Thursday, June 18, 2015

Almost Forgot

OK, looking at the e-mail, sifting out the hate mail that the filter didn't, there is this link to an article in the National Catholic Reporter about the unembargoed encyclical on the environment, the one someone in the Vatican leaked so the American etc. right-wing media could lie about it and vilify Pope Francis as he endangers extraction industry profits over the little matter of saving the planet.

This passage in the article jumped out at me.

As predicted, the issue may be new, but the theology is very traditional. The quotes from Saint Pope John Paul II remind us that there was more to John Paul than what his neo-conservative “interpreters” in the U.S. chose to highlight. Pope Francis quotes from his encyclical Centesimus Annus, writing, “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in ‘lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.’” Likewise he quotes Pope Benedict XVI, who so far from the caricature of a reactionary, called for “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment.”

Which reminded me that I forgot to identify the radical who said what i posted yesterday on the topic of limits of personal property,  the overriding common interest that limits the right to property by individuals and their legal entities.  It came from the official, Catechism of the Catholic Church, issued under those two arch-conservative popes, sounding on economic justice issues like people so far left that they'd never be heard on our freest press in the history of the world or even on many leftish blogs written by Ivy League economists.   And it's not the only place in the Catechism that not only sounds but, if put into practice would be ultra-far left, as, in fact, the foundation of all Christian theology,  the Gospels, and The Law frequently are, as well.  I could have quoted many other documents from many churches, going back centuries, updating the language, and what those said could be mistaken for radical advocacy for economic justice, more so than they do to those who are presented, blind, with language from the Bill of Rights.

The NCR article points out that Pope Francis goes outside of Catholic tradition to make his argument,

Interestingly, having cited his predecessors, Pope Francis gives even more attention to the writings of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who wrote, “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins.” And, he cites the Patriarch on the call “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God's creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet.” I do not recall any previous papal document devoting such attention to a Christian leader who is not a Roman Catholic in an official document such as this. I think it is important to remember on all issues that Francis is always thinking in terms of ecumenical relations, that his commitment to restoring full communion within the Body of Christ is at the top of his list of commitments. Noteworthy, too, are the frequent quotes from episcopal conferences.

Now, that's a trend that we should all hope continues and expands.  Many, probably most,  religions in the Jewish, Protestant, Islamic mainstream have documents that make similar points, many with their own useful arguments and supporting citations.  If religious leaders got together and really put pressure on governments and corporations on this issue they might just save the planet and the human, as well as most other species.  It's a lot more important than the next focus of the webloid-blogloid 2-week hate.

I am going to wait to comment further until I get to read the encyclical.  Like other theological documents I've been reading the past few years, it should be well reasoned and documented.   High-end theology is generally far better sourced and far better reasoned than most of the junk the self appointed "rational community" churns out.   It is certainly better reasoned that a lot of the "science" that gets you on NPR and the other so-considered elite vehicles of our freest of all free presses.


  1. Funny how life provides me opportunities on this micro-scale.

    As I said once, I've been binging on "The West Wing" on Netflix. Got to the episode of "LemonLyman,com," when the Deputy COS finds a website dedicated to him, and makes the mistake of posting a comment on it to correct an error.

    He stirs up a hornet's nest of people convinced they know far more than he does, or just convinced that, whatever you say, THIS is what you meant. That latter reaction I ran into a great deal as a pastor: you ain't the POTUS, but neither do you have a Press Secretary, and everything you say gets heard by who ever is listening for their own purposes, or is understood in a way unimaginable and unforeseeable.

    And people on the internets are nuts. No worse than people in real life, but people in real life are nuts, too. I mean bull goose looney off the chain insane. The "rational community" is, as we used to say of the "Moral Majority:" neither. It ain't rational, it ain't a community. As the Press Secretary says to Lyman: its the gang from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

    So, in defense (slightly) of the "freest of free presses," they're free to report it; but the audience is free to turn away. Can't tell you how many truly thoughtful pieces I see on major websites either bring out the howler monkeys, or just get ignored.

    I agree with you; I wanna read the encyclical. As for arguing about it with the intertoobs: no thanks. I'm waiting for somebody at Salon to make the obvious reference to Tayler's "FDS" vis a vis the Pope and this encyclical. Not holding my breath, though; that would require more mental activity than Tayler's supporters are capable of.

    1. As my post after encountering Christian bashing and blaming for the murders at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in S.C. says, they're just another version of what FOX is. It was at Media Matters that I answered them but I saw it elsewhere, just like the night Dr. Tiller was assassinated.

      And they don't even get that what they're saying does not cohere. I think learning how truly stupid the conceited holders of degrees could be, those who believe they are of the left, was one of the biggest shocks of going online. The "Brain Trust" is a tiny and ever lessening part of it, it is ubiquitous. It reminds me of Cobbett's observation that in so many cases all a so-called education gives those who have one is an excuse to be conceited.

  2. The whole encyclical is well worth reading, and is of course neither a scientific document nor a political manifesto, but a theological discourse on the Christian's duty in the face of environmental degradation and its unjust impact on the poor.

    The reference to Patriarch Bartholomew at the beginning may have been unprecedented, but what I found most interesting was the following footnote:

    "The spiritual writer Ali al-Khawas stresses from his own experience the need not to put too much distance between the creatures of the world and the interior experience of God. As he puts it: “Prejudice should not have us criticize those who seek ecstasy in music or poetry. There is a subtle mystery in each of the movements and sounds of this world. The initiate will capture what is being said when the wind blows, the trees sway, water flows, flies buzz, doors creak, birds sing, or in the sound of strings or flutes, the sighs of the sick, the groans of the afflicted...” (EVA DE VITRAY-MEYEROVITCH [ed.], Anthologie du soufisme, Paris 1978, 200)."

    References to Moslems in Catholic teaching are rare enough, though not unprecedented; the Summa Theologica treats Averreroes as an authority. Still, it emphasizes the extent to which Francis, while acting as a teacher for Catholics, is seeking to enlist a broader audience for what is a world-wide problem.

    1. I have been finding that encyclicals, even many of those I don't agree with, in the end, are generally quite well thought through and articulately expressed. And it's not only modern ones that are.

      I think Francis was an inspired choice to be Pope, i hope he continues on for a while. It could help renew the churches and further and expand ecumenism.