Authority … one has authority or competence to speak about something the more consciously and fully one has experienced it.
In writing of things New Age for example, I feel a certain degree of confidence, given that I have had long, intimate involvement with this phenomena. I completely identified with the New Age movement for many years, in a way that I imagine few traditional Catholics have.
Now that I am a Catholic, it seems to me then, that I have something to offer in this regard. I can speak to Christians about the sincere aspirations and serious dangers of New Age spirituality with “inside knowledge” as it were …
But Global Warming? And the kind of Spiritual, Social and Political Order it seems to me is needed to avert the threat – on an unimaginably enormous scale – of loss, loss of lives, species, civilisation?
What can I do but shudder?
What competence or authority do I have to utter?
Nonetheless the subject is very pressing and must be uttered and discussed in many contexts, including certainly that of traditional Catholicism.
And it is naturally being raised in my life in many ways. As I recently reported here, an old friend of mine, who is a scientist and who blogs under the name of the Trimorph, sent me a e-mail about Global Warming, whose noble and searching nature could do nothing but evoke my respect – even if I have very serious disagreements with my friend about numerous things, including Christianity.
In a previous entry, I presented my friend´s searching and scientifically informed mail and in the responses a discussion ensued – which I would like to extend in a series you will see I am calling Unfinished Personal/Global Musings.
I choose this heading carefully. For as I say, I feel hardly competent in this regard. These will be my musings. Musing out-loud things I have been musing inwardly for years or musing with intimate friends. But under the heading of a “work-in-progress”, I plan to allow myself to utter many unfinished things …
In this series, I want to muse in response to what the Trimorph has said and what Edwin Shendelman has said at that entry, and perhaps in response to what others may care to contribute. To fully appreciate all of this, you may wish to see that original weblog entry here and its responses.
If my musings appear random and lacking the coherency of more finished thinking, I take comfort in this webformat. The beauty of blogging, it seems to me, is that it lends itself to such incomplete and personal exchanges in a way that print does not. Here I go now…
My response to the Trimorph was apparently taken as criticism of certain activist initiatives to combat Global Warming. And perhaps my words were poor.
My intention was not so much to criticise, but to suggest my own view that far, far more was needed to address Global Warming than simply slogans or raising consciousness of the scientific data describing the problem – i.e. a need to reduce the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, below 350 parts per million.
However crying that need may be, I personally have little faith that activism – by itself – directed towards such goals can be very effective.
The reason for this is that the problem is as I said before systemic, far greater than Global Warming itself. Global Warming forms but the perilous projection of an enormous iceberg.
For Global Warming it seems to me, is but a symptom of a vast disease afflicting humanity for centuries.
Or at least, I think this must be the conclusion of any traditionally-minded Catholic who has bothered to seriously reflect on the history of the post-medieval epoch. For such reflection inevitably points to a trajectory of increasing materialism, of which Global Warming is but the latest consequence.
Materialism … by this term I mean to suggest not only the commercial and concrete materialism with which we are all familar, but also a centuries long process of philosophical materialism, whereby reality was interpreted increasingly in reference to matter, matter alone …
A traditional Catholic who has studied the problem will see that for a very long time Catholic teaching has pointed to the serious danger of a society falling ever more deeply into materialism. One could point to numerous Popes, for instance, who it seems to me spoke to this effect with great prescience and serious moral concern.
But even beyond the teaching of the Magisterium, for any Catholic with faith in the supernatural gifts transmitted via the Church, is it not difficult to see it otherwise?
For any Catholic who feels acutely the importance of Sacramental Communion with Jesus Christ, is it not natural that one should be gravely concerned about the outcome of a civilisational trajectory increasingly deprived of the Sacraments and the Faith …?
And as a Catholic who feels the joy and strength coming from the Sacraments and the Faith – initiated by Christ for the Redemption of the World – is it any surprise to see that a society stripped of these things will turn to fill its emptiness with a voracious consumerist materialism?
And as a Catholic who cannot help but feel the Sacraments of the Holy Church impart moral seriousness, can I feel any differently as I look out on a culture of moral superficiality …?
I am well aware that many a modern mind will accuse me of a simplistic one-sidedness. I am also very aware that many a modern mind has not bothered to trouble itself much with Catholicism, nor felt the interior power of her Sacraments, nor paused even an instant to consider what the long term effects of a de-sacramentalised society over centuries might be …
Whatever the case, these are my musings. I cannot help but see Global Warming in the context of a de-sacramentalised society tending to ever greater materialism over centuries.
The non-catholic sociologist Max Weber noted that the societies of his time with more Protestants were also those with a more developed capitalist economy. And lacking faith in the Catholic Mystery, he concluded in his famous work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that certain ideas found in Protestantism had favoured the emergence of Capitalism.
And certainly many have noted that Catholicism has often promoted a more communitarian, less individualistic ethic. Commonly it is assumed that this is all to do conditioning ideas.
Protestantism has been seen as conditioning people to a more worldly, less renunciatory and individualist attitude. Catholicism has been accused of conditioning people “to put up with suffering” and so forth.
But for us who believe in and feel the power of the Sacraments, why should we suppose that all of this is entirely to do with ideology? Could it not be that the loss of the Sacraments has been a contributory factor, at least? May I be forgiven for musing out loud notions so outrageous and scandalous to the modern mind?
Now I will be ruminating on these things not only as a Catholic who seeks to immerse himself ever more deeply in the Sacraments. But also as a Catholic immersed in many different currents of the Church. These include not only Papal teaching which seems to me relevant to these issues, including the most recent and magnificent encyclical of the Holy Father Caritas in Veritate, but also the little known legal and political Catholic works of Valentin Tomberg which I began exploring in this weblog here and which in a manner not unlike the recent encyclical, cry out for a different World Order.
For as I make my own attempt to solemnly confront the issues around Global Warming, these are some of the things that seem most important to me at this time and which I bring to the table of these unfinished things …
Of Related Interest at this Site:
There is now a long multi-part series concerning Valentin Tomberg started at this site. Involving both the continuities and discontinuities with Rudolf Steiner’s thought, it examines why the convert Tomberg turned from Anthroposophy to a Counter-Revolutionary Catholic tradition …
Link to first entry here:
From Amazon US:
(For the UK consult our UK Valentin Tomberg page here.)