November 11th Book Club: Day 4 and we are all fired up!
What are we doing to power our ecological crisis? And what on Earth can we do to change this?
The Greeks thought fire was one of the four basic building blocks of the universe. It was revered, feared, and the subjects of many myths. It was desired as a sacred substance and thought to give power to those who wield it. Take the story of Prometheus. He stole fire from the gods and gave it to humanity to ease their suffering and elevate them above the beasts.
But modern science has taught us that fire is not really a “thing” but a process or series of interactive, energetic relationships.
Fire is the result of a chemical reaction between the air, heat, and the flammable wick, and the product of these interactions (thermal energy) can be both life-giving and destructive. Yet the dancing flame of a candle is also entrancing and mysterious. When a candle is lit from another, the original flame never shrinks, and all are the same size, shape, and intensity as the first. Colorful flames dancing in a campfire, the molten coals, and the artistry of fireworks have mesmerized human minds for centuries—even before we knew them scientifically as combustion reactions.
But our fascination should be tempered with fear because fire can also destroy habitats, homes, and lives. Just thinking of the wildfires in California shows how dangerous human obliviousness can be when dealing with fire. LINK: Gender Reveal Ignites Forest Fire . We also have learned how fires burning in California is directly impacting communities on the entire other East coast and Europe (LINK).
The bipolar nature of fire should constantly remind us that our mastery of creation is limited and fleeting. And that everything is connected.
Nonetheless, fire can also ignite our appreciation of the energetic relationships of the Trinity and, in turn, it can teach us how to relate to other members of our planetary family
We are the beneficiaries of two centuries of enormous change…. Technology has remedied countless evils which used to harm and limit human beings. How can we not feel gratitude and appreciation for this progress? (LS, 101)
What do we really know about the energy that is powering our lives? Take the following quizlet to find out! Wingate alumni CJ James created a fun and inspiring set of questions "What do you know about energy?" (cjjames1) in Quizlet ... here is the LINK. Test yourself and have fun learning!
Did anything surprise you?
Did this knowledge move you to trying to do things differently?
Have you had the chance to connect the dots between energy and what we buy (our stuff), what we eat (our food), and how we move (transportation)? This disconnection and obliviousness is what Pope Francis is lamenting in Laudato Si'
The fact is that “contemporary man has not been trained to use power well,” because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values, and conscience….The risk is growing day by day that man will not use his power as he should. (LS 105)
Energy that powers our technological lifestyles is valuable for bringing forth abundant life only when the four cardinal virtues—prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice—guide us. Prudence requires that we acknowledge the costs associated with our extraction and use of nonrenewable, dirty energy sources, and temperance demands us to be more moderate in our energy use. Without courage, inspired by justice and love, we will not make the necessary changes in our behaviors and discover more life-giving energy options.
This is how Laudato Si’ calls people of faith to be faithful energy stewards (LS, 165).
To understand the urgency of cultivating faithful energy stewards, take a moment to reflect on the following from Laudato Si':
The natural environment is a collective good…and the responsibility of everyone.…That is why the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment “Thou shall not kill” means when “twenty percent of the world’s population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive.” Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ 95
When we pay attention to God’s self-communication in the world, we will “learn to see ourselves in relation to all other creatures” (LS 85).
Humanity is part of the web of life on our sacred planet
“All of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect” (LS 89).
What is the source of this interconnectivity? God - Trinity. “The divine Persons are subsistent relations, and the world created according to the divine model, is a web of relationships” (LS 240).
God the Creator is the ultimate source of everything, the Son intimately united himself with Earth, and the Spirit is the creative dynamism and bond of love at the heart of the universe (LS 238). They are a perfect communion—they have perfected “being with” one another.
This is the source of our vocation as faithful energy stewards.
And today this looks differently than what stewardship meant 2000 years ago -- but that is part of our creative work on Earth. To be God's hands and feet is a creative process guided by the Spirit if we so choose! Take a moment to savor the following quote from Pope Francis -- read it multiple times; let is wash over your consciousness:
Creatures tend toward God, and in turn it is proper to every living being to tend toward other things, so that throughout the universe we can find any number of constant and secretly interwoven relationships. This leads us not only to marvel at the manifold connections existing among creatures, but also to discover a key to our own fulfillment. The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out of themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. In this way, they make their own the trinitarian dynamism which God imprinted in them when they were created. Pope Francis, LS 240.
After reading the above quote from Laudato Si’, watch the trailer for the HBO documentary Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution (LINK). With what types of energy are you familiar? What ones were new and worth looking into? In what ways could your church be part of this green revolution? How can you ignite the hearts of your fellow sojourners in your parish? Your Pastor? Your family?
A green energy path -- one that is life giving and not polluting, dirty, exploitive, nor extractive, will allow us all to reach our fullest potential as images of a triune God: Lover, Beloved, and Love.