The earth on Good Friday

According to the Bible, it quaked. Something to recall this year as Earth Day falls on Good Friday.

Except in the Philippines, where they’ve moved the date to honor the holiness of the Triduum.

Acton has some good perspective on this.

Remember when, in 2005, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) declared that 50 million people could become environmental refugees by 2010, as they fled the effects of climate change? They’d rather you didn’t. It turns out that the climate refugee problem is only the latest disaster-movie myth to be shattered. AsianCorrespondent.com reported earlier this month that “a very cursory look at the first available evidence seems to show that the places identified by the UNEP as most at risk of having climate refugees are not only not losing people, they are actually among the fastest growing regions in the world.”

John Couretas addresses the issue of religious leaders involved in a World Council of Churches climate change conference and a certain apocalyptic vision afoot these days, not based on scientific credibility.

Religious leaders should celebrate Earth Day 2011 by showing more humility in the face of the exceedingly complex scientific, public policy, and political questions bound up in environmental stewardship. A good start would be to drop any attempt at interpreting deep climatological data, which like complex policy or economic questions, is outside the usual competency of seminary training. Instead, religious leaders should focus on advancing an understanding of environmental stewardship that has a place both for productive economic activity and the beauty of God’s creation — without the Manichean split.

The virtue of prudence should lead us all to do more to reduce destructive man-made effects on the environment, with an eye toward improving the overall health of the air, water, and land that sustains us. De-carbonizing the economy, over time and in an orderly fashion, without wrecking economic life that likewise sustains us, is the reasonable way to do that. A strong market economy that creates the sort of wealth that can lead to practicable and affordable energy alternatives, free of the waste, abuse and cronyism that accompany government subsidies, will get us to a cleaner future faster than more “expert” management from Washington, the UN, or the WCC.

Meanwhile, on Easter Monday in the Philippines

the government has scheduled tree and mangrove-planting events.

It will also encourage communities in Manila to “adopt a waterway”, and clean up the capital city’s creeks, canals and storm drains.

Do whatever you can, putting first things first.

‘Good’ Friday?

Why do we call this day good? Christ was crucified, after brutal treatment. We have ‘Holy Thursday’ and ‘Holy Saturday’, but why is this day ‘Good’?

I had the pleasure of intereviewing Fr. Richard John Neuhaus a while back on his book Death on a Friday Afternoon Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. We talked on Holy Thursday, and Fr. Neuhaus was eloquent in person as he is in the book, explaining that this time encompasses all time. He said “All time was there, is there, at the cross…Do not rush to the conquest. Stay a while with this day. Let your heart be broken by the unspeakably bad of this Friday we call good.”

One thing to contemplate, he said, is this: “Something has gone dreadfully wrong with the world and with us in the world. Things are out of whack. It’s not all our fault, but it’s our fault, too.”

Understanding our modern culture, he said: “Groveling is out, self-esteem is in. And if self-esteem seems not quite the right note for Good Friday, at least our complicity in doing what’s wrong can be understood as…limited liability.”

He quoted Alexander Solzhenitsyn who wrote: “The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.” Neuhaus said we would “draw the line between ourselves, and the really big-time sinners. For them, the cross may be necessary. For us, a forgiving wink from an understanding Deity will set things right, no?

“No, and that’s the reason for this day of atonement,” he said, “‘at-one-ment”, setting things right again. And in this perfect act of collusion between the Father and the Son, by an act of perfect love, we are reconciled.”

“And now we know,” says Fr. Neuhaus, “why this awful…and awe-filled Friday, is called good.”