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Friday, June 19, 2015

I'm only up to paragraph 18 of Laudato Si' and I'm disturbed by its assumptions

Here's the paragraph that started the lights flashing and bells and sirens going off in my head:
18. The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.
"Rapidification?" Is that even a word? I suppose one could talk about the term in the sense of "future shock," too much change in too short a period of time. I pretty much agree with that as being a problem of modern life. But what are we to make of the pope talking about the "slow pace of biological evolution." I have to assume he accepts evolution as a fact rather than a theory and dismisses fiat creation which all the Fathers of the Church accepted. So already the encyclical is beginning from assumptions that aren't necessarily true.

And I can't agree with the blanket statement that "Change is something desirable." Is it? If I'm healthy is a change to sickness "desirable?" Is a change from virtue to vice desirable?

Some changes are desirable, but certainly not all, as the pope himself points out in the second part of the sentence. So why make that blanket statement at all? It seems to me to be a distinctively liberal idea.

But I've only just begun and there are pages and pages and pages to wade through. Want to join the journey? Find the encyclical here.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait till you hit #70!

c matt said...

That paragraph is a mix of good and bad.

Bad: the good or bad of "change" depends entirely upon from what and to what something is changing. Natural evolution - takes it as a given, when it is rather dubious on the macro level.

Good: He has a valid point about the rapidity of change - especially regarding morality, which seems to be sliding faster and faster downhill (again, desirability of "change" depends upon the direction). Also with the "busying" nature of modern life - always something that "has to get done" leaving little time for reflection on whether it is worth doing.

Looking forward to you slogging through it so I don't have to!

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” Blessed John Henry Newman.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

There is no standing still in the spiritual life. You are either changing in the direction of drawing closer to God or changing in a slide backwards. But that is an entirely different sphere of change than what this encyclical is addressing I think.

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

Good point, and I think that is a good part of what Blessed John Henry Newman meant, although I must say that we also must evolve and change in every way in our lives. I have been on this earth many decades, and I am still changing, and hope to be in that process right up to the day of my death.

You accuse Pope Francis of making a blanket statement that "change is good." I have not read the document yet, but from what you posted, it seems to me that you did not read the rest of what you quoted:

"Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development."

It seems that Pope Francis thinks our contemporary world is forcing too much change too quickly. Too much change too quickly can be very damaging to people psychologically and even make us sick physically. And that certainly seems true of our eco system. Nature can recover from just about anything, but if the earth isn't given time to recover, the damage can be devastating.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

If you re-read my post you'll see that I said Pope Francis qualified the statement in the second part of the sentence. (Maybe the way I said it wasn't clear.)

But I tend to be a stickler for grammar and the statement "Change is desirable." is an independent clause and not a true statement. Change MAY be desirable. SOME changes are desirable, but the independent, stand alone statement "change is desirable" is just not true. And it is, as I said. a thoroughly "progressive" idea.

But maybe I'm just quibbling and maybe something was lost in the translation.