Escaping the Spiral: Chapter 5 of “Laudato si”

(Crossposted from Points of Inflection by John Roe)

In this series of posts I have been blogging chapter by chapter through Pope Francis’ encyclical “on the care of our common home”, Laudato si.  We’ve now arrived at the fifth chapter, which begins, “So far I have attempted to take stock of our present situation… [Now I will] try to outline the major paths of dialogue which can help us escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us.”

The activist might read this as suggesting that the Pope is finally getting to the point!  After all the theological talk, time for some action!  But that would miss one of the central ideas of Laudato si, namely, that how we respond to environmental crisis is, ultimately, a function of how we see and celebrate creation.  I nearly wrote, how we think about creation, but that is too cerebral.  What lies behind activism (according to the Pope) is not just a way of thinking, but a way of allowing creation to impact our lives – to be seen – which is itself part of a personal relationship.

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Proposed Methane Standards: limits on methane pollution from oil and gas operations

danielmenorahInterfaith Power & Light released comments on the EPA’s announcement of proposed methane emission limits from oil and gas operations yesterday.  PA IPL’s own Rabbi Daniel Swartz was one of three faith leaders quoted. See the full release: Methane-press-release.IPL  and click through for video of leaks.

Faith Community Supports EPA’s Proposed Methane Pollution Standards Religious leaders applaud move to protect public health

SAN FRANCISCO – Faith leaders from around the country voiced strong support today as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first-ever proposed rules to regulate methane emissions from oil and gas sites. As a toxic pollutant and potent greenhouse gas able to trap 80 times as much heat over a 20-year period as carbon dioxide, faith groups have identified methane pollution as a serous public health risk in need of regulation.

Rabbi Daniel Swartz, president of the board of Pennsylvania IPL said: Continue reading

Earth Overshoot Day

How much strain does our global economy put on the Earth’s biocapacity?

How much strain does our global economy put on the Earth’s biocapacity?

Today is Earth Overshoot Day, the day on which humans have used up nature’s budget for the entire year. As of today, August 13th, we go into debt with nature for the year. In 2000, Earth Overshoot Day happened in early October. According to the Global Footprint Network,who “tracks humanity’s demand on the planet (Ecological Footprint) against nature’s ability to provide for this demand (biocapacity),” carbon sequestration now makes up more than half of the demands we put on more-than-human nature. We are stripping the biosphere of its capacities to regenerate, driving us toward the edge of the world.

Can we build a bridge a bridge at the edge of the world? Someday, many of us will have no Continue reading

“Caring for Creation with Pope Francis”

That's the title of an adult Sunday school class that I'll be facilitating on September 20th (just before the Pope arrives in the USA) to introduce the message of the Encyclical  (On Care for our Common Home)  and the way our Christian tradition summons us to environmental stewardship.  If there's interest, I can also offer some small group sessions to follow up.

For those in State College who might want to attend, here are the details:
  • Location: State College Presbyterian Church, 132 West Beaver Avenue, State College PA.   
  • Room: Westminster Hall (every Presbyterian church has to have a Westminster Hall)
  • Time: 10:15-11:05 approx.   Coffee and refreshments are available from 10:00
  • Date: Sunday, September 20th
  • Contact: you can contact the church office at 814-238-2422 or email me, but of course you are also welcome to just show up!

Reading “Laudato si”

Generously reposted from Points of Inflection, by PA IPL board member John Roe.  Follow the list of links to more of his reflections.
I’ve been reading the Papal Encyclical on the environment – or rather, as Pope Francis calls it, “on care for our common home”.  I have never tried to read a papal letter before so I did not know what to expect.  It’s certainly a lengthy document – and wide-ranging!  Perhaps a quick tour through the table of contents will be a place to start.

The Pope begins with the most wide-ranging appeal, set in the context of his predecessors, of the Patriarch of the Eastern Church, of Saint Francis, and of the whole human family in its “common home”:

I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.

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In Care of our Common Home #AllAreCalled

*PopeFrancis-01You may have heard that Pope Francis will soon release an important teaching document about ecology and Creation that is expected to address climate change as “one symptom of an unsustainable consumption and wasteful use of resources.” (The document is called an encyclical, which is a formal letter issued by a pope to the Catholic Church concerning moral, doctrinal and disciplinary matters. It is a teaching document for bishops and Catholics everywhere.)

With this encyclical, Pope Francis is creating a beautiful opportunity; while meant for Catholics particularly, his instruction also opens space for all of us to reflect on climate justice, our values, and the teachings of our faiths–to hear the ways in which our diverse traditions speak in harmony and in unison on care of Creation. In this space, we have an opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, linked by our shared calls to care for the earth, care for the most vulnerable, and look together for solutions.

The statement is due out in just under a week – on Thursday, June 18, and will carry the title Laudato Sii: Sulla Cura Della Casa Comune – Praised Be: On the Care of the Common Home.  It will expand on Biblical teaching, and build on work done by Continue reading