Monday, July 22, 2013

Sad news

We are saddened by the loss of the blog's author, Sister Ruth Ann Nistler, 81, who died on July 20, 2013, at the Grand Itasca Hospital in Grand Rapids, Minn.

A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at St. Francis Convent on Wednesday, July 24, at 11 a.m. Friends may call at St. Francis Convent on Tuesday, July 23, from 4-8:30 p.m., with a Franciscan Prayer Service at 7 p.m., and from 8:30 a.m. until the time of the funeral on July 24. Arrangements are by Emblom Brenny Funeral Service, Little Falls.

Sister Ruth was born on March 9, 1932, in St. Cloud. She was the sixth of eight children born to the late George and Anna (Mahowald) Nistler. She was accepted as a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minnesota, on July 31, 1951. She made her first profession of vows on August 12, 1953, and final vows on August 12, 1956. She was a Franciscan Sister for 61 years.

Sister Ruth was a person who loved to share her life and talents with other people. She had a deep love and admiration for the people she ministered to in South America and said that she received more from them than she was able to give to them. She had a great desire to reach the total self-giving, wholeness and holiness to which God called her. When she celebrated her golden jubilee she said, “In a way I feel that I have just begun. I look forward to the coming years as a continuing effort toward the life-long goal of becoming conformed to Christ.”

Sister Ruth received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, Minn. and a master’s degree in religious education/pastoral ministry from Fordham University, New York. She also studied at the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth; the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, and the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

Sister Ruth ministered as an elementary teacher, foreign missionary, library assistant, pastoral minister, director of religious education, receptionist, music and liturgy coordinator, pastoral associate and Hispanic minister. She served in Waite Park, St. Cloud, Osakis, Little Falls and Princeton; Yunguyo, Peru; Maracay, Venezuela; Diboll, Tex.; Huntingdon, Tenn.

Sister Ruth was preceded in death by her siblings: Mary Daigle, Reverend Edward, Andrew and Sister Florence, OSF. Survivors include siblings: Catherine Radermacher, Wadena; Lucille Dockendorf, Hines; Theresa (Dale) Brummer, The Villages, Fla.; sister-in-law, Anna Nistler, Northome; nieces, nephews and her Franciscan Community.

Donations to Franciscan Sisters Ministries preferred.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review - The God of Peace, - Toward a Theology of Nonviolence, by John Dear.

This author is a Jesuit priest and a peace activist. Born in North Carolina in 1959, he believes firmly in the possibility of world peace, and has devoted his life to this conviction. For his efforts he has been arrested more than seventy-five times, has spent nearly half his life in jail, and was threatened and mocked by an angry mob, the U.S. National Guard, the U.S. National Guard, outside his parish house in New Mexico, and he speaks of peace to large audiences throughout the country. On reading his projected Theology of Non-Violence, I am tempted to think that there is no one who could possibly live what he proclaims. --But from what I have and heard of this man, I believes he does!

He tells of speaking with a fellow-Jesuit, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, who with five of his fellow Jesuits, all of them highly educated and working for Peace and Justice in El Salvador, were receiving death threats from the military regime. He showed John bullet holes in the side of their house, to validate their fears. -- They continued to speak out for the cause of peace -- and just four months later, all six of them, along with their Salvadoran cook and housekeeper, were murdered outside their house near the university.

He and everyone else in the country were shocked and horrified by this brutality and for the killing of Archbishop Romero and four American Church women, also working for peace in El Salvador. These killings must have strengthened his resolve to offer his life for the cause of peace -- as did other martyrs in our day, including Martin Luther King. Incredibly, the U.S. government was favoring the military regime, and gave no help to the peace-keepers. The justice for the murders and violence was slow in coming. Violence and injustice still exists in El Salvador, and John Dear is continuing his mission of peace. Read of his efforts in his autobiography and other books. You can't help but be inspired by what one man can do.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review - Walking on Water, by Anthony de Mello

De Mello was born in Bombay in 1931 and died in New York in 1987. He was a much sought-after spiritual guide and was director of the Pastoral and Formation Center in Lonalva, India. He has written many books on Christian wisdom blended with Eastern methods of meditation to help us experience the peace of God. His books have been translated into many languages, and are based on stories of monks and rabbis, legends, and Zen sayings.

