Thursday, September 26, 2013

God in My Everything, by Ken Shigematsu

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of review. My integrity is not for sale. Those who know me well are aware I would relish the chance to give a bad review in exchange for a free book. If I've failed to do so, it has nothing to do with the source of the material and only with the material itself.

Sorry for the long delay between reviews. After some ordering and shipping shennanigans, I ended up with two copies of God in My Everything, a book I wasn't sure I wanted in the first place.

I'm not a huge fan of those "five steps to an easy solution" books that are so popular among Christian publishers. There are a lot of them to choose from. I requested this one, hoping it would be something different.

The book starts out pretty dry and formulaic, discussing the place a Rule of Life has had in the life of the author, the concept's background, etc. The majority of the book explores twelve areas of life that make up the "trellis" of a Rule of Life - a series of practices given priority in the life of an individual to help maintain balance and wholeness.

The twelve ideas immediately rang of a neat bulleted list, but Shigematsu does well to speak of them in broad, overarching ways, creating pockets of understanding without resorting to specifics and details. I can picture a fight between author and editor the whole way through, but author seems to win out.

Shigematsu comes to ministry from a business background and there are some elements of formula that creep in from time to time - for example, he does an exquisite job of creating an open, vibrant picture of Sabbath and then insists Sabbath must be done one day a week. There is also a chapter on sexual expression, where he (rightly) explains that sexual expression is not always about sex, but spends most of the chapter talking about sexual ethics and very little time exploring ways in which sexuality can be expressed outside of physical intimacy.

Those critiques aside, the book is very good and should be a practical help to anyone who reads it seriously. I had been exposed to the idea of a Rule of Life during my seminary experience and had previously made use of some aspects of it for my own balance and sanity. I have since gotten away from those practices. I will be using this book as a jumping off point to regain some calm and stability moving forward and to help focus my life on Kingdom priorities.

I remain skeptical about those books which claim to make you a better Christian/spouse/parent/employee, and this book does not make that claim. However, God in My Everything, if taken seriously and prayerfully, could put you on the path to just those ends.

If the rest of my experience with this review project is as surprisingly beneficial as the first two, I will be quite satisfied.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Paying Student Athletes

When I was younger, my family lived in Northern Vermont. We could not get cable at our house, so we survived with a large antenna on the roof and five channels - ABC, CBS, FOX, CBC, and something in French, also from Canada. We could get NBC, but it was incredibly fuzzy and often the audio would go in and out.

I have early memories of watching Michael Jordan win NBA finals games through a haze of static with my youngest brother yelling "Michael Me, Michael Me" at the top of his lungs (my brother's name is Jordan).

My first college sports memory is North Carolina's men's basketball championship in 1993. I was eleven by then, but as the oldest child in a non-sports watching household, I had to discover everything for myself. I remember seeing giant, awkward Eric Montross hugging his sweaty teammates (Montross later went on to play for the Boston Celtics wearing the immortal single zero uniform number - that always makes me smile for some reason). I couldn't root for North Carolina, though, they were the bad guys and I liked the Michigan Fab Five, whom they beat.

I liked the Fab Five mostly because I like when things happen that haven't happened before - and five freshman starting in the National Championship game was pretty unique.

All of this is prelude to something that probably should have been said in one sentence at the top. The first players I really resonated with in college basketball were Tyus Edney and Ed O'Bannon (along with Toby Bailey) on the 1995 UCLA championship team. While it was Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcat champions two years later who really grabbed my attention (and my loyalty), the UCLA team was the first one I rooted for because of some mystical attachment to the players.

Fast forward far too many years, Ed O'Bannon is the lead plaintiff in a class action suit filed by former college athletes against the NCAA. They're suing for compensation and control of the rights to their own likenesses - in video games and such.

The NCAA makes a lot of money licensing players' likenesses for video games and advertisement, even merchandise sales. They try to skirt the issue by not including specific names, but as an avid fan of EASports' College Football '97 for SEGA Genesis, I can tell you almost every actual college player is on that game, even if their names are absent - right down to Alex Van Pelt leading the explosive Nevada Wolfpack offense which you can use to upset an unsuspecting opponent who says, "fine, I'll play with you, but you have to choose a bad team."

