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Myths and the Need for Ecological Conversion

We find ourselves entangled in a fairy tale, woven from deep-seated myths that serve as the underpinning of our political and economic institutions. Unfortunately, these enchanting narratives obstruct the church from authentically engaging with the world as it truly is, leaving us ill-prepared for the existing and unfolding catastrophe.

Navigating a world 1.2 degrees above preindustrial temperatures, we confront the consequences of ecological overshoot where the seas and soil are deteriorating, and extreme weather events are on the rise. We are currently on a trajectory for 2.7 degrees by the end of the century, a world marked by mass migration, widespread deprivation, and societal collapse.

What are these myths that keep us from reality?

Myth of Progress: - Progress is often viewed as an unyielding march toward improvement, but this myth ignores the negative consequences and unintended outcomes of certain advancements. The assumption that technological and societal advancements always equate to progress can blind us to the potential harm or ethical concerns associated with these developments. Things are not getting better, all possible futures, except the return of Jesus and the arrival of the new creation, are catastrophic and laden with suffering.

Myth of Exceptionalism: Exceptionalism may fuel the belief that progress is inevitable for a particular group, hindering critical evaluation and adaptation to changing circumstances. Exceptionalism perpetuates the idea that a particular group, nation, or culture is inherently superior, fostering a distorted view of history and an unwarranted belief that our modern society is impervious to collapse.This myth often forgets that, at our core, we are mammals bound by the same ecological and biological constraints as other species, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all life and challenging the notion that we can escape the confines of our shared planetary reality.

Myth of Endless Growth: - The belief in endless economic growth as a measure of success is unsustainable and fails to account for the finite resources of our planet. Ignoring environmental constraints and pursuing perpetual growth can lead to ecological devastation, resource depletion, and social inequality. Exceptionalism might contribute to the notion that endless growth is exclusive to a particular group, neglecting the interconnected nature of global challenges.

Myth of Technological Salvation: - Relying solely on technological solutions to complex societal and environmental challenges can create a false sense of security. This myth overlooks the need for systemic changes, ethical considerations, and community engagement, potentially exacerbating existing problems. Exceptionalism may manifest in the belief that technological prowess alone can rescue a particular group from challenges, disregarding the collaborative and shared responsibility required for effective solutions. We currently do not have the technology available at scale to reduce global temepratures, and to exclusively rely on it for salvation is the way of folly.

In light of these myths, it is indispensable for the church to engage in what Pope Francis calls an ecological conversion — a profound shift in perspective and action. This conversion entails unraveling these myths, confronting unsettling truths, and navigating the path forward with wisdom and responsibility. It calls for a holistic understanding of our interconnectedness with the Earth and a commitment to addressing the ecological crisis with humility, acknowledging our shared responsibility for the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants. In doing so, the church can play a vital role in fostering a sustainable and just future.



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