“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.” Psalm 111:2
Do Monkeys Go to Heaven? And by that I don’t mean you and me. Real monkeys, you know the ones that climb in trees or apparently pose for selfies (true story). Well, that’s the question posed by a new book by Fr. John McCarthy, SJ an expert in boreal forest ecology. The book is a compilation of his musings on everything from Our Lady to monkeys, and everything in between. Although the title of the book suggests something light and cheeky, I’d liken reading this book to the delight of eating a chocolate cake (only to realize it was actually a bowl of bran). The ol’ bait and switch, in a good way. I enjoyed it so much that we’ll feature Fr. John McCarthy and his book Do Monkeys Go to Heaven on an upcoming episode of Catholic Focus, so stay tuned for that!
Even though concerns about the environment are pressing, let’s get real, the minute you pull out a long list of encyclicals one should read (and no, Church nerds I’m not talking to you here) most people’s first reaction is “ain’t nobody got time for that”. No matter how much you admire the Popes, or the Church, or monkeys.
And herein lies the rub…
Although these encyclicals are great, can you imagine reading a 32 page blog or 60 000 character tweet? Consider today’s mediums, the reality is people’s attention spans are growing shorter and shorter. When it comes to the written medium, it’s a situation of diminishing returns; the more one writes, the less one is inclined to read. So perhaps, it’s time to the get back the basics. As St. Paul says, there are two books by which we can come to know God, the book of nature and the good book. And what better way to contemplate the divine than with the rediscovery of awe? I suspect that’s what Jesus meant when he invited us to become like children; it’s an invitation to childlike curiosity and wonder at the goodness of the created order. It’s only when you see how smart ravens really are, or delight in the superb complexity of a beetle that your imagination gets fired up and you start asking the really important questions – why do we exist, and how did we get here? It’s then that you intuit that creation is precious and fragile and that our fate as human beings is intricately intertwined with the environment – but enough from me; I’ll leave the last word to the Pixies.
Okay I have to add one more thing: another great resource for those who want to get a crash course in how the new evangelization can be a bridge between the church’s theology of creation and the growing concern for the environment is the Church Alive Series Episode 12. We’ve even short listed the encyclicals, in our super-nifty study guide, just in case you wanted to get into the meaty stuff. We promise you won’t be disappointed!