Climate & Clean Energy
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#4: What does the bible say about climate change?

Published on
June 21, 2022
Show notes

In Episode 4, Quinn and Brian continue with the second in their "trilogy" of conversations with conservative climate activists, and ask: What does the bible say about climate change? Here to answer: Reverend Mitch Hescox of the Environmental Evangelical Movement. Descended from generations of coal miners, Mitch helps us understand our role — or lack of one — in helping the religious right become green advocates. Because nobody wants the Sierra Club yelling at them all the time. Not even us. Want to send us feedback? Tweet us, email us, or leave us a voice message! Links:  Reverend Mitch Hescox on Twitter Creation Care What is an “evangelical”? The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Quinn Emmett on Twitter Brian Colbert Kennedy on Twitter Intro/outro by Tim Blane Subscribe to our newsletter at! Like and share us on Facebook! Check us on Instagram! Follow us on Twitter! Pin us on Pinterest! Tumble us or whatever the hell you do on Tumblr! Ok that’s enough good lord


Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important, episode four. I'm Quinn Emmett-

Brian: And I'm Brian Colbert Kennedy-

Quinn: ... and it's a really nice day outside for January.

Brian: It's beautiful. It's 80 degrees out. You know what it is? It's a perfect day for a hog ride.

Quinn: You know the whole point of this podcast, this entire endeavor, is that it shouldn't be 80 degrees out in January?

Brian: No, I know, but it makes for great writing weather.

Quinn: No, but I don't really want to talk about that, because you know how disappointed I am that you ride a motorcycle in Los Angeles, or just period.

Brian: It's the best when my mom says it, because she's so supportive of my decisions, and she's like, "Yeah, maybe I want a motorcycle too," but then the next time she calls me she'll just be like, "Oh God, Brian." She works in a hospital, so she works on people who have just gotten into motorcycle accidents-

Quinn: Idiots like you?

Brian: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it always makes me go like, "Yeah, I like having it," and then like, "Oh, I should get rid of it." I don't know.

Quinn: So once a day she sees her worst nightmare. She sees somebody come in and thinks, "Please don't be Brian. Please don't be Brian."

Brian: Yeah, basically.

Quinn: How do you feel about doing that to her?

Brian: I don't love it, but I can't-

Quinn: And yet, you keep doing it.

Brian: If I made every decision based on, did my mom ... like would she love it or not, my whole life would be different.

Quinn: Wow. Wait, back up.

Brian: What?

Quinn: Start from the beginning, how would your life be different?

Brian: There'd be so many ... We can't ... There's no time for this.

Quinn: Give me top three things. Go!

Brian: Well, I wouldn't have a motorcycle, obviously.

Quinn: Yeah, no, I know, we know that. Three other things.

Brian: Oh, three other things?

Quinn: Yeah.

Brian: I mean, I wouldn't live in LA.

Quinn: Where would you live?

Brian: I'd be living in Chicago, so that I could be close to her. "I never get to see my boy." That was her.

Quinn: Okay, number two?

Brian: She doesn't sound like that. I would probably ... You know, I don't know. I was going to say I'd probably be married, but I don't think so. I don't think she cares.

Quinn: But that's a whole different-

Brian: It's a whole different thing.

Quinn: ... nobody wants you, we'll talk about ... They do want to hear, we'll talk about it next time.

Brian: Oh, oh, oh! I wouldn't drink.

Quinn: You wouldn't drink at all?

Brian: Yeah. If I thought of every decision, and then made it in a way that my mom would be happy, I would not consume alcohol.

Quinn: Huh.

Brian: Yeah, because she got sober, and I think she would really like it if I was sober too.

Quinn: Do you think she's disappointed in the fact that you drink?

Brian: She's not disappointed but, you know, I could be a better person.

Quinn: Well, yeah. I mean, we could do a whole podcast on that. Jesus.

Brian: No, no, no, all right, this is over. Don't we have a podcast to talk about?

Quinn: Yes. All right listen, our question for this week's conversation is ... This is a good one guys, how do we best mobilize America's many evangelicals into becoming climate and energy missionaries?

Brian: Yeah, and we have the perfect person to help us with that.

Quinn: Who is that?

Brian: Our guest today is Reverend Mitch Hescox of the Evangelical Environmental Network. He has a hell of a tough job, but I'll tell you what, after this conversation we are in. All in. 

Quinn: Yeah, absolutely, and I think you guys will both be surprised by his game plan for us, and also not surprised if you really think about it for a minute. But we can make a difference here, and Mitch is making a different every day, so God dammit, it's the least we can do. 

Brian: Who is this guy, right? That's what you're asking yourself.

Quinn: Well, yeah. I mean, he's going to give us a proper introduction.

Brian: All right, that's true.

Quinn: He's not just some reverend we found off the street. Like Jerry talked about in one of our previous episodes, sometimes the messenger's more important than the message, and I don't think any evangelicals want Brian and I yelling at them, but Mitch is from deep cold country, he's got a family legacy of coal mining. He's also got a science degree, and eventually got the call to serve the big guy upstairs, and he brings that all to bear. All of those things, each and every day, as he's trying to turn America's most significant, still, religious population, trying to turn them green.

Brian: I was very excited about this podcast. I'm pumped for everybody to hear it.

Quinn: What's interesting is, Mitch couldn't hear you though.

Brian: That is true.

Quinn: We did have some audio difficulties. None of you guys are going to hear them, but because of technical difficulties, or maybe it was something higher up-

Brian: Oh God.

Quinn: ... Mitch just couldn't hear Brian.

Brian: What if that's it? What if God were just like, "There's no way that you should be talking to this guy right now?" Quinn? Fine, but do not talk to Brian.

Quinn: Well, and then you really got ask about his decision making at that point. I've got ... Oh God, I had so many questions. So anyways, it's a really good one guys, and please stay tuned until the end where we clarify these steps that we need to be taking to get this done. A lot of the easy work has been done on the green movement, and this is the hardest one, but is going to make all the difference. So let's do it.

Brian: Let's do it.

Quinn: Rock and roll.

Quinn: Our guest today is Reverend Mitch Hescox from the Evangelical Environmental Network. Today we're going to get to the bottom of how to best mobilize America's Christian population into becoming environmental missionaries. Let's find out who he is, Reverend, welcome.

Mitch Hescox: Thank you, it's great to be on your podcast today, and so looking forward to just a fun discussion.

Quinn: Absolutely, we really appreciate you taking the time.

Mitch Hescox: Very happy to have you.

Quinn: So, as always, we're going to just set the tone a little bit here. We want to have a lot of fun today, but we do want to dig deep. We're going to talk a little bit about your history and how you got to where you are today, and then dive into our main topic of the day. 

Quinn: And finally, we have sort of a motto for the podcast. We're big believers in questions, but questions that don't provoke action are basically just philosophy, which is great, and necessary, I love philosophy, but these are times ... I feel like why we have you here today, you'll agree, these are times that call for action, and that's where we're trying to go. What we're trying to provoke here from the hyper-local level, to the federal level.

