Catholic Church of Montreal > News > Topics > Green Church > Mountains and faith

Faith leaves mountains be

Faith moves mountains, Jesus says. Funny thing though: mountains are places of intensified faith. Ever notice just how important mountains are in the theological geography of the people of Israel and in the life of Jesus? (Think Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the temple at Zion, Golgotha, etc.) 

(Photo: Les amis de la montagne)Having grown up in Vancouver, one of the consoling aspects of moving to Montreal from Ontario in 2002, was having Mount Royal on the horizon, close to the city. Mountains bring a sense of security. Once atop them, one has a view of one’s actual place in this universe. It allows one to look up, to pray or at least be far from the noise, buildings and other visible distractions of city life. 

The serenity of mountains came home to me two years ago when an activist group pulled a stunt, “striking” a “claim” for Mount Royal’s underground mineral assets in order to show how easy it might be for a real mining company to actually get the go-ahead to mine. Then recently, I heard about a new form of coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, which involves literally removing the mountain tops to get at the coal underneath. The results are devastating, as one can see here. Last month, a sit-in protest was held in the office of the governor of Kentucky as reported here. But this was no ordinary protest. For one thing it was very civil – at least one of the protesters was wearing a tie. 

For another, it was spearheaded by one of the foremost Christian writers and philosophers of our generation: Wendell Berry. Berry brings not just a spiritual understanding to the cause of mountain conservation but a Christian ethic that is deeply traditional and catholic. Berry is a conserve-ative in the true sense of the word. He preaches a new agrarianism and lives simply on a Kentucky farm. His faith and his conservatism bring him into conflict with the voracious North American energy appetite. As we head into Lent, Berry’s example means simply: mountains were not meant to be moved like this.  

by Paul Allen

Go back