Spotting the Difference between Piety and Snark

Old Life regular, vd, t, offered this advice for how to respond to climate change:

—Plug in your clocks only when you absolutely have to know what time it is. If you need the alarm, get up five minutes early to set it.

—Al Gore says cigarettes are a significant cause of global warming, so quit smoking and sell him the carbon credits.

—Your kids are useless for pushing your car up to highway speeds, but they can increase your mileage considerably around town. Use your headlights only when there’s no moon, and remember, your horn uses less energy than your turn signal.

—Stairs make you huff and puff and expel carbon dioxide. Use the elevator. And sports are carbon-intensive too, so do ’em on your X-box.

—Take as long as you want browsing in the fridge. Leaving the door open cools the world off.

—Down more Slurpees, or better yet, nice frosty margaritas. See, this isn’t so bad.

—Lower the thermostat in your Gulfstream jet, and make the help wear sweaters.

—We need our corn for ethanol. Switch from Fritos to pork rinds.

—Do not use a television or radio unless it’s bicycle powered, like Gilligan’s.

—Turn your computer off right now. Turn it off, get up out of your chair, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

In contrast, these are part of Pope Francis’ instructions to the faithful and beyond:

203. Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. Compulsive consumerism is one example of how the techno-economic paradigm affects individuals. Romano Guardini had already foreseen this: “The gadgets and technics forced upon him by the patterns of machine production and of abstract planning mass man accepts quite simply; they are the forms of life itself. To either a greater or lesser degree mass man is convinced that his conformity is both reasonable and just”.[144] This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed freedom to consume. But those really free are the minority who wield economic and financial power. Amid this confusion, postmodern humanity has not yet achieved a new self-awareness capable of offering guidance and direction, and this lack of identity is a source of anxiety. We have too many means and only a few insubstantial ends.

204. The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness”.[145] When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.

205. Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, despite their mental and social conditioning. We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. I appeal to everyone throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours. No one has the right to take it from us.

I wonder if vd, t would change his tune about the seriousness of climate change after Pope Francis’ encyclical. (I hear unity and obedience to the teachings of the magisterium are traits that Protestants lack.) So far, the responses to Laudato Si at American Spectator have been pro-market and not particularly submissive.

Still, vd, t gets points for edge.


28 thoughts on “Spotting the Difference between Piety and Snark

  1. I pretty much agree with everything Tom says, except using the car horn. Horns should either be removed from automobiles entirely or disabled until the driver can pass various psychiatric screenings. Even then, they should only be enabled only with special key-lock mechanisms similar to what some states now require for DUI offenders, preventing the car from running unless they are connected to blood pressure monitors and a testing device that ascertains their recent dosage of an SSRI.

    And, BTW, I recall back when remote controlled car locks first became available the car producing a chirp or whistle to provide feedback that it worked. Now, they’re all connected to the car’s horn. Whussup with dat? HELP STAMP OUT NOISE POLLUTION!!!


  2. Takes me back for the American Spectator, started with it in the early 80s, the Reagan Revolution, when ideas were debated, accomplished people in the military and business and life were speaking on
    behalf of Reagan’s policies, the liberal media jousted back and forth with them. Good times.


  3. George,
    No, no, no. Horn honking is a great stress reducer when one is navigating heavy traffic. I am sure it reduces violent road rage incidents here in the northeast.


  4. Linda J – the only way a horn should be activated is if a special sensor within the automobile detects that the driver in front of you hasn’t moved, after the stoplight turned green, is because they are texting…


  5. I used my horn about once every two years until looking at cell phones became a thing. I support cell phone shaming.


  6. but most importantly, why would anyone brand a sailboat or company Snark

    re: unity –maybe one way to preserve it – disinterest
    “AP survey finds only 4 in 10 US Catholics know of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change” Published August 19, 2015 Associated Press


  7. again in Pope Francis’ encyclical -Mary and Joseph (the mother of all creation and the custodian of the universal church) provide power to ‘enable, teach, inspire us’ ?

    (parts of) VIII. 241./242.. Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus, and all creatures sing of her fairness. She is the Woman, “clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). Carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. She treasures the entire life of Jesus in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19,51), and now understands the meaning of all things. Hence, we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with eyes of wisdom.
    At her side in the Holy Family of Nazareth, stands the figure of Saint Joseph… That is why he was proclaimed custodian of the universal Church. He too can teach us how to show care; he can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us


  8. Ali –
    re: unity –maybe one way to preserve it – disinterest
    “AP survey finds only 4 in 10 US Catholics know of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change” Published August 19, 2015 Associated Press

    It would have been interesting to know what % of American Catholics in the 19th century even knew who the pope was. High in some places, I’m sure, but perhaps low in others. We’ll never know.


  9. Muddy –

    Imagine a revenue-seeking state passing a law making cell phone contact info associated with license plates available via a db connection – (subscription-based, of course) – so you login to an app, enter the license plate of a neighboring car, and call them.

    Or once RFIDs and receivers of some kind are installed in all cars (for policing purposes, speed limit warnings, and auto-ticketing), perhaps drivers will be able to send an audio message direct to the speakers in neighboring cars.

    Now that would be “see something, say something” for you (an ever-present slogan on public transit in my concrete-steel-glass-crumbling-brick neck of the woods).


  10. Newark, too much privacy invasion for my taste. In Illinois they give you a ticket if you have a cell phone in your hand while driving – that’s probably the way to go. Anymore I just assume the person in front of me will be looking at his/her cell phone at a stop light, so it’s only mildly annoying. It’s a little scarier when I’m on a bike and a driver is texting.


  11. Your kids are useless for pushing your car up to highway speeds…

    Tom’s kids obviously aren’t trying hard enough. My kids had no problem, in fact we got a ticket for speeding.


  12. “the effect on those who have to see you in loin-hugging bicycle attire…”

    CW-Lu, speak for yourself. We don’t all have pork loins.


  13. Two words: sleek and svelte.

    And my yogurt is really quite festive, what with the high-protein granola mixed in.


  14. There is no finer nightly dessert than greek yoghurt with chocolate whey powder, stevia, and olive oil. No sugar, 30g protein. Sometimes some cacao (sic, not cocoa) powder as well.


  15. I’ve never been to NYC, but isn’t this part of their code anyway: “…and remember, your horn uses less energy than your turn signal…”


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