Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

Vanity of vanities, says Ecclesiastes; vanity of vanities, and all is vanity. --Ecclesiastes 1:2

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We Are In God's Hands

I recently received the May/June 2010 issue of Science Illustrated, one of my favorite magazines. The lead story introduces a new technological concept some scientists are getting into called "geoengineering." This would involve manipulation of the Earth itself to save humanity from predicted disasters of its own making, such as global warming. One of their ambitious ideas is to encircle the globe with gigantic mirror arrays that would reflect sunlight away from Earth. The payoff could be enormous, these scientists tell us, but the risks are also tremendous. I feel that this particular method of geoengineering is a classic case of attacking the disease by treating the symptoms while ignoring the cause. The problem with global warming is not in the amount of sunlight reaching Earth, but in the man-made greenhouse gases that trap more of its warmth and could potentially lead to a runaway greenhouse effect. It is dealing with these greenhouse gases from artificial sources right here on Earth and in our atmosphere that we will effectively address any problem of artificial warming, not by reengineering the planet from the outside in.

In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI has warned us of an error widely prevalent in the modern fields of science and technology, namely, the idea that we human beings must take complete control of Earth and determine our own destiny. Here I'd like to quote Bishop Thomas Wenski, whom the pope recently appointed as archbishop of Miami, Florida and who was himself quoting our Holy Father from Deus Caritas Est: "'We are only instruments in the Lord's hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world.' In all humility we will do what we can, and in all humility we will entrust the rest to the Lord. It is God who governs the world, not we."

While seeking solutions to the great problems facing our twenty-first century world, humanity must trust more than ever in the Lord and in His infinite mercy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thought for the Day

I believe that the forces of life and the desires for communion are greater than the forces of death and hatred. At some moment in each of our lives there is an event that calls us to freedom and openness. At that point of epiphany we want to get out of the hole of depression and anger. We realize that we are imprisoned in ourselves or in our group, finding it difficult to relate to others....

To open up to others implies not only an awareness of our own fears, darkness, and brokenness, but also the presence of a light, a love, and an energy that will give the desire to move forwards to openness and not let ourselves be controlled by the darkness.

-- Jean Vanier

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI -- Fifth Anniversary of Election

April 19, 2005 -- a day that we will always remember.

"Habemus Papam!" -- "We have a pope!"

A Happy 5th Anniversary, with prayers and best wishes for our beloved Holy Father, Benedict XVI.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Father Corapi to Release an Autobiography!

This past Wednesday evening, Father Corapi was on EWTN's Bookmark with Doug Keck discussing his soon-to-be-published autobiography. This ought to be a fascinating book to read. Although Father has told his life story many times in conjunction with his conversion story, he has never gone publicly into the depth and detail that this autobiography will contain. This will be the complete story--from Father's early childhood in upstate New York through his brief stint in the Army, his days as a multimillionaire accountant in southern California, his drug addiction and subsequent homelessness, re-conversion to the Faith, seminary studies, ordination and years of preaching the Gospel all over the United States and the world. One interesting detail of Father's life previously unknown to me and which he mentioned on the show was that he grew up within half an hour of Stockbridge, Massachusetts--the headquarters of the Divine Mercy devotion in the United States. In this book, Father Corapi will delve into other lesser-known aspects of his life such as his brief experience as a parish priest in his hometown, and his longtime friendship with Mother Angelica, including his firsthand witness of her miraculous healing in January of 1998.

As Father Corapi's amazing life and fruitful ministry have been, his autobiography will surely be a powerful testament to the fact that God's Name is Mercy, and that His infinite mercy is strikingly evident in every twist and turn of our lives. I will be watching for this book, and I can't wait to read it when it comes out--late this year or early next, according to predictions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Weather, Gardening and Global Warming

When the sun is shining, temperatures are pleasant and everything green is starting to sprout and grow, it makes you want to get outside and do some gardening. Spring has come early this year, but even if the weather is a little premature, it still has the same effect on us. As a result of unusually mild conditions in this area last month, (followed by summerlike conditions in early April,) I started working in my garden unusually early, in March. It seems strange to be outside sweating under a cooking sun when the threat of frost and cold nights is still very real, and it's too early to plant summer vegetables. Climate change is doing some interesting things to our weather.

