I spent a day reading Pope Francis's encyclical on climate, the environment, and human responsibility, Laudato Si, while watching my liberal Internet explode with enthusiasm and conservative recoil. After sleeping on it, I did the Very Protestant Thing of listing my agreements and disagreements. I suspect I'm not the only progressive with this mix of responses.
The Pope and I agree on many things.
- We agree that economic growth does not solve all problems, and that it creates some.
The Pope and I disagree on many things.
- I don't think that, without the backstop of God, we can only become selfish, insatiable, and trapped in ourselves. That is, I don't think climate change is a crisis of secularism.
At base, I am uneasy when anyone's high priest tells the world what should concern it most.
But I take what the Pope says as ethics, aesthetics, and politics, clothed in theology.
And he takes what people like me say as spilled theology, ethics that doesn't know it needs God.
In 500 years, I hope the world will be green and full of equals, that new forms of cooperation will have come, and that love will be pretty much the only law. There will be no priests, just elders, teachers, friends, and wise advisers.
The Pope's future is different, but we want to move in the same direction out of this particular dark patch of time.
And, although the disagreements concern "philosophical" questions, they will not have theoretical answers, only historical ones. Time will tell.
The Pope and I agree, as he says more than once in his encyclical, that "Realities are greater than ideas."
Here's to the uncertain future of this one.
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