Laudato Si 41: Reef Environments

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

41. In tropical and subtropical seas, we find coral reefs comparable to the great forests on dry land, for they shelter approximately a million species, including fish, crabs, mollusks, sponges and algae. Many of the world’s coral reefs are already barren or in a state of constant decline. “Who turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of color and life?”[CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Pastoral Letter What is Happening to our Beautiful Land? (29 January 1988)]

One of the many citations in this document coming from a national bishops’ conference.

This phenomenon is due largely to pollution which reaches the sea as the result of deforestation, agricultural monocultures, industrial waste and destructive fishing methods, especially those using cyanide and dynamite. It is aggravated by the rise in temperature of the oceans. All of this helps us to see that every intervention in nature can have consequences which are not immediately evident, and that certain ways of exploiting resources prove costly in terms of degradation which ultimately reaches the ocean bed itself.

Even researchers and naturalists were alarmed in the 70’s and 80’s when the extent of pollution in the oceans came to be realized.

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Open Thread: My Way

I have a recollection of a meeting with friends who, while Catholic, were somewhat of the fundamentalist stripe. I was sharing a song from a new liturgical recording. They didn’t buy into my excitement, suggesting instead that my aim was somehow amiss. The better alternative was directly going to Jesus. For them, this meant mostly intellectual discussion. Study the Bible and struggle with it–so far, so good. But that’s about it. Other paths to God, with God, were suspect. Heady talk worked for them, so why bother risking getting lost with something else? As a twenty-something, I did recognize a my-way-or-the-highway approach.

Many Christians of the fundamentalist stripe are quite fine believers and disciples. But for some, their expectations of God are extremely narrow. They feel scolded when it is suggested there might be an alternate way. Like something personally surprising. And this is unusual, because many reformed sinners have a sense of grace. They might recognize they didn’t deserve reconciliation and harmony with Christ. But they got it.

The strange thing is that for many believers, they really seem to act as though their grace was deserved. Again: grace their way. And everybody else likely must hold to that way–the one sure way. The way they shared with God. Once. Or maybe a few times.

The alternative path is that there are many ways to God. The Bible shows it. Only problem: you have to read the whole thing with a dollop of openness. God chose people less and more righteous, within Judaism or outside of it, from the beginning or later in life, it didn’t seem to matter for either Old or New Testament. The only constants seem to be that he calls everybody and can call in nearly any way.

There is a danger with Christians pushing the attack too far with their brothers and sisters. I think some of you readers know what I mean. No one can expect to know the story of all the other hundreds of millions of believers. The pitfall is that the ally of the enemy may well have gotten into a misbegotten association.

Commentariat, have at it. Is there a Screwtape in the midst, and we don’t know about it?

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Dives in Misericordiae 12a: Is Justice Enough?

Divine_Mercy_Sanctuary_in_Vilnius4Section 12 opens with the question: Is Justice Enough?

It is not difficult to see that in the modern world the sense of justice has been reawakening on a vast scale; and without doubt this emphasizes that which goes against justice in relationships between individuals, social groups and “classes,” between individual peoples and states, and finally between whole political systems, indeed between what are called “worlds.” This deep and varied trend, at the basis of which the contemporary human conscience has placed justice, gives proof of the ethical character of the tensions and struggles pervading the world.

I would certainly say that part of the counterculture of the 60’s was a rebellion with ethical undercurrents. In the years before and after this encyclical, we’ve certainly seen justice movements of all sorts in various nations. Some have been successful beyond imagining. Others have stalled in the face of brutality.

I think we Christians do well to look beneath the surface of movements about which we might even hold skepticism. There is an undeniable ethical strain in the striving for LGBT rights. Can we see it? And if we are blinded to it, how can we be confident others will see our own aspirations to freedom?

Dives in Misericordia, the second encyclical of Pope John Paul II, is available online here, and is copyright © 1980 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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You Have Given, O God …

path 8While sorting through things on the parish computer, I found a responsorial prayer I wrote last summer for one of my classes at Creighton. I like the blending of different Scripture passages and after beginning with an idea suggested by number 23 in the Spiritual Exercises, this is the mix at which I arrived:

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps 118:24)

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

The stars shone in their watches, and were glad;
God called them, and they said, ‘Here we are!’
They shone with gladness for the One who made them. (Bar 3:34)

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? (Ps 8:3-4)

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Ps 139:13)

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

Come to me, you who desire me,
and eat your fill of my fruits.
For the memory of me is sweeter than honey,
and the possession of me sweeter than the honeycomb. (Sir 24:19-20)

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. (Ps 131:2)

You have given, O God, all the gifts of your creation. Deepen your life in us.

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Laudato Si 40: Considering Oceans

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

40. Oceans not only contain the bulk of our planet’s water supply, but also most of the immense variety of living creatures, many of them still unknown to us and threatened for various reasons. What is more, marine life in rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, which feeds a great part of the world’s population, is affected by uncontrolled fishing, leading to a drastic depletion of certain species. Selective forms of fishing which discard much of what they collect continue unabated. Particularly threatened are marine organisms which we tend to overlook, like some forms of plankton; they represent a significant element in the ocean food chain, and species used for our food ultimately depend on them.

Jacques Cousteau comes to mind as a popularizer of ocean exploration in the last century. Thoughtless exploitation of ocean resources not only damage undersea environments, but they also impact human life and culture, as food sources and means of work are altered or disappear.

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220beedleKnocked off a twelve-hour day today on top of ten yesterday. That title I feel deeply. But after a shower and fresh clothes tonight and a loaded trailer (thanks to friends stopping by throughout the day) I’m nearly horizontal now and if you see something like “gjfndskslnflkzd2iwoegs” you’ll know I’ve drifted off to sleep.

My wife’s faith sharing group invited us all out to dinner tonight. I took a pass. Two friends helped me finish off the trailer after their work, and I really didn’t want to leave it till the morning. Nor lose time when I had two people to assist the home stretch.

Empty houses make me sad. A lot of family time and memories of it to leave behind. Above is an image I captured shortly before we moved in. The tree on the right split and fell in a storm a few years ago, leaving branches sprouting from the stump. I liked the look of leaves and branches right from the ground up rather than dig out a traumatized plant.

Monday morning: westward ho!

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Hymn To Glacier Peak

Glacier PeakI’ve been studying up on the geology of my new state. Some basic Wikipedia stuff, but also this summary of the last thirty-seven million years of the Pacific Northwest. This is far headier and (potentially) more dangerous stuff than the gentle rolling topography of the Eastern US, where I grew up and enjoyed camping trips and hikes as a young person.

The science is cool, but one also needs musical inspiration, like one of Alan Hovhaness’ better late symphonies.

Image credit.

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