Environmentalism without the angst
SIR – The recent demonstrations about climate change left me feeling uneasy at the apparent unbalanced and apocalyptic understanding of the nature of the problems. Of course there is rightly great concern about these matters and, yes, we need a global response to reduce carbon emissions. However, hyperbole was rampant among the elect with statements such as “12 years to save the world” and global warming will “most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it”.
Much of the climate change narratives are laudable, with calls for reduction of fossil fuels and cutting CO2 emissions etc. However, the sinister side, such as “birth strikes” and the Malthusian ideology, which basically views people as pollution, is totally incompatible with the Catholic faith.
Rather than join this throng, Catholicism would do better to offer the protesters a more balanced view of the future with a true appreciation of the nature of stewardship. The overuse and damage we cause to the earth is a product of our alienation from God at a structural and individual level. The only way to repair the situation is a mass conversion to the Catholic faith with a genuine metanoia of heart and mind. The protection of our earth will then be valued as the precious gift from God which we should cherish not the current angst-filled fear of the doomsday apologists.
Salford, Greater Manchester
What Newman truly stood for
SIR – There is one aspect of Newman’s life that we should not downplay, and that is his commitment to truth. It is no exaggeration to say that in this he echoed Christ’s statement of coming “to bear witness to the truth”.
In fact the Church in this country is in enduring debt to him for his defence of the honesty of the clergy against the accusations of the Rev Charles Kingsley. For up to that time Catholicism suffered from a mixture of xenophobia and bigotry, with priests regarded as un-English, duplicitous and crafty. By “putting his life on the line” in Apologia Pro Vita Sua Newman set the record straight and in so doing removed the stigma prevalent at that time. He surely paved the way for the fraternal relations of today.
So I consider that whatever virtues of his we respect, commitment to truth should come first, his final motto being Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (“From shadows and images into the truth”). And who can forget that at the end of his great poem he makes Gerontius say: “Take me away that sooner I may see Him – in the truth of everlasting day.”
SIR – Peter Day-Milne found a dearth of Masses of Our Lady, and the question is asked, “Does England still cherish Our Lady?” (Letter, September 20). Catholic devotion to Our Lady used to be taken for granted, but now many Catholics lack knowledge and understanding of Our Lady’s role and of Marian devotion. This could be put right if all who are able would read True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by St Louis-Marie de Montfort. Pope St John-Paul II called it “a classical text of Marian spirituality”.
Bentley, South Yorkshire
SIR – I write in response to Peter Day-Milne. The parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St George, Enfield deanery, celebrates a memorial Mass in commemoration of Our Lady every Saturday at 9.30am. We would be very happy for Peter to attend.
SIR – The Scottish government’s “named person” scheme has been abandoned, the complexities of such a plan simply unworkable (World News, September 27). However, what’s the alternative Catholic narrative to this story?
Although a political folly from the start, perhaps the resulting public debate was actually a very good thing and can be the endeavour’s real success. Who do children turn to with confidence for support and security when, for whatever reason, they are unable to go to their parents? Who do parents look to for help and entrust their children to in times of trouble? It could be said that the Church has always offered such a proviso: godparents. The individuals specially selected by parents to aid their child in leading a Christian life and to whom, presumably, they would also trust to be there for them through life’s challenges.
Is the role of godparents today underplayed, overlooked or simply bypassed altogether? Perhaps after Holyrood’s failed attempt at the secular reframing of this office, we should consider afresh the responsibilities of godparents and their importance in the lives of our children in both a spiritual and secular capacity.
SIR – Thank you for the informative and consoling article by Peter Kreeft on angels (Feature, September 27). A salutary reminder of a neglected aspect of our lives, perhaps.
When I was teaching A-level English, I used to love going for whichever book of Milton`s Paradise Lost appeared on the syllabus, as I wanted to try to convey my own love of this great (secondary) epic poem to the students. I’ve forgotten where I came across it, but a good summary and starting point for me used to be the innate differences, ie God: non posse peccare; angels: posse non peccare; man: non posse non peccare. Succinct, eh?
No idea why, but I have this stuck vision of my own guardian angel looking like some American 1950s private detective in drab trench coat, battered trilby and dripping cigarette… perhaps with a cynical (but not despairing, I hope) look on his face. According to Peter Kreeft, I shall one day find out if this accurate…
SIR – God’s creation seems so lavish that maybe we can believe that he created many many other unimaginably different forms of life, and that angels are the only ones similar enough to us for any interaction with humans on earth.
Style over substance
SIR – Stephen Withnell’s wonderful description of Andrew White’s recent painting (Diary, September 20), now hanging in the Jesuit church in Farm Street, reflects in my opinion a subject more of style than substance. There can be no doubt that it is indeed a very fine painting beautifully executed, but spiritually it fails to resonate.
Why this may be so is perhaps the young girl is just that, a girl. She could be daydreaming or thinking of her young man or whatever. The only hint of spirituality or connectivity is the Marian blue wrap that entwines her waist. What makes the painting difficult for me is the fact that the artist has painted her bareheaded and that is a liberty I do not think he should have taken.
I almost dare to say this portrayal of Our Blessed Mother without a veil celebrates her humanity more so than her uniqueness as the only human being ever born without Original Sin.
Dun Laoghaire, Ireland