Review: Melville House’s edition of Laudato Si’

It has been almost five years since the publication of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ and today on The Catholic Man Reviews, I would like to reflect on this encyclical, specifically with Melville’ edition of the encyclical, which consists only of the english title: Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality – On Care for Our Common Home

I like this edition compared to others published by other Catholic publishers is because there is an essay by Naomi Oreskes featured at the beginning of the encyclical, which gives the reader more context into the text. Orestes is a “Professor of History Science and Affiliate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University”. The book also states in her bio that “In May 2014, she attended “Sustainable Nature, Sustainable Humanity,” a meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that helped to lay the foundations for Pope Francis’ Encyclical.”

Laudato Si’ has been, in my opinion, one of the most publicized Papal texts in the secular media. While Pope Francis has published several documents such as Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith), Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) or Gaudete and Exsultate (Rejoice and be Glad), or even the controversial Amorim Laetitia (The Joy of Love)… these texts, by the very title itself, sounds Catholic, and its messages are geared towards a Catholic audience. 

However, as I presented to my classmates in the “Biodiversity and the City” at the University of Toronto, I said that Laudato Si’ is not merely a Catholic text. Rather it is a “call of a world leader asking us to care for our ‘common home’ so to sustain it for the years to come”. Laudato Si’ is a text that could be read in various lenses: as Catholic text, a scientific approach, a political approach, or even just an informative approach. An interesting thing I found about this edition is that it is not categorized in the Christianity/Catholicism, or the Ecology section, but rather in the category of Political Science. Therefore, the essay that is presented at the beginning of this text is taken through the lens of Political Science, which in my opinion, is an eye-opener for me who have read many Papal Documents through merely a Catholic or Theological lens. To read Laudato Si’ through the lens of politics is to step outside Catholicity and Theology and see Pope Francis as a highly influential political figure because the Holy Father is not only a Spiritual Father, the Vicar, but in politics, he is a Head of State. 

While the Pope is the Head of State of Vatican City, there is something about the political figure of the Pope that is different than, for example, the Prime Minister of Canada or the President of the United States. In all sincerity, the Pope’s voice does not advocate for his own country, but rather, a “voice for the voiceless” in the world. There are world leaders who turn a blind eye to the misfortuned, vulnerable people of society such as the poor, those who live on agriculture in third world countries, etc… yet these people are rarely mentioned by these world leaders. Unfortunately, these misfortune people are the ones who must suffer the effects of climate change, suffer the effects of the lavish and consumerist lives people in developed countries produce. In all that, Pope Francis is the world leader who advocates for the “voiceless” in the world, particularly with Laudato Si’. However, it is not just people who suffer from the changing environment that Pope Francis has advocated for. As a spiritual leader and political leader, Pope Francis has advocated for refugees, those suffering from the effects of war, those suffer from terrorism, racism, divisiveness in their society and condemning acts of division and terror. In a sense, the Pope is a paternal figure for the world and advocate for the most vulnerable people in society. It therefor makes sense that this edition calls it not, “Encyclical on Climate Change & the Environment” but I like the fact that those chose to title it “Encyclical on Climate Change & Inquality,” because Laudato Si’ is not just a document about the state of the environment, but speaks to the inequality present within the world. That is what Oreskes strives to frame in her introduction. She not only speaks of Laudato Si’ as an environmental document, but what the document speaks of the common good and justice within the world on a general picture through the lens of political science.

I think it is precisely for that reason that “general” documents addressed to the whole world like Laudato Si’ has drawn much attention. While some may think the Catholic Church is all about getting money out of people to build churches solely for prayer, in reality, the Catholic Church uses its voice to speak out against the injustices of the world. 

Laudato Si’ is a document needed now than ever. As people in developed countries continue to live a consumerist culture, tragedies such as masses of dead fish in Vietnam or Australia’s ongoing wildfires should open our eyes to what Pope Francis has said in Laudato Si’

No matter which lens you may put on to read Laudato Si’, it is a text for everyone who shares this “common home”. We have a responsibility to not only care for the environment, but mitigate the injustices in which the most vulnerable in the world must face its consequences.

Day 12: Open to God, Open to the World – Pope Francis

Open to God: Open to the World

A simple book, titled, Open to God, Open to the World, featuring conversations between Pope Francis and Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro was published in 2017 in Italian and finally translated this year (2018) into English by Bloomsbury Press. 

Often, when you see the name Pope Francis as the author of a book (I am not talking about an Encyclical or Apostolic Exhortation), such as this one, or The Name of God is Mercy, I’ve come to learn that most of the time, the Pope does not write the book himself but rather, it is consisted of a series of conversations with someone. In this case, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ,  editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica had a series of conversations with Pope Francis and has compiled those conversations in this book.

The preface has been written by Pope Francis himself in a very fraternal, friendly language. The preface, when read in comparison to other letters written to brother bishops, or in comparison to the preface mentioned in that of Stephen Walford’s book, Pope Francis, the Family, and Divorce: In Defence of Truth and Mercy . The preface in Walford’s book seemed more structured. That is probably because of the nature of this book, which is based upon conversations about a wide array of topics. 

“…sometimes I feel I have to say what I say to myself, and that’s important for me too.” 

