Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Mad Pontiff's Liberation Front

Reading the Encyclical that I talked about in my last post, I kept thinking how much the writing sounded like Wendell Berry. For example, the encyclical avoided vagaries that could easily be sidestepped by targeting specific corrupt behaviors and mentalities. It made clear that merely blaming corporations for our ills was not sufficient. To the Pope, as it has always been for Berry, caring for the Earth means consuming less, delighting in creation, and trusting God. Indulge me a couple more excerpts.

Specific Behavioral Target: Air Conditioning
People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior, which at times appears self-destructive.
 Specific Mental Target: Secular Humanism
The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.

The commonalities between Berry and Francis eventually come to a halt. Berry describes himself as a Christian,  but also as a bad-weather church-goer (when it's nice, he Sabbaths outdoors). Francis is, well, Pope. This makes the commonality all the more compelling. What is going on here that would cause two thinkers who, on the surface, draw from such distinct wells, to behold the same cups of water?  There's more comparing the Encyclical and Berry's lifelong work in this First Things Article,The Pope and The Plowman, by John Murdock. Murdock's discussion is rich and nuanced. And important. Let us engage and repent.

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