Quinn: So what we want to do is get some context from you, the why. The why of you, the why of your work, the why of the change facing our listeners and your constituents, and then progress to some actionable steps that our listeners can take. Something that will inspire them to get to work at whatever level.

Mitch Hescox: Sounds good. 

Quinn: So Reverend, tell us your story. Who are you? Where do you come from? And what is it that you do?

Mitch Hescox: Okay. Well I'm Mitch Hescox, and I'm an ordained Wesley and Tradition pastor, minister. I spent 14 years growing up, my first job being in the coal industry. I actually grew up in a little coal mining town called Blandburg, Pennsylvania. My dad was a coal miner for the major part of his life. My grandfathers were coal miners, in fact, both of my grandfathers died of black lung. Many of my uncles and nephews and cousins were coal miners at some point and time in their life. 

Mitch Hescox: I sort of ran away from home when I was 18 years old after finishing high school because I quite honestly thought I was called to be a pastor when I was in the fourth grade, and I'm old enough to be part of the end of Vietnam, and I really wondered if that's what I was supposed to do. So I ran away from Pennsylvania to the University of Arizona, where I actually have a degree in geochemistry. 

Quinn: Much warmer.

Mitch Hescox: Much warmer, and very hot. Actually spent three summers there, graduated in three and a half years, and then I realized I really wasn't going to be a geologist, so I got myself into the coal industry, designing and furnishing equipment that either crushes or grinds coal. In fact, when I left 14 years later, I was one of the world's leading experts in grinding up poor quality coal in places like India, in China, in South Africa, for PC pulverized coal boilers. That's the traditional way of making electricity from coal.

Mitch Hescox: Then I spent 18 years being a local church pastor, and now I'm starting my tenth year of being the president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, which's goal is to teach our evangelical churches that creation care is a matter of life. It's called creation care because we want to care for God's creation.

Quinn: Absolutely. Well, that's a heck of a background. I want to just say this, I'm going to do my very best not to curse here, Reverend. I'm making no promises, but I promise I'm going to do my best.

Brian: We hope to not disrespect.

Quinn: Things are a little out of hand out there in the world, so sometimes we get a little fired up.

Mitch Hescox: Well, I got fired up one Thursday night, so I can understand that.

Quinn: What was ... for a Thursday night?

Mitch Hescox: Yes, after our President's comments on the status of African [crosstalk 00:08:56]. I got a little fired up.

Quinn: You know, it's funny, when you reference it as just a day of the week, it makes me go, "Which of the things could he possibly be talking about?" Yeah, on one hand it seems incredible sometimes, and on the other hand it seems like, well it shouldn't be incredible because it's the day-to-day, we shouldn't be surprised anymore, but at the same time you don't want to just normalize it, as they say. 

Quinn: Okay, so let's get back to your backstory here for a second. It's pretty incredible, and I think what's really interesting is especially what you're working on now, and this is a little bit like our conversation with Jerry Taylor in that you have such a unique backstory that you bring to the message you're trying to get out there these days, in that you're coming from the other side a little bit.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm still a lifelong Republican. I believe in conservative values and principles, but I also realize that where we're at and how we produce energy is killing us, and for the first century we didn't realize that. One of the things that I think I'm very cautious and very careful to know is that I want to respect the coal miners, many of who gave their lives and their lungs to provide electricity for us for the past 100 years. Many times we just simply didn't realize the cost of what the fossil fuels have done to our bodies, and so we need to take a step back and say, "Okay, all coal miners aren't bad, and people aren't bad, it was the way of the world, but now that we know better, we need to come up with solutions to change it. We need to provide hope to change it," and that's where the message starts. 

Mitch Hescox: I grew up as company towns were coming to and end. I used to go through Western Pennsylvania with my dad and see the company towns, and often I said that coal companies and utility companies, in many cases, did not have great respect for their workers, but the coal miners were trying their best to put food on the table for their families, to eke out a living. I watched my grandfathers die. Thankfully one died fairly early at 81, the other one at 92, but both of them as they died ... I mean, they couldn't breathe because of how bad their lungs were scarred from black lung.

Quinn: It's incredible, and that is just such a typical story for those areas and those times, just because we didn't know, and also, like you said, they're not bad people. I mean, we wouldn't be where we are today without coal, and without the job that they did. I mean, we couldn't produce solar the first half of the 20th century, that wasn't an option, and coal seemed plentiful, and like you said, we didn't know what it did to the planet. We didn't know ... I mean, well, turns out some companies knew what-

Brian: Yes they did.

Quinn: ... these things did to the planet, but we didn't know. It took a long time to put one plus one together to figure out the black lung.

Mitch Hescox: And even the other associated costs with coal. It took a long time, and people still don't realize that the average coal fired electricity costs an additional 13 cents a kilowatt in external costs. And if you're really being a conservative, we need to account for those costs. We need to make a valued judgment so we know how much the energy we use is really costing, and I think that's part of the message, and for me is ... We have two messages. First, obviously is health, and number two, we want to have good, sound, economic principles. 

Quinn: Right, right, and I definitely want to come back to that, to the conservative side of things, and looking at it from just the economic and the business side of things, which I do think are coming around, but it's a big slow moving ship. 

Quinn: I do want to ask how do you feel about Trump and his cohorts promises to the coal mining industry? And most specifically to coal miners, saying, "We're going to bring your jobs back? We're going to revive the coal industry. We're going to make it okay and profitable and plentiful for you to do the job that you've done, and your fathers and your grandfathers," in many cases like yours? How do you feel about that?

Mitch Hescox: It's a lot of smoke. The economic costs of even burning natural gas are so much cheaper than coal today. The coal is not going to come back. I mean, look at the utility heads around the country. The head of Appalachian Power in West Virginia freely admits that ... you know, the last two, say that coal is not coming back. President of Xcel Energy told me personally that he's never again going to build a coal fire power plant just because the economics aren't there, let alone the environmental costs. 

Mitch Hescox: And so what we have to do is work very strongly for a just transition for those miners, to do things like work on the RECLAIM Act, which I'm part of in Washington, which frees up a billion dollars of the mine reclamation fund to put people back restoring the land that the coal companies have abused for the past 200 years. I mean, I'm part of that. I grew up in this little town of Blandburg, and literally less than 100 yards from my backdoor were unreclaimed strip mines. I played through them throughout my elementary school, in fact, one of the things that I jokingly say when I go around the country is one of the reasons I'm so strange is I used to catch and play with [inaudible 00:14:25] tadpoles in this red and orange water that was running off of these unreclaimed strip mines. 

Mitch Hescox: It's still happening. My dad is a big deer hunter, and he doesn't hunt anymore. God bless him, he's still alive, he just turned 91 years old, but where he liked to hunt was a place called Jackson Ridge in [inaudible 00:14:45] County. At the top of Jackson Ridge is a whole bunch of unreclaimed strip mines that is slowly leaking acid mine drainage into the surrounding forest, and daily another couple feet of forest gets destroyed because of stuff that's been left there for basically all my entire life. Never been reclaimed, and that's one of the big problems we have, is we have so much damage done from surface mining, and even underground mining, that's left out there, that's still poisoning the world, let alone burning coal. 

