25 September 2015

Seven Quick Takes

Okay, so I said I'd tackle the encyclical Laudato Si this week and have thoughts today for you... Ha. Clearly, I hadn't attempted to read an encyclical since I was a college student. There is no such thing as "time to read a document requiring actual concentration" when I'm taking care of these munchkins all day every day. By the time they're both asleep for the night, there's usually something more time sensitive, like washing dishes or keeping the fire going, to drain the last remaining brain cells. So after two and a half days of picking it up whenever I had a spare minute, I've just now finished reading the introduction...

Keeping the fire going, time sensitive in September? 

Yes. That snow is to his knees, and it all fell today! I got stuck in the driveway this afternoon, arrogantly assuming that the jeep and I could easily handle 8-plus inches of snow despite not having the snow tires on yet... the undercarriage was plowing up snow, we slid into a trough when I tried to go from reverse to drive, and it took 4 Low just to get back into the garage. One of Matt's coworkers dropped him off at the end of the driveway, since I couldn't go get him from work; I guess we'll be taking turns with the snow shovel tomorrow. Hopefully the snow is done falling for a while! We've been waking up to low 20s outside, right around 65 inside as long as we had a decent fire going the night before. I'm pretty sure we've managed to keep the baseboards off so far, though I'll admit I bumped our bedroom thermostat down another notch this evening when it was getting too close. Matt had a fire going after supper, and I canned applesauce, so the apartment should be plenty warm.

Oops, rabbit trails. Very little brain. Back to the encyclical. My very first realization: this isn't new. So many of the people I've heard reacting, whether they agree or disagree, have been talking like Pope Francis is saying something radically new and different and no other pope ever has ever said anything ever about ecology, ever. The mainstream media, I can understand that from, but not educated Catholics; he begins by quoting four recent popes (Pope St John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope St John Paul II, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) who all repeatedly expressed that humanity is failing at our responsibility to care for God's creation, and that serious changes need to be made in order to reverse the damage being done. Pope Francis is joining his voice with his predecessors; he's certainly not unique in expressing serious concern about the environment, humanity's role in shaping it, and the connection between our relationship with the earth and that with the poor, those most directly affected by negative environmental changes. I'll be interested to see if he continues quoting the other pontiffs.

Matt was expecting to be out of town for work all weekend, but the trip got cancelled. I'm super grateful to have him at home, with the kids and the snow and what all. Everything goes so much more smoothly with him here. But there would have been one tiny thing that his trip would have made a little easier: making meatless suppers both Friday and Saturday. We always do meatless on Friday, but because we're in the fall ember days, I've added Wednesday and Saturday this week. And he doesn't not want me to cook meatless, exactly, but putting together good satisfying meals with what I have around the house, since it's the end of the month and I'd love to wait until October to go shopping again? Well, it's definitely doable, but making grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly with Little Bear would be a lot easier. :-) So far it's been fine: cod, baked beans, and broccoli on Wednesday; a Dutch puffed pancake, scrambled eggs, and applesauce tonight... Tomorrow could get interesting, but the puffed pancake tonight was a gamble and they both wound up loving it, so hopefully I can come up with something that will be equally well received.

The fact that it looked rather like an octopus was trying to climb out of the pancake may have had something to do with its enthusiastic reception.

So distractible. Okay. So (still in the introduction), Pope Francis is listing off reasons why past efforts to find a solution haven't worked, and it's so easy to think that all of these other people have these problematic attitudes, but not me, and then boom, I'm reminded that yeah, he's talking to me too. He gives examples like powerful opposition, denial that there is a problem—I'm reminded of the 'Alaskans for Global Warming' bumper stickers you see around town—or indifference, resignation, "blind confidence" that technology will solve the problem. Wait. What? I had to read that last one over. What was wrong with looking for a technological solution? (I missed the "blind" the first few times, ironically). 

I grew up on Appleton's Tom Swift and the Asteroid Pirates, etc, Asimov's Foundation, watching Star Wars, Star Trek; in The Future (TM), technology can fix environmental problems, so what was wrong with looking for technological solutions to our present-day troubles?

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had my answer, calling Christians to "look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, 'learning to give, and not simply to give up.'" (Paragraph 9) Symptoms. That makes so much sense. You can't just ask "what is wrong?" without also asking "why?"; otherwise you aren't likely to find a real, permanent, working solution. I'm reminded of a photograph of an iceberg at my chiropractor's office: the part that you can see, the "symptoms," is only one small part of the whole chunk of ice. You can't get rid of an iceberg by chopping it off at the water line; the whole thing has to melt.

Moose season closed in our area this past Sunday. Matt had Monday off work, so since there weren't going to be any other hunters out, he took Little Bear out grouse hunting for the first time. It seemed like a pretty good bet that the grouse would all still be keeping to cover after the last few weeks of moose hunters tromping around, so Matt emphasized the "adventure" part over the "hunting" part as they were getting ready; coming home empty handed is certainly a part of learning to hunt, but 3 is pretty young to get all excited about hunting and then have to deal with the disappointment of not even seeing anything.

That didn't wind up being a problem.

They spotted a nice spruce grouse before they'd even made it all the way to the spot Matt had planned to hike, so that just made the hike that much lower stakes; the daily bag limit for grouse is 15, so if they got another, great! But they already had one to bring home, so Matt got to enjoy teaching Little Bear about hiking without caring quite so much about keeping a close eye out for grouse. He guessed they went a little over a mile, and Little Bear did great.

When they got home, Matt had Little Bear stay outside with him to watch as he cleaned the grouse; we talked about how God gives us animals for food, and we thank God for giving us good meat to eat and show God that we're thankful by eating it all and not wasting any. The following night, the grouse became a lovely pie for supper.

E is for... ember days. It worked out perfectly that Little Bear started working on the letter E this week, because I got to dovetail that lesson in nicely. E, 'eh,' egg; E, 'eh,' elephant; E, 'eh,' ember days.

Explaining ember days to the three year old was delightfully simple, and ridiculously complicated. "Ember days are for thanking God for the fall—"

"No, it's snowing. It's winter."

"You're right. Thanking God for the winter, and all of the good food He's given us to store up for the winter, and all of the other—"

"But not the grouse."

"Yes, God gave us the animals like grouse for food, remember? We show Him that we're thankful by not wasting any of the good meat."

"But we're not saving the grouse for winter. Because we eated it."

Have a good weekend. I'll keep working my way through Laudato Si, and most likely have more thoughts to share as I go. As always, you can find many more quick takes over at This Ain't The Lyceum; be sure to check out Kelly's rundown of the World Meeting of Families!

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