Can we create a world of abundance without making it a world of excess? The boosters of a consumer economy rightly point out that poverty is not a virtue. (Of course, poverty might be a means to a virtue. This is how ascetics use poverty, not as the end but as a means.) Yet quite a few people who experience the riches of a consumer economy also feel the burdens of its wastes. Let me suggest two definitions that might help sort out the question.
Excess more than is healthy for individuals and communities.
Abundance enough for individuals and communities to flourish. Read More
In 2015 I returned to the written page. Not that I did not read much in 2014. I did. But this year I remained on pace with the good intentions I set each January. Also, I turned to the spoken page this year. It might seem odd that having co-founded an audiobook publisher, I have not in the past been much of an audiobook listener. But an Audible subscription greatly increased my reading and helped redeem my commute. Besides books, I kept my nose in many individual articles, Books & Culture, The Hedgehog Review, and toward the end of the year a fresh subscription to The Economist. As usual, I watched fewer movies. But like so many others, I was smitten by George Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road. The most musical plays went to Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Medicine. I am a book guy, though. So here is the annotated list, highlighting favorites. Read More
Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction. Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and embark on new paths to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home