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News that the Holy Father has made appointments to his Council for New Evangelization brought to mind that there are connections between ecological realities and the call to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. These connections shouldn’t come as a surprise.

After all, the truths we proclaim come from the same God who created the laws of life. One such law is the reality that organisms benefit from proximity—indeed, an intimacy—with their own kind as well as other species.

Groupings of plants or animals (or even bacteria) very often form “micro-environments” that assist each individual organism. For instance, in the case of plants, a cluster of foliage creates a shelter that protects the ground from scorching sun, helps retain moisture, and provides physical support in times of stormy weather.

Human cultures act the same way. People grow together in micro-environments called families, parishes and communities. We share each others’ burdens and bounties, and protect each other from harm. A community can absorb injury to its members when survivors respond with...

The very day violent storms hit Arkansas, thousands of birds--mostly red-wing blackbirds--tumbled from the sky. Elsewhere in the aptly nicknamed "Natural State," a major fish kill also has scientists and residents scratching their heads. Of course the media is in a frenzy, and the conspiracy theories are, well, about what you would expect.

While all available evidence points to "natural" causes for the rather spooky bird kill, the fish kill is still more a mystery--although a single-species fish kill is usually caused by disease.

The problem is, while qualified scientists seek answers, it's easy for the less informed and those prone to drama to see evidence of secret military testing, or alien invasions, or that illusive end time.

But a mystery does not imply a supernatural (or extraterrestrial) cause. Sometimes, very natural events occur in a sequence that is partially hidden.

That some of us seek to fill in the missing links with epic, sci-fi or conspiratorial details...

The opening words of We Three Kings are fond, familiar ones. They recount the star, the gold, the frankincense ... but then comes a dark fourth verse, one that few of us sing, or few liturgies allow us to ...

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light

There, in the middle of what we often see as a charming Christmas carol, is the Cross of Jesus Christ, illuminated even at the Nativity by that cosmic sign from above. Yes, the Cross that, as the center of world and Salvation history, changed everything for the better--the Cross we should keep close to, so that we may find our Savior on our own pilgrim journeys. Instead, we very often flee from it. After all,...

I hope your New Year's Eve was spectacular. And I hope it included fireworks. If not, enjoy this beautiful little video, compliments of "aaronisnotcool," Austin, Texas. (Thanks, Aaron!) 

Oh, and just so you know, there are some radical environmentally minded folks around--the kind that give a bad name to savvy environmentally minded guys like me--that would like to see fireworks outlawed. Everywhere. No, seriously. It seems the pyrotechnic creations cause too much pollution--although the Disney Corporation figured out a way to lower the pollution levels, and they shared the info widely. Kudos to them. But still, other voices among us are not amused. One put it this way:

In creating and spectating pyrotechnic displays, though, few seem to consider the rather obvious link between fireworks and air pollution. The result is an environmentally irresponsible form of entertainment. 
Okay, so there's some truth to their argument. But in a way, isn't every form of entertainment environmentally irresponsible? Should we outlaw concerts, ball games and Broadway? And anyway, aren't people the real cause of all pollution? Shouldn't we outlaw us? (Oh wait, we've opened that door with the unborn.)

And so my response to these eco-duds...

Historic flooding in Australia, severe snow and deadly storms in the American heartland, a soggy US West Coast and an unsettled Europe are making for unhappy New Year celebrations for many. The resulting homelessness, destruction, and death should make us pause and pray for the victims of this wild weather.

As for the why of all this meteorological drama, some say it's evidence of climate change--and they may be right. While no individual storm or cluster of events can be attributed to climate anything, trends can. Which is why the appearance of so many events occurring with so much more severity and precipitation amounts makes one wonder.

Scientists have noted for sometime that climate change will alter the way the planet distributes thermal energy and moisture. Some of us will be dryer, some wetter, some warmer, some cooler. Remember, climate and weather are not the same thing.

There's lots of resources to learn about all this ... but not now. It's New Years. And for most of us, it is a time of celebration, reflection...

One of the great misunderstandings perpetrated in popular culture and the mainstream media is that the Church is anti-science. After all, just look at what the Church did to Galileo! But for Catholic ecologists, science and faith blend naturally.

And so the question, how did a Church that some say was so anti-reason ever become engaged in the natural sciences?

The truth is, the Church was never anti-science.

But this lie has been told so often that it's become ingrained in our popular culture. Take for instance a story sent out by the Associated Press in November, 2009. The piece was about archaeological findings at Galileo's burial site, but it contained the following paragraph that was as misleading as it was irrelevant to the story.

“Galileo, who died in 1642, was condemned by the Vatican for saying the Earth revolved around the Sun. Church teaching at the time held that the Earth was the center of the universe.”

There was never nor is there any official Church dogma on particular matters of science. While in Galileo’s day many scholars embraced the teachings of Aristotle, who did maintain a geocentric worldview, the Church...


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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.