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'It's that simple': the real secret of voluntary poverty


The real secret about voluntary poverty and simplicity is that it can be fun. A commitment to live in simple, unwasteful ways challenges us to limit our wants and to satisfy our needs through our own resourcefulness, ingenuity, and hard but satisfying work. We must dig deep, all the way down to that restless longing and yearning for the exercise of our creativity that prowls, mostly unsatisfied, within us.

Searching through thrift shops, learning to cook or bake bread from scratch, taking the bus to work, riding bicycles, planting and caring for a garden, volunteering at the local soup kitchen or recycling center, mending clothes and repairing things ourselves – all of these activities are endless sources of entertainment and deep emotional satisfaction. They require of us humility, faith, forbearance, generosity, and imagination. In return, there is a kind of boldness, good humor, heartiness and gratitude for life that accompany embarking upon this particular adventure.

January's night skies


The planet Jupiter is visible in the southwest this month. It is well worth observing with a telescope, as Jupiter has lost its South Equatorial Belt but it now appears to be returning. At the same time, the Great Red Spot has intensified its color so is now standing out. A small telescope or good binoculars will easily pick up Jupiter's four Galilean moons as they weave their way around it.

The brilliant constellation of Orion is seen in the Southeast. I can even see it through bright city light glare rising in the East over my neighborhood at about 8pm. Moving up and to the right - following the line of the three stars of Orion's belt - brings one to Taurus; the head of the bull being outlined by the V-shaped cluster called the Hyades with its eye delineated by the orange red star Aldebaran. Further up to the right lies the Pleaides Cluster. Towards the zenith from Taurus lies the constellation Auriga, whose brightest star Capella will be nearly overhead.

Simple living: Follow your bliss


My oldest friend Paige was always fascinated by the sea, its lure and lore. When he was a kid, model ships cluttered his room, posters of sail and nautical charts papered the walls. He read every book he could find about sailing and would rhapsodize about this passionate love and his dreams until we his friends got the picture.

The picture looked like this: Paige on the slippery deck of a battered but sturdy sailboat making its way slowly through an agitated sea under a dark, threatening sky. He is busy reefing the sails and securing thick, sodden lines on the deck, making the vessel ready to endure a storm. One arm flung across the sun-cracked paint on the mast, his hands wrapped in the rigging, he surveys the heaving, leaping surface of the sea ahead with steady, glittering eyes.

Simple living: the Green Triangle


We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that reads “Live Simply So that Others May Simply Live” – a ringing call to a sustainable life. Such a life involves in the words of Mennonite author Doris Janzen Longacre, “cultivating a gentle way of handling the Earth, versatility in the face of shortage. Inner provision for contentment and more than all that commitment to live justly in our world.” A sufficient and sustainable life means being a bright and creative part of the solution rather than one more cog in the wheel of the dreadful turning wheels of the problem.

Global meat production increased over the past decade by 20 percent


According to a Worldwatch Institute report featured on Vital Signs, a page on their Web site, global meat production increased by only 0.8 percent in 2009 to 281.5 million tons, a slowdown from the 2.4 percent growth rate of 2008. But the increase continued the steady growth of the past decade. Since 2000, global meat production has risen by 20 percent.

Victory for opponents of mountaintop removal mining


In a huge victory for the Sierra Club and its allies, on January 13 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revoked a water pollution permit for the Spruce No.1 Mine in West Virginia, one of the largest mountaintop removal coal mines ever proposed in Appalachia. Read about it on the Sierra Club's Scrapbook page.

NCR's Eco Catholic Blog

Eco Catholic is an exploration of the green Catholic imagination and ecological spirituality. Contributors include Rich Heffern, NCR staff writer, columnist and author, and Carol Meyer, executive director of the Sustainable Sanctuary Coalition.

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'Earth's wondrous mosaic of watersheds'


A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is: "that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental United States, there are approximately 2,110 watersheds.

Genesis Farm: Living locally while honoring and learning about the new cosmology


Genesis Farm near Blairstown, New Jersey, is one of the oldest of the Earth-friendly enterprises in the nation sponsored or supported by a womens' religious community -- in this case the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey. I talked with Sr. Miriam MacGillis, its founder and director, about the Farm and its work.

What is Genesis Farm?

Genesis Farm consists of 231 acres of farm land totally in protection, owned by the Dominican sisters, and established in 1980. The Dominican sisters, of course, have been involved in education for centuries. Our present expression is an agricultural one. We started a CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscription farming program which is in its 23rd season now.

Panel discussion on the evolution of faith and reason


Tonight Evolutionary Christianity will broadcast its second live panel discussion. At 5:00pm Pacific / 8:00pm Eastern, host Michael Dowd will be joined by Karl Giberson, Ilia Delio, John Haught, and Joan Roughgarden for a roundtable discussion on "The Evolution of Faith and Reason".

Some of the questions that will be explored are: What does a healthy marriage between faith and reason look like? What widely accepted scientific facts present challenges to our faith? Why is it essential for religious people to offer inspiring interpretations of what God is revealing to us through science, and how can this be done most effectively?

This is a live event, with ample opportunity for you to pose questions for the panelists during the broadcast itself (via the computer interface). To sign up for access visit the Evolutionary Christianity blog's home page.

Take a sabbatical in nature


I know I’m talking to a select audience here, as most people are tied to jobs and family and would find it hard to get away for a sabbatical. But for some of you, it could be arranged if you really wanted to do it. And for the rest of you, maybe I can convince you to at least take your next vacation in nature.

This whole idea is no abstract theory for me. My passion for recommending this is based on my experience of a two-month sabbatical in 1997 at Shantivanam, a nature-based retreat/prayer center near Kansas City, Mo. Guests stay in small cabins in the woods, and join the staff for contemplative prayer and meals in the main building (a barn in another life), and otherwise amuse themselves with silence and the bounty of the natural world.


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In This Issue

February 27- March 12, 2015


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