Quinn: Right, and that's the thing, it's this ... and you're talking about the part that most people haven't even focused on, but it's great to see you do, because like you said, that's home. To most folks, except Trump I guess, it's how do we retrain these workers and how do we stop poisoning the environment, but there's also how do we make up for the actual physical damage we've done to reclaim these places so they're places people do want to live again?

Mitch Hescox: Oh, absolutely. One of the very sad points about it is, so many coal companies were self insured for their reclamation money that even current mining out there is never going to be reclaimed because the companies have filed bankruptcy and there's no place to do it. So not only are we looking at 60 year old mines that have never been reclaimed, we're looking at five year old mines that are never going to be reclaimed, and as we, the people of the United States, decide to pay the bill.

Quinn: Right. It's just-

Brian: I didn't realize that was a thing.

Quinn: Yeah, that's brutal. That's absolutely brutal. Okay, so I want to get a little bit into our main topic today, which is your work, your day-to-day work now, your mission. So, I want to give our listeners some context though, because I hopefully explained to you our listeners are pretty progressively left. They're angry for a lot of the same reasons you are about the direction things are going. They're very science focused, environmentally focused, and obviously those things aren't going well. There's a real war on science, and not just from ... In the past 20 years, I think a lot of people felt ... 25 years ... a lot of people felt that was coming from the religious right, and that's not the case anymore. It's just basically lies now for a million reasons. 

Quinn: So let's delve down to who you're talking to. So if you asked someone in the 20th century, "What's an evangelical?" They'd either say, "Me," because there's so many of them, or, "A white Christian Republican," and while I know the number of Americans who affiliate with a religion is on a bit of a downward trend, I do think most folks, at least our listeners, would probably go with the latter if asked the same question. So can you tell us your definition of an evangelical? The people who you're talking to and aiming for in 2018?

Mitch Hescox: Sure. I think that first off you're right, is there are a lot of people that say they're evangelicals that are more a social evangelical than they are a religious even evangelical, but I'm happy to reach out to those too.

Quinn: Sure, we'll take em.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, I'm a member of the board of the National Association of Evangelicals, and I think the strongest thing is that evangelical Christians have a very high authority of scripture. Evangelicals in and of themselves in the National Association, they're not fundamentalists, in fact, the National Association of Evangelicals was founded to be a counter to the fundamentalist movement, but we have a high concept and a high regard for scripture, we have a very strong depth desire to help people to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, hence the name evangelical, it's where it comes from, and yes we are more social conservative than most other people.

Mitch Hescox: Quite honestly one of the things that's very interesting about our community is why you're right. Numbers of all people of all faith traditions are going down somewhat. Still, evangelicals represent 35% of the Republican party, they are the largest single [inaudible 00:18:52] of the Republican party, and their number one ... Our number one social issue is an issue that many progressives don't like, and that's that we are pro-life. In fact, that's one of the things that I talk about. 

Mitch Hescox: I talk to a bunch of policy folks all the time. In fact, I met with your Governor, Jerry Brown, at the Vatican of all places back in November. We were both invited to speak at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in talking about climate change and human health. As a sidebar conversation I said, "Governor, one of the things that your leadership could do is let's not make climate change one of a bunch of progressive values," because that's how my community understands it. They think that if you believe in climate change you have to be pro-choice, and pro-population control, and pro-everything else, and I understand as a pastor that people have different value systems on this regard.

Quinn: Of course they do, it's just the parties have become so radicalized with you either believe in these seven things, or you believe in these seven things, and there's no gray area. It's infuriating. 

Mitch Hescox: Right, and that's what my job is. Part of my job is when I speak to progressive crowds and to the conservative crowds, "Let's take all the seven issues out, and concentrate on one. Please understand that I am a pro-life Christian, and I can respect that you're a pro-choice Christian, but let's not go there for today. Let's talk about that we both agree that we want children to be born healthy, we want to have people have an abundant physical life, and spiritual life, we want every child of God around the world to reach their fullest potential. Can we agree on that?"

Brian: That sounds wonderful.

Mitch Hescox: Everybody would say yes. One of my very good friends is a very progressive woman who is the wife of a former US senator, and she says, "By your definition Mitch, everybody should be pro-life." I'm pro-life, and we define pro-life is being from conception until natural death, and I want to take care of a person before they're born, but also after they're born as well. That's what our number one message is of reaching our community, because I can tell you that it's not about the science. My community, and a lot of conservatives, are going to disregard the science and ... I know the science. Katharine Hayhoe's my best friend, I wrote a book on climate change with a meteorologist-

Brian: I love her.

Quinn: Brian loves Katherine. 

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, well, Katherine's a very good friend. 

Quinn: She's incredible.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, I call her our evangelical superstar.

Quinn: I love that.

Brian: We got to get her.

Mitch Hescox: I've spoken with her multiple times, and I'm going to speak with her again two or three times this year on the same stage, and the science is real, but to move conservatives you have to know what their core values are. 

Quinn: Sure, and that's what I want to get into here a little bit because Jerry said something really interesting to us, which I think makes so much sense. Let me back up one quick step ... So our question that we want to work with today is basically how do we best mobilize America's many evangelicals, however they describe themselves, into becoming climate and energy missionaries? Into people of action? So, yes, they're a smaller number than say 30 years ago, but they're still a very formidable percentage of the population, and like you said, a formidable part of the Republican party. 

Quinn: So, aside from their own personal actions, they could plug in a lot of LED light bulbs and buy Tesla cars, they're an absolutely massive voting block. So how do we ... it's easy for the progressives to look at it, who can be very staunch and obnoxious in themselves, and I'm not proud to call myself one of those, which is we say, "How do we get these people on the religious right to accept the science and vote for their children's future, right?" And that is not the way to go about it, because guess what? It hasn't worked for 20 years. 

Quinn: That's where I come to saying ... I should say by we, we mean ... When I say how do we convince evangelicals to act and speak up on climate change, maybe that's not our job over here on the progressive left. When we talked with Jerry, he made the good point that sometimes the messenger is more important than the message, and that's because he feels like he's effective because he wrote so many of the presentations that the GOP relies on now. He says they said, "But my slides say this," and he goes, "I wrote your slides 20 years ago, and I'm telling you that's wrong." That's why I feel like you are so credible, because you're coming from a place of ... my grandfathers both died of the black lung. My father was a coal miner. I was supposed to be a coal miner, and I went a different way, and also I believe in ... I am a pro-life Christian, but let me tell you let's focus on this one thing. 

Quinn: So, in that context, what we want to find out is, how do we, on our side, how do our listeners best support your efforts? Does that mean getting out of the way? Does that mean reframing things? And how can we work on that here today? What can we do best to support the mission? So, that's just how I want to frame this, an understanding that we've been super obnoxious as well, because we'll look at things and say ... If you want to talk about abortion, well look, really progressive folks on the left will say, "Oh you guys believe in conception to natural death, but you got folks in the GOP who want to vote for restricting abortion, but they'll take away health insurance for nine million poor children in America. So how do those two things fly together?" 

