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The Zen Buddhist tradition often makes use of the koan, a pithy question or dilemma that is posed by a master to the aspiring student.

The most famous example of a koan is “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” but there are many more: “What was your original face before you were born?” “Has a dog the Buddha nature?” The aim of the koan is to produce a short-circuit in the mind and spirit of the aspirant that leads to new insights or even to qualitatively different ways of understanding or experiencing the world. The mind is startled out of its usual sluggishness by the koan into a more alert perception.

'The Tree of Life' asks 'Who are we to You?'


Terrence Malick’s new film, “The Tree of Life,” is at once a wide-ranging meditation, an elegaic cinematic rendering of what it’s like to be a child, and a litany of sounds and images of humankind, nature and, incredibly, the Earth’s beginnings. It opens with the ultimate rank-pulling quote from the end of the Book of Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”

Priest calls for synod on creation


from the Catholic News Service Blog, written by Dennis Sadowski

A synod for creation? Columban Fr. Sean McDonagh believes it would be a good thing for the church and for the future of the Earth.

He repeated his suggestion for Pope Benedict XVI to call such a synod during a visit to the Center of Concern in Washington May 17 in a visit also sponsored by Pax Christi USA and Missionary Society of St. Columban.

“It would give everyone a chance to share insight,” said the Irish priest, who has spent more than 30 years urging the world to do a better job of caring for God’s creation. “The synod would be a great impetus to the task for caring for the earth and caring for every creature. It would give new life to the Catholic faith in contemporary society.”

It’s not just the duty of the Catholic church to care for the Earth, but for all religions to lead the way, he said.

The rush toward summer


This is excerpted from the writings of Hal Borland, who penned a nature column in the New York Times for years.

The urgency is upon all of us and every growing thing around us. Daylight now approaches fifteen hours, but still there isn't enough time to [img_assist|nid=24780||desc=|link=none|align=left|width=131|height=147]do, to see, to participate as we would. The farmer hurries her planting to be ready for the hay crop swiftly maturing. The suburbanite mows his lawn and wages war with the dandelions and the crabgrass, hoping for an idle weekend or a free evening. The gardener is caught between spring bulbs and summer annuals, between peas and corn and beans and the annual crop of weeds.

Meanwhile, the trees spread their green canopy, hurry their blossoms to maturity and seedling, and the chlorophyll works overtime, feeding new shoots and old stems. Brooksides, purple with violets last week, begin to flush with wild geraniums. Meadows where bluets were like frost two weeks ago are freckled with buttercups. Cool woodland margins that have had their succession of hepatica, bloodroot, anemones, wild ginger and trilliums, now are peopled with Jack-in-the-pulpits.

Global climate change and religion


An article on the Huffington Post Green blog explores the connection between global warming denialism and religion. Evidence exists that many who deny the dangers of global warming do so out of religious conviction. A Pew survey asked the following question: "Is there solid evidence the Earth is warming?"

Physicist and author Victor Stenger breaks down the responses according to religious affiliation or non-affiliation, then lays out further details of a connection between evangelicals in particular and opposition to the consensus of climate scientists.

He gives the Catholic church credit for becoming increasingly green.

Prayers for the floods to recede


Good and gracious God,
all the elements of nature obey your command.
Calm the waters that threaten us
and turn our fear of your power into praise of your goodness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

God, our provider, we acknowledge you
as the only source of growth and abundance.
With your help we will plant our crops again,
and by your power they will produce our harvest.
In your kindness and love,
make up for what is lacking in our efforts.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
-- from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference

A good word about New Age


I’ve gone to a psychic fair, used colored stones to help balance my chakras, applied flower essences to improve my mood, participated in a sweat lodge, listened to a channeled message, had my astrology chart done, read a book on past lives, and done a lot more things labeled “new age.” And no lightning bolt from heaven has struck me down for daring to stray into what some would think is dangerous territory, inconsistent with being a good Catholic.

Here is the simple premise of this blog. We don’t have to be afraid of all these varied methods and paths to finding self-realization, spirituality, and wholeness. We are not betraying our Christian heritage or consorting with the devil by exploring them. Yes, there are some things we need to be careful and discerning about but on the whole we can benefit from new age (whatever that means) experiences if these things appeal to us. And even if they don’t we can still respect them. And it might even broaden us to learn something about them.

An amazing link: Interactive photograph of the entire night sky


The Photopic Sky Survey is a Web site with a 360-degree, interactive composite photograph of the entire night sky as seen from Earth.

In it we see tens of millions of stars, the glowing factories of newborn ones, and a rich tapestry of dust all floating on a stage of unimaginable proportions.

Assembled and photgraphed by Nick Risinger, it's a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures. Large in size and scope, it portrays a world far beyond the one beneath our feet and reveals our familiar Milky Way with unfamiliar clarity. When we look upon this image, we are in fact peering back in time, as much of the light—having traveled such vast distances—predates civilization itself.


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In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


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