Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Earth Day Again, or Reality Is Not Optional -- Popcorn by The Colonel #94

Sunday was the day of four popes: two deceased popes being made Catholic saints, with the present pope and a living former pope co-presiding at the dual canonization. One for the liberals and one for the conservatives?

It makes one think of 1978, "the year of three Popes,” when Paul VI died, John Paul I was elected and died 33 days later, and John Paul II was elected, serving for 27 years until 2005.

Nineteen seventy-eight was also the year of the New York Times parody that featured the story titled “Pope Dies Again.”

There are “green” Christians and Jews who reason from (a) the Genesis account of God’s commanding humans to rule and subdue the earth and its creatures to (b) an ecological ethic of “stewardship.”

Another basis for “green Christianity” is the following reflection on the (Nicene-Constantinopolitan) Creed: the world is a continuum from angels to oysters, all of it the product of divine activity, so every creature comes from the same Father, giving Christians powerful motivation to treat all creatures as their fellows.

Christian creeds are in one sense a response to the Shema, the encapsulation of Jewish monotheism, translated alternatively as “Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” and “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!” (The capitalized LORD, together with the definite article, is a reverent substitution for the Name, the Tetragrammaton.)

"Are Christians moving beyond creeds? Have creeds a future? God only knows. Creeds are like CDs; they can sit for years doing nothing. But play them and out comes the music that was there all along. So with creeds. At crucial times, you can no longer count on your own strength of will, character, conviction, and guts. You may say, 'I don’t know where I am right now, but I want to be part of the company that says, "I believe in one God."’”

We receive cards and letters all the time about how boring the number 1729 is, but it’s not true. Seventeen twenty-nine is a very interesting number. It’s the smallest number expressible as the sum two cubes in two different ways (13 + 123 and 9 3 + 10 3). That distinction earned 1729 the title the Hardy-Ramanujan Number.

A visitor to a zoo is being taken around enclosures containing cross-bred species, with one of the staff commenting on the creatures. “This is a cross between a hen and a sparrow and we call it a Harrow,” he says. “The next is a cross between a magpie and a wren and we call it a Magren. And over there is a cross between a pheasant and a duck and we call him Joe.”

“Maybe we take too much carbon from below and put it into the sky. But stopping it altogether is the wrong solution, even if it could be arranged. Instead, let’s drop large quantities of limestone into the seas. It just might do the trick. Better to give Gaia some Tums than to turn off the world economy and throw billions into poverty.”

“You sleep. You get up. You slip into your rolltops. You go out. You jog. You watch Judge Judy. You feed the cat. You play Flappy Birds for 6 1/2 hours. You go back to sleep. You dream you’re a submarine commander but your submarine is moving through lime Jello instead of the ocean. In short, your life is a wild ride through a Long Island bowling alley in your underwear. Then you have hash browns.”

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