Lenten Journey Journal: Wednesday, March 22nd – U.N. World Water Day

Please download and share these slides: PDF and Google Slides

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And to celebrate U.N. World Water Day, you may want to watch/show this video:

 

Saint O’the Day – Saint Francis of Assisi (Oct. 4th)

Please download and share this presentation: PDF

Just for fun, I’m going to show my students this classic scene from the memorable (and anachronistic?) film “Brother Sun and Sister Moon”

On-Line Catholic Faith & Science Course Starts February 9th

A brief post to let you know about a unique on-line course starting next week. The website bills it as:

The first 100% online course of the Catholic Church on the dialogue between Science and Faith. Provided by specialists it is easy to follow and uses the latest e-learning methodology.

Under the Patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture

It’s not free (like most MOOC’s), but there is a discount based upon country of residence. And I imagine most schools, churches, dioceses, etc have reimbursement plans for Continuing Education Units and similar.

 

Merry Christmas – Fear Not! Peace! Hope! Joy!

Yes, this blog has been silent for quite a few days. I fell behind in assessing and publishing my sophomore students’ blog posts (for both their midterm and before it) and vowed to not post on my blog until I completed theirs. I tied the bow on their posts a few minutes ago, so it’s time for my Christmas wishes.

While it’s the season of peace, hope and joy, there’s been a lot of fear going around this year – even during the month of Advent. As a reminder about why a follower of Christ shouldn’t fear, here’s the beginning of Bishop Robert Barron’s reflection for today, Christmas Eve:

The first Christmas homily ever given was spoken on the Judean hills surrounding the little town of Bethlehem: the annunciation of the angel to the shepherds on Christmas night.
The first thing the angel said was “Fear not!” How that phrase echoes up and down the Scriptures! When a being from a higher dimension breaks into our world, he typically says, “Do not be afraid.” Paul Tillich, the great Protestant theologian, commented that fear is the fundamental problem, that fear undergirds most forms of human dysfunction. Because we are afraid, we crouch protectively around ourselves; because we’re afraid, we lash out at each other in violence. If Christmas means that God is with us, that God is one of us, that God has come close, then we no longer have to be afraid.
How can we experience peace during a time of conflict, strife and “terror?” Taking a different view of our home helps me to rest in faith about the peace of creation which was “In the beginning” and to which Christ is returning us.
I feel moved and inspired by the stunning image of the earth rising from the moon which NASA released today (pictured above). Please take a moment to visit the link as there’s more to the image than I could capture above.
As for hope, I’m inspired by this story which was making the rounds on the internet this week. I quote it here in full from Time:
A group of Kenyans traveling by bus refused Islamist terrorists demands that they identify themselves as either Christian or Muslim in an act of defiance that reportedly saved lives.

According to BBC, militants boarded a bus in a small border town and requested the passengers divide themselves up by religion. The passengers refused, the BBC reports eyewitnesses say, telling the terrorists to “kill them together or leave them alone.”

Officials are looking into whether the militant group al-Shabab is responsible for the attack. Two people were reported to have been killed in the attack, but officials say the militants ultimately left after the passengers banded together.

Also today President Obama and Vice President Biden released on Spotify their “Holiday Playlists” While listening to President Obama’s, I discovered this wonderful song of hope by the legendary Stevie Wonder, which was originally released way back in 1967.

Here’s the lyrics, composed during another time of fear, anger and uncertainty:

Someday at Christmas men won’t be boys
Playing with bombs like kids play with toys
One warm December our hearts will see
A world where men are free

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no wars
When we have learned what Christmas is for
When we have found what life’s really worth
There’ll be peace on earth

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

Someday at Christmas we’ll see a Man
No hungry children, no empty hand
One happy morning people will share
Our world where people care

Someday at Christmas there’ll be no tears
All men are equal and no men have fears
One shinning moment my heart ran away
From our world today

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

Someday at Christmas man will not fail
Hate will be gone love will prevail
Someday a new world that we can start
With hope in every heart

And for the joy….so much to be joyful for today. But for me (huge listener of Spotify), here’s my top reason — I CAN FINALLY STREAM THE BEATLES!!!

I hope your Advent of waiting was fruitful and rich.

May your days of Christmas (the season continues until January 10th) be blessed and full of much faith, peace, hope and joy!

OSU Talk on Laudato Si by Cardinal Turkson

On Monday the 3rd I trekked down to the OSU campus for a presentation the National Catholic Reporter called “a watershed event for climate discourse.”  Cardinal Turkson, the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was the featured speaker.   The first cardinal from the nation of Ghana is a key advisor to Pope Francis and some even perceive him as a possible future pope. 

