Friday, 26 September 2008

Ecology and Liberation – by Leonardo Boff

One of the world's most distinguished liberation theologians, Leonardo Boff was born in Brazil, educated in Bavaria, taught at a Franciscan Institute and was advisor to many base communities. His books include Ecclesiogenesis, Faith on the Edge, The Path to Hope, Jesus Christ Liberator, and New Evangelization. The following excerpts are from Ecology and Liberation: A New Paradigm (1993, transl. Maryknoll NY, Orbis, 1995).

Ecology vs limitless growth

For modern society, whether socialist or liberal bourgeois, economics is the science of limitless growth....that, like some incubus, has come to dominate society as a whole for some five hundred years. The greater the development the less the investments and the greater the profits. The common preconception is that we move within... natural resources and progress toward the future.... but the two quantities are illusory. The natural resources are limited and nonrenewable, and the present model of progress is not applicable on a universal level. If China thought of giving Chinese families the automobiles owned by North American families... the country would be paralyzed immediately....
The technological project [sustainable development] maintains intact the model, but proposes... filtration of noxious gases, noise reduction, and the decontamination of rivers and lakes. But it is not enough to attack the consequences and to ignore the causes. That is tantamount to grinding down the wolf's teeth without changing his wolfish nature.... Entrepreneurial groups [pursue] their own advantage and the profit motive. They have to follow the logic of their system or give way to the forceful strategies of their competitors. The state, in turn, pursues its own policy of development... The the aggressive use of the ecosystem: atmospheric pollution, destruction of the countryside.... (pp.19-21)

What kind of society do we want? Surely we want it to be more participatory, egalitarian, aiming at solidarity, and capable of uniting imagaination and analytical reason.... For the marginalized (the majority in the peripheral countries) what does it mean to say that food should be organic and additive-free when they haven't enough to eat? ...devoting public means to natural gas when there are no public funds?... to offer children in the favelas enriched milk when they lack any form of basic health care? (p.23)

Molecular revolutions do occur; that is revolutions started by social actors who, like molecules, are organized in groups, in a community, in laboratories of thought and action... (p.27)

The liberation of creation theology

Above all, we should see the creation as the expression of God's joy, as the dance of God's love, as the mirror of both God and all created things.... every creature is a messenger of God, and God's representative as well as sacrament. In this vision...there is no form of hierarchy.... The world belongs to God, its creator. But the world is assigned to humanity to till and keep. (p.46)

The originality of St Francis of Assisi is...his synthesis of internal and external ecology.... We are sons and daughters [of our Father], and therefore we are brothers and sisters. He used these loving terms to addrsess the moon, fire and water, and even weeds, sickness and death. Blind and sick, at the end of his life he composed a hymn to his brother the sun...the marriage of heaven and earth and of human existence with all things and the... God who shone in the depths of his heart. (pp.52-53)

The Trinity is neither an absurd mystery nor a mathematical contradiction, but the supreme expression of love and human communion.... Behind everything, behind all being, within all life, and in the thrust of all passion is a love and three lovers. (pp.153-4)

God is the God of all human beings; God has demonstrated this existentially – this is the god of those who weep, of the loving kindness of the oppressed, of the revolution that will challenge the unjust order of this era, and the new life offered to all men and women.... A poet has written, “Sweeper sweeping the street / You are sweeping in the kingdom of God.” (p.157)

Injustice [forces] the oppressor to block fine impulses, to to deny that the other is like him or her, and even to dehumanize the self (to lose his or her own center)... a lack of concern for the inward realm of the sacred leads to violation of its outward aspect, the person. But the longing for and impulse to social and political liberation opens up [a] road to interior freedom, and vice versa. This quest for and culture of the personal center is spirituality. (p.169)

Spirituality means the capacity to experience the Holy Spirit in all cosmic energy... the enlivening of the entire human being... tuning into the Spirit dwelling in everything and everywhere, living the enthusiasm (which in Greek has a 'god' in the middle: en-theos-mos) which makes this communication possible and allows it to pass through us and to reach the point of transcendence. (p.177)

Ver tambien: Leonardo Boff - "Quien controla el agua, controla la vida... controla el poder"
entrevista en Avizora mar 2008.

1 comment:

Stewart Vriesinga: said...

Interesting Blog --Diverse, but interesting including social justice and environmental issues and liberation theology. I have a Leonardo Boff article on my own blog, as well as various things on the Canadian mining industry, Bill C-300. I belong to a Quaker group in Canada, and live here in Colombia where I work as a volunteer for Christian Peacemaker Teams (