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DISCOVERING CHRIST THROUGH THE BEAUTY OF THE ECOLOGY

Dr. Pablo Martínez de Anguita present us a marvelous description about his  reconciliation experience between science and faith, two ways to recognize the wisdom of God

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Dr. Pablo Martinez is catholic, researcher and university professor of environmental economics. The history of Dr.Pablo with nature dates since many years ago when he used to contemplate the beauty of the landscape in his village in Andalusia, Spain.

Pablo tell us about his own experience: “I fell in love with forests and I decided to become a forester.  When I was studying my second year of forestry I was invited to spend a summer in Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya. One day I went to Mother´s Teresa house for dying, poor and abandoned people in one of the most miserable, dirtiest and worst-smelling neighborhoods I have seen in my life. I was playing the guitar for some children when a dark shadow moving on the ground started to approach me. At first, I thought it was a dog, but when it came closer I realized it was a girl. She could not stand, as she had polio. She had also a hunch–back, and she was not beautiful, at least at first sight. My first thought was that her life was not worthy… but then, she touched me and smiled at me as I was playing my music. I still feel a deep emotion when I remember it. My life changed as a kind of electricity entered into me and gave me the persistent desire to love life beyond its appearance, a desire that I still have. I worked for some pro-life movements and by the end of my forestry studies, I became a volunteer in an environmental and development program in Central America.

A few years later I was given a Fulbright scholarship to do a master´s degree in environmental economics at the State University of New York at Syracuse. My ecological economics professor once told me, “If you want to be serious and you work with me, you will lose your faith. I can explain everything from thermodynamics… God is just energy….” My problem was not only about stochastic explanations about the origin of universe, or about the thermodynamic reasons for the need of virginity in ancient tribes based on the relationship between grass, goats and the numbers of wives, age of marriage and therefore children that the survival of a semi-desertic Mediterranean clan based on the possible food availability could afford. It was also the new context.  There were temples of hundreds of religions all around; and in opposition to my previous experience in a deeply conservative Catholic school and Catholic university groups, there were no priests or Catholic signs around. I had a faith crisis: Was my religion real? Was it just one more? Was it just a set of moral compromises to be able to live in a society? Could it really give an answer to the environmental crisis? After working a few months with my dear professor I lost my faith.

I essentially had lost my faith while speaking with several professors about nature, ecology, or science. For some of them everything could be explained through ecology and evolution which at the end could be explained from thermodynamics; for others a clean rationality –where feelings are aseptically excluded -was the only tool valid to achieve knowledge. As it seemed to me that my beliefs were based on feelings which could not be considered as a valid source of knowledge, with a big pain in my heart I decided to join this new paradigm following my reason at the same time I tried to judge what could be saved from my tradition in order to avoid a total break with it.

After that experience, I was invited to return to Spain as a professor at the Catholic University of Avila, where I met some people from Communion and Liberation, the movement founded by Monsignor Luigi Giussani, specifically my friends Ramón, Gloria, Luis and Merche. We were office mates. At that time, our Dean asked me to write about my main concern, nature conservation, and compare it with the Catholic Church’s view on the subject. He asked me to be honest and, at that moment, I thought I would be fired if I went to the heart of the matter.

I spent a few years studying and I became amazed with the answer. The Church was opening to me an understanding of the answer that ecological movements or ecologists like me were requiring at the same time as it was answering the questions that caused me to lose my faith in New York. I must say that I discovered this through to my friends.

I published my first book on this subject in Span[i]sh. ( La tierra prometida: Una respuesta a la cuetión ecológica)  I then spent one summer back in the United States at Harvard University studying what has been called “Ecotheology,” and later on at Yale University as a professor of “natural resources management”. I compared the basis of many of these thoughts with those of Luigi Guissani. By that time, I had become a member of Communion and Liberation.

Father Giussani´s readings were giving me the explanation I required to overcome my intellectual and personal difficulties in becoming a real Catholic coherent with my ecologist believes. Don Giuss, as he was known by his friends, was asking me to look into myself without prejudices to find, as he defined it, an “authentic” foundation in relation with my most intimate self, my “I,” in order to preserve nature. His readings were explaining how behind every beauty we find, there is not only an apparently hopeless and vain desire in scientific terms for the infinite, for eternity, but a true sign of love and attraction: we are attracted to the infinite through the beauty we find, and we can follow this path traced by the correspondence between my “heart” and that ultimate Mystery. In fact, among many other paths, this Infinite is always reclaiming us through the beauty of nature. My task for natural resources management, restoration or conservation could be “saved,” as it could be done in accordance with my deepest desire for the infinite without being irrational or unreasonable. Don Giuss was broadening my reason to understand who I fully was and, therefore he was showing me the real relevance of my life, relationships and work through ecological restoration.

From my Catholic faith, I can say that Christ has come to this world to open, show and confirm our correspondence between the Mystery and us; as Father Giussani would say, he came to this world to assure that “none of our hopes or desires for beauty of our human heart will be lost”.

Additionally, I would like to mention a phrase of Albert Einstein who once said that there were only two ways to live our lives. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. The Catholic Church has helped me to make more understandable the fact that the second hypothesis is more reasonable than the first, and to suggest that this hypothesis leads us to live our lives open to accepting with familiarity the surprises hidden for us in the natural world as our way to the Mystery of God”


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