success stories

Posted June 19, 2003

Book: Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor
Author: Leonardo Boff
Orbis Books, Maryknoll New York, pp. 242

Excerpt from Preface:

the aim of this book is to connect the cry of the oppressed with the cry of the Earth. The cry of the oppressed has encountered a powerful current of thought drawn from liberating practices of solidarity. I is out of such practices that liberation theology has arisen. Never in the history of Christianity have the poor become so central, in the sense that they should be agents of their own liberation. Liberation theology has served the oppressed and he outcast well, for it has sought t convince them that their cause is connected to that of the God of history and is inscribed in the heart of the message and practice of Jesus; it is no accident that he was persecuted, made a political prisoner, tortured, and crucified. Finally, liberation theology has convinced them that the pursuit of liberation, life, and poetry affects eternity, for the Reign of God, the great utopia of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, is indeed made up of such things.

The Earth is also crying out. The logic that exploits classes and subjects peoples to the interests of a few rich and powerful countries is the same as the logic that devastates the Earth and plunders its wealth, showing no solidarity with the rest of humankind and future generations.

Such logic is shattering the fragile balance of the universe, built up with great wisdom by nature throughout fifteen billion years of labor. It has broken humankind’s covenant of kinship with the Earth and destroyed its sense of connectedness with all things. During the past four centuries human beings have felt that hey are all alone in a universe seen as an enemy to be subjected and tamed.

Today these issues have gained a seriousness that they have never enjoyed before in human history. The human being — called to be Earth’s guardian angel and watchful tiller – may be Earth’s Satan. Humans have shown that they can commit not only homicide and ethnocide, but biocide and geocide as well.

It is not only the poor and oppressed that must be liberated; today all humans must be liberated. We are hostages to a paradigm that places us — against the thrust of the universe — over things instead of being with them in the great cosmic community. That is why I am extending the intuitions of liberation theology and demonstrating their validity and applicability for the question enveloping the Earth, our bountiful mother.

Time is pressing. We nevertheless embrace the hope that, as always happens in the evolutionary process, chaos will give birth to a new and higher order, one that holds promise for all. The aim of this book is to offer hope for the sons and daughters of Earth, heirs of that covenant that God established with Noah and with the whole community of the living after the destruction of the flood. That memory, preserved in the basic passages of the Jewish and Christian spiritual traditions, reads: “As the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting covenant that I have established between God and all living beings — all mortal creatures that are on earth . . .Never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the water of a flood.” . . .

Excerpt from Book:

First, the most threatened of nature’s creatures today are the poor: 79% of humankind lives in the immense and poor South; 1 billion people live in the state of absolute poverty; 3 billion (out of 5.3 billion) do not have enough to eat; 60 million die of hunger every year; and 14 million young people under fifteen years of age die each year as a result of hunger-caused diseases. There is practically no solidarity among human beings for dealing with this dramatic situation. Most of the well-off countries do not even devote 0.7% of their Gross National Product (GNP), the amount prescribed by the United Nations for aid to needy countries. The richest country, the United States, devotes barely 0.15% of its GNP.

Second, living species are likewise threatened. It is estimated that between 1500 and 1850 one species may have been wiped out every ten years. Between 1850 and 1950 it was one species every year. Since 1900 a species a day is disappearing. At this rate, by the year 2000 one species per hour will be disappearing. It should be said, however, that estimates by experts of the number of existing species vary between ten million and 100 million, and only 1.4 million have been described. In any case, a death machine is mowing down life in its most varied forms.

Table of Contents:

1. The ecological era: The return to earth as our homeland
2. An ecological view of the cosmo: Our contemporary story
3. The ecological crisis: The loss of connectedness
4. All the capital sins against ecology: The Amazon
5. Liberation theology and ecology: Rivals or partners?
6. Reclaiming the dignity of earth
7. All in God, God in all: The theosphere
8. “The Spirit is sleeping in the Rock”: It dwells in the cosmos
9. “Split a piece of wood . . .and I am there”“ The cosmic Christ
10. Eco-spirituality: Feeling, loving, and thinking as earth
11. All the cardinal ecological virtues: St. Francis of Assisi