This lawsuit has added current players and gotten permission to proceed through the court system. It's been legitimized. They may not win, but the NCAA is going to have fight it. The lawsuit has also lead to a larger discussion of the economics of college sports and whether a scholarship is enough compensation for players (mostly men's basketball and football) who raise significant revenue for their schools.

This week, a number of college football players have written messages on their pads and arm bands to stand in solidarity with the group working to secure increased benefits.

It's a difficult issue. For many of us who paid (and are still paying) for college, the idea of room and board with a small stipend for living expense sounds like a plum deal. Of course, these athletes are essentially banned from working other jobs. There are limits on who they work for and the huge time constraints of major college sports make anything beyond a small work-study position impossible.

The Athletic Departments of major football school rake in a lot of money, selling outrageously priced tickets and merchandise and whatnot. However, they also spend a lot of money, which means, in the end, only a couple dozen schools even end up in the black at the end of the year. Under the current model, there's very little money to give.

I support the O'Bannon lawsuit, not because I have warm feelings for Ed O'Bannon (though I do), but because it makes sense that students who can make money from their image, whether in commercial endorsements or other means, should be able to do so. They may be getting paid because of their ability to play, but they're not being paid to play - I recognize that's a fine line, but it's an important one.

The NCAA is already speaking out of both sides of their mouth there anyway. A guy can get drafted into baseball, sign a $2 million dollar contract, then decide baseball isn't for him, head back to college and be allowed to play football. Yet, a decade or so ago, Colorado football player Jeremy Bloom, who was also an Olympic level skier, wasn't allowed to sign modeling or endorsement contracts (which arose only because he's a famous skier and had nothing to do with his mediocre football skills) and retain his college eligibility. It's capricious.

I know those rules are in place so schools can't use "endorsement" money as an under the table way to pay players. But players already choose schools based on how much exposure they'll get to tv audiences, why would considering endorsement possibilities not fit into the same category?

At the same time, I don't think student athletes deserve more than scholarships and a small stipend for playing the sport of their choice in college. An education is a valuable commodity, one that will bring with it much more than the $150,000 value of the degree over the course of a lifetime. Money sports athletes really have little to complain about when world-class athletes in other college sports have to do with half scholarships or none at all simply because there isn't a television market for their skills.

If a kid is good enough or famous enough to make some money on his image - let him do it. Treat them like any other college kid - and hold them to a high standard of academics.

The NCAA is beginning to catch on here, but it's just a drop in the bucket of ways the system needs to change. Student athletes need to be making progress towards a degree, not spending four years taking intro course in every subject under the sun. The NCAA and the schools themselves need to do a better job of holding the athletic department accountable for the education of their athletes.

Part of that could be guaranteeing an athletic scholarship for the number of credit necessary to graduate. Currently, the players get only one year guaranteed, scholarships are renewed (or not) every year. If your coach was a bad judge of talent, you pay the price, not him. If the kid is good enough to get the offer, he should be good enough to get four years of school. Mistakes in judgment should come back on those making the decisions. And, obviously, if the student can't keep up academically, they can't enroll anyway. It would also allow those players who take minimal classes while playing to take the rest of their necessary credits after their eligibility is over.

Second, athletic departments should be required to scholarship all athletes at the same level, with a minimum number of require sports for big-time football schools. One's athletic fortunes should not be dependent on the whims of TV viewers. There should also be a requirement for contributions from the athletic department to the school's general fund every year - say ten percent of revenue. Hold the athletic department accountable to benefit the school in more ways than TV exposure. They're just going to get the rich boosters to chip in the difference anyway (many schools likely have boosters giving this money already) - it won't be a big change, but it won't allow athletic departments to spend extravagantly.

It's a money game. Money runs the show. We all know that. I'm not even sure there's anything wrong with it. What's wrong is our refusal to set up measures to make sure the money is benefiting everyone. Right now, cash strapped, often desperately poor athletes from desperately poor families are getting kicked out of school for associating themselves with unseemly types just to make rent or buy food. These kids, whose athletic abilities managed to get them a chance at an education when there likely wouldn't have been any chance otherwise, are losing out on both the education and the experience because the people in power are greedy.

You don't have to pay them a salary to give them a chance. Just treat them like human beings, or, you know, any other student at the school. Or, you could just start following Division III sports, where they don't give athletic scholarships and the kids aren't actually any different from the other students at school.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Feels Like Home

We live in a bad neighborhood, or so we've been told. In all honesty, it's not even close to being the poorest part of town or the most run down. There's a pretty heavy police presence, but with 800 households here, it's a pretty significant percentage of the population.

