In 1967, Lynn White, a professor of history at the University of California, wrote an article for Science magazine about the underlying causes of the environmental crisis. White argued that the root of the crisis was the dogma of human beings’ dominion over nature, as stated in the book of Genesis. Although White concluded that this central Christian attitude was one of the major causes of the crisis, he also looked to at least one Christian, St. Francis, for hope. White wrote: “The greatest spiritual revolutionary in Western history, Saint Francis, proposed an alternative Christian view of nature and man’s relation to it: he tried to substitute the idea of the equality of all creatures, including man, for the idea of man’s limitless rule of creation.” There are abundant stories of Francis being a close friend with animals and living with them as equals: stories of a pheasant who for years strolled in and out of Francis’s cell, of Francis’s sermon to the birds, of his bond with the wolf of Gubbio, of Francis ordering Franciscan brothers to “see to it that the bees would be provided with honey in winter, lest they should die during the cold weather,” stories of his caring for worms, of his persuading hunters to release turtledoves after they had caught them in nets, of a crow that sat next to Francis as the saint ate his meals and followed him when he went about his rounds visiting the sick, of birds taking flight and circling his cell as Francis died. Simone Weil, a Jewish philosopher, picked up on these themes and wrote of Francis: “He stripped himself naked in order to have immediate contact with the beauty of the world.” Weil’s point is that Francis, a country boy, came to this close relation to nature through hard discipline: his years of ascetic practice–of long fasts, living in the open, and prayer--broke down his self-centeredness until he was open to God’s presence in all things. This statue of Francis, holding a lamb, and surrounded by his friend the pheasant and other birds, was handcarved by Hank Schlau and handpainted by Karen Schlau. It is made of a resilient architectural material and can go outside.
Dimensions: 10 (h) x 4.5 (w) x 1.5 (d) inches