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Holy Mother Earth, Defend Us In Battle

R. Cort Kirkwood POSTED: 4/14/11

Dan 'Hug-A-Tree' Misleh

( If you are using too many plastic cups and eating too much steak or washing too many clothes you may be violating the spirit of Lenten sacrifice, at least according to the Lent 4.5 project, which says there’s more to Lent than giving up chocolate and sodas. As the Catholic News Service reports, environmentally-friendly sacrifice is the new way to mortify the flesh and spirit during this 40 days, and Lent 4.5 and Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, through the latter’s executive director, Dan Misleh, has issued its orders to Catholics. He “would like to see Catholic families and individuals make some permanent sacrificial changes that will also contribute to a more sustainable and more just world.”

A more sustainable and just world is all fine and good, but that’s all it is. One wonders what all this eco-advice from the mackerel-snapping environmentalists does for the soul, and whether those who take their advice, for instance, to use cloth bags instead of paper or plastic during for Lent, have forgotten what Lent is: a time for penance and mortification to honor God and prepare oneself for Easter, not to feel good about sustainability and “justice,” whatever the latter means to the Catholic left.

Disturbingly, this effort doesn’t seem to be a mere environmental plan. Rather, it channels the ideology of a long dead Jesuit heretic, Teilhard de Chardin.

Lent 4.5

Misleh is very clear about what Lent should mean to the environmentally sensitive Catholic:

“The whole issue of climate change is about consumption and lifestyle," said Misleh of the changes the Washington-based coalition would like to see implemented far beyond the Lenten period.


"Lent is the perfect time to examine our lifestyles," he added. Even giving up a food item like chocolate or ice cream "reminds us that we do need to live more within our means, more in touch with people who don't have any of these things," Misleh said.

But “living within our means” isn’t the purpose behind Lenten sacrifices; nor is getting “more in touch with people.” The purpose is getting “more in touch with God;” specifically, “more in touch” with the sacrifice His only begotten Son offered on the Cross. That is done with fasting, abstinence, confession and Holy Communion. One hopes the executive director of a Catholic organization knows that.

Whatever he knows, the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center created Lent 4.5 to explain what Catholics must do during this time or fasting and sacrifice. Lent 4.5 is a seven-week program urging enviro-penance to straighten out Catholics who eat too much, use too much paper and, perhaps, focus too much on the sacraments.

Its recommendations for the week of Ash Wednesday urged Catholics to stop using Edisonian light bulbs in favor of the new compact fluorescent bulbs the government is trying to force down our throats. Unmentioned, naturally, is that CFL bulbs don’t work well and, when broken, practically require a hazmat team to clean up. And thanks to the government mandate to use them, General Electric fired 200 people at its plant in Winchester, Va. and sent the jobs to atheist China.

Lent 4.5 also recommends we must stop impulse buying and using paper and plastic bags, paper napkins and towels. It recommends giving up television and social networking sites during the day, which won’t be too hard since most people work during the day and don’t watch television or play Mafia wars on Facebook. Lent 4.5 says we must embrace “Gospel Justice.”

Anyway, week one is more of the same, offering advice to slow down consumption in general, especially food consumption. “Food,” the website says, “is sacramental.” Eat less food, eat less meat, eat more fish (the “sustainable” kind) and eat real food found on the perimeter of a grocery store, versus the processed and package food in the middle aisles. It also urges readers to grow their own food. That segues into week two and consumption in general. Week three focuses on water, which is “sacred.” Lent 4.5 not only urges you to save water at home, but in giving the usual eco-admonition not to accept water in a restaurant if you aren’t going to drink, it says to refuse a lemon wedge. That saves oil and transportation costs by reducing the number of lemons that need to be shipped.

The Lent 4.5 name comes from the calculation that each human being would have 4.5 acres of land to sustain himself if the entire world’s real estate were divided equally among all the world’s human beings. That doesn’t leave much room to build churches, which apparently aren’t sustainable, but at any rate, the website observes, Americans need 22.3 acres to “maintain their lifestyle.”  If 4.5 acres “is our fair share of the planet’s resources, that means others must do with less so we can maintain our level of affluence.” Indeed, “4.5 acres is what we are each entitled to use.”

One can see where this is going, but the worrisome thing about this program is not that it is all bad, strictly speaking. It isn’t. The worrisome thing is the genesis of the program, the Earth and Spirit Center, and, in turn, the creators of that outfit.

