June 19, 2015

A Lotta Reading Goin' On

Interesting to see a columnist in our diocesan newspaper (David Hartline) write that he went to Ireland in 2004 and said he talked to a priest who predicted what we see today:
He told us there was trouble on the horizon. He told us below the surface there was a lot of anger against the Church, some of it justified, but much of it from a position of pride and rebellion.

I remember thinking, "Is this possible?" Indeed, it has come to pass. I remember saying to the priest that surely, if there was a scandal in Irish soccer, the populace wouldn't abandon soccer, so why would they do so with the Church? The priest said the rebellion wasn't so much against the Church as it was against God - a story as old as time itself.

I certainly have thought about his words lately, especially since the scandal at FIFA, the international soccer federation, came to light. Although bribery, graft, and other tawdry misdeeds costing hundreds of millions of dollars are alleged to have taken place at FIFA, I highly doubt anyone will stop watching soccer.

Yet people will leave the Church when scandal occurs.
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Read great dollops of the hot-off-the-presses Francis encyclical on the environment. Have savored it and highlighted it and am maybe a quarter of the way through the 192-page monster. Remember when the air was clean and papal encyclicals were a manageable thirty pages? I jest, the length is warranted and much appreciated given the subject matter, which touches on everything given how interrelated everything is.

I was sore tempted to read the snippets provided by Mrs. Darwin on FB but it felt like cheating, like looking ahead to the mid or end of a book. If I don't read the whole thing I ought avail myself though.

Francis quoting of Gen 6:13 on the Flood lead me to Verbum app and the plentiful rich commentaries held within. In the Brazos bible study on Genesis from R. R. Reno I hit allegorical gold:
A spiritual sense also follows the pattern of fitting punishment. To inundate sinners with the natural elements is to fulfill the desire of Adam and Eve to rest in finite things. God does not pour out an alien wrath or muster an invading force. He opens the floodgates of our desire for things of the earth. The flood is what happens when the decision of Adam and Eve is given free reign. We drown in the consummation of our finite loves. The soul that desires pleasures of food and drink becomes bloated and bursts. Envy finds perverse pleasure in implacable grudges. Anger burns and overflows. Greed piles up coins and hungers for more. We want to live by bread alone, and in the flood, God allows water, the primal power of finite, organic life, to reign supreme.
That is rich.

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Later read some of de Montfort's magisterial True Devotion to Mary. Unfortunately, he's come to the part where he identifies false devotion which, of course, means devotion tainted by sin.  It's kind of a discouraging tautology: “in order to pray effectively, you need to be saint. In order to be a saint, you need to pray effectively.” (I exaggerate, but that's the feeling I got anyway.) That's the downside of reading books by saints. They don't suffer fools like me gladly or have patience for nonsense.

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The commentary spurred by "Laudato Si" has been tsunami-like, but here's a unique take, that the Holy Father implicitly praises America:
The encyclical is written to the world, not just to the United States. Industrialization and its negative effects are not an American problem. Indeed, one could make a strong argument that this entire encyclical is targeting Asia, specifically, communist China and its satellites.

Communist countries are renowned for the ecological disaster they wreak upon their environments. Precisely because communism is atheistic, it exploits and destroys the natural ecology of the areas it inhabits to a degree that is astounding to behold. Indeed, article 21 is virtually a laundry list of complaints about these industrial areas.
"But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations.."
Americans try to wring every last dollar out of a production cycle. As any businessman knows, it is more profitable to sell the "waste" products you don't know how to use to someone who does know how to use them than it is to throw them away. You can't use them, but someone else can, and they will pay. Precisely because the American economic system rewards the man who can make those kinds of connections, American production cycles tend to be much more "closed circle" than those of other countries. That's why our economy tends to be much more robust. Far from being a critique of America, this article can be seen as praise for American processes that don't conform to the negative stereotype...

No one mentions that the Pope praises the national park system. The first national park in the world was created by the United States. The Pope is implicitly praising the West as a whole and America in particular, but no one takes notice:
"37. Some countries have made significant progress in establishing sanctuaries on land and in the oceans where any human intervention is prohibited which might modify their features or alter their original structures."
When considering the top ten largest national parks in the world, America, Britain and Australia comprise 60% of the list, each having two of the ten largest parks. Eight of the top ten largest preserve areas in the world were designated as such by western capitalist countries. Nine of the top ten countries with the largest national parks are predominantly Christian countries. This encyclical is most certainly not targeting the West or the profit motive per se (more on that later). Instead, as can be seen in the very next article, Pope Francis specifically chastises South America and Africa for not imitating the practices of North America and Europe.

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