BRIDGING THE SCIENCE DIVIDE

-A FAITH & TECHNOLOGY DEVOTIONAL

Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (1Sam 2:3)

One of the most critical questions of our age is “How do we engage people with the process of accepting science?” In this current era of “populism” wherein feelings are given priority over scientific knowledge, how do we engage people in the difficult task of exploring scientific fact? This is particularly challenging in the case of Climate Science as it may well mean we have to change how we live. How do we do this?
Well perhaps we use the Church’s historically most effective tool at engaging people with difficult truth, we wrap it in a story.

PBS broadcasting is offering Churches a unique opportunity to do just that by hosting a free sneak-preview screening of PBS documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy.

Bill Nye is a man on a mission: to stop the spread of what he calls “anti-scientific” thinking. The former star of the popular kid’s show: “Bill Nye The Science Guy” has become an outspoken science advocate, engaging with those who deny climate change, evolution, and other evidence-based scientific findings. The film raises important questions about the role of science research and education in public life, and about how to engage productively with people across ideological divides.

The documentary Bill Nye: Science Guy will premiere on April 18 on PBS’ POV, American television’s longest-running independent documentary series. Through POV’s free DVD Lending Library, organizations can host sneak-preview screenings of the film. Interested in hosting a screening? Join the POV Community Network and access our free companion materials (discussion guide, lesson plan and reading list) in the Partner Toolkit.

I’ve used the POV resources with other subjects and found them to be worthwhile and easy to use.
So why would a Church want to host such an event which attempts to bridge the science divide on the most critical issue of our time? Well perhaps because we are uniquely qualified to help people with the follow-up question: How would God have us respond to this crisis?”

Prayer: God of us all, help us to walk humbly with you to do justice with loving kindness in the saving of your Creation. Help us to do this soon Dear God, while there’s yet still time, Amen.

 

The Reluctant Radical

-A FAITH & TECHNOLOGY DEVOTIONAL
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Sam 3:9

I had the opportunity this week to preview the documentary “The Reluctant Radical” and then to write this reflection/review.

The movie follows the life path of Kenneth Ward, a long-time environmentalist & activist as he wrestles with what life choices should he make and what direct actions should he take in response to the greatest crisis that human civilization has ever faced: Climate Change. As Kenneth expresses his struggle: in response to the potential “end of conditions that make civilization possible” then I’m “obligated to do what I can”.

During the documentary, we witness his participation in a series of non-violent civil disobedience direct actions, some small and some huge, comfortable & uncomfortable, ranging from minimum risk to major risk. He does these actions as an individual and occasionally as part of a larger group action. As he hesitates/reflects prior to one action, Kenneth observes that he always asks, “Should I really be doing this?” which is then followed by another question “As compared to what?” and then he acts. Because of his actions, he’s gotten lots of experience within our legal system of criminal justice. As he observes: “When my life ends, I want to be able to say that I did all that I could”.

The film will disturb you which isn’t all bad. As sometimes we need to be shaken from our complacency to ponder anew what should be our response to the greatest crisis that human civilization has ever faced. Several questions came to mind while watching this documentary:

What is the role of the Church in this crisis?
At what cost am I willing to “do what I can”?
What are the limits to non-violent civil disobedience direct actions? At what point can these actions tip over into violence? What are the risks/rewards of participation?
How literally should we take the Gospel call to justice?

With the recent news that despite the Paris Agreement, carbon pollution continues to increase amidst signs of escalating global devastation & human suffering, perhaps it’s time for us, The Church, to wrestle with similar decisions.

Viewing the “The Reluctant Radical” in our Faith Communities may just create that opportunity. As Kenneth observes: “Direct Action creates opportunities of moral clarity”.

Prayer: God of us all, help us to walk humbly with you to do justice with loving kindness in the saving of your Creation. Help us to do this soon Dear God, while there’s yet still time, Amen.

 

PERISISTING FROM THE ASH HEAP

-A FAITH & TECHNOLOGY DEVOTIONAL

Job took a potsherd with which to scrape himself, and sat among the ashes. Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? Curse God, and die.” Job 2:7-9

My heart aches, my soul is weary, my tears are exhausted, and my prayers go unanswered. I just can no longer run the good race. It is time to give up.

School slaughters are commonplace, stealing from the poor to stuff the rich is the way of our nation, budgeted greed is lifted by the highest office in our land as the universal value for us to embrace and the assault on the environment condemns my grandchildren to a life of endless struggle.

In short, I feel like every Psalmist has ever felt.

In the midst of my utter despair, there’s a quiet-quiet voice that comes to me in the darkest of hours and without words tugs at my heart and urges my soul to Arise and PERSIST insisting there is yet reason for hope.

Look, the voice without words says: There are signs all around you that this age of greed & violence is ending if you but persist in your efforts for justice.

