On La Croix’s (newspaper) interview with Pope Francis

Last month, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor, who is also a Catholic, came to Taipei for two interesting talks. In one of them Taylor laid out two models of secularism that in his naming are « the American model » and the « the French model. » Gauging each model by how faithfully they correspond to the democratic spirit of modern pluralistic society respectively, Taylor favors the formal and holds his critique of the latter.

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In this interview La Croix conducted (my summary of it in Chinese here), you can clearly see how Pope Francis echoes Taylor’s call in his rejection of the French model of laïcité, namely, the political understanding of the government as the embodiment of the « counter-church, » whose role is to keep all pubic religious exercises at bay so as to minister to a « religionless » public square.

So as the French model prevails there, Pope Francis is also daring enough to call the French [Catholics] « the eldest daughter of the Church, but not the most faithful, » whose republic nowadays has downgraded itself to a « mission country, » rendering the land « a periphery to be evangelized. »

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But he is convinced that there isn’t necessarily « a need for priests in order to evangelize. » Baptism, and the Holy Spirit whom the believers received upon baptism, should provide the motif to evangelize, which means « to go out, to take the Christian message with courage and patience. »

« The Holy Spirit is the protagonist of whatever happens in the Church, its motor. Too many Christians are ignorant of this (in their false reliance on and espousal of ‘clericalism’). »

Just the other day I was working on the German weekly Die Zeit’s cover story on Christian ecumenism in which ample external evidences are offered to suggest that Francis is a very Protestant-friendly Pope.

That pales in comparison to his internal convictions stated here though. You can see how « Protestant reformed » this Pope is.

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[Muvi] Examined Life (2008): Slovaj Žižek on Ecology as Religion

An excerpt by Slovaj Žižek from the 2008 documentary in Examined Life   (English voice with Traditional Chinese subtitles)

I admit that right as I watch this excerpt I am not totally getting what he is coming from and where he is going at. But I will attempt to put my understand back in his mouth and paraphrase/interpret the idea like in below:

A freshwater aquatic and terrestrial food-web.

Žižek says, what we need is a more radical form of abstract materialism, according to which we should welcome the rubbish and all the craziness in our ecological system altogether, embracing our identity as their creator. Environmentalism is a myth, contends Žižek: it dispenses with all the nasty aspects of the reality of nature (e.g., the cruelty of natural selection and of natural catastrophes) and virtualizes an illusionary human universe where sins do not disappear but instead appear to be absent by not being allowed to present.

For Žižek, there is no perfect original state of nature that we human can or should ever dream of returning to. The best of the possible worlds, as we believe that our universe is, is still as imperfect as it can possibly be. Human beings are not the only ones to blame for causing its imperfections. Instead, just like we profit from the petroleum–which is indeed a gift through the craziness of nature– for the sustainment and advancement of our technology, the real practical philosophy toward which we need to drive our humanity is a kind of industrial ecology and of material environmentalism. Namely, we are not to live anymore in a self-deceiving way as if the trash is not part of our lives; we are not to cut the pollutions away from our inhabited space. Instead, we must dwell among both of them we are to recognize that both pollutions and civilizations are what we inevitably impose onto the nature, just as the nature rewards us with both its wonderful resources as well as horrible disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions). Only in this way, we might stop creating a false god out of the nature (like postmodern resurgence of New Age Spirituality does), and learn to be fully responsible for the civilizations that civilized us.

As such,  Žižek’s word sounds provocative and polarizing as always, and once again he elaborates his critical spirit against the « charitable capitalism »in First As Tragedy, Then As Farce: why live under a controlled evil and pretend that everything is going to be automatically fixed and tomorrow will be better?