Quinn: There's arguments to be made, but like you said, what we want to focus on right now is the environmental side of that, the energy side of that, and how do we focus in? And if that means us getting out of the way, then I'd love for you to tell us that, and what we can do.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, and actually I will say exactly that, is that it's time-

Brian: Get the hell out of the way.

Mitch Hescox: ... for progressives to get out of the way.

Quinn: Good. It's been a good chat. 

Mitch Hescox: But here's what you can do, and I think, just as I told Jerry Brown ... and this is sort of the mission that I tell. I mean, I have a lot of very progressive friends. I mean-

Quinn: I love that the Vatican is having a meeting on climate change with you and Jerry Brown, and Trump has made it so that the CDC cannot say the word climate change. Like, what has happened?

Brian: The Messiah.

Mitch Hescox: Well, you'll see my next [inaudible 00:25:39] is instead of the art of the deal, the dealing away of America, but we can go down that road a different day.

Quinn: Yes, absolutely. Sorry, it's just that I feel like my mind is blown every day, and the Vatican stuff is amazing. It's great. This Pope has done some incredibly progressive stuff-

Brian: I'm such a huge fan of Francis.

Quinn: ... while sticking to his values. I am agnostic. I was actually a religious studies major in college, so I can ... What's the best way to put this, I can talk the talk, I don't walk the walk, but I respect it certainly. But the other side of it, what's happening here, is just unbelievable. So anyways, like you were going to say about your conversation with Jerry?

Mitch Hescox: Well, I think one of the things we have to realize is that people are going to come to climate change because they have different value systems, and if you don't understand that people think differently, and hold different things to be what changes their mind, that's where you have to start. In fact, I'd recommend all of your listeners to Google Jonathan Haidt. Watch his videotape of his book, The Righteous Mind, it'll take you 18 minutes to watch it. 

Quinn: Could you spell his last name one more time, just so we can put it in the show notes for everybody?

Mitch Hescox: H-A-I-D-T.

Quinn: Okay, beautiful.

Mitch Hescox: And he wrote a book called, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

Quinn: I'm into it alrady.

Mitch Hescox: It's a fascinating book because he says what I've known all along, but it's good research and other people have done it, and actually done more work on it on the academic level, is that progressive people have one set of values, conservatives have a different set of values. Some of them overlap to some degree, but the key things that make decision ... people hold it inherently to who they are. 

Mitch Hescox: So, for instance, let's talk my community. My community is starting to get onboard with climate change and climate action because we are pro-life. Sanctity, and faith, and purity, and individual responsibility are all real strong things in my community, and so what I like to say is let me use my legs, my tent poles, to bring up my tent, and you as a progressive might have a whole other set of values that are going to bring you to action on climate change. So each of us are going to erect a different tent, but we can hook them together at the end.

Mitch Hescox: Where the problem gets in, is where somebody says, "Well, you have to build your tent my way," and my community says, "Well, I'm not going to build my tent your way, because I want to do it my way. I have a different system of how I want to do things," and so the biggest thing the progressives can do is say, "Okay, I'm not the right person to be the messenger, because I'm not going to be pro-life. I'm not going to be the other issues that are out there that really are disconcerting to my community." 

Mitch Hescox: Remember, a lot of the social values that are changing in America are really difficult for evangelicals and people of conservative theologies to accept, and it's that they've been taught that for several hundred years. May they change certainly? Sure we've changed hopefully over slavery, I'm not so sure over racism sometimes, but I believe that. 

Mitch Hescox: I think we need to get forward and understand that these value systems are different, and science is not going to move my community, but, when I can walk up to somebody in Pennsylvania and say that we had at least 10,000 cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania last year, and across the United States, the Northeast United States, Lyme disease has grown over 320%, and by the way, the CDC really suspects that there's about 40,000 cases of Lyme disease in Pennsylvania. 

Mitch Hescox: Why is that happening? Because we're getting warmer springs and warmer falls and less winter, and the ticks are expanding exponentially, and so are the little white mice that help carry the ticks. And people look around and say yeah, everybody in Pennsylvania has some child in their neighborhood that has been attacked by Lyme disease. It affects their lives. 

Quinn: And that's really where we want to come at this. Again, our listeners are one way, but I've got young children, and if I was in ... I'm trying to think of the best way to phrase this. It's obviously much easier to say then to do, or to pretend that I would feel this way if I'd been schooled one way for my entire life, which is, if I didn't believe in this, and you came to me and said that, and my kid got sick, I would probably come to the same conclusion of you for an entirely different reason. 

Quinn: But now, for me, for where I stand right now, I'd go, "Great, we'll take you. I don't care how you get there. I don't care how you get there, and what your reason is." Like these businesses that are all going solar, or going carbon neutral, or flying less, for whatever the reason is, and they're doing it purely for the bottom line. Great, fine, we'll take it. 

Brian: Yeah, it doesn't matter.

Quinn: And like you said, that's a conservative value.

Mitch Hescox: And that's where we have to go to, is that there's a gentleman who's a great guy who you know that founded an organization called

Quinn: Yes, we love them.

Mitch Hescox: I know Bill McKibben personally. Bill and I had the same stage, and he got really ticked off at me, because one of Bill's best messages is always, "We just have to teach the science better," but I'm saying, "Bill, for people that really don't care about the science, it doesn't matter if you teach it better, because it's not their value. It's not what motivates them."

Quinn: And you're not going to change peoples' values. You're just not, unless it's ... it's how I felt with the healthcare situation, when they're trying to get rid of coverage for pre-existing conditions again. It's terrible, and I'm sure you would absolutely advise me not to feel this way, and I guarantee you it's not my prevailing feeling, it's just in my darkest moments it's sometime you think, "Well, I look forward to one of their ... of them passing this, and one of their relatives having a condition, and then trying to go to the doctor and them saying, 'Oh, sorry your insurance doesn't cover this anymore. It did six weeks ago, but doesn't anymore,'" because I've got a lot of relatives with pre-existing conditions, and my family's had incredible financial difficulties because of some of them. Then all of a sudden they didn't anymore, and they could get the coverage they need, and that is a life changer in the truest sense of the word. 

Mitch Hescox: Absolutely, and just back to our conversation, one of the things that ... I don't know, there's another ... as a pastor I got some good training in what's called family systems theory, because churches act like a family. Families act like a family, and families don't move, and as something changes the teeter-totter that they're on, unless there's something that changes the stability of the family or the situation, people want to keep that balance where it's at. 

Mitch Hescox: So you have to have something when it comes to talk about climate change that has three things. First off, the real simple thing is ... and we've developed this, I've developed this over 10 years of being a pastor and making thousands of presentations to churches and to people, is the first thing we have to bring up, the health impacts that are impacting people today. 

Mitch Hescox: One of the things that I do, every place I talk to, is find out what the air quality is in the area. Like example, I live in Pennsylvania, the number two natural gas producing state in the country. Where I live, 150, 200 miles away from the nearest gas well, the [inaudible 00:33:45] of methane from those wells in Pennsylvania caused 3,000 asthma attacks in my county, 150 miles away, additional asthma attacks. Is that something that you're worried about? Do you have a child that has asthma?

Mitch Hescox: One of the things that's really simple, that one in three kids in America today have asthma, autism, ADHD, or severe allergies.

