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Stewardship of Creation

"The Invitation of Creation" - by Dr. Christopher Thompson
Summer vacations are often great occasions to get away from it all, to take some time with family and friends and travel to the quieter corners of our world, “to lie down in green pastures … to be led to restful waters.” Whether on the precipice of a mountain vista or set amidst placid lakes and pines, the beauty of creation stirs in our souls an invitatio   >> Read On

"A Catholic Stewardship of the Environment - A Renewed Vision" - by Jim Ennis
In August 2011, National Catholic Rural Life Conference launched a pilot lay leadership-training program  at a retreat center in rural South Dakota. The retreat center is situated on a knoll surrounded by acres and acres of corn, soybean, and alfalfa fields as far as the eye can see.  In the evening there was a dramatic sunset amidst billowing clouds. A short while    >> Read On

"Renewable Energy: A Rural Opportunity" - by Jim Ennis
Several articles have recently appeared in newspapers across the country including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal devoted to the topic of renewable energy—power derived from sources such as the sun, wind, water, and biomass (which includes ethanol and biodiesel). The 2011 crisis at a Japanese nuclear plant, and rising oil and gas prices are further fueling    >> Read On

"A Time to Plant" - book review by Christopher Thompson
Review Essay: A Time to Plant: Life Lessons in Work, Prayer and Dirt. By Kyle T. Kramer. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2010. Pp. 175.  As an administrator of a lay theology program at a regional seminary and the proud owner of both twenty acres and a 1953 Ford tractor, I couldn’t help but be immediately drawn into the reflection   >> Read On

"Cultivating the Soil & Soul" - book review by Christopher Thompson
Review: Cultivating the Soil and Soul: Twentieth-Century Catholic Agrarians Embrace the Liturgical Movement. By Michael J. Woods, SJ. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010. Pp. 291.  Cultivating Soil and Soul is Woods’ doctoral dissertation from The Catholic University of America. It weaves together two strands of Catholic theological movem   >> Read On

Book Review: “Small Books on Big Ideas III” - by Dr. Christopher Thompson
The Dearest Freshness Deep Down Things: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Being. By PIERRE-MARIE EMONET, OP. Translated by Rober R. Barr. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999. Pp. 147.   This slender volume by the late Dominican Fr. Pierre-Marie (†2000 A.D.) is the first in a trilogy, designed to introduce an “average” person in   >> Read On

NCRLC Board Member Presents at Vatican Conference
*This article first appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of "Catholic Rural Life."   Dr. Christopher Thompson, member of the NCRLC board, was recently invited to participate in the International Congress on the 50th Anniversary of Pope John XXIII's Mater et Magistra, held May 16-18, 2011, in Rome. At the congress, which was sponsored by the Pontifical C   >> Read On

"Is there hope?" - by Father Bud Grant
For years now I have been asking the same question of every environmentalist I meet.  I’ve often been asked that question myself.  The question is “are you hopeful?”   My answer to that question has changed over time, from a rather gloomily existentialist “no,” to something much more theological.  It is complicated. &   >> Read On

"Agriculture as Sacrament" - by Fr. Bud Grant
For several decades researchers at the Land Institute near Salina, Kan., have been working on what founder Wes Jackson calls “agro-ecosystems.”  Rather than chemical and till intensive farming of non-native annuals, farmers could use natural hybrids of native perennials.  Eastern Gamma Grass and Illinois Bundleflower, for example, produce three and four   >> Read On

Book Review: "Small Books on Big Ideas II" - by Dr. Christopher Thompson
Ten Commandments for the Environment. By WOODENE KOENIG-BRICKER. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2009. Pp. 144.  As a service to NCRLC readers, I thought it might be helpful to offer occasional reviews of “small” books on “big” ideas, that is, relat   >> Read On

"Christian and Secular Environmentalists: From Criticism to Common Ground" - by Fr. Bud Grant
Secular ecologists have long been suspicious of Christianity.  It is worth explaining why people of faith have been mistrusted by environmentalists and from there to locate the common ground that can be used to overcome that wariness for the sake of advancing our common objectives.  After all, that the ecological crises already endangering the quality of our lives r   >> Read On

"Catholic Environmental Aesthetics" - by Fr. Bud Grant
Recently I got a call from one of my best friends.  He was closing up the county nature preserve he administers high in the Loess Hills of western Iowa.  He called to share an overwhelming sense of beauty and of the Creator he was experiencing at the sight of a tremendous twilight thunderstorm over the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolis.  His voice held the sadne   >> Read On

"Environmental Sacramentality" - by Fr. Bud Grant
Some time ago, while teaching a course in Italy, I found myself at an evening concert in the crypt of the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.  With my students, I had just come from Rome which, for all its wonders, is a hectic and disorienting city.  I’d been anxiously at my tasks and was tired enough that I’d contemplated skipping the concert, nonethele   >> Read On

