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A weekly message from your local hens

I had lunch last week with Holy Cross Br. David Andrews, who is former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and now a representative at Washington-based Food and Water Watch. He was in Kansas City for a meeting of a sustainable agriculture group he’s affiliated with, held the day before a big Farm Aid concert that featured performers Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Dave and I talked about many things,including a look back over the last 20 years or so, at how the organic and local food movements have transformed our entire food system in America and around the world.

I told him about the Kansas City Food Circle, our own local “locavore” movement.

My wife and I helped put together the very first conference back in the early 1990s. Together we baked about 12 quiches and made tabouli for the lunch that was served that day. Attendance was about 25. Later that year we published our first local food directory, making available information about where and how to buy from local farmers. The directory took up both sides of one page.

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'Subdued by what we conquered': Pope Benedict's understanding of nature disappointingly inert

By David DeCosse
David DeCosse is director of campus ethics programs at Santa Clara University in California.

The whale flashed its bulk, like an island in the brilliant sun. The wind whipped away the spray from the spout in a steady gust. I watched in joy and awe from the bluff trail as the majestic, shimmering creature — no more than a half-mile offshore — pushed north through the white froth in submerged, half-hidden power.

I treasure that recent moment on the Central Coast of California because it points to what the American writer Wallace Stegner has called nature’s capacity for bringing “spiritual renewal, the recognition of identity, the birth of awe.” I also recall that moment because it points to a profound flaw in the green theology of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate.

In short, there’s too little room for the dynamic power of the whale in the contemplative sea that is Benedict’s view of nature.

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Richard Rohr and the 12 Steps: Going out to 'the inner room'

BREATHING UNDER WATER
SPIRITUALITY AND THE TWELVE STEPS
By Richard Rohr
Published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, $15.99

A quarter century ago, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr gave a series of talks in Cincinnati that linked the wisdom of the Twelve Steps Program to what St. Francis called “the marrow of the gospel.” “I was amazed at how obvious and easy a task it was,” he said.

Now he’s updated those talks in his new book. Breathing Under Water.

He reflects about his earliest experiences with such programs, when "the people dealing with their addictions in the church basement thought they had left the church for the Wednesay night meetings in the basement, while many upstairs in the sanctuary presumed that their ‘higher’ concerns were something different from ‘those people with problems’ down below."

The reality, he says, was that we were dealing with a common inspiration from the Holy Spirit and from the collective unconscious of the human race.

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How Christian and secular ecologists have moved from criticism to common ground

Fr. Bud Grant's regular column on the National Catholic Rural Life Network Web site discusses the relationship between Christian and secular ecologists over the last half century.

"Secular ecologists," he writes, "have long been suspicious of Christianity. It is worth explaining why people of faith have been mistrusted by environmentalists and from there to locate the common ground that can be used to overcome that wariness for the sake of advancing our common objectives.... The most famous accusation made against Christianity was thrown by historian Lynn White Jr. in 1967 with a bombshell article in Science Magazine. He makes a succinct charge: The 'subdue and dominate' language of Genesis 1:27 'established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.' Christian focus on the spiritual world means we insist on 'transcendence of and mastery over nature.' 'Christianity,' he adds, 'bears a huge burden of guilt.' Ouch."

Read Fr. Grant's entire article on the Web site. It's a very interesting discussion on important issues in religion and ecology.

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