De Mello is a man of few words. His first chapter is all of two pages! And all thirteen chapters in this book have titles of only a single word or at least of very few words:-- Sin - Peace - Happiness - Life - Freedom - Love - Prayer - Liberation - Spirituality - The Silence That Leads to God - Leave Your Boat on the Beach - Healing the Sufferings Created By the Mind - and Stated Feelings. He does add two longer sections, entitled "Exercises and Points For Consideration" and "Ideas For Meditation and Spiritual Growth." His writing style is conversational, consisting mainly of brief questions and answers between a seeker and a wise man. He often changes rapidly from one theme to another, and at times makes puzzling statements.

The conversations often include touches of humor, common sense, deep spirituality and wisdom. You will find his writings both delightful and full of insight. And you can easily see why he became so well known and popular. His photos show him with a broad smile, as a man who enjoyed life and his place in it. Walking on Water contains a rare treasure, all within 142 pages. You will find this book and others he has written to be delightfully refreshing and deeply spiritual. (Sister Ruth Nistler, OSF).

Fresh Bread, and Other Gifts of Spiritual Nourishment, by Joyce Rupp

Joyce Rupp, a member of the Servants of Mary Community (Servites), a well-known speaker, retreat director, and author of spiritual books, has written this handbook for spiritual growth which began as a monthly newsletter for those who are caught up with their busy schedules and have little time to devote to Scripture reading or personal prayer; but still they have a hunger for nourishing their inner spirit.

The author begins with the theme of a handful of dough, which mixed with other ingredients becomes bread to nourish us and help us to grow. So in the spiritual realm, we take what we know of God and the god-life within us and the love that God reveals to us through the beauties of Creation, other persons and God's Word in Scripture --and mix it with the events of our everyday lives--to nourish our spirit and transform our lives in God and to be a blessing for others.

For each month Joyce gives a theme related to the season of the year, such as the freshness of new snow, growing through the hardships of life, searching for what is missing in our life (Lent), the joyful moments of Spring and new growth, Autumn leaves and sorrow, and preparing a dwelling place for the Lord. These themes are reinforced by brief daily Scripture readings, personal reflection, prayers in prose and poetry, questions at the end of each chapter, with suggestions for journaling and integrating daily life and prayer. You will find this small book delightfully refreshing and spiritually nourishing.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book Review - Immortal Diamond, The Search for Our True Self, By Richard Rohr

In this book, and also in his best-seller, Falling Upward and some of his other books, Richard Rohr speaks often of the ego as part of the False Self, and how it gets in the way of spiritual maturity. Throughout the book he gives many examples of the False Self and also of the True Self, which he likens to a diamond, buried deep within us. Like a diamond, it is formed under deep pressure, the pressure of our lives. It must be searched for and uncovered, and separated from the ego that surrounds it.

In the spiritual journey, our False Self must be resurrected, like Jesus, with this resurrection to be accomplished (or at least well begun) during the first half of our life. The process is of transformation, not resuscitation. The term "Immortal Diamond" reflects a line from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Richard Rohr in his unique style brings clarification to the mysteries of grace, death and resurrection. The author ends with several appendices to amplify and clarify his message. He also offers notes for each of the nine chapters. One of the praises for "Immortal Diamond" by Paul D'Arcy, another noted author states:
"The power of Immortal Diamond is impossible to exaggerate. Each word is a rare gift from a true elder and a worthy guide." 
You will find it inspirational.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review, Storms of My Grandchildren, The Truth About The Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, by James Hansen

An Urgent and Provocative Call to Action from the World's Leading Climate Scientist.

The two sub-titles of this powerful book will be, I think, enough to make you sit up and take notice. If you don't have time to read all the 300+pages, I suggest you read at least the preface and the first two chapters, then skim the next several parts, which are loaded with graphs and scientific data that give the rationale and prove the truth of the claims and warnings that the author gives us. Then read the last half carefully, returning to the parts skimmed if you doubt any of Hansen's assertions or think his urgent warnings and predictions are unfounded.

Hansen's including the names and photos of his own grandchildren gives the book a personal touch, and surely most of the readers have grandchildren or know children of that age. Now is a good time to think of the future and to take seriously the predictions and warnings given by scientists such as James Hansen and others throughout the world. What they say is often prefaced by "when" and not "if." In our day the number of people is growing who are finally waking up to the reality of global warming and climate change, especially as reports of vicious storms, deaths and destruction fill the media. But the slowness to take action is motivated by the lack of "political will", with politics and governments listening more to large corporations such as those dealing with oil, coal, or other fossil fuels than to world scientists whose assertions are based on fact. These corporations devote a large portion of their wealth on employing armies of highly paid lobbyists whose "mission" is to convince government leaders, (who have the power to change present practices), to continue "business as usual, " than to scientific facts. The principal motivation is money.

