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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Last Mountain

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

This feature-length documentary is about a group of people from Coal River Valley, W.Va. and their efforts to stop Massey Energy from blasting Cold River Mountain, the last of five hundred Appalachian mountaintops that had been blasted for coal.

Not only are local activists featured, but Robert Kennedy, Jr., an environmental attorney and activist lends his considerable support and legal knowledge to stop the destruction of Cold River Mountain.

The aerial cinematography of the vast destruction resulting from coal mining are especially powerful, as are Kennedy’s encounters with Massey Coal executives who are unable to respond adequately to charges of environmental and human destruction brought about by the corporation’s practices.

I was impressed by Kennedy’s passionate explanation of Big Coal’s greatest success: the destruction of the democratic process from the local level to the federal. At a recent press day he told film critics: “They (Massy Energy and others) have succeeded in doing catastrophic damage to the state (of West Virginia); they flattened an area the size of Delaware, 1.4 million acres over the last ten years according to the EPA, buried 2200 miles of rivers and streams, cut down 500 of biggest mountains in West Virginia.

“The problem,” Kennedy continued, “is where you see large scale destruction of the environment of this magnitude you also see the subversion of democracy and that is the real victory big coal has accomplished in West Virginia.”

“The Last Mountain” was written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Bill Haney of UnCommon Productions. Tim Disney, grandson of Roy and Edna Disney, is one of the executive producers as he was on another of Haney’s documentaries, “The Price of Sugar” (2007) that exposed grave human and social tragedy perpetrated by large corporations in the Dominican Republic.

The good news is that there are two remedies available to citizens and believers who care about people and the environment: become involved in the democratic process from your local zoning office to town and city councils and support alternative energy sources such as wind farming. The film concludes at Portsmouth Abby in Rhode Island where the Benedictine monks installed a windmill, inspiring the town to switch to wind energy as well.

“The Last Mountain” is the most important film I have seen this year.




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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog A hero isn’t someone born with unconquerable strength and selflessness. Heroes are not formed in a cataclysmic instant. Heroism is developed over time, one decision after another, moment by moment, formed by a deliberate, chosen, and habitual response to life.

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