"Custody + Creation" takes on disposable cultures

A documentary airing this Sunday (and made available online) shines a light on Catholics working for ecological protection

What happens when inspired filmmakers want to tell stories of Catholics working to protect creation?

You’ll find out this Sunday, June 14th, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here in the United States when New Evangelization Television (NET TV) premieres its original production Custody + Creation, “a moving environmental documentary about the care of creation and the role of the faithful,” according to its advance publicity.

But I don’t need a press release to say something about the documentary. The filmmakers came to Rhode Island in April and interviewed me (among other more interesting people) at some of the wastewater treatment facilities that I regulate and at St. Dominic’s chapel at Providence College, where I received my masters in theology and where I served as a special lecturer last semester.

Based on my day with a microphone clipped to my tie, here’s the inside scoop: The show’s producer, Amanda Brier, and her right-hand cameraman, Ian West, are dedicated to their faith and their craft. They are eager to tell the story of the Church as she engages the ecological crises of our day.

In other words, these filmmakers have given a gift to the Church.

Part of the gift of Custody + Creation is in how it assesses the ecological state of the planet and the imminent threat of climate change while focusing on the Church’s reaffirmation of the biblical custody of the Earth, the dignity of creation, and human ecology.

"With this project, we've been able to share the experiences of scientists, theologians, and activists in one place," Brier shared with Catholic Ecology. "There are varied voices in this documentary—from purely scientific entities, to faith-based communities, to a mixture of both. All too often, we are convinced that there must be a wall of separation between scientific and faith-based perspectives. But faith and reason are not oil and water; they are two elements that work as catalysts that can inspire and drive us toward joint dialogue and positive action."

When you watch Custody + Creation you’ll get a sense of what Catholics have been up to even before the Church receives the gift of the eco-encyclical.

This is a timely message as the documentary comes in anticipation of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, to be published on June 18th. You can’t get much better timing than this.

And indeed, putting together this documentary did take months. Amanda and her colleagues spent hours filming exclusive interviews with scientists and theologians to share their research, experiences, and perspectives. Filming locations ranged from New York Harbor, Narragansett Bay, the Delaware River Valley, and the Chesapeake Bay. She spoke with people from the National Audubon Society, U.S. Geological Survey, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Bay Program, and the Department of Natural Resources, as well as theologians and faith-based ecologists from the Catholic Climate Covenant, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, The College of St. Elizabeth, the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Eternal Flame of Hope Ministries Eco-Chapel. The documentary also takes us to the Fields Point and Town of West Warwick wastewater treatment facilities here in Rhode Island. The resulting conversations were captured on video to share solutions for taking on the issues of pollution, energy, and what Pope Francis has described as “disposable culture.”

When you watch Custody + Creation you’ll get a sense of what Catholics have been up to even before the Church receives the gift of the eco-encyclical.

Custody + Creation is produced by NET TV, a cable network featuring news and information with a Catholic point of view, which is part of DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

You can watch it on the NET TV website or below:

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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.