This October the bishops of the Amazon region will hold an extraordinary synod to reflect on the challenges of evangelization and mission. Already, in their Working Document, which I urge you to read, they have addressed the unique importance of the Amazon to the life of its inhabitants and to the entire world, as well as the threats it faces from climate change and deliberate policies of deforestation—which, as of this writing, include fires deliberately set in one of the most important eco-systems on the planet.
In some ways the Working Document serves as a guide for the church in the twenty-first century. It calls on all the People of God to heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor—a call reflected in the term “ecological conversion.” In many ways, this planned synod is a response to the challenges set forth in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home and summarized in Care for Creation: A Call for Ecological Conversion. The fires in the Amazon, like the melting of glaciers in the Arctic, are sirens warning of grave danger. Will we hear them and “choose life?”
Two of our new books this month deal with the challenge of interpreting the gospel in light of new understandings of evolution and our place in creation. Catholicity & Emerging Personhood: A Contemporary Theological Anthropology by Daniel P. Horan, OFM, sets out to resituate the identity of human personhood, drawing on overlooked resources in the Christian tradition, while entering into dialogue with contemporary science and ecological horizons.
Popular author Diarmuid O’Murchu in When the Disciple Comes of Age: Christian Identity in the 21st Century, expands on his trademark exploration of the meaning of “adult faith” in an age marked by new perspectives on cosmology, quantum physics, and ecology. But here he interweaves his reflections with the story of his own spiritual and intellectual journey, showing the particular stages by which his own Catholic faith has grown and evolved in response to new experiences and new questions.
Finally, The Two Hands of Yes and No: One Family’s Encounter with the Surprising Power of Active Nonviolent is written by a remarkable family, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Dennis Linn, and their young son John Linn. Their book, told through stories ranging from Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., to recent campaigns by young people around gun violence and climate change, testifies to the power of active nonviolence. Far from being an idealistic but impractical strategy, the Linns show that active nonviolence has actually been “succeeding like crazy.” They offer an inspiring and practical guide to history as well as the tools we can use to make a difference in our world today.
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