SoCS: really now, peat?

Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “-eat.” She says, “Use the word ‘eat’ or add letters to it to make a different word.”  So, in true stream of consciousness fashion, I am starting off with the word “peat.”

Which probably seems like an odd word for my brain to settle upon, but I was listening to the radio the other day and they were talking about peat and permafrost and how they are such massive carbon sinks for the world and how, if the permafrost melts and all that carbon gets released into the atmosphere, the planet will heat so much that, well, it will be really bad for humanity.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that this was where my mind went. After all, writing/thinking/reading/discussing carbon emissions and climate change has been part of my daily life (or almost daily life) for several years now.

It started with joining the fight to keep high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale formations out of New York State and inevitably led to educating about the broader problems with carbon emissions and global warming and increases in severe weather, droughts, fires, etc., sea level rise, melting land and sea ice, and the increasingly urgent need to end reliance on fossil fuels and convert to renewable energy sources, especially those that are no/low carbon emitting.

I could – and have – gone on and on about this, but I will spare you today!

I will, though, send my thanks out to Pope Francis, currently 200+ miles to my south in Philadelphia, PA, for spreading the message around the world about the urgency of fighting climate change and the effects it has on the planet and the human community, particularly the most vulnerable people. His solution is to develop an “integral ecology” that serves to both protect the environment and ensure the dignity and needs of all people are met.

We are all in this together. Let’s clasp hands and forge ahead with the work needed to save the planet and ourselves.
This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays.  Join us! Find out how here:

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Francis at Ground Zero

I wanted to watch Pope Francis’s address to the United Nations General Assembly this morning, but, due to the sudden news of House Speaker John Boehner’s impending resignation, part of the coverage of the speech was pre-empted. The part of the speech that I was able to hear was totally in keeping with what Francis has been saying around the world about overcoming poverty, upholding the common good, about integral ecology, justice, and peace.

After leaving the United Nations, Francis traveled to the World Trade Center 9/11 memorial. After visiting the outdoor memorial and meeting with family members of those who lost their lives that day, there was a stunning multi-religious prayer service in the underground museum of the memorial.

Francis joined an arc of New York City religious leaders, reflecting in their persons and their traditional religious dress the huge diversity of the city and of the United States as a whole. There were prayers and chants on the theme of peace from the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and Christian traditions in several languages, often with translations offered. After a stunning prayer for the dead sung in Hebrew, the Pope spoke in Spanish, ending with a plea for peace and a moment of silence for each to offer their own prayers or thoughts in accord with their own beliefs.

This was followed by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City singing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” The sound of their young voices, coupled with the visual impact of their diversity, brought tears to my eyes, especially when the camera zoomed in on two of the singers holding hands.

It all made me believe that peace is possible.

Peace is essential.

Francis at Congress

This morning, I listened to Pope Francis’s address to the joint meeting of Congress with a group of other Catholics.

It was a bit strange to see the formality of the proceedings which looked very much like the annual State of the Union speech given by the President. Besides the Representatives and Senators, there were most of the Cabinet Secretaries and only four members of the Supreme Court, which was disappointing, given that three of the six Catholic justices chose not to attend.

A few things that stood out for me from Francis’s address:

  • He very carefully made the speech as relatable to people in the United States as he could. 
    Even though it was a long speech, he spoke in English, a language which he knows but in which he is not fluent. It was obvious that he understood well US history, values, and sensibilities, and the speech was organized around the ideals and example of four Americans, President Abraham Lincoln, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. While the first two would be familiar to everyone, the later two may not be, each being a 20th century convert to Catholicism. Day is known for her work among the marginalized and for her dedication to social justice and human dignity. Merton is known for his capacity to enter into dialogue and integrate seemingly contradictory viewpoints.
  • Francis very strongly advocated for ending the death penalty worldwide. The United States is one of the few countries left in the world that exacts killing of those convicted of crimes.  While there are many people who oppose it in the United States, executions are still taking place. Some states have abolished it, but others have not. Pope Francis described it as an affront to the dignity of the person and said that the goal of prison was to foster hope and rehabilitation. The US bishops are currently renewing their efforts toward abolition of the death penalty across the country. As an opponent of the death penalty since childhood, I was grateful to hear such a strong message against it.
  • Francis was especially bold in addressing the issue of arms sales.  When Francis was speaking about Thomas Merton, he spoke about bridging divides and how good political leaders seize opportunities for dialogue and peace with openness and optimism. He called for an end to armed conflict and then went on to say that profit gained from selling weapons to those who will use them against people is “blood money.” Given how many of the arms in the world originate in the United States, this was a challenging thing to say. I do agree with Francis on this, but the Congress was pretty quiet in reaction.
  • Francis most frequently mentioned the common good as a value that is both spiritual/religious and civic.  Francis touched on many themes, including immigrants, the treatment of the First Nations, freedom of thought and expression, combatting fundamentalism and polarization of all kinds, human dignity and justice, the Golden Rule, care of creation, family life, and giving hope to the younger generations. He mentioned over and over how government, businesspeople, and the society as a whole must co-operate to bring about justice and promote the common good.

