Friday, April 27, 2012

Dominion and stewardship

This is a Friday offering of the Loose Blogger Consortium, active and semi-active member links on the right side of the page.  We will all be writing on this topic brought to us by the Magpie.


I’m using this image of St. Francis in part to tweak the Magpie.

But, enough fun!  On with our topic.  I like Francis, in large part because I visited Assisi and a Franciscan monk gave us an excellent tour of the basilica built over Francis’ tomb, educating us to more of the totality of who and what Francis was.

Francis was a rich party boy extraordinaire!  He was actually given the town scepter as the King of the Parties and he was a hit wherever he went.  It got more complicated – to say the least … and I can feel another blog post forming already! – and let’s oversimplify to say that he, meeting existential crisis and being a passionate idealist, sought God as few can or ever will.  Then, of course, he was ultimately reduced to the statues in everyone’s garden, the statues of him that look nothing like he looked in the paintings of him.  No, the myth is better with the strong jaw and beard, the angular features of an ascetic.

Here’s the part of the myth I like, though, the part where he really did have a kinship with all the creatures.  This seems to be rooted in many of the things known of Francis before the myth grew and reduced a magnificent man.  He apparently did grow to a point where he radiated such gentle peace that the creatures gathered around as he delivered his sermons.

Francis put into practice a perspective that some Christians find to be folly.  To my absolute amazement!  He found that to be truly holy is to be one with the life of the world, human and animal and no doubt vegetable.  He spoke of all aspects of existence as brothers and sisters, even the inanimate.  This is seen by some as foolish because man is meant to have dominion over the creatures of the earth and sea.

Dominion: 1. the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority.

2. rule; control; domination.

Nah.  I don’t think he was into that.  At all.  So, was it stewardship he supported?

Stewardship: an ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources.

I think we’re getting warmer.  He wasn’t greedy and that helped manage resources.  But, somehow, it still isn’t quite ringing the bell with him.  Indeed, on his deathbed he said that had he to do it over, he would have ridden his body – which he referred to as brother ass (as in donkey, Mayo) - a bit less hard, LOL.  He died at 44 or so.  Doesn’t sound like he planned or managed his resources all that closely.

No, somehow I don’t think Francis was any of these things.  I think he was just a passionate, humble and gentle lover of God and was smitten with life.  I think there’s a lot to be learned from him.


  1. Very touching post TOF. St Francis is a rather unusual choice for this subject, but you have woven a grand theme around him and the topic.

    1. I used Francis, because this topic, as Magpie well knew, is a charged one in his anger at religion. Francis, the real Francis, provides a counterpoint.

  2. I have a friend who has a way with animals. I have always felt it was because she has strong mothering traits. She has about 11 children of her own. Wherever she goes, animals are drawn to her. Even in my own home, the first time she came my cat came up to her and curled up inside her jacket. That is something he doesn't even do with us! Horses, dogs, cats, birds...they all come to her wherever she goes. Maybe St. Francis was like that. :)

  3. Did that story tell you how many children good old St F washed, dressed and polished shoes for, or meals he cooked and home-works supervised and checked? Nah! He was an airy fairy monk, singing to the birds with not a care in the world. 'Monkery' was an easy life, eat, sing and sample the mead before saying prayers and if there was time over, colour in books by numbers.... eg: Book of Kells, Book of Durrow, Book of Armagh... Is that enough?

    1. As appealing as this argument is, GM, I don't think it fits Francis at all. You are responding to the myth, not the man. Very few know anything about the man and I've given you very little more.

      One example of the real man, though, is the year he spent in a dungeon as a prisoner of war, released when he was very near death. That seems neither airy nor fairy to me. In fact, his real life was a life of difficulty and misery on many fronts.

      I may not write a post on Francis after all. The noise that surrounds religion and its adherents from all sides doesn't seem worth it. People will believe what they wish.


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