Hansen gives a devastating view of what will happen in the near future, mere decades and years from now, if we follow the course we're on. For the readers who are not directly involved in government, the best action we can do is threefold: to decrease our own "carbon imprint" and to demand our government leaders to be instrumental in radically influencing (even forcing) our large corporations to conform to the norms that will necessarily be forthcoming. Offer support to President Obama's attempts to follow world scientists' recommendations, rather than to Republican opposition. Our votes do count.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review - Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Colbert.

It seems to me that the earth situation isn't quite a catastrophe yet, but it very well could be, and soon, if we don't correct the problems we've caused. The author claims that already since the late '70's we've been warned of the build-up of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, and of the melting of polar ice and the drastic changes in our climate that will result. But despite the warnings, those dire effects are well underway…and she says that by the end of the 21st century the earth will likely be hotter than at any time in the last two million years!  And that the consequences of this will determine the course of life on earth for generations to come! We must learn the causes and how to correct them.

In fact, Kolbert says that already in the 1850's an Irish physicist named John Tyndall, in studying the gases in the atmosphere and their effects on the heat of the sun, came across what is now called the "natural greenhouse effect", which today is considered the cause of global warming and climate change.

Years ago, the author accompanied climate scientists to a resource station in Greenland, where scientists use a thermal auger to drill deep down through the ice sheet and extract "bores" of ice, that were compresses from the original snow, and that they discover snow that fell during the Civil War; even during the Pelonnesian Wars, (2,500 feet down) when cave painters painted,( 5,350 feet), and at the deepest, (10,000 feet), snow that fell on Greenland more than 100,000 years ago. When the fluffy snow melts it turn to ice, which when discovered in this fashion, reveals many ancient secrets.

Now in our age the ice of the Alaskan therma frost, and further south in the Greenland and South Pole's glaciers, is melting at a prodigious rate, and climate scientists having learned from the past, can predict into the future and warn us of future dangers, including fierce storms and even droughts, if we do not curb the growing carbon dioxide in our present and near future. Among all these ice discussion, this book has a chapter entitled "The Butterfly and the Toad," telling us of the effects of climate change on even the tiniest of our creation family's creatures. You would enjoy the book.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pope For A New World, Pope Francis, by Howard Chus-Eoan and Time Contributors

This ninety-six page special edition of Time Magazine is devoted to the Roman Catholic Church, and particularly to its leadership during the 2,000 (+) years since its foundation-- from St. Peter to its latest successor, Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the "New Shepherd," who "brings a spontaneous approach to a church full of old problems." He was born in 1936 in Buenos Aires, of an immigrant family from Turin, Italy. As he began college he chose the priesthood over a career in chemistry. He was eventually ordained a priest, shortly before the difficult and dangerous 1970's and early '80's, when Argentina was ruled by a military regime. Instead of becoming involved, as some priests were, he stayed close to the church. He became a Jesuit, and after a number of years was elected Provincial of the Order. He was appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and three years later was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II.

Despite his positions of honor, Pope Francis is noted for his humility. As a cardinal he rode on the bus and the subway. He lived in a simple apartment and made his own meals. For years he visited regularly a large slum in the district of Barracas where 45,000 people lived, the poor, unemployed, laborers, servants--humble people who were considered of no account. Each year on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, he would celebrate Mass in the tiny church of the Virgin of Caaupe, dressed as n ordinary priest . And later he walked among the people and blessed every image of The Virgin that was held out to him. It is said that 60% of the homes there have a photo of him, and he was universally venerated by the people.

Even after his election, Pope Francis continued in a humble way--choosing to stand while greeting the Cardinals instead of sitting on the papal throne, walking down to greet a Cardinal in a wheelchair, and appearing for the first time as Pope wearing a white Cossack and with an iron cross, not the customary red cape and the ornate golden cross. The next day he took the bus with the rest of the Cardinals instead of riding in the papal limousine, and he stopped by personally to pay his bill at the hotel where he stayed before the conclave. He considered his main task as leader of the Church was the one given to Peter: "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep, " --to be a lowly servant of his people. Undoubtedly his service as Pope Francis, as well as choosing the name of Francis of Assisi, the "Little poor man," will reflect his humble stance, and his ideal of humble service.

