This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Value as beauty

John Paul II observed that “Our very contact with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity.”[1] This contemplative potential infuses the earth with an effect that is therapeutic, and effect that Christ himself was to appreciate.[2] This effect is rendered null and even reversed when the beauty of nature is disfigured. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”[3] “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal…”[4]

One of the fundamental ways through which the power and beauty of creation is manifest is through its diversity. It is precisely this diversity which is being constantly diminished through the abuse and exploitation of nature:

“Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.”[5]

The lifestyle of the developed nations of the world is engineering a heritage of ugliness and want for future generations. It is as if the only beauty we acknowledge is that which we have manufactured and which will be necessarily artificial:

“[A] sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention…is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey…We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.”[6]

Such an attitude is hubris plain and simple. We must keep our limitations ever before us. For example, we must realize that even in those situations where we acknowledge the violence we have done, it is sometimes not within our efforts to reverse the damage. We can replace a deforested zone through the plantation of trees, but the richness of what came before will not be equaled by the homogenous uniformity that we erected in its place.[7] The fragility of nature’s beauty is exemplified when yet another species becomes extinct: it shows us again and again that certain beauties are irreplaceable and are in this sense priceless. Their value cannot be calculated.[8]

When dealing with nature we must keep in mind the principle enunciated by St. John Paul II, which was that the unintended consequences of our actions will always outnumber the intended ones.[9]

[1] St. John Paul II, Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 14.

[2] LS, 97.

[3] LS, 21.

[4] LS, 44.

[5] LS, 33.

[6] LS, 34.

[7] LS, 39.

[8] LS, 36.

[9] VS, 77.

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