Quinn: And that stuff doesn't come from nowhere, [crosstalk 00:34:11], when you look at old folks who get cancer, we go, "Oh, well, we are living longer than we have, and they've put a lot of things in their bodies over the years," but these things have never happened to children, and since the advent of medicine at least, and they shouldn't be, and there has to be a reason. And when there's things in the air and the water, you have to look at the Occam's razor of this. 

Mitch Hescox: Oh, absolutely. Well, the science is there. I mean, you can turn to any research paper and look at the studies that's been done, and more and more there are definitive links to the rapid increases in autism, and ADHD, allergies, other lung diseases, from how we use fossil fuels and petro chemicals. 

Mitch Hescox: You mentioned cancer for example. According to a National Cancer Institute, breast cancer in women is going to go up 30% between last year and 2030. Why? Well, the number one probability is the endocrine mimicking chemicals that are out there, primarily embedded in our plastics that get into the water. One of the things you talked about, something you can do, I tell any church I go to, "If you don't believe anything that I've said today, do me one favor. Never again heat a meal in a plastic container in your microwave."

Quinn: Yeah, my wife and I are pretty bonkers about that.

Brian: Microwaves are the worst anyway. Food always sucks when it comes out of the microwave. It's all soggy.

Mitch Hescox: So back to the question is, if moving evangelicals is it takes that first thing ... What I call it, what catches their heart, is the fact that we're killing our kids. There's no ifs, ands, buts about that, the way we use fossil fuels in the United States, not to mention in the majority world, and we can go there, because one of the things that's true of most people, is people don't change unless they're impacted. That's the whole idea of the teeter-totter and the family theory. 

Mitch Hescox: So when I first came into this we spent a lot of time talking about how people in Mollelwa and Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, other places, are being wiped out, which they are, by climate change. I mean, crops are going down, we all know the stories about climate refugees. Now, what's happening in Mexico is just a million people are moving off of farms in Mexico every year because of climate change and bad soil management.

Quinn: Oh yeah, what's happening in India is incredible. It's quite literally mass suicides.

Brian: Yeah, that's what I was just going to mention.

Mitch Hescox: Oh, absolutely, but again, sort of out of sight, out of mind is a true statement, and we all do that. I mean, I don't care if you're progressive, [crosstalk 00:37:01], but so you do that.

Quinn: Progressives might be even worse about it.

Brian: Absolutely.

Quinn: It's entirely possible.

Mitch Hescox: So, we talk about children's health, and that's why we call it Creation Care is a Matter of Life. That's our slogan, our tagline, and we stick to it. That's our primary thing that we talk about every day. Second, we talk about, that not only are you concerned about your kids, but you know I mentioned that an evangelical has a lot of prime concerns about the Bible, so you have to tie climate change into the responsibility of caring for the Bible. You have to tie it in to that God created this earth, that Plasm 24 says the earth is the Lords and everything in it. We're called to care for the least of these. Isaiah 24 says human beings destroy the earth because they don't follow God's commandment. So, you help people to become aware of the problem by knowing that it impacts their own family, and then it has to engage with their number one value system, which is caring for the Bible in the authenticity and the authority that the Bible brings. 

Mitch Hescox: Most evangelicals are conservative. They don't want to know that this is all about big government, they want to know how they can be part of the solution. It has to be a solution, in fact, one of the great stories that I tell and it's ... Years ago, I think six years ago, seven years ago, I was up in North Eastern Iowa at a little Christian college called Dordt College, and it's really fun when you're in the middle of Iowa in February because it's cold outside, and nobody has anything to do, so the whole community comes out into the Christian college to hear you speak, and it was great.

Quinn: Brian's from Chicago, he knows what you're talking about.

Brian: Oh, I know all about it.

Mitch Hescox: But one other person came up to me afterwards, a farmer, a really salt of the earth, great guy, educated, and loves the land, and he said, "You're the first person in all this climate change business that ever said I could make a difference."

Quinn: That's fascinating.

Mitch Hescox: "By the way, I farm 3,000 acres of corn every year. Here's my commitment to you and to God, I'm going put in ground cover to sequester carbon. I'm going to reduce my fertilizer and pesticides use, I'm going to grow my corn as sustainable as I can do it." I talked to him last fall and he's still doing it.

Brian: That's incredible!

Mitch Hescox: And that's one of the things that we have to get people to realize, that you know, use the car that's the best car for your family. I was up in Minnesota a year ago when Paul Douglas and I unveiled our book that we wrote together called Caring for Creation: The Evangelical's Guide to Climate Change, and we did it at a Christian school. A person came up to me afterwards and said, "Why did you say use the vehicle that you need, that best works for your family? That's most efficient for your family?" And I said, "Real simple. I mean, when I had kids running around, I needed to have a minivan to haul them off to soccer games and baseball games and the whole kids."

Quinn: Oh yeah, I've got a minivan.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, but now that I don't, I drive a nice hybrid car. And she said, "I'm glad you said that because I have eight kids, and I have a big van because I have eight kids, to haul them around." And that-

Quinn: That doesn't fit in a Prius. They're great cars, but those kids are not going to fit in a Prius.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, and so you have to be smart. You can talk about energy efficiency, and changing lifestyles, and buying locally, and one of the great things to do is help churches to see if ... for a little bit of money they can save 5% of their energy by becoming energy efficient. 

Mitch Hescox: I had the Department of Energy do a study of 50 congregations in the South and in the North Midwest and again, they can save 5% of their energy costs for simple things, just a little bit of inflation, chalking their windows. If they want to do more, they might have to do more furnishings ... but we could all do those things, and while they're not the total solution, they're the beginning steps, and they can be contagious.

Quinn: And no one's going to come in 100%. I mean, you talk about your conversation with the mother of eight children, which just, wow. 

Brian: Eight children?

Quinn: Right, my mom's the second in nine, and I'm used to the chaos, but it's still just ... I can't imagine, but I've got three small kids, and my oldest, we've talked a lot about this stuff. He's very curious, and very into the world around him, and loves to play outside and things like ... and I remember driving to baseball practice one day in our minivan, we talked about ... he saw smoke coming out of the tailpipe and he said, "What's that?" And so we talked about it, and of course he did the typical-

Brian: Why? Why? Why?

Quinn: Yeah, "Why? Why?" Which I love to indulge, until we actually have to get out of the car, "Buddy, we got to get out of the car," and we got to that and he goes, "Okay, well, I'm never riding in this car again." And I was like, "No, I get it. It seems hypocritical. We need the minivan buddy. There's too many of you guys. We all don't fit, it's a pain. You need that third row, and look, I would love to go 100%, but I can't." 

Quinn: It's not going to fly, and nobody should be forced to because if you tell somebody, "You've got to go completely green or not," they're not going to do it.

Brian: No.

Mitch Hescox: Nope, and that's why you give people options, and you carry them along the way, and you help people to understand that community gardens are a great thing for churches to do, and help feed those in the neighborhood, to grow sustainably, to be engaged in that, but one of the things that is very, very key to this whole discussion with evangelicals, and I would argue with most people, and that's hope.

Quinn: Tell us about that.