I say, “Amen!”

Francis in Cuba

Pope Francis’s core message of his first full day in Cuba has been “Serve other people, not ideology.”

People in the United States could very well receive the same core message when Francis arrives here later in the week.

SoCS: Pope Francis

I heard this morning that Pope Francis is en route to Cuba, where he will spend a few days before arriving in the US.

His route here will take him to Washington, New York City, and Philadelphia. There will be high profile speeches to the US Congress, UN General Assembly, and at a conference on the family in Philadelphia. There will also be several public Masses with attendance in the thousands for the indoors ones and hundreds of thousands when outdoors.

I have been eagerly anticipating his arrival and plan to watch the coverage, including a group “watch party” for the Congressional address.

I was reading an article by Father Tom Reese in NCR the other day, asking if people would really hear what Francis has to say while he is in the US.  I know that I will be listening carefully. I also know that, while I will agree with many of the Pope’s points, I will disagree with others. For example, Francis, though he means well, does not understand women’s lives. While he is wonderful about acknowledging social justice issues with those in poverty or on the margins, he fails to notice that this group is disproportionately female and that sexism and sexual violence/exploitation play a large role in their plight.

I am especially interested in how the Congress, many of whose leaders are Catholic, will react to what is sure to be a challenging speech to them, probably on the grounds of climate change, militarism, lack of care for the country’s and the world’s most vulnerable, rampant consumerism, and greed.

I am hopeful that Pope Francis’s voice on environmental issues and systemic marginalization of those with the least economic resources, especially in the global South, will spark conversation that will lead to a strong US voice for the climate and environment and for justice, for “integral ecology” as the Pope terms it, so that there will be a strong international accord coming out to the Paris climate talks at the end of the year with full US participation in the implementation.

That sounds like I’m asking for a miracle.

Maybe I am.

But I think there is hope through Francis, who speaks not only to Catholics but to “all those of good will” and maybe even may reach those who are not especially “of good will.”

Godspeed, Francis. May you have a safe and fruitful journey.
This is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays. This week’s prompt is route/root.  Join us! Find out how here:  SoCS badge 2015

Hope for the climate

This week, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change was announced, calling for Muslims around the world to phase out use of fossil fuels and switch to renewable forms of energy.

This follows on the heels of the June release of Laudato Si’, the encyclical issued by Pope Francis on the environment, climate change, and care of creation, including humanity. The encyclical draws deeply not only on climate science but also on the tenets of peace, love, mercy, caring, and justice that underlie many different world religions and philosophies. Francis intended this document for the world’s Catholics and “all people of good will” whether or not they follow a religious/spiritual practice.

Faith leaders from other spiritual and religious traditions, including the Dalai Lama, have also voiced their concerns on combatting climate change and environmental degradation.  The People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014 brought people from all corners of the globe together in solidarity to demand action on measures to reign in the greenhouse gases that are already wreaking havoc on our climate and people’s lives.  Various governments have made pledges to cut emissions and convert to renewable energy sources, all as a lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, November 30-December 11, 2015.

Past conferences have been disappointing, as countries could not demonstrate the political will needed for the huge change in energy systems required, but, this time, finally, there is hope, due in large measure to the diverse voices demanding or pleading for change.

I have spent years in the grassroots movement to ban high volume hydrofracking in New York State, which drew me into the fight against fracking in other states, as well as promoting the rapid expansion of renewable energy in order to stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible.  This led me to not only being involved in the climate movement but also to being more open to expressing calls for climate justice, environmental justice, and social justice in keeping with my Catholic faith.

There were many times when I thought we had lost the fight against fracking here in New York (and we are still involved in some issues with it, despite the current regulatory situation). There were even times when I had no hope left, but we did ultimately prevail.

