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Propaganda Proofing Catholic Kids III A: A Catholic View of Environmentalism


Part A: The Great Chain of Being Reversed


After too long a pause, the Propaganda Proofing Catholic Kids series is back, examining ideologies undermining our children’s Catholic faith. Environmentalism is a problematic ideology because it is not inherently opposed to the Catholic world view. The Church teaches that God placed the earth into the care of man in the role of steward. We have neglected this task and urgently need to mend our ways. With God removed from the scene, however, stewardship has become secular environmentalism. Totalitarianism is raising its ugly head. In this first part of Propaganda Proofing Kids III, I will look at Theresa Linden’s Liberty Trilogy, an eye-opening dystopia for Catholic teens, exposing the dangers of totalitarian environmentalism. Then I will examine the movement’s fundamental error of reversing the hierarchy of being. You will find books, resources and quotes below.

This post will roughly follow the structure of Propaganda Proofing Kids Part II. It is the first of three posts about this complex topic. Stay tuned!


Part A: The Great Chain of Being Reversed

Part B: Population Panic or Humble Obedience to God

Part C: The Catholic Way: Monasticism and Catholic Economic Models


Environmentalism

The Good Cause

Nature is suffering in our industrial world, ruled by unbridled consumerism and economies based on infinite growth. As nature suffers, so do we. The food we eat, the water we drink and the very air we breathe have become polluted. Due to irresponsible agricultural techniques implemented by powerful international corporations, our soils have been depleted. Deserts grow, forests shrink and many third-world families are starving. Our Lord commanded us to be good stewards of the earth. This is the good cause environmentalists work for. We certainly have a lot to thank them for. For example, as Americans, we are happy that we have beautiful national parks protecting nature from the greed of those who would cut down the last tree for a profit. Thanks to the environmentalist movement, small family farms are being supported again, and greedy corporations are held responsible for depleting our soils and polluting our food. This is good and urgently necessary work.

The Errors

Environmentalism has become a globalist political movement, superseding human rights. It subscribes to two fundamental errors: the reversal of the hierarchy of being and the resulting belief that our environmental problems are purely material in nature and must be solved collectively by global legislation.

Scripture teaches that God gave man dominion over the earth. Many environmentalists today place man on an equal or lower level than nature. Naturalist David Attenborough, whose TV programs our kids enjoy so much, goes as far as calling mankind “the plague of the earth.” This view constitutes a reversal of the hierarchical order of creation. The Middle Ages called it the “Great Chain of Being,” with man above nature and God above man.

The first creation account in Genesis begins with the lowest order of creation, the inanimate heavens and the earth, and ends with the highest order of bodily creature - man. God, the Creator, has entrusted man with stewardship over the lower orders. Environmentalist error proposes that the planet we live on, the animals and plants, occupy higher levels in the hierarchy of being than mankind. They propose global population control to minimize the damage we do to the earth that God has created for us.

The reversal of the hierarchy of being has led to the divinization of inanimate matter. The harmful ideologies discussed in this series all put someone or something in the place of God. Communists worship their leaders. Some environmentalists worship the earth. The revival of the cult of Gaia, the earth goddess, constitutes a return to paganism, forbidden to us in the first commandment:

Exodus 20 , RSVP:

20 And God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Secular environmentalists do not only tend to reverse the hierarchy of being, they tend to completely disregard its top, God the Creator, who ultimately controls the universe. Lacking faith, they attempt to solve environmental problems on a purely material and collective level. They propose a global government which will decrease the earth’s population to what it believes is a sustainable number. Global population control robs us of our God-given freedom of choice and our responsibility as stewards of our own small part of the earth. Such a government will make decisions that belong to God alone, decisions over human life and death. Theresa Linden’s Liberty Trilogy describes the horrors of life under such a government.


The Liberty Trilogy By Theresa Linden

Theresa Linden’s dystopian Liberty Trilogy consists of the novels Chasing Liberty, Testing Liberty and Fight for Liberty. The author paints a vivid picture of totalitarianism as a result of environmentalism gone mad. These masterfully conceived and executed books are the best I have found so far to teach teens about totalitarianism. I prefer them to the classics 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley because the Liberty books end in Christian hope. While Orwell’s and Huxley’s works are certainly important and prophetic, they could only look at the future in terror and despair.

Read my detailed review of the Liberty trilogy.

Study Questions:

What are the tools used by the Regimen Custodia Terra to prevent a revolution? Can you identify any of these in our lives today?

