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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...

Catherine the Great is quoted as saying "a great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache."

For those of us in the 21st century, one question to ponder is whether we will use the wind with imagination even if  proposed uses of it will bring us pain. We live in an age that does battle with itself over the building of (and investments in) large scale wind farms--especially the off-shore variety. Sadly, we too often forget that anything we do for the common good may mean sacrifice.

In the northeast Unites States, at least two off-shore wind projects are vying to be the first or the biggest or the best loved. Both Deepwater Wind, proposed mainly for in, and off, Rhode Island Sound, and Cape Wind, to be built off Cape Cod, seek to snatch clean energy from plentiful and vibrant ocean air. Which project will be built first? Which one makes the best economic sense?

Time will tell.

But the good news...

AsiaNews reports that Bartholomew I gave quite the address last week before an influential audience of the Orthodox world. His talk defended his unyielding intentions for inter-faith dialogue.

"We will insist on dialogue, despite the criticism that we suffer," he said. "There is, unfortunately, a certain religious fundamentalism, a tragic phenomenon, which can be found among Orthodox and Catholics, among Muslims and Jews. These are people who think they alone have the right to exist on earth, almost as if they alone have the right to rule on this our planet according to the Old Testament. And they say there is no room for anyone else, and are therefore opposed to any dialogue."
The strong tone of the talk made all the more notable his insertion of the ecology within it. But this makes sense, because dialogue works best when one can speak of what is shared--and what is a more shared reality than the natural environment? And so Bartholomew I noted that in speaking of those of other faiths, "we do not discuss purely theological issues as...


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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.