How far, really, do we need to see?

C-14 telescope at Lima, Ohio Observatory

In recent weeks, I wrote a two-part article series, interviewing a local astronomer about the new James Webb Telescope. It sits 100 million miles out in space, and, in all, the project price tag was $10 billion. While I’m all for astronomy, I’m for astronomy within moderation/reason. This telescope (photo), which is in a local observatory, can’t see as far as Hubble, or the James Webb, but it can see pretty far. And on Friday evenings, local astronomers open the observatory up for parents and their children. They put on astronomy educational programs, let the kids look through the telescope, and so on. Sure, we’re curious about what’s beyond, but what’s near, as just one example, is the country of Afghanistan, which is economically collapsing and on the distinct brink of famine. And we don’t need a telescope to see that. Think how far the $10 billion we spent on the James Webb Telescope would go toward helping Afghanistan become sustainable again. America, and the “free world” in general, needs some level-headed, spiritual leadership that could realign things in a much more common-sense fashion.

“You think it’s hot here!”

sun beating down …photo by Joe

The big news this week is the persistent “heat dome” over America’s south, and record shattering high temperatures, wildfires, et. al, in Europe. I recall traveling during the summer in America’s south a number of years ago and seeing a marquee in front of a church in, I believe it was Alabama, that read: “You think it’s hot here!” Our First World energy gluttony (a sin, by the way) is, apparently, majorly fueling (no pun intended) what’s becoming catastrophic climate change. The Catholic Catechism says this type of gluttony is a sin against the 7th Commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” See, our use of natural resources, and such, according to the Catechism, should reflect “…concern for the quality of life of one’s neighbor — including generations to come.” Our, again, First World gluttony (central heat, central air conditioning, driving everywhere, etc…) is not only destroying the planet for future generations, but it is creating catastrophic havoc (much more drought, famine, super-charged storms…) for many living on the planet now. When is the last time a spiritual leader in America called their congregation on this? Probably not often, if at all, huh. Yet, ultimately, it’s this type of sin(s) that could end people up in a place, well, much hotter than here.

Roe v Wade overturned

standing in solidarity with abortion protestors in Ocala, Fla. …photo by Joe

Today, “Roe v Wade” was overturned. It’s been 50 years in coming, and the result of accumulative prayer, fasting, pro-life advocacy… During our travels, I talked in some 1,000 churches about abortion. We stood in solidarity with people protesting abortion on the streets. We toured many crisis pregnancy centers, and I wrote about what we saw to inspire others to set up similar centers. Yeah, we’ve had “pro-life presidents,” so to speak, but how much, really, have they done to impact this issue. Trump did appoint those three conservative Supreme Court justices. And that, indeed, was good. But there is so much more work to do to stop the killing. And I would be the country’s best bet for that. See…

Some of God’s ‘Most Valuable Players’

St. Bernadette statue …photo by Joe

I just wrote a newspaper article about the St. Bernadette statue coming to one of our local area churches as part of a 40-town tour of the U.S. this summer. One of the volunteers at the church said that, not only did he help coordinate the event, but he made sure his four children were at the event as well. He said the cultural winds are getting more than a bit skewed. That is, abortion, gender fluidity, and so on, are totally antithetical to Catholic Church teaching, he said. What’s more, he continued, the society is practically deifying sports figures and Hollywood actors / actresses. Yet people like St. Bernadette (St. Francis, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Joan of Arc…), who led tremendously heroic spiritual lives, are hardly recognized anymore, except within certain small circles.

Higher gas prices, lower emissions

’66 Mustang …photo by Joe

The average price of gas in 1966 in America (the year this Mustang was manufactured) was 32 cents a gallon, the equivalent of $2.20 today. The average price of gas in America this week just topped $5 a gallon. Your average American, in turn, is having to be smarter about traveling. Less trips, more ‘staycations,’ if you will. When they do go to, say, the grocery store, they now go with a thorough list, so they don’t have to make another trip just for, like, the mayonnaise they forgot. (The Amish are great at that in regard to taking the buggy to the market once a week.) If, in fact, global warming is real — which I happen to believe it is — then these conservation measures, including more walking, bicycling, and so on, can only be good. Note: For more on our transportation position paper, see…

atomic/nuclear: a BIG mistake!