Fun stuff: Examine the names in the story: Regimen Custodia Terra, Dr. Supero, Liberty, Bot and more. What do they mean? What do they tell you?

Think about Bot’s game. What does it accomplish? What power do virtual reality games have over your mind, and how is Bot using them for a good purpose? Think about the new global society in the books. What is positive about it? What is bad? Would you like to live in Aldonia?

Compare Aldonia with Animal Farm. Any parallels?


Propaganda Techniques


A. Language Shifts to Watch out For

The Garden versus the Environment

Environmentalist propaganda has replaced biblical poetic language about creation with abstract scientific language - to our great loss. Language shapes the way we think. Therefore we need to look out for language changes, especially deliberate ones. The poetic language of Genesis encompasses a wealth of meaning, first and foremost regarding matters of the soul. The recent popes have stressed that the environmental crisis is really a spiritual crisis caused by sin. This only becomes clear when we go back to the original vocabulary of Scripture and the Church.

Our Lord created Adam and put him into a “garden”, not an “environment”. A gardener loves his garden. This love relationship is crucial as it reflects God’s love for His creation. Original sin destroyed the harmony of the garden, where the orders of creatures lived together peacefully and where man was the gardener. All environmental troubles originate from the first sin of disobedience which led to other sins damaging the earth like greed and sloth. Having been cast out of the Garden of Eden along with all the creatures under his care, it has become man’s task to restore harmony by cultivating the land, by creating new gardens from the wilderness. A related biblical metaphor is the image of the steward taking care of the vineyard.

Study Tip: Think about the garden and the gardener. Can you imagine them? What is the difference between a well-kept garden and a neglected one? What does the gardener do? Does he love his garden? Now try to imagine the environment? What does it look like? Is there a person taking care of it? What is this person’s job description? Do you see the difference between the terms “garden” and “environment”? Can you imagine the Environmental Protection Agency loving the flowers and the birds?

Poetic Language versus Paganism

Neo-pagans among the environmentalists use language very similar to that of the Church. We may ask what is wrong with worshiping “Mother Earth” in gratitude for her bounty. Mother Earth appears in Catholic poetry, too. St. Francis is famous for addressing creatures as sister moon, brother sun, and brother wolf? However, when pagans use these personifications of nature, they assign personhood or even divinity to the lower orders of the hierarchy of being. Our Saints, biblical authors, and poets of the Church speak of mother earth metaphorically expressing the nourishment we receive through her from Christ, Our Lord. When St. Francis addresses Brother Wolf, he expresses a family relationship in terms of the family of God’s creatures only. He does not put all creatures on the same level. He always acknowledges God as the Creator of all.

Watch out for any ritual worship of the earth, for gifts or sacrifice or thanks offered to the earth and for verbiage placing man beside or below the earth or the animals in the order of being. In any act of thanksgiving, there should be mention of the Creator as the first and ultimate source of the bounties received. Also, we must not forget man, the gardener in charge. The difference can be difficult to spot.

Study Tip: Read the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis. Pay attention to the full title. Notice how St. Francis gives praise to God, first and foremost. In the language of the time, the word “creatures” still accurately includes everything “created”, even the celestial bodies and the four elements. St. Francis was declared the Patron Saint of Ecology by St. John Paul, the Great.

Study Tip: Pray the akathist hymn Glory to God For All Things. It is long so you may want to do it in sections spread out over several days.

Language of Panic

Spreading panic is one of the most powerful tools of totalitarianism. People in a panic will acquiesce to do anything they believe will save them. Remember the words of Saint John Paul, the Great: “Do not be afraid!”

Watch out for these panic phrases: Climate emergency, climate crisis, man is killing the planet, population crisis, overpopulation, exhaustion of natural resources, scientists warn of ‘ghastly future’ unless policymakers act now!

Study Tip: Read or watch the news and collect more, or use the resources below. You can also look at junk mail advertising a product that urges you to “act now”.

Language Assigning Legal Rights to the Lower Orders of Being

Animal rights, personhood for apes, animals, or even plants, earth jurisprudence

Study Tip: Read the article below and look for words and phrases describing legal relationships. Legal terms imply that animals, plants and even the planet possess personhood. Only persons can have legal rights. Find the legal terms in this article. Note also that the same individuals and organizations who promote assigning legal rights to plants and animals, deny them to unborn babies.

https://www.humanities.org/blog/philosopher-how-humans-see-ourselves-is-literally-killing-the-planet/

Study Tip: Think about the garden and the gardener. Can you imagine them? What is the difference between a well-kept garden and a neglected one? What does the gardener do? Does he love his garden? Now try to imagine the environment? What does it look like? Is there a person taking care of it? What is this person’s job description? Do you see the difference between the terms “garden” and “environment”? Can you imagine the Environmental Protection Agency loving the flowers and the birds?

