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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Do It Again

Grace and I drove to Asheville, NC last weekend to enjoy what RomanticAsheville.com told us was “peak color”. And they were right, it was beautiful. As we walked through the woods, I kept thinking of the quote below. We walked or drove past hundreds of thousands of trees and  probably billions of leaves, each one glorifying its Creator, changing color and falling  at His command.

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”   G.K. Chesterton 

Psalm 96

1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; [1]
tremble before him, all the earth!

10 Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

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remember the poor

the oil spill off of the gulf coast is generating a storm of anger, protests, boycotts, and even some presidential smack-down. but the spill is not the largest in the history of the gulf of mexico, nor even one of the top ten largest in the world. so why have we not heard anger over other oil spills? because they happen in poorer parts of the world.

the video below demonstrates how the lives and livelihood of thousands have been affected by the careless exploitation, or, uh, exploration for our energy consumption all around the world. but the poor do not have the resources, or the platforms, to be heard and, as a result, they are not helped. their plight is not heard and they are forgotten.

i am not advocating for the church to send mission trips to help clean the beaches of nigeria. rather, i am pointing out the nature of our culture. the voices of the poor are not heard so the poor are forgotten.

but not so with God. Psalm 33:13-14 reminds us that the Lords sits on his throne from heaven and his eyes see all the sons of men, even the sons and daughters of poor men. God hears the cry of the poor (ps 34) and, in fact, Jesus identifies himself more with the poor than anyone else, and repeatedly states the blessing of their position!  and in galatians 2:10 paul states his eagerness to remember the poor. 

paul remembered the poor because his Lord remembers the poor, was poor, identified with the poor, and calls his people to serve the poor. i wonder, has the church forgotten this core reality? is the oil spill in the gulf exposing more than environmental carelessness? maybe some spiritual carelessness that has allowed pollution in the life and teaching of the church? of your own life and practice? 

it is worth examining your heart over. more mercy. more glory.

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 these guys in blue cleaning the beaches are great but they are not getting to the root of the issue. my friend Bill just had me in stitches going on and on about how aquaman is missing his time to shine as he is probably the only one who can get to the root of stopping the spill sooner than later. where are you when we need you, aquaman? i mean, the month and a half of ideas to stop up the leak recently culminating in, “maybe putting mud in it will work” (something they thought would sound official if they called it “top kill”) have failed us. we need aquaman. where is he? below is jimmy kimmel’s theory. what are yours?

have a great long weekend!

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One of our favorite places to go in Memphis is the Memphis Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings downtown. By saying this is one of the reasons I love Memphis, I’m not saying other cities don’t have great farmer’s markets. I’m just saying I love ours. It is a wonderfully colorful and eclectic mix of food, flowers and people.

A couple of years ago our family ran into some health issues that we eventually found out were related to food allergies. As we worked through what we could eat, we got an education about where our food comes from, and how it is made. (Just for fun, read the labels at the grocery store next time you go, and try to find products that don’t have some form of sugar in the first three ingredients.)  As we looked for alternatives and tried to eat more “natural”, we got know some folks at the Farmer’s Market. We met people like Jill and Keith Forrester, who run Whitton Farms, and joined their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We got Dark Star Granola (absolutely heaven in small plastic bag) from Uele at Groovy Foods. We got educated and we got encouraged and we got some really good food. Everybody we have met was not just selling us some vegetables or bread or hummus, but they were generous with their time and knowledge. The Memphis Farmer’s Market is not just about sustainable agriculture or organic foods, it is also about community. It’s one of the places that makes Memphis feel like home.

(Note: There are several other great farmer’s markets, from Shelby Farms to the Botanic Gardens to Cooper-Young, and probably more that I haven’t heard of.)

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This year we started a vegetable garden in our backyard. This is a picture of the pole beans. When they were about three inches tall, we put a trellis in the middle of them. The next morning, some of the vines had already wrapped around part of the trellis. How did it know the trellis was there? And how did it know to grow around the trellis? What I’m saying is that we know that things happen, and we can we can predict and describe their behaviour, but we really don’t know “why”. Like gravity. Generally speaking, gravity is the mutual attractions of bodies of mass, and we have formulas that tell us how it works. But we don’t know why it works. Instinct is another one. It describes all kinds of animal behaviors, like birds flying south for the winter. How do they know to do it? In Job 38-41, “The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind” with questions like “Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread it’s wings to the south? Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make it’s nest on high?” (39:26-27).  When we get to the end of our philosophy and scientific reasoning, to the end of our “whys?”, we are left staring into the face of God. When I get anxious, things like pole beans and birds flying overhead are good reminders that God, not man (or me!), is in control. I find this to be, honestly, somewhat frightening. But ultimately it is reassuring and very “Good News”.

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Let me apologize in advance for following up Mitchell’s “Los Suns” post with another “liberal” post.

For the past week we’ve been trying to figure out whether a trip to the Alabama coast was really going to happen or not.  Vacations are not easy to come by for our family, so the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico has really gotten our attention.  It felt a little strange, however, to breathe a sigh of relief when the oil blew west into LA.

I sometimes have people ask what the Bible has to say about the environment, and whether we should really care if it’s going to burn up anyway.  Some point to 2 Pet 3:7-10 as proof that we don’t need to care much about this world. 

Al Wolters (author of this amazing book) wrote a great article dealing with this.  “2 Peter 3 speaks of three ‘worlds,’ each consisting of heaven and earth: a world before the flood, called ‘the world that then existed’ (3:6), the present world between the flood and the Day of the Lord, called ‘the heavens and earth that now exist’ (3:7), and a future world after the Day, called the ‘new heavens and new earth’ (3:13).”  These aren’t three worlds, Wolters notes; they “are really the same world in three periods of its history.”

The comparison with the flood points not to a mere destruction, but ultimately to transformation and recreation.  What Peter is describing is not a “burning up” (the normal Greek term for “burning up by fire” is not used) but a melting-type purification or refinement.  What has thrown us off for centuries is the fact that the KJV, based on much later texts, including the normal Greek word for “burning up.”  Notice in the ESV on 2 Peter 3:7-10 that the footnotes which account for several options.  The last part of verse 10 is probably best taken as saying something like, through fire, “the earth and its works will show what they are made of.” 

Wolters concludes that some earlier scholars “have read into Peter’s text features of a Gnostic worldview which looked on the present created order as expendable in the overall scheme of things. The text of 2 Pet 3:10, on our interpretation, lends no support to this perspective, but stresses instead the permanence of the created earth, despite the coming judgement.” 

In the latest version of the academic journal Tyndale Bulletin, Jonathan Moo follows the same train of thought for 2 Pet 3:7.  For nerds only:  Al Wolter’s article, “Worldview and Textual Criticism in 2 Peter 3:10,” WTJ 49 (1987) 405-13 is online.

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