Catholic Ecology

On Friday night, I went to see No Impact Man with two friends. It’s a new documentary about a man in New York City (along with his wife and toddler) who decides to live for one year without making any environmental impact. No cars, buses, or planes. No refrigerators or elevators. No plastic bottles and no Styrofoam. Only eating local, seasonal produce.

For me, this film is far more thought-provoking than anything else I’ve seen about conservation or ecology. I think that’s because it’s a family story, almost like a home video. It really shows the freedom, joy, and love in the way they lived. There was no evidence that the family was religious, but their sense of self-discipline, moderation, and respect would be inspiring to any Christian.

As far as I can tell, we haven’t blogged much about the environment or ecology, so over the next few posts I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts about the film and related topics. As an introduction, here are some documents for your perusal.

Common Declaration on Environmental Ethics
Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, June 10, 2002

Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All Creation
Pope John Paul II, World Peace Day, January 1, 1990.

Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 15, 2001

Renewing the Earth
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 14, 1991

Caring for God’s Creation Project: A Program for Environmental Justice
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993.

6 Replies to “Catholic Ecology”

  1. I agree with the quote, “The sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.” Thanks for your post. Personally, I think the state of our environment is the result of self importance and greed. From thinking as simple as, “I’ll buy bottled water because my time is valuable and don’t want to send it refilling reusable containers,” to corporate greed in over exploiting natural resources for wealth. I don’t think most people have a sense of the sin regarding our disregard for the planet we will leave to our children.

    Being green should be moral thinking, not just liberal thinking.

  2. Kind of odd to title the Movie “No Impact Man” It is not possible to have no impact. He was still breathing, using some resources, Other “bodily functions” still “contributed” to the environment. There were probably many resources used in the filming of this. Why not “Low Impact Man?” Seems a more realistic title.

  3. I think the disregard for natural resources is not just from self-centeredness, but also from a lack of awareness about the real value of those resources. We thus take them for granted.

    One thing we take for granted is the water that comes out of our taps. It’s clean! It’s safe! It’s practically free! Why should we take care how much we use? We forget that in some parts of our own country, battle lines have been drawn over who may draw water from which sources. We forget that the water that sits in our toilet bowls is far safer to drink than the water to which our fellow human beings in some parts of the world have access.

    One of these days, reality will kick us in the teeth.

  4. Cynthia-

    I agree that awareness is a problem. Do people really know about global problems of the lack of clean water? Many probably don’t, but if they did, would they change their actions? How many people do you know who don’t recycle b/c it’s a pain. I know I argue w/my mom about those”unsightly” blue bins being in front of our house, but I’ve no where else to put them. So, she’d prefer that we not recycle. I have a large family and my recycling keeps an average of three trash bags daily from going into our landfills.

    I do think we are a (generally) selfish society and somehow that’s become okay. I admit, I think we (Americans in particular) are pretty good at answering calls for help in drastic situations, but we don’t seem to be terribly good about changing our lives in a permanent way for the sake of others, and we certainly haven’t been good about changing our lifestyles for the sake of the environment.

    1. I thought that Mont Co Solid Waste Services had collectively lost its mind when first I saw those humongous blue bins for paper/cardboard! Who the heck would need that large of a container?

      But gosh, we’ve filled it to the brim PLENTY of times. Obviously, Solid Waste Services knew what it was doing.

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