January 17, 2023 (Edward J. Barr) – We must admit that the Culture of Death has done a marvelous job at undercutting the Christian foundations on which the United States was built. While the question of when this devolution began can be disputed, that it has arrived cannot be denied. The Church has been warned about the threat to Christian culture long before St. John Paul the Great used the term “Culture of Death” to great effect in his 1995 papal encyclical, Evangelium Vitae. Alas, in recent years the Vatican has been more eager to join Caesar’s view of the world than to challenge it. Let us consider environmentalism.
In June of 2015 Pope Francis issued the encyclical, Laudato Si. This was the first ever papal document focused on the environment. It was received with much enthusiasm by many modernist cultural icons such as Yale University and CNN. The later news organization excitedly reported the arrival of the encyclical with a clever click bait title, “The Pope’s 10 Commandments on Climate Change.” There was much for progressives to cheer; the document was a detailed embrace of one of the key “Culture of Death” beliefs, climate change. The heft of the encyclical is impressive. It is about 2 ½ times longer than Evangelium Vitae. The content of Laudato Si is much preferred by Caesar. It focuses on pollution, alternative energy, and consumerism rather than the morally dogmatic topics of abortion and euthanasia that John Paul II discussed in his papal encyclical addressing the Culture of Death.
Laudato Si does contain some beautiful language and even a bit of theology and philosophy, as well as some efforts to link itself to traditional Church teaching. Yet, its focus gives secularists the belief that the Church agrees with the proposition that people are bad, the planet is good. The Holy See’s official policies do little to challenge that perspective. Last year The Vatican formally joined both the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2015 Paris Agreement.
How is all the above linked to “Soylent Green”? To begin let me inform younger readers what the term means. Soylent Green was a 1973 science fiction movie that looked at the US in the then far off year 2022. At that time, the film tells us that the evils of overpopulation, pollution, and global warming (yes, that altar was already constructed back then) have devastated the planet. So, an enterprising but evil company decided to make food out of dead bodies. In the end the hero figures it out but is wounded in a battle with the bad guys. He shouts out the bone-chilling warning to the crowd, “Soylent Green is people!”
How quaint the above must sound to progressives today. What was 1973 Sci-Fi horror is now a 2023 virtue signal. I am referring to “natural organic reduction,” more clearly described as “human composting.” Yes, that’s right. It is available in several environmental conscience states; New York welcomed in the New Year by becoming the 6th state to allow the practice. This is a growing passion of the eco-conscience folks. People Magazine touts the practice as “the eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial or cremation transforms the human body into nutrient rich soil.”
Here’s how it works. The deceased is inserted into a reusable container. To the corpse is added organic plant material. The microbes then do their thing, breaking down the body in about one month. There is a bit more to it, but you get the idea. The result is the corpse is turned into a “nutrient-dense soil amendment.” In short, fertilizer. There should be a robust market for the process. Even Catholics are embracing cremation since the prohibition on the practice was lifted in 1963. The Vatican tried to educate the faithful in 2016, noting that “The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom (burial) be retained, but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons, which are contrary to Christian teaching.” However, few realize Church teaching on the sanctity of the body or the rationale for the preference of burial. Some progressive Catholics even try to craft an excuse to support this process.
We eagerly await a response on the burgeoning human compost movement from the Vatican. Judging by the makeup of the Pontifical Academy for Life, any response will be excessively nuanced (for an excellent and comprehensive review of Academy members that oppose Church teaching, see “The Pontifical Academy for What?” in the New Oxford Notebook by Peter Vree in the December 2022 edition of the New Oxford Review). In the interim, we can visualize the progressive babbling echoing throughout our increasingly newly “fruited” plains.
Think of how the “virtuous” progressive can impress friends and family as they serve them “ancestor appetizers” on the rooftop of their Manhattan condo. I can imagine the conversation.
“Those veggies were grown in my grandfather’s soil right on this very balcony. Really, in soil made from good ole grandad. He really believed in the cause.”
“What! You mean his body helped grow these beauties! No toxic embalming fluid used. No desecration of Mother Earth with a metal coffin and decaying body. That’s amazing!”
“That’s right. But that’s not all. Every one of these appetizers are part of our common home, uniting my beloved family members with Mother Earth. The avocados for the dip were grown by my cousin’s grandparents’ soil in California. We call it grancamole! (Warm and affirming chuckles ensue). Have some?”
Edward J Barr is a catechist, an attorney, an intelligence officer, and a university faculty member. He earned a Master of Theology degree from the Augustine Institute. His new novel, The Gray Apostle: Mission of the Messiah is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most local bookstores. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (www.RomaLocutaEst.com)