Teilhard de Chardin

It does seem that the Earth and Spirit Center is concerned, not with souls, but with saving Mother Earth. The formative brain behind Earth and Spirit was the late Father Thomas Berry, a professional environmentalist and expert on eastern religions.

And like the neoconservatives who trace their roots to atheist Leo Strauss, environmentalists such as Berry also have an ideological godfather. That was de Chardin, the evolutionist and heretic Jesuit who lost his teaching privilege in 1926 for claiming that Original Sin is a bogus religious idea.

He signed a statement acknowledging his error, which didn’t stop him from peddling his heresies, and having traveled widely in the Orient, returned with a Hindu understanding of man and the world about him. Involved with the evolutionist Piltdown Man hoax, de Chardin had some strange things to say about his faith and the world. The 20th-century Pelagian heretic was interested in “a new religion” because "Christianity is still to some extent a refuge, but it does not embrace, or satisfy or even lead the 'modern soul' any longer."

Father de Chardin also conceived a crackpot idea called the “Omega Point,” which is, as Wikipedia describes it, “the state of maximum organized complexity (complexity combined with centricity), towards which the universe is evolving.” He believed that mankind would become a “collective Christ.”

As well, de Chardin believed, "we have the absolute right to try everything to the end — even in the matter of human biology (sexuality, euthanasia, conception in vitro, homosexuality)."  

If that sounds odd for a Jesuit, it shouldn’t. de Chardin was, for all intents and purposes, a pantheist shaman masquerading as a priest. That is why the Vatican refused imprimaturs for his books and, in 1962, nailed a monitum to his work that was reiterated in 1981 and remains in force to this day.

The Earth and Spirit Center follows the teachings of de Chardin’s chief disciple, Berry, who in turn was at one time president of the American Teilhard Association.

No Concern For Souls

Given the headwaters of its major influences, Berry and de Chardin, both of whom were strongly influenced by Asiatic spiritual hooey, no wonder the Earth and Spirit Center doesn’t seem bothered with savings souls.

Its website proclaims:

The Passionist Earth & Spirit Center is established in the conviction that the Earth and all of its inhabitants are sacred. Its vision is to cultivate a place and promote an ethics of life which acknowledges the Earth to be a single sacred community. The mission of the Earth & Spirit Center is to motivate, educate and enable religious institutions and people of faith to assume an active role in building a just and sustainable society.

No mention of the sacraments. No mention of the soul, or the four final things, or even the Cross. It’s all about Mother Earth. Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try.

Granted, society should be just and sustainable. Lent 4.5’s critique of modern industrialism isn’t wrong when it comes to acquisitive greed and the materialism of modern men, and neither do the enviro-Catholics err in discussing the pursuit of too much “stuff,” as they call it, particularly disposable stuff. Man is wrecking his health and the environment by spewing trash and toxins and ingesting them. A quick tour of a county landfill, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, industrial hog or chicken farm proves that. The enviro-Catholics are right that a family should grow some of its own food, if for no other reason than to save money.

But that is as far as it goes. One suspects the enviro-Catholics may support the panoply of left-wing anti-Catholic causes, from women’s ordination to homo marriage and “choice,” and they view Jesus Christ as a 1st-century tree-hugger. The goal of the Lent 4.5 website, after all, is “leading Christians toward a deeper baptismal commitment to walk in the footsteps of Jesus who lived in right relationship with creation, others, and God.”

Well, everybody back then “lived in right relationship with creation.” They didn’t have a choice. Industrial society and capitalism was 1,700 years in the future. But the Catholic Left desperately wants to plant its image of Liberal Jesus in the minds of dopey Catholics. Of course, Jesus would support food stamps—He said we must feed the hungry. Of course he would support redistribution of wealth—a rich man, He taught, must give up his wealth to follow Him. Of course he would favor open borders—He said we must welcome strangers. So of course, he would support the enviro-Catholics—He “lived in right relationship with creation.”

Catholic Distributists advance many of the practical steps at the Lent 4.5 website that seek to reorder man’s material priorities and return him to a sense of proportion and humane living; but they do so without diluting the Faith, altering its meaning and mandates or corrupting its magisterial truth. But truth, or the penance and mortification of body and spirit during Lent, aren’t the concern of the enviro-Catholics.

Rather, they want to conscript these 40 days to serve the ecological, political and theological agenda of de Chardin.

R. Cort Kirkwood is a contributor to The Remnant. His last wrote about the role of Catholics in the effort to legalize homosexual “marriage” in Maryland.

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