Open to God Open to the World (2018), Preface, Pope Francis

Reading  Open to God, Open to the World, I have to note two important things that I find makes this book unique:

  • Scattered throughout each chapter, Fr. Spadaro makes his own commentary, giving the reader some context to the setting of the interview. As I read the commentaries provided by Spadaro, I could actually picture the setting very well. Spadaro makes mention of the art. In one interview, he describes the setting of the interview having a mosaic by Fr. Marko Rupnik. Being familiar with Rupnik’s art, I was able to imagine how the room looked like. Spadaro also makes mention of the date, the time, and the nature of the audience. Many of these conversations were done with audiences such as Jesuit communities during Papal visits and various religious groups. 
  • Pope Francis talks from the heart within these conversations. Like the tone of the preface, Pope Francis used a very fraternal tone, bearing very casual terms, easy to understand. The conversation tone here is different than that used in official Papal documents. There is that sense of fraternity I find when he talks to Jesuits because remember, Pope Francis himself is a Jesuit. He cracks a joke here and there when the time is appropriate. 

I don’t want to give too much away, in Open to God, Open to the World , but Pope Francis has been asked a wide span of various topics including Christian persecution, war, his vocation influences, refugees, references to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, effects of Vatican II… we can be here all night if I listed out every one of the topics. There are some themes that I see repeated so often throughout the Pontificate of Pope Francis, and once again, repeated in these conversations, for example, mercy, the length of a homily and a topic that I like, gossip as a form of terrorism. These are some of the many signature themes of the Pontificate of Pope Francis and  

Open to God, Open to the World gives one an inside look into the person of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, his young days, his novice years as a Jesuit, priesthood, episcopate, cardinalate, and now as Pope. Really inspiring and insightful and a very easy read. Reading 
Open to God, Open to the World just deepened my love for this great and humble Argentinian, Jesuit Pope. 

Purchase the book from Bloomsbury Press here

***

Thank you for following The Catholic Man’s 12 Days of Christmas campaign! But that is not the end of our reviews this year. There were some products that were to be featured here for this series. Unfortunately, due to the Canada Post strikes, these items are on delay. However, The Catholic Man will schedule such reviews before Christmas or for review in 2019.  

Day 2: Running Press’ Pope Francis Bobblehead and Book

Header

Welcome to day 2 of 12 Days of Christmas Gifts with The Catholic Man!  If you are new to the series you can check out the previous post to see the potential gift you missed. Now onward with today’s review.

The Catholic Man has asked me, his sister, to return with yet another review (you’ll be seeing a lot of me; putting this series together was a lot for him as much as he enjoyed it).  I am presenting to you Running Press’ Pope Francis bobblehead.

The bobblehead comes in a nice card stock box with a detailed description of its contents.  It open closes nicely.  The bobblehead itself is made of plastic which I think is solid if not partially filled in.  The base is also plastic.  The only component which isn’t made of plastic is the spring which allows the head to bob.  The spring is a good length, so the Pope’s head isn’t too high up or low down.  It doesn’t feel like something that would break very easily, but even then, it is bubble wrapped, so I am confident it will arrive at your home in one piece.  Keep in mind, it is marketed as more of a collectible rather than a toy, and the box does say it is not meant for children.  If that was the intent of your purchase, this is not the product for you.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If anyone was thinking, “The dashboard in my car looks a little empty; this looks like something that could remedy that,” then I am here to say I do not think that is a good ideal.  The bobblehead isn’t very heavily weighted.  I can imagine this tipping over when you turn a corner, or just missing someone’s head if you slam on the brakes trying to dodge a pigeon.  I can’t even begin to imagine would happen if someone opened the windows while barreling down the highway (please stay within the speed limit!).  My point is, the bobblehead belongs in a nice, calm environment such as your office, not on your dashboard.

If you are anything like me, you will find yourself inclined to tap on its head and hope it bobs on for what feels like forever.  Spoiler alert – you will be a bit disappointed.  This bobblehead doesn’t take to kindly to tapping (I mean, I wouldn’t either).  BUT, I found it highly reactive to vibrations in the surface it is on.  The bobbing lasts must longer and  looks more satisfying.  It’s a bit hard to explain.  If you like bobbleheads, Pope Francis, and have the tendency to be vigorous when you use and eraser, I think you will get the most from this bobblehead.

In terms of the actual appearance, I find it to be well done, but it could be better.  There is a lot of detailing in his face, cassock and hair, with individual buttons, strands of hair and creases put in.  His clothes are even a little iridescent so it’s nice that its not a flat white.  Even then, there are a few things I wish were different.  Despite the amount of detail put into most of the bobblehead, the zuchetto is rather underwhelming.  I find his pupils to be a bit small and since they’re also black, I find he looks a little beady-eyed.  He doesn’t have the usual ultra-kind gaze that we often see the Pope sporting.  Considering the fact that his head it only about 3 cm in height, I find that easily excusable.  The cross worn around his neck, though, is supposed to be silver.  He also doesn’t have a ring which is something all Pope’s have.  Then again, I think that isn’t the most well-known fact, and people might question what the grey streak on his finger is.  I have yet to see someone make a better Pope Francis bobblehead, though, and I think people who are familiar enough with the pope would recognize that it is him.

The bobblehead also comes with a little book with some quotes and photos of the Pope.  It’s a paperback, but it is good quality.  The paper is glossy and thicker than regular printer paper.  The print out quality as also really good.  The pages are well bounded.  It is really small though, about 2/3 the height of the bobblehead, so some might struggle to read it.  The cover design is consistent with the box it came in, but I feel like as a book cover it’s missing a little something.  I find it doesn’t really represent the contents well enough.

IMG_5036

Overall, I think Running Press’ Pope Francis bobblehead is a nice product.  Not everyone will find it worth the $10 price tag, but it would be a nice addition to a collection of products surrounding the popes or bobbleheads (I wonder what having a shelf full of bobbing heads is like).

On Ivy Pham’s Scale

★★★ 3/4 (3.75)

If you wish to purchase this item you can do so here.

I hope you enjoyed the review; stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!