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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Laudato Si 113: Where Is The Hope?

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. The technocratic paradigm no longer inspires confidence about the days to come:

113. There is also the fact that people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities.

To be sure, I’d say the shadow of nuclear war eradicated much of popular trust in the dominant paradigm. nothing has replaced it in the popular imagination to date.

There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and history, a growing sense that the way to a better future lies elsewhere. This is not to reject the possibilities which technology continues to offer us. But humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction.

And these superficialities seem to function often enough as distractions from what really matters. I suspect many people instinctively know this.

It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life. If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.

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Laudato Si 112: Technology Serving People

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

112. Yet we can once more broaden our vision. We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral.

This is a laudable aspiration. The challenge is not to replace one flawed paradigm with another. The following reflection suggests the optimal life is one lived in moderation. And seeing that technology–or any approach–serves people rather than slots people into serving a dominant model.

Liberation from the dominant technocratic paradigm does in fact happen sometimes, for example, when cooperatives of small producers adopt less polluting means of production, and opt for a non-consumerist model of life, recreation and community. Or when technology is directed primarily to resolving people’s concrete problems, truly helping them live with more dignity and less suffering. Or indeed when the desire to create and contemplate beauty manages to overcome reductionism through a kind of salvation which occurs in beauty and in those who behold it. An authentic humanity, calling for a new synthesis, seems to dwell in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door. Will the promise last, in spite of everything, with all that is authentic rising up in stubborn resistance?

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Laudato Si 111: Crisis Mode

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Pope Francis criticizes crisis mode which, really, is far more costly in the long run.

111. Ecological culture cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the immediate problems of pollution, environmental decay and the depletion of natural resources. There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational program, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm. Otherwise, even the best ecological initiatives can find themselves caught up in the same globalized logic. To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.

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