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Some Earth-friendly recipes

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There are many conscious ways to keep from harming Mother Earth. Our food choices rank high on the list.

Cooking with nutritional yeast is a tasty way to move away from a meat-heavy diet. This wondrous ingredient is an inactive form of yeast. Available in bulk at organic groceries, nutritional yeast is yellow in color with a nutty, cheesy flavor. It works as a coating for tofu, for making gravy, for flavoring veggie stir frys, and even for sprinkling on popcorn. I discovered nutritional yeast about 15 years ago through a vegetarian housemate.

One night, Mary created a delicious supper consisting of buckwheat groats, gravy, steamed summer squash and salad.

Shirley Rhodes Patterson, a longtime friend now living in Fox, Arkansas, clued me in to using nutritional yeast as a breading for tofu. Shirley has been cooking vegetarian for many years, since her marriage.

Climate change talks began in Germany

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The UN sponsored climate change talks began in Bonn, Germany on June 6th 2011 and will run until June 17th 2011. These talks will attempt to revive negotiations on various aspect of climate change so that a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty, a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, can be signed at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, later in the year.

While the UN negotiation process on climate change was revived and strengthened at the Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010, none of the hard decisions were taken, especially when it came to pledging serious cuts in CO2 levels from economically rich countries. There was general agreement among the participants at Cancun that deep cuts in emissions “are required ….. so as to hold the increase in global average temperatures below two degrees Celsius.”

Br. David Andrews: The morality of fracking

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Holy Cross Br. David Andrews is a senior representative at Food and Water Watch, a consumer group based in Washington. He is former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

Human illness, environmental contamination, serious animal illnesses, a danger to our food system: these are some of the discovered effects of hydraulic fracking, a now growing method of releasing natural gas for energy production.

Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of pressurized water, chemicals, and sand into the earth to loosen shale to release natural gas. Headaches, dizziness, endocrine disruption, cancer, memory loss, complaints about gastrointestinal problems have been among the illnesses resulting from contact with fracking’s contaminated water. Evidence has mounted that earthquakes in Arkansas have resulted from using this method of gas recovery. Polluted water has harmed animals as well as humans. Some fracking has caused exploding wells.

Book review: The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton

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THE ENVIRONMENTAL VISION OF THOMAS MERTON
By Monica Weis, SSJ
Published by the University Press of Kentucky, $32

Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote in his journal: “I myself am part of the weather and part of the climate and part of the place … It is certainly part of my life of prayer.”

Author and Merton scholar Sr. Monica Weis, after reading Merton’s journals carefully, says she suddenly realized how profoundly weather had been shaping Merton’s spirituality over the years:

Cars, trains and chariots: When will we finally get transportation right?

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Human psyches are hardwired to fly, it seems – whether the “flying” consists of speeding straight ahead in our cars on eight-lane freeways or soaring through the air in silver-winged jet planes at 500 miles per hour. In ancient times, we sped from place to place in horse-drawn carriages and chariots.

In neither age have we gotten it quite right, however. Transportation was, and still is, a mixed bag. Eric Morris, a doctoral student in the UCLA department of urban planning, writes in an Internet article that horse pollution was so bad in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar had to ban horse-drawn carts between dawn and dusk in an effort to curb ”noise, gridlock, accidents and other unpleasant byproducts of the urban equine.”

Such problems continued well into the 19th century, when both the human and horse populations soared, not just in Rome, but across Europe and then America.

The best lunar map so far

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There have been nearly 50 missions to study the Moon since Luna 2 arrived in 1959, but only now are high-quality image maps of our entire satellite becoming available.

The best so far available has been constructed from photos taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO). This spacecraft is equipped with a high-resolution camera that reveals objects on the lunar surface only a few feet across.

A browsable image of the Moon's near side provided by the LRO is available for viewing at a site provided by Arizona State University's LRO team.

A lesson from nature

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This reflection comes from Joni Woelfel. She is the author of three books with Acta Publications including Tall in Spirit: Meditations for the Chronically Ill, The Light Within: A Woman’s Book of Solace and Craving Hope: A Spiritual Companion on Your Weight Loss Journey.

My husband pulled the cord on our new little red garden tiller and as it started right up, I clapped my hands and shouted in pleasure above the putting motor, “I love the sound of it!” Then, off my husband went, to test it out on our hosta beds. Sure enough, it worked like a charm, deeply churning the soil along borders, up the hill and in the garden. My husband and I looked at each other like we were the cat’s meow, laughing out loud.

Both approaching 60, we are in the stage where we are planning ways to make taking care of our gardens and life more manageable. In this case, a lot less hand-hoeing is something we are excited about. I could hardly wait to tell our kids about the extravagant purchase, as we are all garden and landscaping enthusiasts.

Rural life conference publishes new Food Security and Economic Justice study guide

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The Des-Moines, Iowa-based National Catholic Rural Life Conference has published a study guide on hunger and poverty. It's both a reflection and a call to action and justice.

"It begins with an observation of the world as we know it: A world with resources and knowledge to produce ample food for all, and yet too many people have little to eat and few resources to lift themselves out of poverty.

"The content of this study guide delves into a critical reflection on how we relate the current world situation to the Story and Vision of our Catholic faith.

The guide concludes with the possibilities for action by individuals and groups. The hopeful result is a change in attitudes and behaviors accomplished in a spirit of solidarity with the poor and the care of God’s creation."

The fine-tuned universe -- part one

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Science, once seen as the enemy of spirituality, is now making common cause with it in one area, in a search for meaning and purpose.

It seems absurd to think of humans influencing distant stars, but science tells us now that the simple fact of our existence does turn out to have profound implications for the ultimate questions. According to a growing number of hard-nosed physicists, the laws of nature are so finely tuned, and so many “coincidences” have occurred to allow for the possibility of life, the universe must have come into existence through intentional planning and intelligence. Many others are not so sure.

'Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream'

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Scenes of species extinction-in progress can be too much to witness. Remember that heart-twisting photo of a mother polar bear cuddling her cub? The two are trapped on a last remaining chunk of ice, surrounded by water. Overwhelmed by sadness and rage, but feeling totally helpless to change the reality, we numb out.

Earlier this spring, teachers from three Sisters of Mercy Catholic high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area were not numbing their feelings. Instead, they were quietly weeping and raging over video clips they had seen of environmental devastation. These teachers were participating in a six hour inter-active educational symposium, “Awakening the Dreamer: Changing the Dream,” organized by the Burlingame, Calif. Sisters of Mercy. More than 100 teachers took part in three separate faculty retreat days.

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In This Issue

April 11-24, 2014

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