It’s time to stop beating around the bush(fire). This is what a significant part of Australia looks like right now. Climate change? Yes, on one level. But this, according to the Bible’s “Sea of fire” passage is what hell looks like all the time. A Vox News headline today: Australia is enduring a ‘hellish’ fire season. So… Down through the centuries God has, at times, used events in nature as harbingers. The fires are happening in a country known, in part, for the slogan: “Australia: No rules, just right.” The Ten Commandments are “rules.” God’s rules. If you have a society, a nation, a world… predominately not living by these rules anymore, countless souls become in grave danger of being lost, for eternity, in a “sea of fire.” Is God allowing these infernos to warn us, not just around one of the seven deadly sins of “gluttony” when it comes to our fossil fuel use, but about how all our sin — and it’s a lot these days — could end us up in a place even hotter than current Australia? ‘Fire for thought.’
Trump just tweeted that: “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.” We, conversely, have more than 2,000 deployable nuclear weapons — aimed all over the world. What’s more, we have some 20,000 weaponized drones. In Pope Francis’s New Year’s Day talk, he said that all nuclear weapons are “immoral.” Period. We say we’d never “use” our nuclear weapons (sans, of course, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Marshall Islands, years of underground testing…). Yet we are, in a very real sense, using our nuclear weapons now. That is, we’re using them to protect ourselves (in the extreme), while 24,000 people starve to death in the world every day, a billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water, billions of people live in deplorable slum conditions…
As mentioned in the previous post, I’m currently reading parts of a sociology college textbook written by James Henslin (the above is an outtake from the book). It notes that people in least industrialized countries live on less than $1,000 a year and children in these countries, consequently, often don’t go to school beyond the first couple grades. The other night I covered a Board of Education meeting. Agenda items included purchasing a new bus, some high school students taking a week-long “Ocean Focus” environmental class in the Florida Keys, and there was talk of the newest technology in the high school’s robotics class. Now… To be in line with the gospel message, industrialized countries should dial back some of this educational “upward ascent/extras/et al,” if you will, and take the savings, etc., and provide more for our brothers and sisters in these other countries. Our education, and foreign affairs, positions include some ways to do this.
Over the weekend, I was reading part of this college textbook on sociology. Under a section on “family,” it noted — among a lot of things — that half the inmates in U.S. jails had a father, mother, brother or sister who served time. As a mental health counselor, I consistently saw how one’s upbringing tremendously influenced them, for the good, or for the bad. St. John Paul II said the family is the lynchpin of society. Part of our platform revolves around “healing the family” in America. Especially since right now, we are bobbing in a sea of dysfunction.
Our son Jonathan’s high school soccer team made it to the State Championship game this season. They won four games in overtime in the playoffs to get there. It was quite an exciting run and reminiscent of the old Browns “Kardiac Kids,” who won eight games on the last possession. In the newspaper, I started calling Jonathan’s team the “Pulmonary Pirates.” (They lost in the Championship Game, which was played at the Columbus Crew Stadium.) Jonathan, who is a striker, and another boy on the team who plays defense, both were named 2nd Team All-State. Note: This was a trophy the boys won early on this season in an early weekend tournament.
I was reading parts of this book tonight. The first section was about slavery and the accounts are absolutely horrendous. Splitting families, torture, murder… Some 15 million people were displaced and slavery was called, in some circles, “…the trade of hell.” And besides all this, slavery opened the door, incrementally, to European colonization of Africa. And all this has bled down through the generations, without much in the way of equitable tangible amends. Our position paper on “Black Amends,” proposes just that.
My son and I stopped at the now world famous “Lehman’s” the other day. It’s in Kidron, Ohio. They sell everything: “human-powered.” That is, the store is patterned after what would be used, basically, in an Amish household, and on an Amish farm in general. No electricity needed, or wanted. They sell everything you need for a non-electric kitchen, as an example. Our western culture, in fact, in its quest for “convenience” at every level, has, in turn, become tremendously “energy gluttonous” — including in the kitchen. Electric blenders, dicers, slaw cutters… The world’s people, as a collective, have pumped 55 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the skies this last year, the most ever. Part of this emanates from our kitchens and all these electric appliances. Gluttony is a sin. And its time to dial all that back, so to speak, and, just as collectively, start patronizing the “Lehman’s” of the world. For the sake of averting more climate change — and for the sake of saving more souls.
I just interviewed a woman who is a local “master gardener” for a newspaper article. To be a master gardener in Harding County, you have to take 10 continuing education hours of classes on gardening a year, and volunteer for 20 hours, total, in Kenton, Ohio’s “Friendship Garden.” This is a creative series of gardens (started by a non-profit) that includes herb gardens, raised bed gardens, wildflower gardens, an “ABC” garden that has each letter of the alphabet represented with a plant, a child-friendly interactive garden… One of these “Friendship Gardens” should be at the heart of every community. We need to increase our gardening exponentially in this country (in regard to increased sustainability, being more rooted in nature, teaching the next generation the importance of being in touch with natural cycles….). Having a big, centralized town garden like this would, ‘naturally,’ inspire a lot more gardening in a town. Note: This is a scene from the wildflower section of the Kenton Friendship Garden.
I interviewed a representative involved with Ohio Northern University’s Chapter of Amnesty International this week. As one example, he said his chapter was focusing on gun violence in America. He attributed part of the escalation to a commensurate increase in violent media/entertainment. He would be right. What’s more, watching violence increases viewership numbers, and, in turn, increases advertising dollars to those kinds of shows, which, of course, then generates more of those types of shows. So people who watch the violent shows, become, in a very real sense, “accomplices.” Not to mention just watching much of the media violence these days is sin behavior. Period.
I covered a presentation about our local Crime Victims Services Agency today. It provides court advocacy, counseling, life skill training, and a host of other services. One area that is on the rise is elder abuse, neglect, and so on. To respond to this, they have a “Guardian Program” that connects area volunteers, one-on-one, with an elder person in need. These volunteers advise the senior citizen in regard to housing options, medical options, recreation activity outlets… and more. That is, they also reach out as “friends,” taking the person to, say, dinner, or to a movie, or… The woman running this program said during the presentation today that volunteers are often amazed with how “lonely” some of these senior citizens are. Our platform looks at Social Security as not just a “fund,” but in a multi-dimensional way that would help these seniors feel much more “socially secure” in general in our society. Note: The 4th Commandment is: “Honor your mother and your father.” What’s the bet that you’re carrying out the spirit of this thing if you extend this even further and become a “guardian” to someone else’s mother or father?