploitation of every natural resource. Manifest Destiny and its white supremacist clutches left ecological destruction and environmental racism in its wake.
As if the ideological matricide of Mother Earth isn’t enough, the origin of sin takes it one step further, vilifying the original femme in a classic fruit-means-sex metaphor. There is a mother archetype in the Bible, Mary, who redeems Eve’s sin via immaculate conception (according to some gospel), a phenomenon, however, that happens infrequently in our current physical reality.
Call me “improper,” but when ACB is lauded by Republicans for her irrelevant embodiment of conservative Christian motherhood while she is being vetted for a powerful judiciary position, I can’t help but anticipate the ecological destruction that comes along with it.
Although it’s expected that ACB will be a threat to body autonomy, the ramifications of overturning Roe v. Wade reach far beyond individual human rights.
According to Project Drawdown, centering human rights via gender equality (like educating girls and securing access to family planning services) could result in 85.42 gigatons of CO2 equivalent reduced or sequestered in 2020-2050.
That’s huge. Colorado can see first hand how dire the climate crisis has become, and feels acutely the need for climate justice.
The administration’s bastardization of the Environmental Protection Agency, resulting in the agency becoming more a tool of further ecological degradation than a shield of protection, tells us ACB is the next player in the party’s movement for extraction and exploitation, along with plenty of democrat accomplices.
The SCOTUS case Chevron U.S.A. Inc. vs Natural Resources Defense Council (1984) gives the EPA authority to regulate sources of pollution and define what constitutes “pollutants.” It’s reasonable to question if a loaded conservative Supreme Court will let that stand, among other cases, especially if executive and legislative turnover gives Dems the opportunity to restore some former integrity to the EPA come inauguration day.
ACB has said that she’s “read things about climate change” but wouldn’t say she has “firm” views on it, and emphasized that she is not a scientist, though fossil fuels are a family business. When probed by Sen. Kamala Harris, ACB responded that “climate change is a very contentious matter of public debate,” showing blatant disregard for scientific fact.
The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg wasn’t always the environmental champion that the United States, and the world, so desperately needs. But I don’t doubt that ACB’s environmental agenda starts with preventing any federal emissions targets and subsequently ends in America’s own painfully ironic, self-imposed climate disaster, rapture-style.
Best make sure your handmaiden outfit is wildfire-proof and equipped to deal with the continued increased incidence of extreme weather events. Mother Earth will not be forgotten, and she is coming back with a vengeance.
Dana Egleston is a writer, science communicator and environmentalist living in Denver.
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