Spring has sprung and so have our lives. A couple of years ago we were pinned down by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s not over yet but we’re coming through it okay. There is a fourth recommended shot of the vaccine if you’re over fifty years old. The economy is rebounding. More Americans are working. The United States added 1.7 million new jobs in the past two months. Inflation in the United States is up too. It’s the highest it has been in the past forty years but that’s true around the world. Gasoline prices are up too but again that’s not a purely American problem. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States last week was $4.63 which is huge increase from where prices were in April 2020 when they were at $1.78 per gallon. Demand was low when we were all locked down in our homes.
In the United States the Republican party and their allies are blaming President Biden and the Democrats. Joe Biden is not president in Canada where gasoline is $5.91 per gallon (adjusted for US gallons and dollars). Gasoline is $5.83 per US gallon in Poland. The prices in Ireland are $7.64 and Hong Kong is the most expensive gas prices in the world at $10.89 per gallon.
The reason our economy is booming is the American Rescue Plan which received almost no Republican support. Yesterday in the House of Representatives one-hundred-ninety-three Republicans voted against lowering the price of insulin from it’s current $332 a vial to something more affordable to average Americans. That’s consistent with Republican ideals, “favor the rich and soak the middle class and the poor.” The GOP claims to be conservative but conserves nothing. The current administration has lowered our national debt which is an accomplishment that only occurs in Democratic administrations.
President Harry Truman called the GOP out over seventy years ago when he wrote,
“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” – Harry S. Truman, October 13, 1948, St. Paul, Minnesota, Radio Broadcast via WikiQuote
Today is the first day of Holy Week in the Catholic Church and other Christian churches as well. Today at Mass they Passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be read. We will remember how he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on this day on a donkey colt. We will hear how the crowd spread palm fronds and shouted “Hosanna.” The readings will recount the last supper the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest, imprisonment and eventual crucifixion of the Jesus. We will genuflect as the moment of his death is read. We will rise again like he did on the third day. We will remember all of this as we do each year. But will we connect the events of two thousand years ago with the events of today?
Will we connect the passion and death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, the Asian Americans in Atlanta, the innocents in the Colorado supermarket? Will we think of the passion and suffering of the those LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters? Will we connect the passion and death of Christ with the outrage on our southern border? Will we ask why women are not priests? Will we see the passion, destruction and death of our mother earth? Is Holy Week just an event where we think of the itinerant Palestinian carpenter who came to show us how to live?
Will we continue to trivialize the life of the Christ who came not merely to die on a tree so that two thousand years later we could sprinkle water on our heads and claim to be saved by his name while we openly persecute those created in his image? In a couple of weeks our granddaughter Fiona Katherine will be baptized. I hope that she will be filled with the Holy Spirit on that day as I’m sure she already is. I hope that the Holy Spirit will fill her heart with a hunger for righteousness for the goodness of creation and the welfare of her fellow humans. I hope that she will hunger and thirst for a rightful place for women in our world.
The passion of Christ is more than remembering the events that took place in Jerusalem two thousand years ago for me. Peace.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an exceptional book. It reads more like a meditation or series of meditations on the Indigenous wisdom, science, botany and plants. If you are interested in the climate and the future of the planet than this is a must read.
I read this book as part of Just Faith Ministries, Sacred Land Food and Farming class I’ve been taking in the past six weeks. There is so much wisdom in this book. There is so much we can learn from the indigenous ancestors that is relevant for today.
“For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer.
Reading on the internet tonight led me to Ireland and Sister Maud Murphy, SSL who has written a timely poem about the Coronavirus. She’s hit the nail on the head. It’s a theme I have thought of often this week as I’ve listened to politicians posture about how this virus is the fault of a particular geographic area of our world. The virus comes not from a particular place but from a lifestyle of over consumption. Our failure to live simply so that others could simply live has caught up with us. Now we face a reckoning of our own creation. It’s payback time and as an old friend once said, “payback’s a bitch.”
We were warned by Rachel Carson nearly sixty years ago when she published “Silent Spring.” Al Gore published Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and it was dismissed as too political. Politicians and pundits laughed and said there was no way we could afford to change our ways. It was not economically feasible they said. In 2015 Pope Francis released Laudate Si and again the politicians and pundits dismissed it. It was economically not feasible and some said the pope should tend to matters of the church because the climate and the economy were not his business. Last year Greta Thunberg warned us just as the prophets of old that our time was running out. She was dismissed as all the prophets have always been. They said she was crazy. Some folks said that Greta had anger management issues. The Green New Deal was dismissed out of hand by those who worshipped the golden calf of the stock market and economy.
Now the planet has spoken and she has our attention. Sister Maud Murphy has written a poignant poem that captures the irony of our dilemma. The stock market is plummeting and the economy is tanking. We are forced to keep our distance from neighbors. Businesses are shuttered. Maybe there is a silver lining in Coronavirus. Maybe we’ll emerge transformed. Maybe.
