In honor of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (“Praise be to you, my Lord”) and the care of “our common home,” I would like to offer this thought : The people’s right to clean air is greater than the coal industry’s right to make money. Just because something is available doesn’t mean we have to use it.
Furthermore the coal industry continues to be dangerous for all the men and women and their families who work in it and live in the industries’ surrounding communities. How many have died from lung disease? And don’t forget the coal mine collapse in Peru in 2012 and in Chile 2010! These miners died in hazardous conditions in order to support their families and they died for us to have the conveniences we have. Perhaps it was a necessary suffering for “Progress,” but now there are so many more alternatives–ones which can and rightfully require conservation on the part of the public for everyone’s benefit.
And if, at the present time, coal is essential to the world economy as some will argue, the economy must adapt. Industries and governments can help the coal companies transition to other forms of energy, particularly technology. Workers can learn to work in aspects of new technologies in environments that are cleaner, healthier for them and everyone. Everything has its time. Nothing lasts forever except God and the human soul, and perhaps the souls of animals. (Contemporary Christian theologians are exploring this last insight.) The time to move from coal is now.
Inspired by watching Religion and Ethics on PBS this morning, I would like to begin a series of reflections on what part Christianity can play on the world stage today. At its core, Christianity offers HOPE, a hope centered in– but not limited to– the promise of Resurrection and eternal life. In truth, what Christians call “the Easter mystery” must echo in daily life, giving evidence of its reality in all human dimensions. When taken in the full scope of its Judaic foundation, the Resurrection’s import is not only future-directed but extends to the past, present and future equally. Only when hope is afforded its complete multi-directional realities can its ultimate gift—the celebration of the “eternal now,” (some prefer the phrase “the perfect present”)—be realized.
Living in “the eternal now” imbues the present with transformative power. The reality of Resurrection offers Christians the capacity to heal the fears, the hurts, regrets and resentments of the past and move forward in humility and truth. Indeed, Christian hope grounds itself in humility, insisting that Christians cultivate knowledge of history with a spirit of truth, never denying its individual and collective wrongdoing but neither ignoring nor discounting its positive contributions. This Hope-infused-truth allows present choices to be informed by the past so that with prayerful care, the past does not perpetuate its harm into the future. Christianity can achieve its greatest human potential when Christians invite people grounded in other religions, philosophies and cultures to identify either the same or parallel expressions of hope with humility and truth, identifying and building upon a cultivated “Common Ground” in the present moving toward a more humane and compassionate future.
In the coming weeks I will explore exactly how the Christian story, its history and daily experience of Christians today supports this HOPE. I invite Christian readers to share their insights so that together we may embrace Resurrection Hope most fully. I also invite people of other faiths and backgrounds to share HOPE perspectives in their beliefs, concepts and/or faith experiences. Together we just might be able to identify and apply common ground principles, evidencing hope through mutual respect and celebration of the best of our humanity.
Having listen to the soundtrack from BEGIN AGAIN quite a bit (even in my dreams) I decided to return to the Original Broadway Cast of ONCE. The haunting song “Falling Slowly” now repeats and echoes in my imagination, especially the line “You have suffered enough, at war with yourself, it’s time that you won.” If that resonates with you, read HEALING YOUR ALONE-NESS: Finding Love and Wholeness through Your Inner Child by Margaret Paul. If you want to appropriate The Gospel in healthy ways–and for my friends in the Jewish and other faith communities: to appropriate God’s love for you in a most healthy way, READ THIS BOOK. I return to it frequently. Here’s a link: