Two Cornellians issued a novel challenge on NPR Sept. 26 to those excited by the papal visit:
"To welcome him, you should read the letter he wrote to all of us - it is addressed to "every person living on this planet" - last May, if you haven't already: Laudato Si, the papal encyclical on the environment."
Doctoral candidate Vincent Ialenti and Annelise Riles, Cornell's Jack G. Clarke Professor of Law in Far East Legal Studies and Professor of Anthropology continue, "We're advocating this not as Bible-thumpers, political agents, or environmental activists. We're anthropologists. We love to ponder why people believe what they believe — from communities in the Amazon to Papua New Guinea, from theologians in the Vatican to scientists in the academy.
"We find Laudato Si important because it defies the United States' political imagination at every turn. In some moments, the pope reads like an archconservative, in other moments an archliberal. Sometimes he defers to scientists, other times he quotes scripture and, still other times, he criticizes the very foundations of economics. Mixing together ideas many see as incompatible, he forces us to think."
They have invited a group of legal scholars, anthropologists, theologians, businesspeople, political scientists, futurists, architects, literature scholars, geographers, bureaucrats and other thinkers from around the world to read and discuss Laudato Si together on Cornell Law School's virtual think tank Meridian 180. See summaries of the discussions here.
Read their argument about why we should read the encyclical ourselves rather than rely on second-hand reports.