Laudato Si 116: Understanding Anthropocentrism

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

How do we interpret that sixteen-letter word? The accusation is often bandied about within the Church, one side against another, and very occasionally with merit.

In the context of culture and the environment, do we see ourselves as rightful masters and commanders of all we see? Is this authentically Judeo-Christian, or is it pagan? Read and ponder:

116. Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism which today, under another guise, continues to stand in the way of shared understanding and of any effort to strengthen social bonds. The time has come to pay renewed attention to reality and the limits it imposes; this in turn is the condition for a more sound and fruitful development of individuals and society. An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our “dominion” over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.[Cf. Love for Creation. An Asian Response to the Ecological Crisis, Declaration of the Colloquium sponsored by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (Tagatay, 31 January-5 February 1993), 3.3.2]


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On My Bookshelf: Theology of Christian Marriage IV

Theology of Christian MarriageSynod15 is now in full session, and I’ve been trying to keep up with the “loyal opposition,” Cardinal Kasper’s “controversial” views on marriage.

As I’ve been reading and reading again and reflecting on his book Theology of Christian Marriage, I haven’t found anything seriously out of bounds with tradition. In looking at the “Human Values of Marriage” he addresses the possibility of a “new understanding” of marriage in the third part of Chapter 1. Before jumping up and down, remember, we are talking about human values, those aspects which we bring as God-created mortal beings within the framework of a human culture.

One point I found striking is the notion that a human marriage has certain requirements for it to be successful: physical, social, and economic. On that last point, consider two people who are unable to provide for themselves, let alone a family. Suppose a husband must emigrate to another country for work. Suppose a wife must submit to sexual slavery to another. Maybe the best intentions for a marriage, even a sacramental marriage are present. But can a couple make a grave error in this regard? Could a couple just be too poor, too innocent, too unprepared? If the human aspect of marriage is absent, is a sacrament even possible?

Those last questions are my own. It seems to me a basic level of justice must be accounted for in the cultural milieu in which marriages find themselves.

Cardinal Kasper also surfaces the issue FrMichael often has difficulty with: the need to recognize a broader fruitfulness in marriage, not just providing breeding pairs for the preservation of the species.

In addition to being higher than animals, the way God made us as sexual beings is far different from other creatures’ seasonal receptivity to sex and reproduction.

(H)uman fruitfulness can never be exclusively dependent on a biological or natural rhythm. It must above all be subordinated to (a human) sense of moral responsibility.

These responsibilities are as one might expect: respect for the dignity of the spouse, responsibility for present and future children, responsibility for the greater society, respect for the way God has made us as human beings.

The author devotes four pages at the end of this chapter to the theme of “faithfulness in love.” And since that touches upon the notion of permanence in marriage, I’d like to peel that off for the next post in this series.

Meanwhile, any comments?

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Guns in Fun

There are some people who have yet to master appropriate interpersonal relationships. I don’t know if Father Kevin Carter is one of them. Rocco whispered this link to people who are defending the man for pointing a musket at a boy. Supposedly the whole thing was in jest between fans of rival NFL teams.

I have a question. Would Fr Carter have pointed his musket at his bishop when the Bears were scheduled to play the Giants?

I suppose there’s no way a history buff keeps a loaded firearm ready for the fans of the other 31 teams. So was there any danger to the lad? Probably not. Is pointing guns at kids the kind of behavior that gives people pause? Definitely yes. Possibly to the point of scandal.

When well-adjusted football fans rib each other over the game and their teams, it usually stays in the realm of fun. There are tragic exceptions, especially in the cases of domestic violence. But in a living room full of friends, it’s pretty likely somebody is going to say, “Dude, forget the gun. Keep it real.” That’s an impulse that could have been followed to better effect.

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Laudato Si 115: Modern Anthropocentrism

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Twenty-two numbered sections constitute the third section of Chapter Three, “THE CRISIS AND EFFECTS OF MODERN ANTHROPOCENTRISM.

115. Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since “the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere ‘given’, as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere ‘space’ into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference”.[Romano Guardini, Das Ende der Neuzeit, 63 (The End of the Modern World, 55).]

The ultimate degradation of people and nature as users and something to be used. St John Paul suggested human beings do not escape self-harm by their abuse of others:

The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given, but, man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed”.[Centesimus Annus 38]

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Laudato Si 114: Revolution

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Pope Francis calls for a revolution, and a recovery:

114. All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. Science and technology are not neutral; from the beginning to the end of a process, various intentions and possibilities are in play and can take on distinct shapes. Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.

The revolution is a change in human culture, a renewed focus on values that are important to us.

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Asteroid Romero

Asteroid number 13703 was renamed for Oscar Romero. An interesting quote from Rome Reports:

The humble Romero has now received another unique distinction: a small planet has been named after him. (Although it may actually be an asteroid, because it’s exact the classification hasn’t been determined.)Euler_diagram_of_solar_system_bodies_svg

“Minor planet” is the scientific term. I suspect “small planet” is some kind of mistranslation. Celestial body #13703 has always been accepted as what is commonly known as an “asteroid.” That term isn’t terribly accurate as the root word “aster” refers to a star.

I suppose it is possible 13703 Romero is a comet. But we won’t know for sure until someone visits and determines if it consists of ice rather than rock.

One doesn’t have to be a saint to be a religious figure with a name attached to a minor planet. Check here, but before you do, see if you can guess the first (and so far only) pope so honored.

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Weekend Football

I think David is the only one who follows these posts on football. I’ve been struggling with the Swans for a whole month. Manager Garry Monk was pleased with the effort in yesterday’s 2-2 result, but I think two of his key players were nearly invisible, especially on the attack.

After church, I picked up the family and we went to the Sounders big match against the LA Galaxy. I think it was David who asked me to compare MLS with the English Premier League, and I found it hard to do two, three years ago.

Yesterday we had upper deck seats at the stadium, and I was watching things network cameras don’t show as they follow the ball on tv broadcasts. It was interesting to see how the two teams switch formations when moving from defense to possession and back again.

The interesting difference I noticed is that MLS play with the ball was not as crisp as what I see from just about every PL team. They flashed stats at the end of the Sounders match and passing accuracy for both teams was just about 75%. A key MLS match-up between two of the better teams, and live, it didn’t match the excitement I see from, say, Everton-Liverpool this weekend.

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