Mitch Hescox: Well, for years, in every place I traveled, from all of my progressive friends, from anybody that's out there, "The world is gone to hell in a hand basket, unless we come up 0% carbon today, we're all going to burn." Well, we do need to become carbon negative very quickly, but it's not tomorrow. But there is hope out there, and the world is changing. We've seen more decreases in fossil fuel use and carbon amounts, and it is getting better. The driverless cars, the Teslas, the cost of renewable energy, I mean, I don't ... if you guys have seen the Lazard, the Levelized Cost of Energy Report that came out in November, that literally you could close a coal fire power plant today and be better off economically by turning to renewables.

Brian: Yeah, why don't we do that?

Mitch Hescox: And those are the things that we need to talk about, that the hope is there, that there's goals out there, and that we're not going to lose our way of life, but we're going to change it. And one of the great examples of that is in Circa 1900, in fact I use this story all the time in my presentations. I ask people what the top three industries were in America around 1900, and the answer is agriculture, railroads, and the third one nobody gets until I tell them, and that's horses. 

Mitch Hescox: If you look at the Macy's Day Parade Circa 1900, versus Circa 1915, you'll see a great market transformation. The early 1900 pictures have one type of automobile in them and everything else is horses. By the mid 19's there is one horse and everything else is an automobile. I use that story because it's not only are we in the midst of an economic disruption, but we're also in the midst of an economic battle, and that's one of the things that my community loves to hear about, is that we do have an economic battle. We have an economic battle from a well entrenched source of energy that's made billions and billions of dollars over the year, versus a bunch of upstart new people that are dreamers and have new ideas, and actually now are cheaper than anything else, but they're being held back by the status quo. And that's unfair, it's unjust.

Quinn: Right. I'm totally with you, Reverend. I do have one thing that's interesting about that, and I don't want to dwell, I want to keep moving and talk about our topic, but you mentioned speaking with all these coal executives who swear they're never going to ... They can't build another plant, and they can't even pay for the ones that were self insured, and yet you've got our political leadership keeps making these moves to protect them and the ordinary answer, or the cynical answer, as it turns out to be true a lot of the times is, "Well, they're just doing it for the money, they're being paid by these special interests," but I don't understand how coal is still paying them off if they can't pay their own bills, you know? It doesn't make a ton of sense at this point.

Mitch Hescox: Well, but there are a lot of reserves in the ground of coal, and a lot of people have made money and invested it elsewhere, but I think, and one thing that I believe it was it Bill McKibben that did write, that was very good in The Rolling Stones a few years ago, "The amount of lost assets would be realized, especially by the oil company, if we changed fuel sources over the next 20 years." 

Quinn: Oh yeah.

Mitch Hescox: But it's happening. In fact, I won't mention the name, but back in late September, I actually filmed a documentary that's going to hit cable TV here shortly on our public lands, and our national monument-

Quinn: What's it called?

Mitch Hescox: It hasn't come up with a name yet, but I can send it to you when I get it-

Quinn: Deal.

Mitch Hescox: ... but it's a whole bunch of catalogs of sort of my testimony in regard to public lands and protecting those. And one of the persons that was actually funding this little TV show grandfather made lots of money in the Permian Basin in Texas, started out in the '30s, and she still controls the family oil money, but the one thing that she said, which was just so telling the smart people, "For three generations our family did very well by the oil business, but it won't succeed into the fourth generation."

Brian: Damn.

Quinn: I mean, that awareness is so necessary.

Mitch Hescox: And it is. And I think that's what we're seeing, and that's one of the residual battles we're having, is there are people that because of their vested interest, because they have lots of oil leases, they have lots of land with oil in it, they're trying to protect their assets.

Quinn: Sure.

Mitch Hescox: And this [undercree 00:48:31], I understand that. We'd probably do that self-preservation mode too, but it's killing society.

Quinn: Right, and that's the difference. 

Mitch Hescox: That's where we have to go for, but helping people to understand that in my community, that it is not really a scientific battle, but a more economic battle, and what's fair, and what's right, is the way to talk about it, because fairness is a very, very, very strong value in my community, and it wants to be a fair value. 

Mitch Hescox: My community is really strong on wanting people to have an equal opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They are the self made people of the world, they grew up with this protestant work ethic, that every person could raise themselves up, and they valued that, and it's in their [inaudible 00:49:26] and who we are. 

Mitch Hescox: So that's one of the things that gets in the way of big government, is that, "So let's talk about ..." Yeah, government has to be involved, but I don't talk about government until the end. "These are what you can do. This is the hope you can do. This is the hope we can do for our kids." But then we have to have our government step in to be the policeman, to watch, sure that people follow the rules. 

Mitch Hescox: And it's amazing how peoples' mind change about things like the EPA, when you start talking about the EPA acting as sort of law enforcement, to make sure people play by the right rules that we've all established, instead of being this one who makes regulations, that force people to do things, but how they're there to enforce the laws of our country to protect peoples' health.

Quinn: Right. Right.

Mitch Hescox: I can tell you it works because my ministry was responsible ... one of the key players in the largest carbon reducing regulation that's happened in the United States ever, and that was something that had nothing to do with carbon, but it was called the Mercury and Air Toxic Standard. 

Mitch Hescox: We championed that standard, we pretty much helped to get it through the call to Congressional Review Act in the Senate. It [inaudible 00:50:55] EEN to become friends with a lot of people at the EPA, and other people, because we help people to see that taking mercury out of the air would help babies have less brain damage. 

Quinn: Sure, and like you said, we are killing our kids. Like if that's what we have to tell people-

Mitch Hescox: And it is. At the time the mercury standard was still being put into effect, one in six children in the United States had brain damage because of mercury.

Quinn: One in six?

Mitch Hescox: One in six. And it switched in the closing of old coal plants, because they couldn't justifiably put on the mercury controls. The plants that did it, we've already seen stuff happening ... There was a study came out last year on Atlantic fisheries, the Northeast, that have had a marked reduction in mercury ever since that rule went into effect. 

Mitch Hescox: So it's happening, and it's working, and we're taking mercury out of the air, and what's so cool about that rule, not only did it stop mercury from coming out of coal-fired powered power plants in the United States, it was the thing that allowed the United States to come to the table and sign and come up with what's called the Minamata Accord, named after Minamata Japan, where the mercury disease from contaminated fish was first discovered decades ago. Every nation in the world came to the table and pledged to reduce mercury, including India, including China, and including some of the mining companies in countries of South America, where mercury coming from other forms of mining was also a big problem. 

Mitch Hescox: So things do work, and our community has had value, and I say that because it was evangelicals that did that. It was people that came together and said, "I had 400 pastors sign a letter that I took around Congress, and senior leaders saying, 'We gotta take the mercury because we're killing our kids, brain damage.'" And the reason I bring that up is not to necessarily tote our own horn, but the fact that-

Quinn: You should.

Mitch Hescox: Well, the fact is that the message works, and engages our community if you do it the right way. So don't tell us how to think, but accept the fact that we're going to have different values. That's one of the ways that can even promote a lot more civil discourse in the United States. Don't call evangelicals ignorant because they're pro-life, or have a different understanding currently of what homosexuality means, and the Bible says. 