We can say it's not the most desirable neighborhood. There's a diversity of ethnic background and economic status, but everyone I've talked to so far is pretty shocked when I say we wanted to live here - we chose Middletown Village.

This place has a lot to offer and it seems like most people don't know it or don't believe it. If I can be part of changing our own perceptions of ourselves, I'll consider my time here successful. Every community has value and ever neighbor has a part to play in our lives together.

I am a part of a denomination called the Church of the Nazarene. The name "Nazarene" was picked, not just because Jesus was a Nazarene, but because Jesus was a Nazarene. He was from Nazareth, a backwards, forgotten part of Israel. Nathaniel is famous for saying, "Can anything good come from there." Jesus knew better. There is good everywhere.

The Church of the Nazarene was founded to be associated with those who don't have the best reputation, those who find themselves in places where people find themselves living, but few "choose" to call home. Phineas Bresee, the guy who started it all, liked to say the mission of the Church of the Nazarene was "to go into the poorer parts of the cities and into neglected places and by the power of the Holy Ghost create centers of fire."

We're not exactly poor in Middletown Village, although there are poor among us, but we are forgotten or at least ignored. Yet I suspect there is power here. If we can get together, spend time together, discover each other as friends and neighbors and not just people who share a couple of streets, that something pretty amazing can happen.

Delaware is the tenth state I've lived in and I'll be happy if it's the last. I love living in Middletown Village - it just feels like home.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stop Killing People

I spent some time brainstorming what the next topic for this blog might be. Often I have a backlog of ideas; I have recently come to the end of my log. Unfortunately, yesterday provided a pretty vivid and all too common tragedy that screams (literally, figuratively, emotionally and just about every other -ly) for something to be said.

As with any loss of life or bad news we hear, the first and most appropriate response is simply to participate in the hurt and affirm the pain of suffering. A bunch of people were killed yesterday and that sucks.

When things like this happen, I get angry. Not really at anyone in particular, but at everyone in general. It's a simple response that's fraught with complications:


If everyone stopped killing people, no one would be killed. Hard to argue with that logic. Of course it's not likely everyone will stop killing people and if the good guys stop killing the bad guys the bad guys are going to kill more people than they otherwise would. So we all keep killing as if it is a sane act simply because it can be justified through some logical stream of consciousness.

The main problem I see is that people aren't numbers. We forget that sometimes. We forget that in medicine and in war and in elections and in church. People are people. They are individuals and we are all interconnected in one giant mass called "people." (Theologically we should probably include all of creation in that giant mass, but that could be a bridge too far for today.) It's not so simple as "killing one person today, saves fifteen tomorrow." Beyond the fact that people aren't numbers, it's awfully difficult to predict the future and it's just plain asinine to think that killing someone, with or without good intentions, affects only that person.

The great Brian Zahnd speculated on mass killings as an idea a bit. It's an interesting read.

What we do has an effect on the world around us. The things we see today and results, partly, of things done previously. I'll say again, people are not numbers and we're not isolated individuals - we are individuals in community whether we like it or not. Things effect us.

(A brief side note, I finished Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers recently - I know, I'm close to a decade behind - but the research he highlighted on the cultural foundations of our inborn reactions, even generations removed from their principal causes is both outrageous and amazing. We are not and can not be isolated!)

My thoughts on this are obviously rooted in Jesus Christ, who chose death over killing and in doing so rendered death impotent of real power (despite all appearances to the contrary, both from Christians and otherwise). The ethical implications of which are exemplified in the earliest Christians and explored for modern readers in the theology of the Anabaptist tradition and laid out by bad-ass prophets like Stanley Hauerwas, among others.

Yes, the degree to which, and situations where, killing might be acceptable for Christians is a difficult conversation. In the end, the Christian response is simply to call each other and the world to less violence. Hence:


I first started thinking about this on a large scale when considering Israel and Palestine. They shoot rockets at each other and blow up buildings and arrest people over a legitimate, complicated, historically-rooted dispute that will likely never be settled. Just on a practical level, if they're ever going to move past violence, one side is going to have to denounce violence preemptively - instead of the current posture of "no, you do it first."

