THE BRANDT SERIES: ONLY THE SENSE OF THE SACRED WILL SAVE US
~ the Brandt Series ~
A Plea for the Earth
Photography and text by Charles A.E. Brandt (except as noted)
“History is governed by those overarching movements that give shape and meaning to life by relating the human venture to the larger destinies of the universe. Creating such a movement might be called the Great Work of a people.” ~ Thomas Berry ~
Charles Alfred Edwin Brandt is turning 91 years of age, on Friday February 19th. Along with numerous inspiriting photographs, here is a special greeting recycled from his 90th birthday celebration last year.
Thank you Charles, for forwarding this message and articulating this plea.
Happy 91st birthday, in kinship with all ~ Bruce
ABRIDGED NOTES FROM CHARLES’ TALK ENTITLED: PREFERENTIAL OPTION FOR THE POOR
Thomas berry tells us that only a sense of the sacred will save us.
He is speaking of our relationship with the more than human world. His statement applies to humans as well.
Aldo Leopold came to realize that community by extension includes the Land: for example, the water, soil, plants, all sentient beings plus the atmosphere. This is the more than human world.
I am making a plea for the poor non-human creatures of the earth that to a certain extent have lost their dignity through our doing, through our disparagement of them; a plea to reaffirm their dignity so as to liberate their special powers so that they can promote the common good.
The notion of poor has been developed with the focus on material privation – for example, what is your family income.
Thomas Clark, dialoguing with Thomas Berry suggests that the heart of poverty is not necessarily material privation, but what he calls “cultural disparagement”.
By this, he means one human group saying to another human group, “you have no worth, you have no dignity.” This idea can be applied to race, sex, sexual orientation.
So, if cultural disparagement as the denial of dignity constitutes the heart of poverty, therefore God’s option for the poor consists in the reaffirmation of the dignity of the poor, the dignity of the disparaged.
Beyond that, there is the recognition that there is a special power in the poor to promote the common good. I think that that is part of the biblical insight. Somehow the power for the redemption of humanity has been placed within the poor.
Our call is to enlist all of our energies to liberate that power so that the disparaged and the despised of the earth now become the ones who carry God’s power for the common good of all people.
NOW, the point here is that the notion, which has been limited to the human species, helps us look at the cultural disparagement which we have been directing to other species of the earth.
These are the poor of the earth, and just like poor humans we need to reaffirm their dignity, because there is a special power in the poor of the earth to promote the common good. Not just a collection of objects but a communion of subjects to be communed with.
To see that the earth is more than a gravel pit or that forests are more than lumberyards, we have to see differently, we have to change – enter into the Great Work.
Our society has to change from having a disruptive influence on the earth to one of having a benign presence.
THAT IS OUR GREAT WORK.
We make this transformation by experiencing creation with a sense of wonder and delight, instead of a commodity for our own personal benefit.
We experience with a sense of wonder and delight when we fall in love with the natural world. It is only when we love someone or something that we will save them.
And we can only love someone when we consider him or her as Sacred.
Only the sense of the Sacred can save us.
Without a love for nature, the natural world, we will find it difficult to navigate life.
We will be a danger to all.
Only the sense of the Sacred will SAVE US.
Fr. Charles is a hermit monk, living on Vancouver Island.
from the book Self and Environment – by Charles A.E. Brandt