More details are given regarding Pope Francis' election and his first days in office, his life as a Jesuit, the papacy in general, and his immediate predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II and the legacy they left, including some unfinished business. Pages are devoted to the 265 popes who have gone before -- the famous and the infamous, those who "changed history" , and the present state of the Church. Pope Francis has many challenges: to meet the needs of the rapidly growing flock in Africa and Latin America, to spur on and re-energize the Catholics in Europe and North America who appear to be growing tepid, to reform the Curia, to continue to heal sex-abuse victims, to give an active role to women in Church service and leadership, to improve the relationship between the Church and non-Christian religions, and to re-fashion the Church into a body of humble service in the way of St. Francis He asks for our prayers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review - A Promise of Presence (Second Form) by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina M. Oliver

Book Review - A Promise of Presence (Second Form)
Weekly Reflections and Daily Prayer Activities, by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina M. Oliver.

This small book is a gem! Each of the fifty-two chapters, for the fifty-two weeks of the year, is divided into seven segments, for the days of the week. The chapters begin with a Scripture quote and a reflection, followed by prayers and activities related to the Scripture theme, for each day of the week. Some of the prayer activities are brief, interior love responses, and others are longer, including many suggestions for concrete actions on behalf of the person or the intention being prayed for, and also suggestions for journaling. Each chapter includes additional Scriptures and ends with a prayer from the heart directed to our loving God. Love and genuine concern permeate the book -- a tender, shared love between God and the person praying, and a benevolent love of God for each person and for all of creation.

Bridget Meehan and Regina Oliver are members of the Sisters for Christian Community. They wrote this book collaboratively, but each is the major author of their particular section and has left her initials to indicate that. They intend the book to be only a guide to prayer, letting God take the lead. The titles of the chapters include "Opening to Our Gifts", "Discovering Your Vision", "Seeing as God Sees", "Infinite, Boundless Love", "The Oneness We Share", "Becoming Christ's Presence", "Life Eternal--Now", "The Reality of Peace", and "Something to Die For." Each of the twenty-eight chapters is an entity in itself with its own theme and not related to the others. The Power of Presence is beautifully written, and besides being a wonderful prayer guide it can also be an inspiration to the reader and a help to deeper her love of God and love for others.

Since it is meant to be used daily, it would be best for each reader to have an individual copy, or at least one readily available. It is a small book, and inexpensive. I think it would be difficult to find a prayer guide better than this!

Sr. Ruth Nistler, OSF

Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review - FALLING UPWARD, A Spiritually for the Two Halves of Life, by Richard Rohr.

Fr. Richard Rohr, director of the Center of Action and Contemplation in Albuquerqe, which he founded, is the author if over twenty books and an internationally known speaker and retreat director. In this book he uses the term "Two Halves of Life" introduced by Carl Jung, and he elaborates on each of these halves with countless descriptions of each. He claims that no one can reach the "Further Journey" without undergoing the first journey, with its falling, stumbling, learning, growing, conversion and discovery of the True Self.

In the first half of life we build a "container" or self-identity ; in the second we fill it with what it was meant to hold. Much of this is encountered rather than planned, as the future is an unknown mystery and adventure to the "first-half traveler." Our life is meant for returning to God the "blueprint" we were given, with our own personal stamp. Without doing this, our life has little meaning. Fr. Rohr says that finding our True Self in the first half of life depends on the time allotted to us, and how we use our freedom. And some of us may never find our True Self. He uses Homer' The Oddesy, with the trials, falls and errors he endures as he returns home from the Trojan War, symbolic of our life's journey. No one can escape the falls, trials and suffering that are an inevitable part of the first life. In fact, these become the building blocks for a satisfying second life.

The author uses the trampoline as a symbol of the falling down and falling upward that is a part of all human life, and he points out that often the farther we fall down, the farther we can fall upward. He also speaks of Christianity and Scripture and our relationship with God throughout the book and gives endless descriptions of persons still in the first half of life and those who have "made it" into the second half, where life's problems, dilemmas and difficulties are now resolved by falling upward into a larger "brightness." You will find the book insightful and thought-provoking.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review - The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.

This small novel, Winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, is the story of an 11-year old black girl in America, Pecula Breedlove. Her love for blonde, blue-eyed children is so great that she prays constantly for her eyes to turn blue -- so others would look at her and admire her. She feels she is ugly and that no one likes her. Children won't sit by her in school, and she has few friends. If only her eyes would be blue she would be loved and admired…she thinks.

