In the same encyclical the Via Negativa is prominent too, as the Pope reports the demise of the planet as we know it. His list is familiar to those who are paying attention. He deplores the “pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive.” He decries a “throwaway culture” where “the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (21, 22) He invokes “a very solid scientific consensus” around the issue of climate warming and a “constant rise in the sea level, an increase of extreme weather events,” a concentration of greenhouse gases and more. (23) Deforestation, the extinction of the planet’s biodiversity, shortage of drinking water, the loss of tropical forests–animals, plants and humans migrating as a result. Human migration on the rise due to “migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation.” (23-25) The extinction of mammals, birds, fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles, contributes to the destruction of entire ecosystems. (34)
Had he embraced the Cosmic Christ theology, he might have invoked the archetype I offered twenty-eight years ago, that the Christ is being crucified all over again as we despoil the Earth and her good creatures.
He writes that we undergo debasement as we feel the debasement of the Earth and “God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.” (89) Yes, the Cosmic Christ is being crucified all over again.
Science and Spirituality can awaken us both to the glory of nature and creation that we dare not take for granted—but also to the disturbing news and facts of the destruction of the planet that humans are bringing about by our forgetfulness, small-mindedness and greed. The Via Positiva and the Via Negativa both speaking to us loudly from Mother Earth who invites us to embrace both with passion. Included in our Meditation offerings today is the wisdom of women—an intergenerational wisdom for all of us, men and women, young and not so young, to heed.
Adapted from: Matthew Fox, “Laudato Si’: The Pope’s Encyclical and the Coming of Age of Creation Spirituality“
Banner Image: “Forest Fire” Photo by Cata on Unsplash
For Deeper Contemplation
To enter the pain of Mother Earth at the burning of the Amazon and the rainforests of the world, read and view this testimony from a tribal elder from the Amazon forest:
Indigenous Women of the Amazon Send a Call: The Fight for Mother Earth Is the Mother of All Fights
To enlarge your spirit to care and action, consider this story from a bona fide prophet of our time, though only a teenager, the moving story of how Greta Thunberg recently landed on American shores to attend a UN conference on climate change by sailing a boat across the ocean in order to awaken awareness—which is what prophets do—to alternative energy sources.
Teen Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Arrives In New York After Sailing The Atlantic
In this extended commentary, Matthew Fox examines Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, noting its creation spirituality perspective and calling on readers to abandon doctrinal squabbles and unite in protecting “our common home” through the vias positiva, negativa, creativa and transformativa.