Some readers know that I am a big fan of James Martin, the best-selling Jesuit author who is one of our most powerful Christian communicators today. Fr. Martin summarizes, in this short video, why the new papal encyclical is so important for all Christians.
Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, the much-discussed encyclical of Pope Francis on human care for the creation, embraces what the pope calls a “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing cataclysmic climate change that has been endangering the planet for decades. This conclusion has caused some conservatives, especially talk-show hosts and their followers, to trash the pope’s thought and motives.
One evangelical talk-show host/author called Pope Francis a socialist liberal. He told his audience that the pope has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to the real science of environmentalism. But he has bought an agenda and misled the church and the public. Another suggested that the pope needed to study science more closely, an odd criticism since this pope has seriously studied science and is surrounded by an entire body of serious scientists who served his writing of this encyclical.
The famous Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood defines the subject of her book “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth” — which originated as the 2008 Massey Lectures in Toronto — as “one of the most worrisome and puzzling things I know: that peculiar nexus where money, narrative or story, and religious belief intersect, often with explosive force.” In a wide-ranging history of debt Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood investigates the many meanings of debt through the ages, from ancient times to the current global financial meltdown. With all that has transpired in the United States in the past few decades many of us wonder: how could we have let such a collapse happen? How old or inevitable is this human pattern of debt? Payback is an imaginative, topical and insightful reconsideration of our ideas of ownership and debt.
Ms. Atwood is a brilliant writer and this particular work is filled with insights that I found most unsettling when I saw Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary version of the story, also titled Payback, which was inspired by Ms. Atwood’s book. (The film and book title should not
One of the true hot-button issues conservatives routinely debate is climate science and global warming. I have listened to some of the strangest and most confusing debate over this issue. Some of the worst debate over this issue is routinely endorsed by evangelical Christians who laugh at climate science and demonize those who take it seriously. Some even produce impressive looking papers on what is wrong in the ciimate science debate. Much of this makes Christians look rather foolish to those who do rigid research on this problem.
What must be understood in this debate is that there is no doubt that global warming actually exists. The question is not, “Is global warming real?” The question is what causes it and what can, or should, we do about it?
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry recently suggested that the flow of grants has led to a growing body of research arguing for human causes of global warming. In the September 26 issue of USA Today, Republican Bob Inglis, a two-time member of
I have frequently noted that documentary films are almost always biased. This does not mean they are worthless, not in the least. It just means they take a stance, in advance of the making of the film, and then pursue demonstrating the rightness of that stance through the medium of film. This is not true of all documentary films but it is clearly true of most.
This is surely the case in Burning the Future: Coal in America (2008). Coal provides half of the electricity in the United States. This is fact. But how is this coal extracted from the ground and at what cost to people, nature and the environment? In the 2008 presidential campaign we heard both candidates talk a lot about “clean coal.” What is that? Most of us, I would guess, know next to nothing about coal and how it is used.
Consider, for starters, that 36% of
The issue of the environment has clearly appeared on the radar screen of evangelical Christians over the past eight years. Is this a good thing or a not so good thing? A debate now rages among high-profiled evangelical leaders, most of whom know little or nothing about science. At the same time ordinary Christians are paying more attention to the environment than ever before, or so it seems to me.
This is the subject of a recent Bill Moyers’ documentary presentation called: Is God Green? It was produced in 2006, right in the middle of the fierce back-and-forth debate of two sides in the evangelical world. Moyers suggests that millions of Christians are now “green.” (I think his way of determining this sizable number is questionable, as I will soon show.) These Christians, he does show quite effectively, have taken