Sunday, September 20, 2015

Currently Reading: Laudato Si'

I've decided to change the way I read - for a while, I was trying to read eight different books a week (one for each day, plus a book that I could grab whenever). This worked out for quite a while, but then I would eventually ignore ALL of them and grab a random book from my shelf because my mood had changed. So then I started to just stick with one book in an attempt to blow through it and that's sort of worked. Pope Francis' last encyclical has been the first book where I am just focused on reading a single publication.

I'm about 20 or 30 pages from finishing and my opinion? It's a fantastic letter. Drawing a lot of quotations from St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis does a great job showing the consistency of the papacy, one of the things that attracted me to Catholicism. Following the desires for collegiality called for by the Second Vatican Council and every pope since, Pope Francis routinely quotes from various Episcopal Conferences from around the world as he highlights the worldwide concern for environmental degradation. If you go into this encyclical without a political prism, being more loyal to your Party than your religion, and without making unbridled capitalism your idol, you'll enjoy this letter. The pope explains the situation, highlighting all the ecological problems we have right now: melting ice caps, climate change, rising sea levels, pollution, overconsumption, materialism, over-dependence on technology to solve our problems, selfishness, nations and businesses refusing to act or having ulterior motives, blaming the poor (and their fertility) for the world's problems, etc. He then goes on to challenge everyone - all people - to put their national pride or their pursuit for wealth aside in order to face this problem together, because no one is immune from this problem. It's a very good, very honest, very open letter - he's not insisting that climate change is 100% man-made, but he is saying that instead of standing around debating it for another 50 years while the climate gets destroyed, let's start working on solutions. Because everything is connected (which is something I've always insisted on) he see a lot of this as being from mankind turning in on itself, forgetting God and focusing more on wealth, pleasure, and material possessions over care for our home and neighbor; I think Laudato Si' is Francis' best work thus far. He really challenges me and makes me think.