After Cardinal Turkson spoke for about twenty minutes on Laudato Si, he sat down with OSU President Dr. Michael Drake for a brief “fireside chat.”

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The inspiring evening concluded with an encore performance by a local gospel choir.

Please see below for the images of the notes that I took during both parts of the presentation. Click on the image of each page to enlarge it for easier reading.

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The 30 Most Iconic Images in Space Travel History

Last Sunday was the Super Moon with the full lunar eclipse. Here, it was sadly too overcast to see it when it reached the peak at about 10:15 pm. It was a good occasion for me to post a video of the moon moving in front of the earth. 

This Sunday, in addition to being the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, is the anniversary of the first satellite launch in 1957. It was Sputnik, launched by the Soviets, and the opening salvo of the space race.

To remember that historic day, I share this eye-popping article from Time which displays the 30 most iconic images (in their opinion) in space travel history. It’s worth a few minutes of your time to enjoy some famous firsts as well as extraordinary views of the universe we call home.

My three favorites are:

The photo above – The First Photo of the Earth, 1966; On Aug. 23, 1966, the world received its first view of Earth taken by the Lunar Orbiter I from the vicinity of the Moon.

Space Photo 2

Saturn, 1973 Pioneer 11, launched by NASA on 6th April 1973, returned the first close-up pictures of the ringed planet Saturn.

Space Photo 3

Mars Rover Selfie, 2015; NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover captures a selfie to mark a full Martian year — 687 Earth days — spent exploring the Red Planet.

Laughing With The Lectionary – Agnusday.org

If you’ve been downloading the lectionary gospel that I’ve posted each week during the school year, you’ve likely noticed the comic of two lambs who provide commentary on the scripture.  I told my students that I’d look up the lambs’ names this week.  I finally got a moment to do this an lo and behold, Rick is the dark nosed one (usually on the right) while the other is named Ted.

I also learned this about the creator of the strip:

THE AUTHOR

Agnus Day is the creation of Pastor James Wetzstein, a Lutheran pastor. Jim serves as University Pastor at Valparaiso University, where his student charges keep him up late and his head full of big ideas.

Jim lives with his wife Tracey and their son Gabriel. Tracey often helps with punch lines. Gabe, not so much. There’s a dog, a couple of cats, but no sheep.

And apparently this is Pastor Jim and his loved ones:

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Here’s a comic I’ll soon use when teaching the Genesis creation stories:

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The Beauty of Mathematics and the Predator/Prey Relationship

I’m preparing to teach my students the Genesis creation myths and so I’m reviewing the delightful, scientifically-rich, and theologically-expansive book Seven Glorious Days: A Scientist Retells the Genesis Creation Stories by Karl W. Gilberson.  In the chapter entitled: “Day 2: A Universe of Horseshoe Nails” he writes:

“Unfortunately, few of us have any idea what it might mean to describe mathematics as beautiful and even less an idea about the mystery raised by its existence…replace the beautiful music [in an analogy previously used in the chapter] coming from the abyss with the mathematical equations that physicists have discovered at the foundations of reality.  On the surface, nature is, to be sure, noisy in the sense of being cluttered, busy, and seemingly without patterns.  Even beautiful scenery – picture a mountain lake with snowcapped mountains in the background – rarely seems organized.

But as we apply our scientific knowledge to the cluttered world we experience and drill down to the bedrock of our understanding – eliminate the noise – we find something quite wondrous.  At the end of the great hallway that takes us from the social sciences to the natural sciences, through biology and chemistry and ultimately to physics, we find ourselves at last in the presence of a most beautiful and unexplained symphony of mathematics.  Across the dark abyss, explaining the world around us while remaining unexplained itself.  It is part of the Logos of creation.” (p.54-55)

I thought of this profound insight this morning when reading the Washington Post and this short article entitled: “Scientists May Have Just Stumbled Upon a Mathematical Secret to How Nature Works”  It’s worth reading to understand how the unexpected consistency of the numbers of predator and prey in a wide variety of ecosystems might be explained by a single mathematical equation.

And the pattern in these changes is governed by — you guessed it — that same mathematical function.

The recurrence of this function in many levels of the natural world indicates “that there might some kind of process that exists at multiple levels of organization,” Hatton says. “The cell, the tissue, the body, the community: Those are all levels of organization in ecology-speak. I think that this suggests that there could be processes that sort of recur, recapitulate, across different levels.”

In the meantime, for researchers who like a good puzzle, the paper provides another mystery to chew on — one that, once unlocked, could reveal many secrets about how the natural world works.