Look at all the States & Communities (& Kids!) suing Big Oil & the Federal Government demanding action to stop the destruction of God’s Good Creation. Look at the huge Wind Farms being built around the Globe. Look at the escalating number of communities & countries declaring the end of polluting vehicles by 2030. Look at amazing gains in harvesting energy from the Sun. Just open your eyes and look at the hope arising when Faith guides our use of Technology rather than our greed.

Look, the voice insists, at all the people of ethics who are arising to insist that wanton violence against people & Creation is not Gospel. Look at the “Poor Peoples Campaign”, “End the Fossil Fuels”, “Immigration Justice”, “Women’s Movement” and the countless other movements who are insisting another way is possible.

Look, the voice without words insists, at all the signs both great & small, that the Spirit is alive and at work in the world calling us forth.

“Do you still persist in your integrity?” Then praise God, arise and live.

Prayer: God of us all, help us to walk humbly with you to do justice with loving kindness in the saving of your Creation. Help us to do this soon Dear God, while there’s yet still time, Amen

HUMBLE? BAH, HUMBUG!

-A FAITH & TECHNOLOGY DEVOTIONAL
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. (Psalm 25:9)

Humble? If there ever was an attribute more at odds with this time, we be hard pressed to name it.

Humble? Presidents & Premiers? Congress & Parliaments? Defense Departments & Border Patrols?

Humble? CEO’s & Hedge Fund Managers? Plunderers of this Earth’s Resources? Billionaires?

Humble? Cathedrals & Mega Churches? Corporate Charities?

Humble? Me & Mine? Whoops, that’s hitting a bit too close to home now, isn’t it?

In truth, I’m not very far along the path towards humility. It’s only been the last decade or so where I’ve begun to understand being humble as a necessary critical step in discerning how God would have us live. So, I’m still at the “toe dipping” stage where I upon a rare occasion will consciously attempt to quell my other attributes and embrace humility in short grasps at the path of a life well lived.

Humble? I’m writing this reflection on Christmas Eve which really ought to be a time wherein the need to be humble is fully recognized in the stories we tell of the particularly unique time when the Creator of the universe chose to be humble in order that we might see the way & the truth of this life. But in fact, we have managed to make “humble” the least recognized attribute in this “holy” season.

Humble? No, we be hubris!

In our hubris, we have embraced technologies that can annihilate God’s Good Creation in a moment or two if the powers & principalities get anymore cranky with each other. But certainly, in our hubris, we will destroy God’s Good Creation, in a generation or two simply by the way our modern society has chosen to live by all the insatiable burning & the wanton pollution thereof.

But here’s the thing. Like the Dickens’ tale of old or the Gospel story yet to be understood, there’s is still time. Time to turn away from a nuclear holocaust and save Creation in the next week or year and yes there is still Time to embrace new technologies that heal rather than hurt and save Creation for the coming generations.

We are fond of retelling the birth narratives of Matthew & Luke on this Eve. Perhaps, just perhaps, we might recognize the utterly shocking truth hidden in these stories that it not’s those beloved characters of ancient tales but rather us who needs to embrace the terribly difficult attribute of being humble.

Humble enough to hear our God calling us to a different way of life.

Prayer: God of us all, help us to walk humbly with you to do justice with loving kindness in the saving of your Creation. Help us to do this soon Dear God, while there’s yet still time, Amen.

 

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT

-A FAITH & TECHNOLOGY DEVOTIONAL

When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a Sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the after growth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its Sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food. (Leviticus 25:2-7)

If I’m reading that scripture correctly, God is essentially saying that every 7 years we’ve got to radically let go of our need to control & manipulate and turn instead to a life of simplicity by well simply living off what the land produces for us. Don’t know exactly what the people told Moses back then, but I can envision the magnitude of the shock waves that the people of today would emit in response to such a directive.

There’s a lot of truth in the Sabbath economic rules of balance & rest & restoration that we find in these writings. Ultimately, the recognition, development & application by our generation of some form of these ancient rules being applied to modern life may be what saves the future of generations yet unborn. But that topic is way too big for a devotional. So, let’s limit today’s ponderings to just a singular but significant obstacle to be overcome on our journey to sustainable living in harmony with God’s Good Creation. Let’s talk about the critical issue of Food Waste.

1/3 of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork.

In the developing world, this is primarily due to lack of refrigeration, transportation & appropriate storage systems. It’s also due to lack of coordination between supply & demand. Between what the farmers are growing and what the people at any given moment are needing. All of this is solvable by the developed world assisting the developing world with finances & technology. These efforts should be contained in both the programs of the UN’s sustainable development goals as well as the Global Green Climate Fund.

But Food Waste is not just “them” problem, it’s also “us”. For our modern society also wastes 1/3 of the food supply as we spurn imperfect vegetables, overestimate how many meals we will cook, toss out milk that has not gone bad and of course even forget about leftover food in the back of the fridge. Kitchen efficiency has indeed become a lost art. All of which is solvable simply by behavioral changes and yes, we can throw a little smarter technology into the mix to assist our efforts to make much needed progress on this sustainable path also.

Producing uneaten food squanders, a whole host of resources: seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, and generates greenhouse gases at every stage— including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin.