One of the predictions of climate change scientists is that global warming will not simply produce overall warmer weather for the planet, but more extreme weather. This prediction has been borne out in the last few years all over this country and the world: increased rainfall in some areas, decreased rainfall in others; colder and drier winters in some places, snowier winters in others; bigger hurricanes, hotter summers, etc. Some of these changes have not caused any apparent major negative effects in the regions where they are taking place; other have led to serious problems for millions of people, as for example the severe droughts in parts of Africa causing widespread famine there.

However, we should not become overly alarmed about these changes that are occurring. In his book The Weather Makers, one particular climate change expert--author Tim Flannery-- has mixed a wealth of interesting research and data on the subject of climate change with a number of major scientific, historical and logical errors. For example, Flannery presents incontrovertible evidence that our planet has been warming up over the past fifty years. But when it comes to the cause of this warming trend, Flannery places the blame squarely on increased human population and fossil-fuel activity and rules out all possible natural causes. In a related error, Flannery claims that the current warmup is without precedent in human history. Both of these flimsy myths can be deconstructed rather easily.

It is a well-accepted fact that the burning of fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases, which trap the Sun's heat in Earth's atmosphere and contribute to global warming. However, to place the blame for the current warming entirely on this process is incorrect. Earth's temperature does fluctuate slightly over periods of decades and centuries; these slight variations are natural, and have nothing to do with human activity or the lack thereof on Earth. For instance, in Medieval Europe, an Ice Age was followed by the Medieval Warm Period, during which Greenland was warm enough for Leif Ericson to establish colonies and plant vineyards there. This fact of the historical record, known to legions of schoolchildren, is casually dismissed by Flannery as "bunk." (p. 44)

It is obvious that natural causes must have been responsible for the Medieval Warm Period; the human population and burning of fossil fuels then were a fraction of their values today, and far too insignificant to affect the Earth's climate. And if this is so, then natural causes may be primarily responsible for the warm period we are currently beginning to experience. Flannery downplays the importance of such cause and effect relationships as "an unhelpful way of thinking." (p. 162)

Flannery's book is useful for the scientific research it contains on global warming, changes in Earth's climate, and the effects of both on various ecosystems (notably the Great Barrier Reef) during the last five decades. But its author fundamentally errs in attributing the warming entirely to greenhouse gases produced by modern human civilization, and ignoring natural causes altogether. After all, the greatest and most powerful natural influence on Earth's weather and climate is beyond our planet: the Sun itself. There is a strong correlation between recent changes in solar activity, observed and documented by astronomers, and changes in Earth's climate documented during the same period.

We should do what we can to take care of our planet, including reducing our pollution of Earth's atmosphere with greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, but at the same time we should be aware that Earth is going through a natural warming cycle that must play itself out regardless.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Meaning of Holy Week

Alleluia -- He Is Risen!

This evening I was watching a talk on DVD by Father Corapi from his classic series "Immortal Combat," in which Father mentioned the importance of always coming as a servant for others in humility. This jogged my memory about something I had intended to post during Holy Week but didn't get around to posting. It was a quote from an obscure abbot who was a friend of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux that I felt was an appropriate meditation for "the Week that changed the world." I am posting it now, because its timeless message is a good reminder for all Christians of the heart of their faith, regardless of the time of year.

What could be more just than that you should serve Him by whom you were created, without whom you cannot exist; and what could be more blessed or more sublime than to serve Him? To serve Him is to reign. "I will not serve," man says to his Creator. "Then I will serve you," his Creator says to man. "You sit down, I will minister, I will wash your feet. You rest; I will bear your weariness, your infirmities. Use Me as you like in all your needs, not only as your slave but also as your beast of burden and as your property. If you are tired or burdened I will carry both you and your burden, so that I may be the first to keep My own law."

"Bear one another's burdens," we read, "and so you will fulfill the law of Christ."

--Blessed Guerric of Igny

Monday, April 5, 2010

Update: America's Back-Door Enemy

It's time for an update on my book about terrorism. Tate Publishing has started the niche marketing phase of promotion for America's Back-Door Enemy. This is a part of book marketing that I have been especially looking forward to. Niche marketing targets the specific audience I had in mind when writing the book--namely, Catholics as well as other Christians and people who are interested in reading about the subjects of terrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and international relations from a well-grounded moral perspective--as opposed to merely informing local media outlets in my area about the book, as was done in an earlier phase of marketing. Thus a niche strategy has the potential to be much more effective in selling my book than general marketing. At a later date, an even more specific phase of marketing will target individual bookstores around the United States.

I have worked with my marketing rep to plan a unique niche strategy for America's Back-Door Enemy, and now he is carrying it out. We'll see what happens, and I'll let you know the results in a future post.