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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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