She has no love at home, with her father a drunkard and wife-beater, her mother a strange sort of woman with strange friends. In fact, the book itself seemed strange to me when I began reading it. But "strange" is not what one calls a Nobel Prize book! I soon found it most unique, different, and at times most creatively written, as: "Hereisthehouseitisgreenandwhiteithasareddooritisverypretty…" There are escapades that Pecula and her black friends are involved in, pages of conflicts between blacks and whites depicting stereotype racial patterns, colloquial language at times, such as: "What's she gone do? The mama?" "Keep on like she been, I reckon. He taken off."--(after a friend discovers that Pecula, then 12, is pregnant, having been raped by her father.)

The book is a bit raw at times, and puzzling. The author ends with an 8-page "Afterward" that explains some of what could puzzle the reader. A review in the New York Times offers the comment that "Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye is an inquiry into the reasons why beauty gets wasted in this country. The beauty in this case is black. (Her) prose is so precious, so faithful to speech, and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry… but it is also history, sociology, folklore, nightmare, and music." I invite you to read the book and see what you think.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Book Review - The Making of the Pope, 2005, by Fr. Andrew M. Greeley.

Fr. Greeley is a distinguished sociologist and bestselling author; a professor of social sciences at the Universities of Chicago and of Arizona, and a research associate at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. He has done perceptive analyses of events and political forces in the Roman Catholic Church. He tells of the daunting task of selecting the next pope after the twenty-six year's leadership of the charismatic and socially conservative Pope John Paul II. The potential candidates were as many as twenty shortly before the conclave began in 2005.

American Catholics admired and loved John Paul, but were less prone to respect his authority. Following Vatican II, American Catholics were increasingly dismissive of papal authority, Europe appeared to be more and more secular, and the more conservative Catholics of the Third World were seen as the hope of the future. The Catholic Church since the Vatican Council had become destabilized, causing crises, confusion and conflicts. In analyzing the Post-Vatican Church, Fr. Greely claimed that the most serious problem was communication on every level. The new pope, along with other Church leaders, would need above all to listen. It appears that Pope Benedict XVI was considered to be the one who could best ensure stability and continuity after Vatican II and John Paul II's long term of leadership. At 78 and in poor health, he himself said his would not be a long papacy. His principal aim was to renew the faith in Europe and around the world. (He very likely did not know in those early days that he would soon resign.)

Fr. Greeley's description of the 2005 conclave is most fascinating: First ballot… black smoke; second ballot…black smoke; third ballot…black smoke; fourth ballot…jet black smoke, then turned to gray. People shout, "It is white!" Ten minutes later the bells of St. Mary's begin to ring. Way up front German Flags are waving, especially flags of Bavaria. German bands are playing. The crowd is going wild! All are sure it is Cardinal Ratzinger. He is being received wildly by some people. Some women are squealing as though he were Frank Sinatra.! (shortened version.) Why did he choose the name Benedict? An Italian became pope in 1914,a pastoral and sensible man, and he chose the name Benedict. He wanted to be known as a healer. This is what our Pope Benedict XVI wants to be.

Fr. Greeley says Pope Benedict is misunderstood by many. He gave a brilliant homily in the Mass that ended the conclave, filled with grace and charm….and copied in full in this book. In his Concluding Reflections Greeley adds ten revealing quotes from our Pope Benedict on key concepts; and while John Paul II was still in office, the official survey center in Chicago asked a series of seven questions of the laity in 7 countries..Italy, Poland, Cermany, Spain, Ireland and the United States.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Vatican II, We've Only Just Begun, by M. Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.

Book Review -

On October 12, 1962, over 2,000 Bishops, the largest assembly of bishops the world has ever seen, entered the largest church in Christendom, convened by the elderly Vicar of Christ on Earth, to begin Vatican II, a Church Council during which God would send the Spirit to the Council Fathers-- to listen to what the Spirit had to say to the churches today. They were men of every tribe and nation --men of great learning and little learning, pastors, thinkers, pragmatists, forward thinking and traditionalists, men who had very different ideas as to what the Spirit would be telling them.

The author assumed everyone knew who the convener was. It was "the old man who had ended up on top of the heap" as Venerable John XXIII called himself. And they soon knew that it was he who would be not only the convener, but also the inspiration of the Council --even though he was to die within the first year. The 4th morning Cardinal Lienart of Lille, whom Fr. Pennington called "a true Council Father", got up and declared his conviction that the Council would be these men assembled, who would tell the Church what the Spirit of God told them to say.