Mitch Hescox: That's what happens, is there gets to be this, quite honestly, in my opinion, and I'll be perfectly honest, there's this moral supreme-ity, a lead-ism, that comes out of so many people in the progressive community, that it just feels like it's being shoved down the throat to many evangelicals and their core values, and they just put up a shield, turn away, and say, "To heck with it."

Quinn: Yeah, and then that's how you turn people off, period, and they have no interest in talking about the environment at that point, and now you've lost the battle entirely. Good work.

Mitch Hescox: So you've heard me preach for awhile, so that's what we do.

Brian: We're wondering like in your teachings and preachings and all the speaking you do, are there particular issues or obstacles that come up again and again, and if so, what do we need to do to break them down?

Quinn: Where are you having the hardest time?

Mitch Hescox: The hardest time is actually just not being able to talk to as many evangelicals as I want to talk to. 

Quinn: How is that?

Mitch Hescox: Well, it's just the fact that we're a small organization, and we've done mighty things, but I'd like to have a lot more ways to train a lot more people to do what I do.

Quinn: Do you take donations? Because if we're going to tell progressives to get out of the way, they can still technically get out of the way, and yet contribute at the same time-

Brian: With money, yeah.

Quinn: ... and Lord knows we like to do that.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, and that's one of the things that I, quite honestly, is you've mentioned the definition of insanity. I tell some of the foundation friends exactly the same thing, "You've been funding the environmental movement for 25 years the same way, and look where it's gotten us."

Quinn: Right, I mean, it's still technically funding the environmental movement by giving it to you. I mean, in fact, it might be the most effective way to do it at this point.

Mitch Hescox: Because quite honestly, when I, or my team, go out and talk to a local church, or a college, or we just developed a new resource this summer called Healthy Creation Equals Healthy Children, a way to reach evangelical moms and preschool moms and to help them to be aware of a lot of the things we talked about. When we can get in front of people, people's hearts and minds are changed. It's just the fact that we can't be every place at once, and we're just not big enough to be every place at once yet.

Quinn: Sure.

Brian: So you guys do the Young Evangelicals for Climate Action as a part of the EEN, yes?

Mitch Hescox: That's correct, and they do a fantastic job. 

Brian: Yeah, that seems like a great place to train a bunch of people to sort of have the same ideals that you have to share with everyone.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, and YECA is a great group, and it was started primarily because younger evangelicals have quite honestly, slightly different value systems than even older evangelicals, and younger evangelicals also are very good at moving older evangelicals, because they don't want them to walk away from evangelicalism. 

Quinn: Sure, that is the primary value.

Mitch Hescox: So we've started at five years ago, and we've had great success with it. They've done great things, and Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, who's our person who leads that part of our ministry, he does a fantastic job. We have this three prong approach where EEN sort of takes the traditional, center of the pack, evangelical mindset, those represented by the NAE. We have our Evangelical Mom's Force concentrating on young women who are just, again, women are powerful, and we have to empower women, even in many places in the evangelical world where women don't have official titles, I can tell you that women control the local church.

Brian: Really?

Quinn: That's good to know.

Mitch Hescox: They are the power behind the local church. They may not have the title, but they have the power. I can tell you that as 20 years being a pastor. I often joke if two women came to me and sort of wanted to do something, and wanted to figure out how to get it through the church, I would basically say, "Go ahead and do it, because you're going to do it anyhow," and they would do that. 

Mitch Hescox: But I don't say that in jest, there is a lot of power in bringing women to the table, and I'd be the first one to recognize that. I think that that's something that we have to do even a better job of in the evangelical world, but certainly they are a force in the local church, and they're a force in their community, and that's why we started the EN Mom's.

Mitch Hescox: So, please let us communicate the way we need to communicate with authenticity to our community, and don't try to combine every progressive value in one, because doing those two things will never allow us to get a national climate clean energy policy.

Brian: Yeah, and guess nothing else even matters if the earth burns down, so we can talk about all the other arguments-

Quinn: Yeah, let's deal with that later.

Brian: ... later.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, and I think that's the key, or at least let's have separate discussions.

Quinn: Right, it's just that there's so many things that are so important, from civil rights, to abortion, to energy, I mean, you name it, but I don't want to be too narrow because it's not completely true, but this is the one with the most devastating ticking clock, basically.

Mitch Hescox: You're right, and there are a lot of things ... I mean, I certainly stand up for children's hunger around the world, and empowering communities, but one of the things you talk about to the evangelical world is the best way to make economic prosperity to happen in the majority world is clean energy. We need to turn energy poverty into energy security, and the easiest and best way to do that, and the most practical way to do that, is with renewable energy, diversified power, decentralizing the place, and that's the future.

Quinn: Absolutely. Okay, so to frame things. Things for progressives to do, because again, we are trying to instigate action here, and it really seems like number one ... and I would love to get this down to three because people have very short attention spans, including myself, is get out of the way, basically, let you do your job. 

Quinn: Number two is, if you find yourself in a conversation with an evangelical, it's about the values, it's not about the science. We're killing our kids, don't preach to them, but keep that in mind. 

Quinn: Number three seems to be give them options, nobody can be 100%. I still have a minivan that is killing the planet, you know, empathize.

Brian: There's always something. There's something that you can do. I always-

Quinn: Of course.

Brian: ... get so defeated when people think that, "Oh, I'm just one person, I couldn't possibly make a difference."

Quinn: Every LED bulb counts. Number four seems to be talk about government less, because nobody wants to bring that up, and number five seems to be donate. You want to fund the environmental movement, we funded the rest of it pretty well, let's give you the resources to again, number one, let you do your job. Does that makes sense? Am I completely off?

Mitch Hescox: No, I think that's the right idea. I think the first thing is ... I mean, I would just change it ... is remember the progressives and conservatives have different values, and understand that. If you're getting into a conversation, talk about children's health, because it's the easy way to find common ground. 

Mitch Hescox: Third is separate the issues, don't make everything ... If you don't have a [inaudible 01:01:27], if you can't be a progressive by checking off all these values, and then get people mad at you. Talk about hope, and individual action, and certainly we would appreciate the financial support to let us do our job.

Quinn: That sounds pretty actionable to me.

Brian: We have updated the list, it's much better now, thank you. So Reverend, if we were to ask you who else we should talk to on this podcast, do you have anybody in mind?

Mitch Hescox: It would be fun to talk to Kyle sometime, our YECA person. I would strongly recommend that you give him a call-

Quinn: We already follow him on Twitter.

Mitch Hescox: Okay, yes, Kyle's a good person-

Brian: Kyle went to Bonn, yeah? For COP 23?

Mitch Hescox: Let me think, who's somebody that's really interesting to talk to in my community?

Quinn: You can always get back to us, but we work on recommendations here.

Brian: Sure. You are here thanks to Jerry.

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, well, Gerry's a good friend and I think that's ... One of the good things to really think about, and I think this goes across the board, whether it's on climate change or creation care issues, but I think people in America on both sides of the [inaudible 01:02:43], whether who you are, all of us have forgotten about grace. We've forgotten that each person is a child of God, whether they believe it or not, and as so they have inherent value, and their thoughts are important. 

