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.
News Service reports,
environmentally-friendly sacrifice is the new way to
mortify the flesh and spirit during this 40 days, and
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,
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.
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.
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
don’t work well and, when broken, practically require a
And thanks to the government mandate to use them,
at its plant in Winchester, Va. and sent the jobs to
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
of the same, offering advice to slow down consumption in
“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
and consumption in general.
focuses on water, which is “sacred.” Lent 4.5 not only
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,
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
and Spirit Center,
and, in turn, the creators of that outfit.
It does seem that the
and Spirit Center
is concerned, not with souls, but with saving Mother
Earth. The formative brain behind Earth and Spirit was
a professional environmentalist and expert on eastern
And like the neoconservatives who trace their roots to
environmentalists such as Berry also have an ideological
godfather. That was de Chardin, the evolutionist and
his teaching privilege in 1926 for claiming that
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
of man and the world about him. Involved with the
de Chardin had some strange things to say about his
faith and the world. The 20th-century
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
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
"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,
masquerading as a priest. That is why the Vatican
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,
at one time president of the
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
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
his health and the environment by
and toxins and ingesting them. A quick tour of a county
landfill, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s,
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
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,
Well, everybody back then “lived in right relationship
with creation.” They didn’t have a choice.
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.”
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
R. Cort Kirkwood is a contributor to
The Remnant. His
about the role of Catholics in the effort to legalize
homosexual “marriage” in Maryland.