Whatever side of that, or any particular tense situation you may consider sane, logically, it is the sane person who should expected to act rationally. Of course, one can't trust the insane to act sanely - but neither is the insane guaranteed to act insanely simply because of their lack of sanity.

What I'm saying is, take the chance. Yes, it's a chance which could cost your life or the lives of lots of other people, but it's better than banging your head against a wall for another 6,000 years. AND, guess what? You look a lot less threatening to the other guy if you stop actually threatening him. The same would likely be true if roles were reversed.

I use the sane/insane argument not because I believe those roles fit well in any conflict, but because those involved in the conflict believe them. If you're the sane one, do the sane thing.


Killing is contagious. The more advanced we get in our technology the further we come from actually physically understanding the reality of killing. When it was hand to hand combat and you had to grip the throat of an enemy and physically feel the remaining air in his lungs disappear - that's a difficult position. It was never taken lightly. When you can punch buttons on a keyboard and blow up an occupied house 15,000 miles away, then go home to dinner with your wife and kids - that's a lot of distance. The more killing we do, the easier it is to kill. That's not just for individuals, but for societies as a whole.

It trickles down. There's all this debate about why the US has so many gun deaths despite lower gun ownership rates than, say, Canada. There's a lot of factors going into it, a lot. One I never hear is that we live in the only developed country on Earth that still executes people. Could it be so simple as "my daddy does it, so it must be ok?"

It starts with society - and it trickles down to individuals. When we're part of a system that uses killing to impose an understanding of morality on the world, we should not be surprised to find individuals within that society who use the same logic - even if their morality is ridiculous and flat out wrong.

If you or I stop killing people, people will still get killed. I don't like what's going on in Syria anymore than anyone else (and I can't think of a single person on the planet, Asad included, who likes what's happening there). I have the same response for Syria that I do for the United States:


I do not pray for quick resolution to war. I don't even pray for a cessation of fighting. I pray that every armed combatant everyone, on a battlefield or angry at home, will just lay down their weapons and renounce fighting altogether. I pray that words like war and peace will lose all meaning because people have refused to fight so long, they've forgotten what it means to kill.

Please, just stop killing people. It may not make a lot of sense in the short term; the math might not add up well (it probably won't). But in the end, the simple statement remains true: if everyone stopped killing, no one would be killed.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Place and Fit

You may have seen this picture floating around the interwebs from time to time. It's almost assuredly a hoax and a good one at that - quite humorous. I also find it particularly poignant.

One of the things I love about this world God made for us is that things don't have to be real to be real. There's no truth to the fact that this plaque or the man it memorializes ever existed. However there's great truth in the idea of making and placing a plaque commemorating the local curmudgeon.

This fictional park can stand in for any community, any place where people gather and live their lives together, whether intentionally or not. Roger Bucklesby hated the park, but he was an essential part of it. He may have wished, loudly, that the park didn't exist and that its inhabitants were sitting at home... or dead (we can make our fictional Roger Bucklesby as mean and angry as we'd like - I picture him as a retired, near-penniless member of the British upper-class, always wearing a dapper suit, a bowler hat, and a ghastly frown).

What the plaque represents, however, is how essential he was to the ecosystem of the park he loathed. His animosity must have been public or else no one would be able to memorialize it. There's some truth to the idea that visceral hatred like Roger's helps to bring out the positive aspects of the park experience for those who may otherwise take it for granted.

We are all involved in lots of communities - families, workplaces, teams, coffee shops, bowling alleys, churches and yes, parks. We all know those people who like to complain and drag their feet, those people who we're not sure why they stick around. But they are around. Roger, may God rest his soul, was around. They participate. Even if it's begrudgingly or menacingly or agrivatingly. They're present.

It's good to remind ourselves that everyone has a place. Everyone deserves to and must be included. In our efficiency obsessed world we often steamroll the slackers and the malcontents as useless for reaching the goal. Sometimes we steamroll the weak and the slow, when they really don't deserve it.

Everyone has a place. It's often those who seem most out of place who can best remind us for that fact.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Split Personality

My daughter is walking. She fell over the other day - I asked her to point to what hurt - she pointed to her chest, the way she does when we ask "who's Eva?" She was telling me what hurt, "I hurt."

