Joseph Campbell was a scholar, teacher and thinker who achieved enormous popularity addressing the disenchantment of modern life with a message of renewal and hope. His message had great influence. Today when you hear someone say “I’m spiritual but not religious,” Campbell is partly to blame.
Eco Catholic is an exploration of the green Catholic imagination and ecological spirituality. Contributors include Sharon Abercrombie, a journalist who has covered the environment, spirituality, women’s issues, animal rights and social justice for many newspapers, and Fr. Charles Morris, a priest of the archdiocese of Detroit who teaches courses in sustainability at Madonna University in Livonia, Mich.
The Cosmic Walk is a ritual created by Dominican Sr. Miriam MacGillis of Genesis Farm in New Jersey. It has been modified and facilitated by many people around the world. The Cosmic Walk is a way of bringing our knowledge of the 14-billion-year Universe process from our heads to our hearts.
It is a simple ritual that can be performed in a large room or outdoors. A spiral representing the entire almost 14 billion years of the cosmic and evolutionary journey is laid out on the floor or ground. At Genesis Farm this spiral is painted on the floor of the library, but one can also lay out a rope in the spiral form. The spiral should be at least 100 feet long, 140 feet is better, with each instance of emergence in time marked at a proportionate distance along the length of the spiral. Each such station is marked by an unlit votive candle and, optionally, by a card describing the emergence.
In late 2007, President Bush signed a federal energy bill that established energy efficiency standards for the common light bulb. These standards essentially retire the 130-year-old incandescent, which is so inefficient that 90 four billion screw-based sockets in the US, so this is a really big deal. Unfortunately some have decided to launch a campaign to “save” the inefficient incandescent light bulb. Last month, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas introduced legislation that would return us to the past; its backers are spreading loads of misinformation along the way. The legislation represents a disturbing trend of bashing energy efficiency regulations across the board, regardless of their benefits.
New national lighting efficiency standards will gradually retire the 125-year-old inefficient light bulb, which is easily the least efficient piece of equipment in our homes. In its place will be a broad suite of new and improved bulbs, all of which use a lot less energy to produce the same amount of light and will save consumers money. And what could be better than a light bulb that lowers electricity bills and carbon footprints?
The waitress arrived with order pad in hand. She was heavily “inked,” as they say. A lavish feast of illustration covered both arms from under her wrists to disappear beneath her shirt sleeves – stylized dragons interwoven with many-petaled exotic flowers, intricate jewels and symbols. When she turned to deliver our order, an ornate rose could be seen on her lower back.
In 1991, a 5,000-year-old “inked” man made headlines in newspapers around the world when his frozen body was discovered on a thawing glacier in the Alps. That’s how old body adornment is.
Anyone who has ever lived with a teenager knows this: There is no power on earth stronger than the human urge to display, to show the world who we are, what we want to become.
I watched my teenage stepson show me and everyone else who he was, with a distinctive haircut etched with razor-hewn zigzags, a Superman emblem tattoo on his upper arm, his bedroom papered with poster blowups of the Michaels – Jackson and Jordan – and of M. C. Hammer and Malcolm X. For a while the house shook with the heavy percussion and in-your-face sounds of hiphop.
I went on an eight-day vision quest to Canyonlands National Park in Utah when I was in my early 40s, and returned with a major new awareness -- nature and the universe are not composed of inanimate “things,” but rather pulsing, alive, intelligent, loving realities of which I am a part. I especially remember the message that we humans don’t ever have to feel lonely, because we have a constant community of care surrounding us in the form of trees, clouds, earth, animals, stars, and more. And then when I learned from cosmologist Brian Swimme that all of creation has some level of awareness and is sensing me, I was overjoyed by my newly-found “I-Thou” relationship with my creation kin.
“Master,” said the student, “you have renounced riches and comforts to seek God and teach us wisdom. “You are reversing the case!” said the saint with a mild rebuke. “I have left a few paltry dollars and a few petty pleasures for a cosmic empire of endless bliss. How then have I denied myself anything? The shortsighted worldly people are the real renunciants. They give up an unparalleled divine possession for a poor handful of earthly toys.”
This account from Autobiography of a Yogi jolts us with its truth. We Catholics espouse but seldom live our belief that God alone truly satisfies our souls and gives us joy. We tend to pursue the life of possessions as avidly as the next guy, in spite of the fact that Jesus modeled and constantly preached an alternate course. He admonished us to gather the riches of heaven, stop building bigger barns, give what we have to the poor, stop serving money, and to seek first the kingdom of heaven.
The Office of Mission Effectiveness at Villanova University has a Web page devoted to resources on Catholic teaching and ecology. It contains a list of links to USCCB statements on the environment, bishops' pastoral letters and statements, Vatican statements, and an extensive bibliography of books on religion and ecology.
A social psychologist and member of the Sacred Heart Missionary Congregation, Fr. Diarmuid O’Murchu (pronounced DYAR-mid O-MOOR-who) has worked in both Ireland and England as a school and marriage counselor. He grew up in rural Ireland. He writes books and gives talks worldwide about faith formation and religious life in the light of new insights from science and from attempts at confronting and solving the deepening ecological crisis. His books include Quantum Theology, Evolutionary Faith and Reclaiming Spirituality
According to Christian theology Incarnation refers to God’s entry into human life in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, about 2000 years ago. Accordingly, this has not happened in any other religion – for Christians, Jesus alone is the incarnation of God on this earth.
I find this view disturbingly reductionistic and anthropocentric, and from a multi-faith perspective, it strikes me as being unpleasantly imperialistic. It seems to me that there are underlying assumptions urgently in need to re-evaluation.
Kate Sheppard, in her Econumdrum column for Mother Jones magazine, sheds light on the question, Is fake leather really more eco-friendly than real leather?
Mallory McDuff, author of Natural Saints: How People of Faith are Working to Save the Earth, on a Huffington Post blog, lists her Top Ten Religious Environmental Saints. Included is Fr. John Rausch for his leadership of countless tours of mountaintop removal sites in Appalachia for seminarians, community members, and interfaith groups. Others are Rev. Sally Bingham, founder of the Interfaith Power and Light Campaign, Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathi and Wendell Berry.