Healthy artists, working from a spirituality base, can awaken us to our “selfishness, greed and apathy” that were named by a scientist in the previous DM as the fundamental problem in climate change. So can teachings of great mystics like Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Aquinas who speak to the causes of such problems as apathy.
Years ago, when I spoke at the Schumacher Lectures in Bristol, England, I followed on a talk by Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute in which he called for an “Environmental Revolution” and said that the number one obstacle to that revolution was human “inertia.” Surely that is the same as “apathy.” What to do about it? How do we melt apathy and inertia?
Our ancestors understood inertia and apathy to be part of the capital sin of acedia. Acedia, says Aquinas, is “the lack of energy to begin new things.”
How does one recover that energy once it has vanished or seeped away?
Says Aquinas, “zeal [the opposite of acedia] comes from the intense experience of the beauty of things.” Beauty. Falling in love again. Not just with a two-legged mate, but with creation itself—the Earth and her marvelous forests and oceans, rivers and valleys, birds, animals, insects, skies and valleys and so much more—that is the Falling in Love that will undo inertia and awaken zeal.
Is that one more reason why we need artists at this time and mystics also—to remind us of the beauty and lovability of a world that is rapidly declining before our eyes? To move from despair and woe and recitation of bad news to love and gratitude and action? To passion culminating in compassion?
Adapted from Matthew Fox’s Schumacher Lecture, “Religion as if Creation Mattered,” in Matthew Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 32-51.
Also see Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.
See also “Professors receive grant to study emotions and climate change” | Royal Roads University
Banner Image: Youth Climate Strike: North Bay: Hundreds of young activists joined the Youth Climate Strike 2019 in Santa Rosa to demand action on climate change. Photo by Fabrice Florin on Flickr.
For a TRANSCRIPT of today’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
How do you see breaking through apathy? Is it possible? Do you agree it is necessary to save the planet as we know it and our species as we know it? Does Aquinas’s teaching above speak to you and to our times?
Wrestling with the Prophets: Essays on Creation Spirituality and Everyday Life
In one of his foundational works, Fox engages with some of history’s greatest mystics, philosophers, and prophets in profound and hard-hitting essays on such varied topics as Eco-Spirituality, AIDS, homosexuality, spiritual feminism, environmental revolution, Native American spirituality, Christian mysticism, Art and Spirituality, Art as Meditation, Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism and more.
“Wisdom, Grace, Love” – a 3-part online lecture series by Caroline Myss, Andrew Harvey, and Matthew Fox, September 8, 15, and 22, 3:00-4:30 pm Pacific (GMT/UTC-7). Learn more HERE.