They worked hard, long hours, for four years .. 1962 to 1965 … honestly trying to discern the voice of the Spirit. As Christ, their Head, had become Incarnate, so this body of the Council Founders, were men, incarnate, with differences, insecurities and weaknesses as were the apostles they represented. Many became well-known in the course of time, but Cardinal Lienart was the only Father mentioned by name, (except for Pope John Paul II and a small number of other popes.) One other, not a Council Father, Thomas Merton, was given special mention as the person, more than anyone else, who inspired the faithful to a higher life in the Spirit during those four years.

Of all the documents of Vatican II, Fr Pennington highlights the following as of particular significance: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was one of the first document promulgated, --the first self-conscious statement of the council fathers as to " what they saw themselves to be about." Of The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, along with the Dogmatic Constitution concerning Church is " one of the foundational pronouncements of Vatican II." He calls The Pastoral Constitution on Church in the Modern World "the document that most properly belongs to Vatican II." -- It "consummates and completes" the work of the Father s." --" a very explicit call of the work of the Council to go on."

In the 30 years since Vatican II, some have said "Vatican II is dead." Others say "Vatican II is alive," but perhaps the truest evaluation is that this magnificent Council is not yet finished. As Fr. Pennington says in the title of his book, "We've Only Just Begun."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ecological Footprints by Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, PhD.

Book Review – Ecological Footprints. An Essential Franciscan Guide for Faith and Sustainable Living, by Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, PhD., 2012 copyright,  St. John’s, Collegeville

This comprehensive book covers all aspects of Ecological study and it includes not only scientific data but also a vast number of writings from other sources, -- Sts. Francis and Clare, St. Bonaventure, John Duns Scotus, Ilia Delio and other well known Franciscans; quotes from The Old and New Testament and from Church Documents concerning the Care of the Earth. Each section ends with Reflection and Discussion Questions, comments on Franciscan Ecotheology, and practical suggestions for action., plus a sizable Index. It could very well serve as a valuable tool for a Book Study.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

God, Creation and Climate Change: A Catholic Response to the Environmental Crisis, Richard W. Miller, Editor

This small book consists of six essays plus a panel discussion on the present crisis of global warming and climate change. They address various aspects of the problem, and include an urgent call to action. The editor points out that although scientists throughout the world have been speaking out about this urgent world crisis for many years, solutions to the problem are slow in coming.

In the first essay, Miller quotes NASA's James Hasen, the world's most famous climatist, as saying that there is a tremendous gap between the findings of world scientists and the belief of the general public. For example, 97% of climate specialists agree that human activity is a major cause of global warming and the dramatic climate changes evident throughout the world --but only 58% of the public believes this. A main reason for this unbelief is that some aspects of global warming are not immediately evident. No one can experience personally the vast period of time that proves its existence…although recent climate changes all around the world clearly show the results of this phenomenon. Many examples abound showing the vast gap between scientific findings and the belief of the general public.

Miller gives hundreds of proofs of world temperature changes and he predicts frightening results that are already beginning.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Judgment Day, by Paul Collins; The Struggle for Life on Earth.

Paul Collins is the author of eleven books on religion, the environment and history. He lives in Canberra, Australia. This book is a powerful warning of the perils of global warming and a mobilization of the Christian conscience to change our thinking, our ways of acting, and so to save our planet.

Anonymous remarks: "The recent Gulf oil spill is just the latest depredation against the planet. From every direction come signs of global change and other forms of ecological disaster that threatens the future of all living beings. In this sobering assessment of our condition, Paul Collins examines the nature of this crisis and how we got here--including a review of the mental habits of thought, including religious worldviews, that have contributed to our dilemma and continue to inhibit effective action."

"As Collins shows, if religious ideas have contributed to the problem, there are also powerful resources within the Christian tradition that can help us--both in scripture and in the work of prophetic "geolo-gians" like Thomas Berry and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Drawing on these resources, Collins lays out the elements of a theology aimed at saving the earth and ourselves."

My additions: Besides the frightening reality of global warming, drastic climate upheavals and changes throughout the world and the equally frightening fact regarding the continually increasing pollution of the earth's atmosphere, land, water and all other resources, and the many thousands of species that are rapidly disappearing from the earth--factors of the present earth crisis that are addressed by most ecologists and environmentalists, Collins includes a chapter on world population, showing that the majority of countries are fast approaching (or exceeding) populations much greater than their carrying capacity--and the populations of most of these countries are steadily increasing. This factor of over-population alone is nearly impossible to solve in a morally acceptable manner.

Read Judgment Day, and see how enormous are the challenges to keeping our earth healthy and alive.