Mitch Hescox: We may disagree with them, but how do we disagree and find common ground? I've made that a practice, I mean, I have a couple senators who I actually go and pray with on a regular basis, and they're a couple Republicans and they're a couple Democrats, and we meet separately, but the Democrat issues ... we disagree on just about everything except children's health, caring for the environment, and they're both people of faith, are these Democrats, and so they want to pray. 

Mitch Hescox: They are much more progressive faith than I am, and more sort of mainlined products and circles, but we can agree that there's a God, we can agree that children need help, and we agree that we have to act in climate, and the rest of the stuff we just disagree. 

Mitch Hescox: But it's okay to disagree, and care in grace, and I think that's one of the biggest messages that I tell people today is how can we get out of our silos and be filled with a little bit of grace for each other?

Brian: That was a really nice message.

Quinn: I think that matters. I think human empathy and grace goes a long way, and I don't think it really matters what you believe in, as long as we all come to the same place, whether it's not firing nukes at each other, or removing a coal plant, so my children and your children don't both have asthma. 

Mitch Hescox: That's correct.

Brian: I'm probably going to have children at some point, and I don't want them to have asthma either. 

Quinn: One day. One day, we'll try to clean this place up before you have kids, Brain. 

Quinn: So, just a few last questions, Reverend, we really appreciate your time. Kind of questions we try to ask everybody. How do you consume your news these days?

Mitch Hescox: I'm a news junkie, so I do it just about every way except television.

Brian: Smart man!

Quinn: That's such a good answer.

Mitch Hescox: I read three or four newspapers online every day. I listen to NPR when I'm in the car. I follow several bloggers and do it, and get all the latest reports, because I believe that you can't get your news from one source, because all us are bias, and we all have our own personal bias to it, so you read from different places and different sources to try to get as much as you can from other people. 

Mitch Hescox: So I do all of the above except TV because I just can't stand to watch TV news today. Other than the news hour, if I can watch the news hour occasionally, I will watch it, but usually by that time of night I've read the ... I mean, I get up at 5:00 every morning and start reading newspapers online.

Brian: Yeah, same totally, me too. Rev, are you reading any interesting books right now?

Mitch Hescox: The best book that I'm reading, in my opinion, is a book that came out late last year, which you guys probably don't want to read, but it's called-

Quinn: So not the Bible?

Mitch Hescox: No. Well, it's called The Day the Revolution Began, by one of my favorite theologians, N.T. Wright, was an English bishop, and it's all about having Good Friday be the day of the Kingdom of God coming, and [inaudible 01:06:15]. 

Mitch Hescox: N.T Wright is literally my favorite theologian and so that's the book that's literally on my desk right now, and I actually have a stack of about 20 books that I am always reading. I literally read three books at a time-

Quinn: Oh, you're one of those guys. I can't do it. 

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, well, I have to read one book for fun every night because I can't go to sleep unless I read some novel or something like that because I have to shut my brain down.

Quinn: I'm with you.

Mitch Hescox: So, I'm reading one fun book, and then a couple books for education. 

Brian: Come on, what's the fun one?

Mitch Hescox: The fun book? I'm actually re-reading The 5th Wave, it's sort of a teenager's book.

Quinn: Good one, yeah.

Mitch Hescox: I read it before and ... Because one of the things that I like reading these apocalyptic stories for, is they help me to come up with ways to talk to people about how we can avoid the [inaudible 01:07:06] for hope. 

Quinn: That's fair. Did they make that movie last year? Or the year before I think?

Mitch Hescox: Yeah, I think two years ago. The book's been around for awhile, but it's sort of a teenage book, but I love simple things to put me to sleep, so that's one-

Brian: The synopsis it sounds great, and terrifying. 

Mitch Hescox: I also read a lot of James Patterson, I love mysteries.

Quinn: Sure, yeah. Who doesn't?

Mitch Hescox: In fact, one of the things ... talking about being a religious major, my new testament professor, when I was in seminary, walked up to me one day and said, "You like reading a good mystery don't you?" And I said, "Absolutely, I do," and she said, "I found out that people who love mysteries are the best biblical scholars, because they love digging into the text and finding out really what it's saying." 

Mitch Hescox: So she said, "Keep reading mysteries because it makes you a better biblical scholar." I said, "Thanks, I will."

Quinn: I like that. It's good, and I mean look, anybody who's curious and asks questions, regardless of why they're prompted to do so is pretty okay in my book. Hopefully it only leads us to good places. 

Quinn: So, Reverend, just want to close up here, where can our listeners follow you online? Where can we find you?

Mitch Hescox: You can find me at our website, You can follow me on Twitter @Mitch_@_EEN, and you can find me at Creation Care on Facebook as well.

Quinn: Very exciting. Everybody's on Facebook, to the detriment of humanity apparently, but we're there. 

Quinn: Well listen, Reverend, we cannot thank you enough for your time today and for your words. Just being rational and understanding about how difficult we can be, and how we feel so similarly about the other side, but it shouldn't be about sides. We need to kind of ignore the other six things for a moment, at least in this discussion, and focus on the one thing that really does matter, and like you said, find the values we can agree on. 

Mitch Hescox: Absolutely right, and I think that's what's really alienated the world, is both sides depend on, want to be right for everything, instead of coming together and choosing things where we can find some common ground to solve some problems.

Brian: How can there not be enough of us that just want to not let the planet burn?

Quinn: Right. It should be pretty simple math. Well, Reverend, best of luck out there. Absolutely we will be watching and listening, and we'd love to talk to you again at some point and hear how it's all going, and please just keep kicking ass out there.

Mitch Hescox: All right.

Brian: Kicking butt is what he meant to say. Sorry about that. 

Quinn: Sorry. I tried so hard. I tried so hard. 

Brian: Don't listen to any other episodes, you're going to hear a lot of F-bombs.

Mitch Hescox: Well, you know, I love your word, but I'm going to be the evangelist that I really, truly am, because the reason I do this ... and maybe this is my final quote, I do this because Jesus tells me to tell everybody about how much he loves them, and he also tells me that I'm supposed to care for the least of these, and that's why I do what I do. It's because I am a Christian, and I love to do that to help people to find love and care in this world. You guys are good guys, and it's fun to chat with you, and anytime I can help you guys just give me a ring.

Quinn: You're the best.

Brian: We really appreciate it.

Quinn: All right, thank you Reverend. Have a great day.

Mitch Hescox: Thank you, bye bye now.

Quinn: All right, bye bye.

Brian: Chow.

Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today, and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute, or awesome workout, or dish washing, or fucking dog walking late at night, that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at It is all the news most vital to our survival as a species.

Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @importantnotimp ... just so weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram @importantnotimportant. Pinterest and Tumbler, the same thing. 

Brian: So check us out, follow us, share us, like us, you know the deal, and please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. And if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcast. Keep the lights on, thanks.

Quinn: Please.

Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website,

Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jamming music, to all of you for listening, and finally, most importantly, to our moms for-

Brian: Making us.

Quinn: Have a great-

Brian: Day. Thanks guys!

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