Los Angeles Review of Books, 8/19/19
HOW CAN THE HUMANITIES help restore the centrality of the public good, an essential step toward the collective action necessary for combating our current constitutional and ecological crises? Like many Americans, I have been thinking a lot lately about these crises, and about how I might direct my outrage and despair productively. Reading for context and background has taken me through biographies, histories, and humanistic reflections by scientists. And I found my way to Pope Francis’s remarkable encyclical Laudato si’, in which he beautifully conjoins ecological and social justice. He argues for the reduction of the technocratic paradigm of individualistic progress that has subsumed us, replacing it with a holistic, compassionate paradigm in which we simultaneously care for each other and the earth. It is a far-reaching, comprehensive, and radical spiritual, social, and economic vision in which the pope seems to be collectively channeling Jesus, Gandhi, the Founding Fathers, Bernie Sanders, and Jane Goodall.