As anyone who knows me or has read this blog will attest, I have virtually no respect for organized religions of any denomination or flavor. On an individual level, I’m usually okay with religious practitioners, it is the purveyors who push my buttons. I try to be courteous to every one I meet, but I admit that courtesy is often a thin veneer. I can be a bit of a dick to the religious, especially if they knock on my door and try to “share the word” with me.
Despite my lack of respect for pretty much everything he stands for, over the last couple of years I have found myself becoming an admirer, if not an outright fan, of Pope Francis. Part of my admiration comes, sadly, from just how refreshing it is to see a Christian leader exhorting his flock to genuinely live their lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. (You know, the guy their religion is named after.) But the main reason I am liking this guy so much is that he is pissing all the right people off. The hateful, selfish assholes that call themselves Christians here in Amurka are just not down with all this talk about loving thy neighbor as thyself and feeding the poor, and they really don’t like this hippie Pope calling them out on their hypocrisy.
Case in point, Pope Frannie released an encyclical last week that seems designed to cause Republican heads to explode. It is subtitled On Care For Our Common Home, and in it, the Pope gets his environmentalism on. The first chapter alone has subsections about pollution and climate change, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity and global inequality. I haven’t finished reading it yet (it is looonnnggg and I am laaazzzyy), but I did run across one bit where the Pope lands a couple of shots on that old dead horse I often beat; the myth of infinite growth.
Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that “an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed”.
I don’t know how much effect this encyclical will have, but the Pope is certainly the most powerful individual thus far to come out and say that we — the human race — need to stop shitting in our nest. We’ve got to figure out how to fly this rock more carefully and respectfully. It’s the only one we have.