Much like a gladiator match, or maybe a circus act where the entertainers twist and contort themselves into infeasible positions, I have had great fun watching the right wing, professional climate change deniers work themselves up trying to find ways to attack and discredit the climate encyclical emanating from the Vatican. At times, I felt like I should get a bowl of popcorn, dim the lights and just take a moment to savor their conundrum.
How to delicately undermine the authority and integrity of a person who is supposed to personify those two things. Add into this mix the fact that the right wing of the American political landscape is firmly ensconced in religious fervor, and you have a recipe for disaster (for them, not me). As a former Catholic (now a proud Atheist), I can muster all sorts of opinions and feelings about the Catholic Church. Most, ahem, are decidedly not positive. In fact, my admiration of Pope Francis has required robust pushback against my own confirmation biases against religion. For every good deed and selfless action, I can easily muster two sinister motives. Easily. At this point, however, I don’t really care to do so. Because, at this point, if Charles Manson was able to rouse a billion people to oppose the fossil fuel industry in any meaningful way, I’d throw my lot in with him. Because that is literally how bad it is.
I saw the possibility of a huge swing in world wide public opinion about climate change via Pope Francis when there were murmurs about a possible encyclical late last year. I even “interviewed” some of my family members about topics such as climate change, their feelings about the Pope, any undercurrents of dissent in the Church (many are staunch supporters), just to get a baseline point of reference before the holy shit hit the fan. So, many of my family members were obviously aware of the threat of climate change, but not because of the Pope. They were initially very confused about how to react to a potential message coming out of the Vatican (!) regarding the environment. I actually took notes and recorded one of my “interviews.” One of my cousins (who is very religious) didn’t really know how to respond to my question about the Catholic Church vis a vis climate change. To her, it was like “Pitbulls and Parolees,” or a German engineer lauding Detroit, or some other strange coupling. And so, sitting at my kitchen table and putting on my best “poker face,” I tried to act like nothing was afoot, and I watched her squirm her way through a thought process, which she did out loud, that went like this:
- The Bible says that we are supposed to be stewards of the Earth;
- The natural world and the environment are in trouble;
- It is consistent with the Church that we take care of nature and all the creatures that reside on Earth;
- If the Pope is talking about climate change, it’s because we are not taking care of the planet and not being good stewards.
Boom. There it was. Linkage, baby. And it suddenly all fell into place (for my cousin, at least). No questions asked. No doubts.
Okay, I thought to myself, this part is gonna be easy peasy. And, apparently, it is. Whew. Score one for Francis.
I’m not going to go into the details of the Pope’s encyclical. I get it. I really do. He’s got the brass to pull it off and he is not beholden to the fossil fuel industry which makes him ALMOST the only one in power to NOT be. In my mind, he’s a little bit like a honey badger. He doesn’t give a damn. He’s gonna do whatever he wants. I’m inclined to say, “thank God,” but, being an Atheist, that doesn’t ring true. For a really nice reflection on the Pope’s encyclical, please read Bill McKibben’s initial thoughts on the 183 page tome. They are thoughtful, beautiful and appropriate. I understand when he says that he has felt that his dire warnings about the climate have been wasted on deaf ears, until Francis. I feel like I’ve been “waiting to exhale,” and now I can. Like I can see that we are on a speeding bullet train, going faster and faster, and I can see that there is absolutely NO TRACK LAID AHEAD OF US. And I’m screaming it, but no one can hear me, like I’m under water. So I said it. That’s how I feel. Exactly. To the point of recurring nightmares (I think I’ll sleep better tonight).
Here’s the thing: the paid right wing shills have ramped up their attacks on the Pope, the Vatican, Catholicism, religion, etc., to a near fever pitch. Following the script and the playbook that they use EVERY DAY, they have fanned out and are disparaging every single aspect of the Pope’s being, start to finish. True to form. It is, typically, vicious. Take, for example, this harried tactic of Marc Morano’s….he posts (on Climate Depot) some article that he wants his followers and fellow shills to descend upon. Here is a screen shot, as an example, from that piece of shit website, ClimateDepot:
If you click on that link, and you go to the comments section, THERE THEY ARE. Flooding the website with trash talk about the Pope, the Vatican, religion, science, Mickey Mouse, you name it. It is Standard Operating Procedure, from a playbook that is written and disseminated freely to all who seek to find it. This is where you come in. If possible, please, please comment COUNTER to these attacks on the Pope’s encyclical whenever possible. The best response is to “reply” to their inane antics with a rebuttal that the commenter is a shill, paid to write such comments. If such attacks are on Catholic message boards, chances are that the readers of such comments don’t know how this “gig” is played.
But rest assured that even though you will hopefully sleep better tonight, climate change deniers WILL NOT. Pope Francis has seriously found a chink in their armor. For more absurdity (and it’s a screenshot, since the page changes a lot), just take a look at how Morano is totally losing his shit over this (gratuitous screenshot just to reference for your happy place):
Here are some of the screeching headlines over at ClimateDepot…
And here are some more headlines (I’ve highlighted the ranting related to the Pope):