Poetic Language versus Paganism

Neo-pagans among the environmentalists use language very similar to that of the Church. We may ask what is wrong with worshipping “Mother Earth” in gratitude for her bounty. Mother Earth appears in Catholic poetry, too. St. Francis is famous for addressing creatures as sister moon, brother sun, and brother wolf? However, when pagans use these personifications of nature, they assign personhood or even divinity to the lower orders of the hierarchy of being. Our Saints, biblical authors, and poets of the Church speak of mother earth metaphorically expressing the nourishment we receive through her from Christ, Our Lord. When St. Francis addresses Brother Wolf, he expresses a family relationship in terms of the family of God’s creatures only. He does not put all creatures on the same level. He always acknowledges God as the Creator of all.

Watch out for any ritual worship of the earth, for gifts or sacrifice or thanks offered to the earth and for verbiage placing man beside or below the earth or the animals in the order of being. In any act of thanksgiving, there should be mention of the Creator as the first and ultimate source of the bounties received. Also, we must not forget man, the gardener in charge. The difference can be difficult to spot.

Study Tip: Read the Canticle of the Sun by St. Francis. Pay attention to the full title. Notice how St. Francis gives praise to God, first and foremost. In the language of the time, the word “creatures” still accurately includes everything “created”, even the celestial bodies and the four elements. St. Francis was declared the Patron Saint of Ecology by St. John Paul, the Great.

Study Tip: Pray the akathist hymn Glory to God For All Things. It is long so you may want to do it in sections spread out over several days.

Language Elevating Nature above Mankind

Man is an animal or a mammal, humans are the plague of or parasites of the earth, man is part of a wider biotic community

B. False Narratives Invading our Consciousness

These narratives are promoted widely in the media, images, books, songs, movies:

Nature must be protected from mankind.

Man must be useful.

The noble savage myth: pagans lived in harmony with nature and each other.

Big is beautiful. Our problems can only be solved by globalism, by large, collective, powerful governments. The person and the family must submit to the government’s decisions in everything including life, death and education

Intelligent people believe in science. (Science is not a religion to believe in. It is a tool man uses to describe God’s creation)

The Catholic Church’s teachings are bad for the environment.

Socialism is good for the environment.

The wisdom of mankind is evolving, we know better than our ancestors.

C. Scientists Predict Doom/Misinformation/Fact Checking

I have found that it is almost impossible for a lay person to find or interpret enough scientific data to check the facts for themselves. The new fad of fact checking is deceptive. It is carried out by mostly unqualified journalists with an agenda. A lot of social media fact checking is nothing but an automated answer to certain keywords. As we need to rely on experts to interpret the data for us, we need to research their backgrounds and motives. Based on these findings, we will have to decide which experts to trust. Unfortunately, scientists are human. They make mistakes or lie.

Here is an amusing and enlightening list of scientists’ failed predictions:

https://cei.org/blog/wrong-again-50-years-of-failed-eco-pocalyptic-predictions/

Here’s an example of data manipulation:

https://realclimatescience.com/climate-scientists-rewriting-the-past/

A study of data manipulation by Dr. Genevieve Bryant was deleted from the John Hopkin’s University website soon after publication. She is not talking about the environment. I posted this article about the study as an example of data manipulation.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/archives/search


E. Setting up False Dichotomies

Like all ideologists, environmentalists like to create false dichotomies. They present two choices as if no others exist and as if one were true and the other false. The spotted owl controversy in the nineties, which set up loggers against conservationists, is a prime example. It is also an example of placing a member of a lower order of being, an owl, above a higher order, man.


Books

Young children need to be fed with a vision of paradise restored so that they will know what to strive for. Most of the books here show a part of this vision. The Liberty Trilogy above and some of the books below talk about the problems we are facing in our fallen world.


Praise of Creation the Catholic Orthodox Way

Akathist: Glory to God for All Things , here is a youtube video with the music: Glory to God for all Things.

Canticle of the Sun by Fiona French

Fiona French illustrates the Canticle of the Sun’s original text with beautiful images inspired by Byzantine mosaics. Ages six and up.