I know it gets a bit kitchy to keep doing posts based on my adorable daughter, but it's fertile ground and we do spend a lot of time together, so it is, I suppose, inevitable.

I love this response and I hope it doesn't change. At some point it will be important for her to provide additional detail about potentially broken bones or bloody gashes, but I hope her first reaction is always to say "I hurt."

The truth is, we're not parts. We can't be split. We're not really us unless we include all of us. There's no division between our body, our mind, our emotions, our soul. This is a false dichotomy (or quadrichotomy, if you prefer).

We talk about someone dying and going to heaven. It's not that simple, though, because their body is in the ground. We're not exactly sure what happens when we die because people stubbornly refuse to come back to life - scripture talks about being present with God, but we're not sure what that means.

We do know, however, that the Hebrews and most other ancient peoples, saw themselves as whole - no divisions. A spirit is not you, just part of you - without the body you're not you. It's why the concept of resurrection is so important to Jewish (and later Christian) faith. Only in resurrection are we fully restored to who we are - complete.

We live in a world where everything is divided. We divide our spiritual lives from our physical, our work life from our home life and our church life, our friends from our family from our co-workers. We divide money from morals and politics from ethics. We're divided. Which means we're not whole. We're not us. We're operating like ghosts or zombies or whatever sub-human analogy you want to hold onto.

We're not us without all of us. We like to think we can take the best parts of ourselves and say "this is the real me - the rest is just dragging me down." It leads to depression and hurt and broken relationships; it leads to us being less than complete.

We are not us unless we're all of us. When one part hurts, we're hurt. When part of us is broken, we're broken. When part of us fails to live up to our expectations, we fail to live up to expectations.

The thing is, it works in reverse as well - whatever part you consider good or pure or right or wonderful, that makes you good and pure and right and wonderful. God made each and every one of us good; God made everything together good. We are good. Yeah, the rough parts, the disappointing parts, the broken parts - they leave something to be dealt with, obstacles to overcome, speed bumps to navigate. Our problems are real, but they don't determine our value.

If my daughter skins her knee, her knee needs help, a band-aid, some lotion. But she's hurt - her emotions need comfort, her spirit needs confidence to overcome the fear of pain, of being hurt again. She needs healing, not a part of her.

We are not split personalities. We're not going to be separated from our problems someday. We can't pretend they're not real or not us or that they'll go away. We just have to embrace them and recognize that we are good despite our frailties. We must remember that we're meant for redemption, reconciliation, healing.

We are good and we are loved - all of us. No split personalities.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Holding Hands

My daughter started walking on her own last Friday. There was a sneak attack a couple days earlier when she thought someone was holding her hand, but they weren't and she took four steps on her own - but we're not counting that. It doesn't seem fair.

I'm amazed how quickly she's progressing. From three steps and a lean into our arms to walking long distances over mildly uneven terrain in shoes less than a week later. I suppose we do need a sharp learning curve since the very physics of balance and bipedal motion is pretty complicated. I don't think we really give ourselves enough credit for walking most of our lives while falling over only infrequently.

My daughter is still pretty early in her walking life, though. She walks much quicker and more securely with a hand to hold. She'll practically run if you hold her hand. I really like walking, holding her hand; it makes me feel like we're going somewhere together, rather than me taking her places.

Pretty soon she'll be going most places all on her own. I'm already dreading it. I saw a friend, yesterday, who jut returned from taking his oldest child to college. I asked how it was. He said, "Tough. The house feels pretty empty these days." At another point in my life I would have expected more - a longer explanation. I have a daughter now, all I needed was the look in his eye. I knew.

We're preparing our daughter to walk on her own. Independence is important - especially when it comes to moving from one place to another. We live in a world that practically worships independence, self-sufficiency. There's something in us that feels sorry for people waiting at the bus stop - as if they're lacking something being so dependent on others for transportation.

People need to discover independence. It's an important developmental step, learning to do things on our own - my daughter's not yet 18 months old, but she hates eating anything she can't feed to herself. There's more to come.

People need to discover the importance and power of independence, but the greatest lesson we can and should learn from our experiments in self-sufficiency is just how fleeting and unrealistic they are. We need each other. We know that deep down inside, yet our society and culture tells us to let go, cut the cord, separate.

