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Big Questions for Science

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Historians John O’Malley, SJ, of Georgetown University, and Mordechai Feingold, of the California Institute of Technology, will speak tomorrow, Sept. 14, at Georgetown University, during the first of Woodstock Theological Center’s three discussions titled “Georgetown, Jesuits, and the Sciences.”

Here is the press release:

Morphic resonance, oil pipeline arrests, and Dr. Suess

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Dr. Seuss , beloved children’s author, penned The Lorax over 40 years ago, soon after the first Earth day, but its theme of ecological ruin, greed, and implied regeneration of the Earth is as timely as ever.

The story relates the tragic account of a character called Once-ler, who discovered a land “where the grass was still green, and the pond was still wet, and the clouds were still clean and the brightly colored Truffula Trees swayed mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.”

Would you like a test tube with that?

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Just imagine it. Someday soon, you sidle up to your favorite, old-fashioned burger joint -- one of those that still cooks everything in-house -- and order yourself a big, juicy burger.

You take the first bite, enjoying the hints of charcoal and the flavor of grease. In a moment of introspection, you think to yourself, 'Where did this cow come from? What kind of life did it have?'

Answer: It didn't. There was no cow involved at all in that slab of meat entering your digestive system.

It's a future that isn't too far away. Mother Jones magazine's Blue Marble blog has a post today about a possible coming revolution in laboratory-grown meat products.

From the post:

Growing carrots in wading pools

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Job Ebenezer, a retired engineer living in Columbus, Ohio, has words of empowerment and comfort for folks who worry about famines, food shortages and overpopulation.

Recycle those worries.

Compost them.

Begin growing vegetables.

Lots of them.

Grow them in kiddie wading pools, plastic grocery bags, and milk containers. See them thriving in abandoned playground sites, apartment rooftops, unused portions of parking lots, balconies and even on concrete sidewalks.

Mary Faulkner and the potluck of women's spirituality

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When people ask Mary Faulkner about her religious practice, she says, “I tell them I’m a Canaanite. They look at me kind of funny at first, but most of the time, they figure it has something to do with the indigenous people of the Middle East.”

Canaanites were the ancient people of Israel who worshipped the Mother Goddess Ashera for thousands of years before a Father God emerged. (When that happened, Ahera became known as “the lost bride of Yahweh.”)

“I would root myself in that tradition,” states Faulkner, a psychotherapist who said she stopped identifying as a practicing Catholic many years ago because of the women’s ordination issue. “I decided they’d just have to get along without me,” she said cheerfully during a recent phone conversation from her Nashville, Tennessee home.

The topic of our interview was her third and latest book, Women’s Spirituality: Power and Grace.

Tilling and instilling

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Read the full story at the Catholic Voice of the Omaha archdiocese about Fr. Wayne Pavela and his 8 acre garden, where he harvests produce for the needy in the archdiocese.

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Seeds, a garden rake and eight acres.

Those are Father Wayne Pavela's building blocks each year as he grows bushels of fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, radishes, cucumbers, broccoli, grapes and apples - and then gives it all away to the needy of the archdiocese.

"He brings us quite a bit," said Patsy Konecky, store manager of food pantry and secondhand store the Simon House in Columbus, which is affiliated with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. "He's brought me radishes and garden lettuce. He's a very generous man."

'Cool congregations': The Interfaith Power & Light story, part 2

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Energy Audits and Portfolio Management

For a number of years, when a congregation joined Michigan Interfaith Power & Light (MiIPL), we provided an energy assessment of their facility conducted by a professional. The congregation now had a baseline that indicated how well their facility was performing in its energy use compared to other buildings from a similar climate and similar use.

We would provide both the report and an evening of energy education to the congregational staff and members that shared where their “low-hanging fruit” lies.

MiIPL and other IPLs across the country have partnered with EPA’s ENERGY STAR® for Congregations program [www.energystar.gov/congregations] in making ENERGY STAR’s Workbook for Congregations available to members. There is a wonderful manual at the ENERGY STAR for Congregations website, Putting Energy Into Stewardship, that is invaluable for congregations who are committed to lowering their use of fossil fuel energy.

A weekly message from your local hens

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I had lunch last week with Holy Cross Br. David Andrews, who is former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and now a representative at Washington-based Food and Water Watch. He was in Kansas City for a meeting of a sustainable agriculture group he’s affiliated with, held the day before a big Farm Aid concert that featured performers Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Dave and I talked about many things,including a look back over the last 20 years or so, at how the organic and local food movements have transformed our entire food system in America and around the world.

I told him about the Kansas City Food Circle, our own local “locavore” movement.

My wife and I helped put together the very first conference back in the early 1990s. Together we baked about 12 quiches and made tabouli for the lunch that was served that day. Attendance was about 25. Later that year we published our first local food directory, making available information about where and how to buy from local farmers. The directory took up both sides of one page.

'Cool congregations': The Interfaith Power & Light story, part 1

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In a special Earth Day, 2000, edition of Time Magazine, I came across an article on the Rev. Sally Bingham, an Episcopal priest serving Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She, in partnership with Steve MacAusland, had founded Episcopal Power & Light. Episcopal Power & Light represented a coalition of Episcopal congregations that had purchased green power. Episcopal Power & Light soon became California Interfaith Power & Light with the participation in the collaborative of congregations from other Christian denominations and Jewish synagogues. The Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) movement has spread across the country where now 38 states and the District of Columbia have recognized IPLs.

'Preach the truth as if you had a million voices' -- a Protestant's encounter with Catherine of Siena

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“Preach the truth as if you had a million voices. It is silence that kills the world.”

Catherine of Siena spoke these words of advice to her 14th century contemporaries who were weary of the violence and cruelty going on around them. Hundreds of years later, the “bad times” scenario continues on every front. But environmentalists, peacemakers and social justice advocates cannot afford to cave in to despair, as tempting as that might be. We need to be those millions of voices now more than ever.

One of those voices is Tim Ahrens. This past week, Ahrens, a Protestant minister from Columbus, Ohio, reminded us of Catherine’s timeless words in an article he wrote on the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good’s web site. Ahrens, senior minister at the First Congregational Church here, and an active member of BREAD, a social justice advocacy group made up of 52 local churches, synagogues and mosques, recently made a two-year commitment as a Dominican Associate with the Dominican Sisters of Peace. The sisters’ motherhouse is located in Columbus.

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