Brother Sun, Sister Moon: St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton. Ages six and up.Retold by poet Katherine Paterson, the Canticle is illustrated here in more traditional paper cut art, placing the individual creatures from the canticle into scenes depicting the daily labor of man.

Canticle of the Sun (The Calligrapher’s Notebook) by Frank Missant

A gorgeous calligraphy edition without illustrations for a very reasonable price. Ages 12 and up.

Brother Francis of Assisi by Tomie de Paola. This life of St. Francis, told by one of the greatest storytellers for children, is amazingly detailed for a picture book. Tomie de Paola’s simple, spirit-filled illustrations have a very Franciscan quality. Ages 8 and up.




Everything: A Book About Life by Simon Godsell is a beautifully illustrated praise of creation in the correct Catholic way for very young children. The text was inspired by the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander. Preschool.


The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. This classic middle-grade allegorical fantasy contains the most beautifully imagined description of creation ever. Lewis’ creation of Narnia by Aslan, the lion, is very reminiscent of Orthodox icons of the event (look at the title image above).




Celebrate the Earth, Psalm 104: Retold and Illustrated by Dorrie Papademetriou

Orthodox author/illustrator Dorrie Papademetiou created this bright and beautiful picture book, praising creation and asking us to protect the earth in the biblical way. Ages four and up


The Man and the Vine by Jane G. Meyer, illustrated by Ned Gannon

This Orthodox book tells the story of a man prayerfully tending his vineyard, growing grapes which will become communion wine, a perfect presentation of the physical and mystical labor of man in a righteous relationship with God. Ages six and up.



Saints and Animals: Restoration of Harmony

Mankind caused the fall. We destroyed the paradisiacal harmony between us and creation. Through their holiness, saints often restore part of this harmony while still laboring on earth. They often form close friendships with animals, even with predators like lions and bears. You will notice that in legend animals always recognize the saint as their rightful ruler and submit to him or her. The legend of St. Jerome and the Lion is a great example. There are many similar versions of this great story.

St. Jerome and the Lion by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Barry Moser. Ages eight and up.

The Lion and the Saint by Laura E. Wolfe about the mystical friendship of Saint Gerasim and a Lion. Ages six and up.



A Saint and His Lion: The Story of Tekla of Ethiopia by Elaine Murray Stone, illustrated by Cecile Sharrat. Ages eight and up





The Lion and the Saint: A Novella, by Laura E. Wolfe. This beautiful little book talks about another lion/Saint friendship. Saint Gerasim of the Jordan also brings a baboon into the relationship. Young adult.




Elder Paisios the Hagiorite, The Friend of Children by Catalin Grigore, illustrated by Adela Maria Calistru. Elder Paisios of Mount Athos was canonized by the Greek Orthodox Church in 2015. This lovely book talks about his friendship with children and animals. Ages eight and up.




The Wonderful Life of Russia’s Saint Sergius of Radonezh by Alvin Alexi Currier, illustrated by Nadezda Glazunova. Ages eight and up.






The Blackbird’s Nest: St. Kevin of Ireland by Jenny Schroedel, illustrated by Doug Montross. This beautiful legend shows the mystical connection of nature with the liturgical life of the Church when a nest of Blackbird eggs hatches during the forty days of Lent.


Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow: Stories About Saints and Animals retold by Eric K. Kimmel, illustrated by John Winch. 12 beautiful legends for ages eight and up.






The Garden

An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden is a beautiful middle-grade story about London slum children building their little paradise by planting a garden in a ruined church yard.







Return to the Garden in the Lenten Liturgy

Back to the Garden by Father Jack Custer

Follow the Church’s holy texts leading us back the Garden of Eden throughout Lent in this little booklet with some small icon illustrations. This book refers to the Byzantine Liturgy. Young adult.



Exposing the Noble Savage Myth

Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather

This inspired account of the missionary experiences of the first Archbishop of Santa Fe (fictionalized but close to the real man) includes a frightening episode of paganism exposing the noble savage myth. Young adult.




False Dichotomy

There’s an Owl in the Shower by Jean Craighead-George.

This is a funny and warmhearted story about a logger’s son who inadvertently adopts a spotted owlet. Ages 10 and up.