We were flying to the Moon
We were finding life on Mars
We were dropping bombs with drones
We were getting bigger cars.
We were building finer homes
Flying out to warmer lands
We were busy buying clothes
We were brushing up our tans.
We were throwing out good food
While we watched the starving poor
We kept burning fossil fuels
And our air became less pure.
We were warned by our Pope
Need to mind our Common Home
Need to watch our Carbon Footprint
Try to save our world from doom. – Sister Maud Murphy, SSL
Read the entire poem here.
I finally ventured out of the house today to clean our driveway. Yesterday I drove twenty miles for a medical appointment. After my return home I stayed inside for over twenty-four hours which is very atypical for me. I like walking and being out in the neighborhood. Overnight our temperature went down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit which is very cold to be sure. When I was a young boy it was not uncommon for temperatures to dip below -30F so I’m no stranger to cold weather. I can remember a time in the 1980’s when it was subzero for an entire week.
Climate change is a difficult subject in the United States. Some confuse climate with weather. Others, like our president assume that subzero cold weather is an indication that ‘global warming’ is a hoax. I read Inconvenient Truth many years ago and I’ve subsequently read other works about climate change and they all point to more extreme weather. You’re probably thinking about the subzero temperatures of yesteryear as an rebuttal for extreme weather.
Here’s where the difference lies. Years ago, we’d have a month or sometimes two or three where the temperature never got above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes if we were lucky we’d have a January thaw late in that month. This week, we’re going from subzero yesterday and today to more normal temperatures tomorrow followed by unseasonably warm temperatures rising in to the high forties and possibly fifty degrees on Monday. Prodigious snowfalls to our north will become water and cause ice packed creeks and rivers to overflow. Roadways and streets will be flooded and then just as quickly as it thawed there will be a return to frigid weather. Therein lies the difference and it’s a weather pattern that has been repeated time and time again in the past number of years. I believe it’s going to get worse and eventually it is going to threaten our existence in many ways that we can only imagine now.
Yesterday I received an email from my brother who lives in Wisconsin with a link to an article and it’s substance was about the subzero polar vortex which is impacting the mid-west and the much of the country this week. The article explained that this phenomenon is being caused because a mass of warm air had recently moved to the arctic and displaced the arctic air to the south. The warm air that arrived in the arctic was 125 degrees above normal if memory serves me correctly.
It’s become popular for the climate change deniers in our country to point to these frigid temperatures and deride those who speak and write of ‘global warming.’ According to these folks the frigid temperatures belie the existence of global warming and climate change. Recently, Alexandria Occasio-Cortez took some heat from the pundits when she proclaimed that the world is going to end in twelve years. While I’m not sure of the exact timing that she proclaimed it is easy to see that our climate is changing rapidly and our weather is becoming more and more severe. We have had so much rain in our area that the ground is saturated. Recently, due to this hyper-saturation and extreme wind one of our neighbors spruce trees was uprooted and toppled into our yard. It will cost several hundred dollars to have it removed and disposed of.
Yesterday, The Intercept proclaimed that the real national emergency is climate change and not border security. I wholeheartedly agree with their premise. Rising sea levels, extreme heat and drought are already wreaking havoc in the United States and around the world. In the meantime the majority of our political leaders deny its existence or cast shade on those of us who see cause for alarm. One has to wonder how much longer we must endure the ravages of this change coupled with the intransigence of our politicians.
Tonight as I read the news on the Internet via @Twitter and Google I was struck by the ferocity of the storms in Oklahoma and elsewhere in the heartland of the United States. It must be terrifying to be in the path of one of these great storms and not be able to do anything but pray. I prayed as I read the news and sent positive vibrations that way. There are some among us who deny that the climate is changing. I wondered how can anyone not see change as forecasters predicted grapefruit sized hail would be pelting Oklahoma. What terrible chain of events have we set in motion by our wanton disregard for the planet we call home. St. Francis saw all creation as brother and sister in much the same manner as the indigenous people who once called Oklahoma home. What will it take for us once again to put creation and our Mother Earth first in our thinking? I hope it is not too late to bring some care to our environment.
Creation has an intrinsic order. The following quote is taken from a document from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The created universe is the fruit of the love of God, which has produced human beings in his image who can recognize the intelligent ordering of creation. Because of their privileged position in creation, human beings must recognize their responsibility to be guardians of this creation, and to ensure the proper balance of the ecosystems they depend on.
Let us pray for Oklahoma and the earth that we call home. Let us pray that we become better stewards of the ecosystem that’s been entrusted to us.
Truth triumphs at least some of the time. The right wing media outlets are having fun disparaging Mr. Gore’s selection to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Those of use who’ve seen An Inconvenient Truth and live in climates where rivers are running dry and roses are blooming in October for the second year in a row know that Al deserves the award. He now joins Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King to name but a few who have been selected for the prestigious award.