"The 'Good' and the Environment" - by Fr. Bud Grant
Consider the word ‘good’.  What is the difference between doing good and being good, or between a good dog and a good boy?  What makes a good Christian?  Defining this elusive word is key to Catholic Ethics.  Defining it in reference to nature is the heart of Catholic Environmental Ethics which, though still nascent, is not without great resou   >> Read On

"Matter Matters" - by Fr. Bud Grant
In 1967 Science Magazine published a seminal article by historian Lynn White Jr.  Western civilization, he says, is the source of environmental degradation.  The root cause is "Judeo-Christian teleology," with its "implicit faith in perpetual progress."  Further, environmental problems are "at least partially to be explained as an Occidental, voluntarist reali   >> Read On

"And God Saw That it was Very Good" - by Fr. Bud Grant
    "Thinking the unthought" is the theological attempt to find guidance from the ancients for problems that they would never have imagined, like global warming, for example.  The Bible is our most obvious resource, but caution is needed.  It is a collection of wildly diverse theological treatises written and redacted over hundreds of years from a   >> Read On

"Why Complicate a Simple Life?" by Fr. John Rausch
Every year Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest (ASPI) produces its “Simple Lifestyle Calendar” with daily reminders about walking more gently on the earth.    “Take time to get away and be alone,” “Feel good, live simply, laugh more,” and “Put more art in your life” all suggest ways to become more human,   >> Read On

Archbishop Carlson Speaks on Stewardship of Creation
We hear a lot about the environment these days. Is global warming really happening? How serious is our abuse of the natural resources of our planet — the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we cultivate? Have we lost our ability to marvel at the beauty of Earth and the vastness of the cosmos? Do we regard ourselves as "masters of the universe" or as stewards of w   >> Read On

"A Response to 'The Greening of America, Catholic Style'" by Dr. Christopher Thompson
(Printer-friendly version)    There is a fascinating article co-authored by Christopher Hamlin and John T. McGreevy, both of the University of Notre Dame, entitled, "The Greening of America, Catholic Style: 1930-1950."  It chronicles the rise and fall of the “green revolution” philosophy advocated by the National Catholic Rural Life Co   >> Read On

"Wilderness is Dead" by Father Bud Grant
(Printer-friendly version)   In his essay Walking, Henry David Throeau famously declared that “in wilderness is the preservation of the world.”  We should all hope that he is wrong.    About five years ago I was hiking in the Rocky Mountains looking for a glacier.  It took us a while to find one...or rather, it took u   >> Read On

Book Review: "What Catholics should know about Church Teaching on the Environment" by Dr. Chris Thompson
(Printer-friendly version)    Stewardship of Creation: What Catholics Should Know about Church Teaching on the Environment by Marie George. Indianapolis: Saint Catherine of Sienna Press, 2009. Pp. x + 144.  $14.99.   If you’re like me, you’ve been searching for a resource that takes both our Catholic faith and the issue of envi   >> Read On

"In Defense of Dust" by Dr. Christopher Thompson
(Printer-friendly version)   “If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field  That is forever England.”    The Soldier Rupert Brooke †1918   Maybe it’s because Veterans Day just passed last week. Or maybe it’s because November is the month of pra   >> Read On

Catholic Colleges become stewards of environment
Catholic colleges and universities from around the country are finding ways to care for the environment. From installing more efficient heating and cooling systems, as well as low-flow shower heads in dorms, to using 100 percent recycled napkins in the dining service and recycling edible food waste, these schools are finding more and more ways to be good stewards of creation.   >> Read On

"Time for Creation" Around the World
  The World Council of Churches promotes the period from September 1 (the beginning of the Orthodox church year) to St. Francis' Feast on October 4 as "Time for Creation". This is a devotional time to pray for and with people around the world in the name of the care of Creation. It is a time to realize that ongoing environmental degradation is threat   >> Read On

Environment a topic of Benedict's "Caritas in Veritate"
Pope Benedict XVI's latest encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth), published Summer 2009, is a social encyclical focused on the issues of global development and progress toward the common good. In it, specifically Chapter 4, he also addresses the environment in terms of humans' responsibility toward it, as well as the important moral implications of its t   >> Read On

Extreme Weather Events Match Climate Change Predictions
"The summer's heat waves baked the eastern United States, parts of Africa and eastern Asia, and above all Russia, which lost millions of acres of wheat and thousands of lives in a drought worse than any other in the historical record. Seemingly disconnected, these far-flung disasters are reviving the question of whether global warming is causing more weather extremes." So    >> Read On