Resources

Man in Paradise

This is a great Orthodox discussion on the topic.

https://orthochristian.com/137113.html

Political Environmentalism

The first three were graciously provided by Theresa Linden. She used them for research when writing the Liberty Trilogy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_politics

Paganism:

https://rootofjesse2.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/gaia-worship/

Plague of the Earth

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/humans-are-a-plague-on-earth-sir-david-attenborough-warns-that-negative-effects-of-population-growth-will-come-home-to-roost-8461570.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_rights

The following article comments on the work of Brian G. Henning, professor of philosophy and environmental studies at Gonzaga University. Sadly, some of our Catholic universities allow anti-Catholic propaganda to be taught by their faculty: https://www.humanities.org/blog/philosopher-how-humans-see-ourselves-is-literally-killing-the-planet/

Chain of Being

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33924

Saints to Inspire Us To Take Care of Our Planet

https://aleteia.org/2017/06/18/5-saints-to-inspire-us-to-take-care-of-our-planet/

Pope Benedict XVI

https://aleteia.org/2019/09/14/why-pope-benedict-xvi-was-known-as-the-green-pope/

https://www.interfaithsustain.com/pope-benedict-xvi-on-the-environment/

Pope Francis

Laudato Si

The Noble Savage Myth

Carib Indians update:

https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/caribbean-cannibals-0013136

Druidic Sacrifice:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid


Climate Change Misinformation

https://realclimatescience.com/climate-scientists-rewriting-the-past/

https://www.businessinsider.com/the-ten-most-important-climate-change-skeptics-2009-7?op=1

The Ultimate Panic Tool

Where do they get the data at such a pace?

https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Environmental-Facts-and-Statistics

Quotes:

Scripture

Genesis 1:26-31

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

John 1:1:5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.[a] 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life,[b] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness,[c] and the darkness has not overcome it.

Glory of God’s Creation:

Akathist Glory To God for all Things:

“O Lord, how lovely it is to be Thy guest. Breeze full of scents; mountains reaching to the skies; waters like boundless mirrors, reflecting the sun's golden rays and the scudding clouds. All nature murmurs mysteriously, breathing the depth of tenderness. Birds and beasts of the forest bear the imprint of Thy love. Blessed art thou, mother earth, in thy fleeting loveliness, which wakens our yearning for happiness that will last forever, in the land where, amid beauty that grows not old, the cry rings out: Alleluia! …”

On the importance of the garden imagery

Genesis 2:15

And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it .

Father Jack Custer:

We need to explore Pascha as we have explored Great Lent, to examine its texts, its images, its liturgical and traditional expressions. We need to discover a Paschal lifestyle that can bloom and grow in the ground so well prepared by the Great Fast.”

https://ecpubs.com/product/it-is-the-day-of-resurrection/

Ormelia Monastery:

“Paradise is a word that means garden. The rationale of a monastery is to serve as paradise on Earth, and its gardens should be shoots out of Eden, the re-creation of the original garden home of humankind.”

https://www.ormyliamonastery.com/en/the-convent-farm/

On the Need for Stewardship:

Priest Valery Dukhanin

Sin cut earth off from Heaven. Paradise remained as the Kingdom of Heaven but it cannot be found on earth, so we are unlikely to uncover the mystery of Paradise here on earth. That’s why several objectives assigned to man in Paradise remain uncompleted. What kingdoms and dominions are in man’s possession today? Even a house cat doesn’t always obey him, let alone a lion. Moreover, man himself plunders nature like a wasteful tyrant

https://orthochristian.com/137120.html

The Great Chain of Being

353 "God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular goodness, their interdependence and their order. He destined all material creatures for the good of the human race. Man, and through him all creation, is destined for the glory of God." Catechism of the Catholic Church

“…when God is eclipsed, our ability to recognize the natural order [emphasis added], purpose and the ‘good' begins to wane”[50]. Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI

Language Shift/ Order of Being Reversed

Professor Brian Henning, Gonzaga University( Catholic!):

“What is still lacking, Berry notes, is a robust alternative story or narrative depicting what humans are and how we ought to see our relationship to nature.If we are not the lords, masters, or engineers of nature, then what are we? The great American conservationist Aldo Leopold contends that the next stage in human ethical evolution is developing the ability to see that we are members of what he calls the “biotic community.” We should, Leopold suggests, stop seeing ourselves as conquerors and instead seek to become citizens of the wider biotic community.”

https://www.humanities.org/blog/philosopher-how-humans-see-ourselves-is-literally-killing-the-planet/

Paganism

From Blog Unapologetically Catholic:

Excerpt: “As the Christian church is brought into the fold by organizations such as the National Council of Churches and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, we can be sure the results will be a further decline into immorality and chaos. There is a drive by these organizations and others to meld Earth worship with Christianity in the name of tolerance, biodiversity, sustainability, and the preservation of Mother Earth”.