Thoughts from Linda:
It is ALL about our climate. In truth, we are all ‘unsheltered.’
Our general theme for the bookshelf is ‘something old & something new’ but the urgency of the moment in our collective history calls for a larger ‘frame’ on this one.
As we in the US enter an October with some of the worst outbreaks of heat and fires in our history and have witnessed two hurricanes hitting our Gulf Coast States in the same week along with only the 2nd time in recorded history we have had 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic at the same time, the climate news is rather dramatically calling out to us to pay attention.
The loss of life from these tragedies along with the COVID numbers of deaths in the US now surpassing the 200,000 mark make it even more obvious that we are all connected…for better and for worse on our planet.
The second book that we highly recommend is Pope Francis’s Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality…On Care for Our Common Home.
Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality by Pope Francis, 2015
We selected this book for 2 main reasons:
First, it was given to my husband and me by one of our best ever friends and colleagues who passed away in 2019, Father Ron Carignan, an Oblate priest who was one of the finest people we have ever met. We had the honor of working with Father Ron in the field of human values.
Secondly, while it is of course, based on Christianity and Catholicism, it reflects his humanistic view of the planet and offers wisdom to those who are faith-based as well as those who are not. This letter has universal applicability and is broad ranging in its scope.
For example, in Bali, Indonesia, where the philosophy of ‘tri hita karana’ (translated as man’s relationship to man, his relationship to the earth and his relationship to the spiritual world) is pervasive in thought and action, this book would be widely accepted and appreciated. We worked in Bali for several years, leading the Bali Institute where we worked to develop global leaders. This primarily Hindu island reflects the spirituality of the work of Pope Francis. This encyclical reflects spirituality in its highest form and shows his scientific knowledge as well.
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Roman Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop. The word comes from Late Latin ‘encyclios.’ The term has been used by Catholics, Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox.
In this letter, Pope Francis lays out the ‘theory of the case’ in moral and ethical as well as practical terms for our stewardship responsibilities on the planet.
He explains that this ‘call to action’ reaches out to each of us to embrace the moral dimensions of problems that have been viewed as chiefly scientific, economic and technological ones.
There are two lines of thought represented that run throughout this letter:
The interconnectedness and mutual responsibility we all have to one another as inhabitants of the planet we call home, and
A strong denunciation of many of the aspects of our modern world that have led us to our current crisis
The essence of the critique offered in this letter is that our situation is not an accident—it is the consequence of the way we think and act—by denying the moral dimensions of our decisions and how we confuse progress with activity.
For those of us interested in the concept and practice of Conscious Capitalism, it is refreshing to read the Pope’s condemnation of crony & corrupt capitalism and call for a change. The Pope hits this topic straight on, calling out the prevailing economic practices and the modes of thought that insist—despite considerable evidence to the contrary—that we ‘just need to let markets to their magic.’ He is asking for all of us to reexamine the meaning of ‘individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism and the unregulated market.’
The book is divided into 6 Chapters which include “What is Happening to Our Common Home,” “The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis,” and “Integral Ecology.”
The book also includes a terrific introduction by Professor Naomi Oreskes. She is an American historian of science. She became Professor of The History of Science and Affiliated Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University in 2013, after 15 years as Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Her own TED talk in New York in 2014 on the question of ‘Why Should We Trust Science?” is especially relevant today in 2020 as well. The link below will connect you to this 18 minute excellent journey into a question that is asked almost daily in the US today as many people seem reject science.
As The Guardian noted upon publication of this Encyclical, it is “the most astonishing and perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years!”