I was reading some of this book this afternoon… After dropping the atomic bombs on Japan, the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy was set up by Congress. [There was already an Atomic Energy Commission.] These bodies oversaw such things as further development of atomic weapons and the development of atomic energy. The bulk of the uranium at the time was coming out of the Belgian Congo, where, frankly, it should have stayed. The development of atomic, later nuclear, energy was a big mistake from the start. The fission involved is too dangerous, period. What’s more, there are tremendously long, half-life isotopes from breached nuclear reactors. Read: Chernobyl; Fukushima… It’s way too dangerous a form of energy. And our mad rush to stockpile as many nuclear bombs, missiles, et. Al, helped set off a world wide nuclear arms race. Calmer, more spiritually centered, heads should have prevailed at the start of all this. But they didn’t.

Another mass shooting, a different response photo

Again… This time it was at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. There were 19 children killed in the mass shooting, as well as two adults. Biden talked last night afterward and said it was “…time to stand up to the gun lobby, for God’s sake!” That’s, oh, a bit woefully one-dimensional. Why is this happening? Wholesale slaughter of the unborn opens the door to sweeping violence (through more and more demonic influence) across the board in our country. And Biden is a major player in allowing for that. Our media/entertainment viewing habits drive ratings to keep violent shows on, as they continue to influence the populace in general, and those who are mentally unbalanced in specific (the ones who pick up a gun). Social mores in our country allow for, say, rap and heavy metal music drumming violent lyrics constantly into our brains. There is not enough emphasis on mental health counseling in America, especially as mental disorders continue to ramp up. Poverty/socio-economic disparity drives some to do desperate, violent things. And yes, guns are too prevalent and lethal these days.

Did railroads ‘unite’ the country in a good way?

photo by Joe

I just wrote a newspaper article about Maysville, Ohio, pop.: not much. It’s just a small cluster of homes that are loosely configured around an intersection on Rte. 309 here. But Maysville wasn’t always like that. In the mid-1800s, it was a bustling town with two general stores, one shoe store, two blacksmith shops, two hotels, one small manufacturing plant… It was a day horse/buggy ride west of Lima, Ohio, and travelers would stop here for the night. What’s more, many were simply employed and lived here. It was, primarily, a good model of a decentralized community. Then the railroad came, and passenger trains bypassed the town, freight trains bypassed the town, and the town, incrementally, died — as did many other towns across the nation at the time. According to a book I’ve been recently reading (see photo), “…the railroad was warmly embraced by the American people almost from its inception. Its utility in unifying the nation and creating a strong national economy were apparent to nearly everyone.” Everyone except, of course, and apparently, the merchants in Maysville, Ohio.

rearranging deck chairs, cont.

internal combustion engine… photo by Joe

President Biden laid out his plan for dealing with rising inflation today. And while some of it seemed measured and well thought out, a significant portion of it was akin to: rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Biden, for one, alluded to supply chain problems. And he said that this needed to be streamlined again, so, as an example, we could ramp up the much needed building of new homes. Using, of course, lumber that is depleting rain forests, are yet more energy sinks, and, through urban sprawl, are eating away at valuable farmland through the now ‘cancer’ of urban sprawl. (Deck chair #1.) Our administration would suggest a moratorium on new builds, while concurrently promoting retro-fitting current structures for house sharing, and such. If global warming is real, I mean, why add more fuel to the fire, so to speak? And speaking of fire, Biden is talking about releasing more oil from America’s strategic reserves so the price of gas might come down, at least in the short term. Yeah, right. In the face of catastrophic climate change that’s looming like a Doomsday Scenario above us, let’s get those prices down so we can all drive more. (Deck chair #2.) It’s time we start to: “question internal combustion.”

a cleaner world and a cleaner soul

e-bikes… photo by Joe

Okay, if (some) of the scientists/meteorologists are right, global warming looms like a scary doomsday scenario. First World lifestyle changes would, indeed, be good, whether the threat is, ultimately, real, or not. Stay with me on this… To curb CO2 emissions, we need to, as an example, bicycle, and walk, way more than we currently are. This will entail some “sacrifice” for many. Sacrifice is what the Catholic Church calls “mortification.” And mortification, in turn, is good for the soul. So, ultimately, we end up with a cleaner world, and cleaner souls. It’s a win/win.