As I write, my Samsung monitor keeps going out, leaving me with a vacant screen and frayed nerves. All my projects have been delayed and I have spent hours either talking to technicians who assured me there is no miracle "fix," or looking for a replacement online, between the monitor black-outs. Later today, I will be leaving "safe shelter" for the inevitable trip to Microcenter to replace my 11 year old monitor. It has served me well -- since 2009 to be precise-- and now, alas it will be heading to the technology waste bin in my building's basement.
Will it be re-cycled?
I don't know.
Will it end up in a land-fill?
Should I care?
Caring for our common home -- the Earth-- means that we need to understand how our use of "things" involves ethical choices. Everything we buy comes with two price tags: what we end up paying to purchase the item (the $ amount) and the price others will pay or have already paid because of our purchase (the quality of life amount). "
we might say to ourselves, smugly,
“There’s no way
to blame for Global Warming and the rest of the world’s ills. Why! I even recycle newspaper and have stopped using plastic bags!”
As long as this is our conviction, we will be poor ambassadors for
We may point the finger at BP for its contamination of the Gulf and at Shell Oil for destroying much of the Niger Delta, but then we turn a blind eye to our own squandering of energy. We may decry unfair labor practices in Third World factories, but continue to purchase cheap clothing and electronics that have been made in the equivalent of slave labor camps. We express shock at the cruel treatment of animals in factory farms, but pile on the bacon and demand the beef! We lament the disappearance of bees and butterflies, but insist on spraying garden pests with a cocktail of Roundup and other chemicals….
Becoming informed is the first step in ecological conversion on a personal level. While today’s youth are familiar with the 3R’s—
REDUCE, RE-CYCLE, RE-USE
— previous generations tend to be oblivious. Here, in America, the 3 R’s seem diametrically opposed to the American Dream. Many, having been raised with a sense of entitlement, assume that if they can pay for something, they can use it and dispose of it as they please. A two year old iPhone? Time for the landfill! A scratch on the SUV’s bumper? Time for a trade-in! A 65,” full HD, LED, 3D flat screen TV? Time to shelve out $4,999.00 and purchase a 75” model!
While many of us are accustomed to “inner work,” and regularly spend time in self-reflection, it may seem unusual to include “sins against creation” in our examination of conscience. As
Laudato Si' Week
draws to an end, let us take an honest look at what we buy and what we dispose of. Then, when we understand how our choices have an impact on the Earth, let us commit to at least one small thing we can do to lessen our carbon footprint and to observe the 3 R's-- the world will be all the greener for our efforts!
Be well/ Stay well!
PS Try my spiritual self-assessment tool!
After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated diagram and explanatory comments regarding your strengths and "growing edges."
I hope you find the Quiz useful!
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we tend to equate "Eternal Life" with Heaven -- that is, with the unending experience of God in the world to come. We speak of the deceased having earned their "heavenly reward" or of "going to meet their Maker." We distinguish between this "vale of tears" and the joy we will experience after death. In our imagination, we behold scenes of great beauty in which we will not only dwell with the Holy One but will also be surrounded by all our loved ones who have gone before us. However, while the great hope of Heaven brings comfort and gives us the incentive to stay on the "straight and narrow," it can also limit us spiritually: When viewed as a place in the time zone of the after-life, "Eternal Life" becomes a "thing" rather than a state of being.
In spite of all we have been taught, Eternal Life is not something that can be "earned" by good behavior, self-sacrifice, devotional practices, or donations to religious organizations. It is not "brokered" by intermediaries with the Divine; nor can it be acquired through study, fasting, pilgrimages, retreats or social activism. Of course, all these practices are spiritually beneficial and can draw us closer to God, but they are not what Jesus has in mind when he speaks of Eternal Life. His exact words, quoted above, are:
"Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ"
Here, "knowing" is synonymous with "loving" in the deepest sense. It goes beyond intellectual knowledge, beyond acquaintanceship, beyond "liking," beyond admiring, beyond friendship, beyond parental love, beyond any form of love which is less than total union, total intimacy. The closest approximation to "knowing" would be marital bliss -- not just the "honeymoon" stage of infatuation, but the absolute contentment and joy that can come with being truly "one" with another being. This is the Living Water that Jesus promised the Samaritan woman, the Bread of which he spoke to the crowds. Eternal Life is accessible now, at any time and in any place, without any requirements, without any restrictions except that we embrace the Holy One in total self-giving and allow ourselves to be embraced in turn. And this, I believe, is the ultimate Good News.
- What comes to mind when you think of Eternal Life?
- What does it mean to "know" God and to be "known" by God?
- What is the difference between learning "about" God and "knowing" God?
- How might you get to know God more intimately?