I believe that my wife and I have such a unique story that even Nicholas Sparks would want to buy the rights for his next best seller. You see, we have been close friends for nearly sixteen years. We served together in our youth group, of which her father was the youth pastor. We performed skits together. We were in the praise band together. We also dated. We were the familiar story of high school sweethearts; only our story broke from traditional patterns. In Jamie’s senior year of high school, her father took a position and moved his family to Tennessee. This brought the tentative conclusion to our relationship. As a result, I began to identify with all the sob songs of those with broken hearts. My world ended, or at least, that is what my heart wanted me to believe. Continue reading →
In Jeffrey Ball’s interview with Vaclav Smil (Wall Street Journal Business and Environment page, April 9, “Looking for a Global Energy Solution? Well, Don’t”), Mr. Smil rightly maintains that when looking for energy solutions, “It’s all regional. It’s all local. And we just have to descend to that level to judge it.” That is, there is no one-size-fits-all, top-down solution from the UN, Washington, Kyoto, or wherever. Instead, local geography, weather conditions, needs, and especially local knowledge are the best means for determining what sorts of energy production and policies should be adopted in each region. Mr. Smil errs, however, by implying that Americans are somehow immoral or misguided for consuming 310 gigajoules of energy per capita, while “Japan and rich countries in the EU are about 170.” Mr. Smil asks whether consuming so much energy makes Americans smarter, happier, or live longer than the Europeans or the Japanese. By asking this he seems to assume that being smarter, happier, or living longer are the only good reasons for consuming energy. Finally he asks, “what have we gotten for consuming twice as much energy as Europe?” One answer Mr. Smil fails to see is GDP. By any measurement the United States exceeds its closest competitor (China) in total GDP by almost twice as much. Of course, the EU as a whole exceeds the US GDP (just barely), but keep in mind that total EU population is almost double that of the US. Continue reading →
Did you hear about the “victory lap” celebration in the Rose Garden? On April Fool’s Day of all days. There was much handclapping because 7.1 million people signed up for health insurance. It was a standing O for Obama Care. No one there seemed to notice how foolish it was to celebrate obedience to something that was mandated by law—tax law in fact, that carries the “threat of punishment” from the most powerful government on the face of the earth. Maybe we should celebrate on the Ides (15th) of April as well as the first of April? It too is a deadline for something mandated by law… income tax.
We praise folly when we applaud weak obedience to a particular unpopular law. And, we play the fool to stand in ovation because some have shown obeisance to a particular law at the very moment when the Rule of Law itself exits the world stage, stage left.
I remember watching the news of the BP oil spill back in 2011 and finding it hard to believe that an accident like an explosion on an oil rig could do so much environmental damage. In addition to the lives lost on the rig, there was the 200,000+ gallons of oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, killing plant and animal life and crippling a fishing industry that thousands of coastal residents relied on for their livelihood. Reflecting on the incident reminded me of the words from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called “God’s Grandeur”:
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
An event like the BP oil spill reminds us of the critical role human beings play in the world and the danger that we can pose to it, especially in an age of rapid technological advancement. Technology has provided us with efficient ways of using (and protecting) natural resources but also an incredible potential to do harm to the earth. We have an unprecedented capacity for leaving our smudge and smell on the created order.
Technology is also a double-edged sword in that it helps to protect us from natural forces of the earth but also insulates us from the effects that we have on the earth. Modern technology gives us the false impression that we can ignore our environmental irresponsibility by keeping the effects of our wastefulness out of sight and out of mind. Perhaps this is something akin to what Hopkins had in mind when he wrote “nor can foot feel, being shod.” We aren’t aware of our “carbon footprints” anymore.Continue reading →
In recent weeks, several God movies were in the top ten at the box office this week (Son of God, God is not Dead, and Noah)… and another is “coming soon” (Exodus). It seems that Hollywood is becoming a little more “holy.” The Gladiator (Russell Crowe) is now Noah and The Batman (Christian Bale) is Moses in the latter two big budget feature films. And each of these movies has an ensemble of top of the A-List actors condescending to play Biblical characters—a rare thing in our generation. Here are two possibilities for these rarities. First, the many hundreds of millions of dollars made by The Passion of the Christ might have given the studios the passion to invest in Biblical stories. And second, these big budget Biblical blockbusters have attached to them top of the A-List auteurs (directors), who will certainly practice their artistic license to co-opt Biblical characters. In other words, Batman and Gladiator know that these directors will present Noah and Moses as, well, Batman and Gladiator—what Holywood calls “authentic” characters, which, in Hollywood speak, means unauthentic modern characters (skeptical, ambivalent, conflicted and obsessed with modern obsessions). Continue reading →