Prayer: God of all, keep speaking those radical words of balance, rest & restoration to us. Perhaps someday, we will hear sufficiently to embrace a new way of living and our kids along with the rest of your Good Creation will rejoice.

There Be Limits

There Be Limits

-A Faith & Technology Devotional

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” (Mark 1:2-3)

OK, nobody likes a prophet. I get that. As Mark & Isaiah before him so wisely observed, prophets are in your face, relentlessly sounding their message:

“There be limits!”

In a society & in a season where “Black Friday” mass hysteria sales events have been elevated into a national pastime lasting several months or more, the prophetic messaging of “There Be Limits” just falls on ears that do not hear & eyes that do not see. Well in our defense, our senses have been under continuous assault by Commercial Advertising Propaganda campaigns from the moment we gave out our “Borning cry” as we entered this world. How is any singular prophetic voice going to compete with that?

“There be limits!”

Now, in truth, we all know that there are in fact limits in this life. Limits to what we can spend, consume, even do in this life. Unfortunately, we, with lots of encouragement by Major Media corporations, try to put off the “day of reckoning” to be a tomorrow sometime in the distant future.

“There be limits!”

In my lifetime, the world’s population has more than tripled and the rate of our pollution destruction of God’s Good Creation has increased SIX-FOLD. We are currently consuming the resources of this earth at a rate that requires one and a half earths to sustain. The problem being of course that God has only given us one earth as our home.

Each year, the calendar date that we exceed that year’s resources moves earlier. It’s now occurs in early August. Perhaps, we should mark that date as “Black Friday”?

“There be limits!”

Before we quickly try to shift the blame to those developing countries with huge population growths, its best to understand that if they consumed at the rate that we do then it would require FOUR earths to sustain. As the great cartoon philosopher “Pogo”, once observed: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

So, what might we do? We need to break this destructive cycle of endless consumption. As a people of Faith, we need to recognize our own participation & promotion of this culture and here I’m going to upset you as much as John the Baptist did to those hearing his voice. As Christians, we need to start with Christmas. Yep, Christmas. How in the world, did the holiday to celebrate the arrival of Jesus, who never owned anything but a singular cloak, get corrupted into a consuming frenzy?

Remember the 3 “R’s” of the green movement: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? There’s a critically needed fourth “R”: Refuse. As in refuse to participate in endless consumerism.

A couple of sustainable action steps from our list of 48, are worth considering right now:

Action Steps #17: Skip the Christmas presents this year and help a family in need save some energy through improving their home insulation or switching to LED lighting or other energy saving efforts.

#29: Begin a sharing cooperative with neighbors, church, club and/or family members. Does everyone really need their own individual tools & equipment, or can we share?

Prayer: Dear God, this coming year and especially this coming day, open my ears so that I can truly hear the voice calling me to prepare a way for you to come more deeply into my life.

UNDER OUR FEET

-A FAITH & TECHNOLOGY DEVOTIONAL
“And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:9-12)
Turns out it was right there all along. Right under our feet.
The answer that is.
Well not just under our feet but plain as day to all our senses to see, feel, discern. But for just this moment in time let’s limit our consideration to what kind of answer, in regard to the greatest crisis that human civilization has ever faced, lies right there under our feet.

I’m talking about Geothermal energy. Yep, earth heat.

Project Drawdown describes it thus: “Geothermal energy is earth energy and depends on heat, an underground reservoir, and water or steam to carry that heat up to the earth’s surface. The heat energy generated is about 100 billion times more than current world energy consumption.”

Wait is that a typo? Nope, residing within the earth which God has given into our care is 100 billion times more energy than we currently use. Available 24/7 with no interruptions and once tapped requires minimal on-going cost expenditures.

Surely, it’s not fully accessible? True but with a 100 billion times factor, we don’t need to go after the truly difficult to access energy. We can harvest the easier access energy & still put us a significant step forward towards a sustainable world.

With the technology we currently have. some 39 countries could supply 100 percent of their electricity needs from geothermal energy. But Geo-thermal energy use doesn’t have to been limited to HUGE mega-utility sized projects. Its benefits can begin to be realized just by circulating water through tubes buried some 6-12 feet in the ground and drawing upon the constant temperature found there to heat up building air handling systems in the winter or cool it down in the summer as my local school board just did at every one of it school properties located on the west side of Aurora, IL.

One of the greatest fallacies of our time is that Science & Faith are incompatible. That’s an absurd conclusion when you consider that God created the universe and all it’s physical laws to govern it and God has created humankind with the intellect to understand the physical laws sufficient to work out how to coexist sustainably with Creation.

We desperately need to be about this work of creating a civilization that lives cooperatively rather than destructively.
Prayer: “…And God saw that it was good.” Someday when we are wise. When we use our Faith to guide our use of technology. When we work in coordination with the natural systems. When we “care for” rather than “destroy”. Then we too will see that “It Is Good”. And our children will rejoice. Dear God, for our children’s sake, help us to reach this level of wisdom soon.