It’s no secret that we Americans have a dependency on our cars. In fact, the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s oldest environmental organizations, reports that Americans travel almost three trillion miles by car each year. Transportation contributes about one-third of all US carbon dioxide emissions, according to Sierra’s reports. That’s a lot of pollution.
There is a line in the encyclical “Laudato Si’” that is as bold as the man who wrote it: “A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshiping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot.”
As I wrote my book, Wendell Berry and the Given Life, there were many questions that came as I reﬂected on his work. Some were answered in continued reading, but others still lingered. With paper and a postal stamp, using his preferred mode of communication, I sent Berry six questions whose answers I thought would be helpful for readers to move from reading into the practice of creatureliness. Berry was kind enough to respond with his signature combination of economy and wisdom.
The rugged beauty of the windswept Maine coastline instilled a keen sense of care for creation in Benjamin Vail, OFS. Growing up in Brunswick, Maine, Vail says he found himself “surrounded by the ocean, forests, and farmland.” One could imagine Saint Francis himself praising God in such a place. But it would take years for Vail to respond to the call to conversion and the Secular Franciscan Order.
Our common home is at risk. Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem.