Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Look Cheerful

Let us find clean and cheerful friends.
Robert Fripp


Every Christian who votes and pays taxes (me included) has already agreed to pay for our wars, for the deaths of small children caused by our drones, for the continuation of the injustice of Guantanamo, for the "rendition" of suspected terrorists to countries where they are tortured, sometimes to death, and -- depending on what state you live in -- for the salary of the person who will kill someone condemned to death. I don't remember one episcopal peep about any of this. The talk about religious liberty and what we can tolerate here amounts to drawing a little line in the sand -- about six inches long -- as we stand with our back to a sea full of blood.

John Garvey, "We Are Complicit," Commonweal, March 23, 2012


Once [Francis] saw a companion with a sad and depressed face and, not taking it kindly, said to him: "It is not right for a servant of God to show himself to others sad and upset, but always pleasant. Deal with your offenses in your room, and weep and moan before your God. But when you come back to your brothers, put away your sorrow and conform to the others." A little later he added: "Those who envy the salvation of humankind bear a grudge against me, and when they cannot disturb me, they try to do it among my companions."

He so loved the man filled with spiritual joy, that at one chapter he had these words written down as a general admonition: "Let them be careful not to appear outwardly as sad and gloomy hypocrites but show themselves joyful, cheerful, and consistently gracious in the Lord."

Thomas of Celano, The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul, Second Book, Chapter XCI (1247)


I do not expect to hear talk on the campaign trail about safety net policies -- like an expanded unemployment insurance program or a cash-for-work job-creation program -- that would meaningfully address the current plight of the poor. Perhaps we should count ourselves lucky if the candidates refrain from demonizing the programs that remain robust, like Food Stamps. But I continue to believe that the moral measure of a society is the way it cares for its poor and vulnerable. By that measure, we should all be ashamed.

Mary Jo Bane, "Who Will Speak of the Poor?" Commonweal, March 23, 2012


Two decades from now, when my sons are in their twenties, carbon dioxide levels are projected to reach 450 parts per million. At that point the Southwestern United States, Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, and Western Australia could be dustbowls. Social stability will be rocked by refugees from Mexico and Central America, fleeing drought conditions and sharp reductions in crop yields -- reductions that will extend across the tropics and subtropics, where most of the world's poor live. When my sons enter their thirties in the 2040s, the destruction of the world's coral reefs from warmer and more acidic oceans caused by carbon dioxide absorption will be well underway....The collapse of coral reefs ... may exert a domino effect, triggering a mass extinction of ocean ecosystems.

When my boys enter their forties -- perhaps by now with children of their own -- carbon dioxide levels will likely have reached 560 ppm. The global water crisis will contribute to a global food crisis, with insufficient fresh water for irrigating crops....The shrinkage of the Sierra Nevada snowpack will have greatly impaired California's agriculture, which today produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits and vegetables. Corn and soy yields in the United States, currently a major contributor to world markets, will experience drastic declines. Forest throughout the western United States will burn, with California losing 50 to 70 percent of its forests. The Amazon rainforest will suffer devastating drought-driven fires. Seas worldwide will have risen one foot, and coastal cities will enter the first phase of their destruction.

By the 2060s, if carbon-cycle feedbacks prove to be strong, the world could be 4 degrees Celsius warmer, and 40 to 70 percent of assessed species could be headed irreversibly toward extinction. And by the end of the century, my grandchildren and great grandchildren will live in a world where sea levels could be between three and seventeen feet higher than they are now. The abandonment of the world's great cities will be well underway. Food markets could see an 80 percent reduction in U.S. corn and soy yields and the collapse of California agriculture. Half the forests in the American West could be gone, destroyed by fire.

Richard W. Miller, " 'Global Suicide Pact,' " Commonweal, March 23, 2012


Keep your mind in hell and do not despair.
St. Silouan the Athonite


This was exactly the way Mother Teresa learned to deal with her trial of faith: by converting her feeling of abandonment by God into an act of abandonment to God. It would be her Gethsemane, she came to believe, and her participation in the thirst Jesus suffered on the Cross. And it gave her access to the deepest poverty of the modern world: the poverty of meaninglessness and loneliness. To endure this trial of faith would be to bear witness to the fidelity for which the world is starving. “Keep smiling,” Mother Teresa used to tell her community and guests, and somehow, coming from her, it doesn’t seem trite. For when she kept smiling during her night of faith, it was not a cover-up but a manifestation of her loving resolve to be “an apostle of joy.”

Carol Zaleski, "The Dark Night of Mother Teresa," First Things, May 2003


It is not necessary to be cheerful.
It is not necessary to feel cheerful.
But look cheerful.
Robert Fripp

No comments:

Post a Comment