There have been times when I had no hope that meaningful action against global climate change would materialize, but, seeing so many disparate groups of people come together to demand climate action gives me hope.

The years of inaction have put us in a precarious situation. Demand climate action now! Contact the government agency in your country and tell them they must reach an effective accord in Paris.

The world can’t afford to wait.

SoCS: peace through justice

I’ve recently joined a new organization, the Catholic Peace Community of the Southern Tier. There are people from several different parishes and we are hoping to build peace through working on different social justice areas.

Our first activities are dealing with the environment and climate change. One of the main tenets of Catholic social justice teaching is care of creation. Also involved are other tenets, such as the protection of the most vulnerable. Those who are living in poverty are much more likely to be subjected to pollutants and also more likely to be impacted by severe weather and sea level rise, as they live in vulnerable areas without strong shelter and do not have the means to relocate out of harm’s way.

We are looking forward to Pope Francis’s upcoming encyclical on the environment and will study the document when it is released in the late spring or early summer. Then we hope to get the word out about the encyclical not only to Catholic parishes but also to the general public in advance of the Paris climate summit in December.

Our first public event is on the 25th of this month when we will have a table at EarthFest.  Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” We hope to build peace by working on various justice issues, but I am glad that we are starting with this timely work for ecojustice.

Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness this Saturday is: “piece/peace.” To join in the fun, visit here:


Where Pope Francis stands when it comes to women | National Catholic Reporter

Where Pope Francis stands when it comes to women | National Catholic Reporter.

I commend Father Tom Reese for writing this column. He makes a lot of good points, but I felt compelled to make the following comment:  “I don’t think that women are upset with Francis calling for a theology of women because they prefer to think of a theology of person. Rather, what upsets me and other women that I know is that there a decades of profound writings in feminist theology that Francis does not seem to even know exists. While we all welcome further work on this theology, we must acknowledge that a lot has already been accomplished, whether or not the clergy and other men of the church have been reading and studying it. Another instance of the men of the church not listening to the women’s viewpoint?”

Light, Mercy, and Jubilee

Yesterday for SoCS I wrote about whether my chorus would “gird” or “put” on the armour of light. This morning at church the theme was light overcoming darkness, progressing to the concept of Jubilee and the upcoming Jubilee of mercy which Pope Francis announced on Friday.

The deacon who preached spoke about how this Jubilee calls us to welcome everyone without exception – and to not wait for the official start of the Jubilee on December 8, 2015 to do so.

My mind turned to how Jesus welcomed in the most profound way those who were marginalized in his society and faith – those who were ill or disabled, those without financial resources, foreigners, women, all those who were looked down on by the powers that be of his day.

As a woman who is a feminist and has chosen to stay within the church, knowing that it fails so often to fully reflect the radical gospel call of Jesus, this jubilee call is both an opportunity and a potential source of disappointment. While Francis has spoken often of a poor church for the poor and has championed causes of peace and social justice, he does not understand the profound ways in which the Catholic church has marginalized women and failed to challenge temporal powers that oppress them. Many other clergy in the church are openly dismissive of women’s gifts to the church and the world, unless those gifts are motherhood, domestic pursuits, or vowed religious life, preferably contained by convent walls.

Will this be the year when the church finally realizes that the call of jubilee to set the captive free applies to women both in its midst and in the world? Will the men of the church finally recognize that women are made in the divine image as much as they are?

SoCS: The T is silent

I wasn’t sure what I would write about using the prompt of including the letter T until I read this: about how Stephen Colbert was the runner-up to Pope Francis to be National Catholic Reporter’s Person of the Year.

We are fans of Stephen Colbert and his just-completed nine-year run of The Colbert Report. I wrote about it here.

When I told my family about the NCR piece, our daughter T immediately began to concoct a segment of “Who’s Not Honoring Me Now?” about how Stephen (in character) didn’t much care for this pope but that now it was personal.

In real life, Stephen Colbert is a practicing Catholic and I’m sure is fond of Pope Francis. That would be the Stephen who pronounces the T at the end of his last name.

From the first promos of The Colbert Report, it was pointed out that both the T at the end of Colbert and the T at the end of Report are silent. It was how you could tell that someone was familiar with the show or not. Fans would never have pronounced those Ts.

Stephen, being runner-up to Pope Francis is still a great gig!

This post is part of Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, with the prompt being the letter T: .  It is also part of Linda’s Just Jot It January: . Come join in the fun!

JJJ 2015
Badge by Doobster @Mindful Digressions

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