Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Pope and the Christmas Tree

Technology: is it good, or bad?

I'm quite confident that the answer is: yes; and so is science.

Dominion and Spider-Man

What matters is how we use technology or science.

Last week I quoted Stan Lee's first Spider-Man story:
"With great power there must also come -
great responsibility!
(Stan Lee, in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) (the first Spider-Man story))(Quoted December 9, 2012)
Here's the sort of "great power" God gave humanity:
"4 Then God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.'

"God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.

"God blessed them, saying: 'Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.' "
(Genesis 1:26-28)
That's "dominion," not "ownership." We're stewards, with all the power and responsibility that goes with the job.

Science and Technology: "Precious Resources"

Science and technology are tools: things we make to help us understand and run the physical world.

Like anything else human beings do, ethics apply. "Because I can" isn't a good reason.
"Basic scientific research, as well as applied research, is a significant expression of man's dominion over creation. Science and technology are precious resources when placed at the service of man and promote his integral development for the benefit of all. By themselves however they cannot disclose the meaning of existence and of human progress. Science and technology are ordered to man, from whom they take their origin and development; hence they find in the person and in his moral values both evidence of their purpose and awareness of their limits."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2293) [emphasis mine]

"Waste Not, Want Not"

About two weeks ago I wrote about the Pope's view of the "energy problem." (December 3, 2012) I'm probably not done with that part of "Caritas in Veritate, and that's another topic.

(Image courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center)
Spain, as seen from the International Space Station. Astronaut Photography of Earth - display record number ISS030-E-10008. (December 4, 2011)

About the "energy problem," I think we can do a better job. Today's American culture is appallingly wasteful by my standards, and I think we're not the only folks who could get by with less waste. For example, street lighting is a good idea: but could be a great deal more efficient:
The bottom line, I think, is not that technology kills, or that we should live the way our ancestors did: a hundred, a thousand, or a million years back.

Rather, I think we should learn to use what we have more effectively: and re-learn the dusty old "waste not, want not" attitude.

Waste, No: Celebrate, Yes

I run into folks who seem to think that despondency is a virtue: or at least that 'spiritual' people should be in constant anguish over the world hunger, demon rum, or whatever. I don't see the point, and that's yet another topic:
I don't think the Pope is "hypocritical" when he says that folks should pay attention to the "energy problem," and then lights up a 70-foot Christmas tree. I think there's a difference between leaving the downstairs light on all night and putting on a show for a very special celebration.

(from Marta Jiménez Ibáñez-CNA, via CNA/EWTN News, used w/o permission)
"A view of the Christmas tree after it was lit on Dec. 14, 2012 in St. Peter's Square. Credit: Marta Jiménez Ibáñez-CNA."
"Small town's Christmas tree brings splendor to Vatican"
Estefania Aguirre, CNA/EWTN News (December 14, 2012)

"A young boy named Mario had the honor of lighting a majestic Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square on the evening of Dec. 14.

"At 5:00 p.m., the lights of the 70-foot silver fir donated by the small town of Pescopennataro, Italy bathed the iconic square in a soft white light.

" 'Christmas trees are a sign of God's light, which continues to shine despite attempts to put it out,' Pope Benedict XVI told a delegation from Molise, the region where the tree came from.

"People gathered to sing Christmas carols and read Bible passages about Jesus' birth at Saint Peter's Square after the tree was lit...."
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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.