Author's note: This is the second story highlighting two Midwestern Catholic schools and their ongoing immersion in sustainability. On Sept. 18, Eco Catholic featured Lewis University, a De La Salle Christian Brothers school near Chicago. Today's column focuses on Xavier in Cincinnati, the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the country.
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 following is commentary from the Earth Healing Team, an organization that provides "a Daily Reflection on pertinent subjects." You can learn more about the Earth Healing Team at www.earthhealing.info.
Silence is a form of partisanship
In this watershed year, 2012, many of us citizens who strive to be nonpartisan are forced into a dilemma: To remain silent is to remain partisan.
We confide to our European counterparts that this year resembles Germany at the rise of Nazism in 1933. Today, with the rise of militant materialism deliberately following the selfish and atheistic principles of Ayn Rand, one political party had been taken over by Big Energy merchants of doubt and confusion.
This group, with arrogance stemming from millions and billions of dollars of under-taxed bank accounts here and abroad, seeks to buy this national election, just as it has bought the recent primary.
These arrogant powerbrokers have partisanized a national unified environmental stance that since the First Earth Day has, for the greater part, stood beyond politics.
Agonizing over those irritatingly powerful politicians and their ongoing love affairs with the fossil fuel/nuclear energy industries is like taking up permanent residence inside a speedy down-only elevator. It will plummet you into despair, sadness and paralysis.
So change direction. Take the one named Sustainability instead. Its journey will lift your spirits and warm your heart.
"Creation care" is alive and thriving. Lewis University's main campus in Romeoville, Ill., and Xavier University in Cincinnati are recent examples. Sustainability practices are incorporated into campus buildings, grounds keeping, science majors, daily campus living, extracurricular activities, spirituality and theology. As a nod to the good news, Eco Catholic is featuring these Catholic schools in this and a subsequent blog.
Perhaps in the next 10 or 15 years, enough of Lewis' and Xavier's graduates will have successfully brought their fresh passion and leadership into the worlds of work and politics so earth will be a partner instead of an object for exploitation.
A prominent Ohio State University soil scientist is calling for a waiver of ethanol production requirements for farmers to lower corn prices for farmers and consumers this year because he believes it will help avert a global food crisis. Professor Rattan Lal, a native of Punjab region of India who frequently testifies before Congress about climate change, is featured in an Aug. 30 Columbus Dispatch interview.
Imagine the perfect summer camping trip.
Here is what comes to my mind -- the company of good friends, old and new; the opportunity to swim in some sort of body of water, preferably a lake; delicious food; a few brewskies; the sounds of a guitar or ukulele around a campfire; and some dancing or field games in between.
How shall we begin to take charge of our lives in this increasingly chaotic world?
Dominican Sr. Miriam MacGillis, founder of Genesis Farm, suggests looking into the Deep Transition movement.
There has been a change in much of Michigan's landscape in the last few years. From farm country in the Thumb on the east side of the state to the hill country near Ludington close to Michigan's west coast, majestic wind turbines dot the countryside. Gratiot County, among the poorest counties in the state, has been infused with new capital for education and for infrastructure.
More than 100 Catholic colleges and universities will walk in the footsteps of the first climate change refugees in early October. They will watch "Sun Come Up," a 2011 Academy Award-nominated documentary that presents the plight of 2,500 inhabitants of the Carteret Islands, an island paradise 50 miles north of Bougainville, Papua, New Guinea.
Yes is a vulnerable word.
It leaves you wide open like a tree.
Susan Windle, a Sufi poet living in Philadelphia, composed these words in her 2005 book, Between the Doors. Today, I thought about Susan's poem, "Ode to Yes," one of the works in her collection, because so much is happening environmentally that speak to vulnerability and its willingness to risk being wide open.
Being vulnerable can trigger both silent unexpressed pain as well as active out-loud and often outrageous action in the name of compassion. It can mean asking a simple but unpopular question, like "Why?", to the cutting down of a few neighborhood trees. It can mean taking major action to protect baby seals in Seattle or organizing to protect an endangered ecosystem in the Philippines.
Being vulnerable takes courage.
At the most literal level of "Ode to Yes," there is this recent situation of six vulnerable trees in front of my senior apartment building. They fell to earth a couple of days ago. Trunks and limbs are already chopped and stacked neatly, waiting for a truck to carry them off tomorrow.
Two recent thought-provoking articles regarding climate change are well worth reading and pondering, so I am posting them here. Both see the crisis as being fundamentally a moral issue.
The first is by Bill McKibben, a longtime environmental writer and founder of 350.org, the activist group working to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. He examines "the terrifying new math around global warming" in the latest issue of Rolling Stone in a 6,000-word article that looks at the greed and crookedness of fossil-fuel corporations and how their stranglehold on the economy continues to rule despite environmental activists' efforts.