This is not to downplay the importance of our individuality, but just to recognize that independence, like dependence, is just a developmental stage. Interdependence is where we're created to be.

We're born selfish, although we don't know it. At some point we realize the things we do impact the people around us (and vice versa). We begin to differentiate. We discover our individuality and work on independence. It seems like a lot of us stagnate there. We exist in this realm where no one can tell us what to do and we're willing to do some outrageous things just to prove no one can tell us what to do. Our society doesn't help us any there; it just cheers us on.

We forget - or perhaps we never discover - that our lives aren't meant to be lived independently. We need each other. We need people to tell us what to do from time to time. Living an independent life is downright exhausting. It'll kill us (and if we're really good at being independent, no one will care)!

My daughter is learning to walk on her own. She's only going to get better at it. Still, I can't envision a time when I'll refuse to hold her hand. She'll refuse to hold mine - it'll happen a lot - but, of course, that's part of growing into our independence. If God grants enough grace, perhaps we'll have instilled the proper love and understanding in our daughter that she'll emerge from that independence and be willing to hold our hands again.

After all, if we're going on the same journey, we might as well go together.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Theology of Creation

This past week I took a course called "Theology of Creation," from one of my seminary professors. NTS (where I went to seminary) is offering courses at four of our Nazarene undergraduate institutions (in addition to those in Kansas City) - they're great for pastors to do continuing education or brush up on a topic you've been thinking through.

The latter really applied for me. I've been spending a lot of time reading about origins and thinking through how our origins define us as humans and define our place in the world. I've also been forced to creation theologically in analyzing various beliefs and why we hold them - most everything goes back to the beginning.

As our professor (Dr. Joseph Coleson) mentioned frequently - if we get the beginning right, we have a better shot at getting everything else right as well. I won't claim to have any of it "right" per say, but I think there's a lot of places we've been getting things wrong.

I can't say I learned a lot of new thing this week, but I did find some wonderful context for things I've been thinking through. There were some challenges and questions and new space explored (along with some new friendships birthed).

One of the things I just can't get over is how much we've missed the primary purpose of creation (or at least our place in it). God created this big, amazing world and then put us in it to make sure things worked as God intended. Dr. Coleson put it like this: we're here to maintain relationships of integrity.

Too often humanity has treated creation like a bag of candy the day after Halloween - scooping up any and all that we can get our hands on with no understanding of appropriateness or good sense. The vast resources of the world are not there for our pleasure, but the other way around. Check Genesis 2 again - humans were created to serve creation. Even if you buy into the terrible translation of "reign" or "have dominion" in Genesis 1 - it's still reign in the image of God - a God who sacrificed life itself for selfish buggers like us.

The world isn't going to burn up - not unless you're a big believer in Zoroaster. God is at work - and always has been - at redeeming and restoring creation, bringing it to fulfillment. Our mission in life is not to save souls or get to heaven, but to live faithfully in the world and the role God created for us. All that other stuff takes care of itself if we're focused on those relationships of integrity.

I've been preliminarily looking for a new water heater (ours is 17 years old and, well, a bit testy). It turns out the more energy-efficient option isn't a match for our infrastructure, so it's a moot point, but I had a discussion with someone about the value of spending more to be efficient. He said it wasn't worth the money since the cost difference wasn't that great. My thought was, who cares, if it uses less energy over time, that's a win - even if it doesn't end up with more money in my pocket.

It's the little things. What are we willing to sacrifice to maintain the integrity of our relationship with creation?

I don't have a problem with us taking the coal and oil and whatnot out of the ground to use - I just have an issue with us doing it the cheapest possible way. If we're willing to sacrifice a bit of profit, we could leave the land relatively as it was when we began - and not sink all the protective wetlands on the Mississippi Delta into the ocean thus leaving the Gulf Coast uncomfortable open to large storms - for example.

I just happen to think that when we treat the world around us like a commodity, it makes it easier to treat each other, and ultimately God, in the same way. When Saint Francis said "Brother Sun and Sister Moon" I don't think he was joking.

People have politicized Climate Change (and it's unfathomable denial) for their own personal gain. I'm not sure what the proper political response is, but I do know it's terrible theology to assert that human beings have no control over the world around us. We've got nothing but control.

It's a pretty awesome responsibility to be God's caretaker for the world - I hope we're getting to a place where we can take that seriously. The world may just depend on it.