Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Dropsical Man

At State College Presbyterian this morning, Dean Lindsey was preaching from Luke 14:1-6, where Jesus, on his way to a fancy meal with "a leader of the Pharisees" on the sabbath, pauses to heal a man with "dropsy".  This is the set-up to another confrontation about healing on the sabbath, of course, but I confess that I had never paused to think about what "dropsy" might be and what significance could be found in this particular ailment.  Dean's message really grabbed my attention.  (Afterwards, I went to the big commentary on Luke by Joel Green, where I found the same information developed further.)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Zero Sum v. Abundance

It's probably a fair guess that the book of Zechariah is one of the less frequently studied portions of the Hebrew Scriptures.  It has some surprises though.  This morning I was reading Zechariah chapter 2 and found this

Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand.   I asked, “Where are you going?”
He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”
While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him  and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it..

Monday, November 2, 2015

A heartfelt plea

My apologies for the silence on Points of Inflection over the last couple of months. I've been busy teaching my math for Sustainability course, and also a series of small group studies on Laudato si... so much to write about, so little time.

Today I am reposting a plea from John Baez over at Azimuth regarding the (what now seem like) annual giant fires in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. He writes

I lived in Singapore for two years, and I go back to work there every summer. I love Southeast Asia, its beautiful landscapes, its friendly people, and its huge biological and cultural diversity. It’s a magical place.
But in 2013 there was a horrible haze from fires in nearby Sumatra. And this year it’s even worse. It makes me want to cry, thinking about how millions of people all over this region are being choked as the rain forest burns.
Read the rest of his post here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Penn State Goes Boom?

It was perhaps in 2006 or 2007 that I first heard the word "fracking".

I was sitting in the chair at Fetterolf's Barber Shop, getting a trim.  Next to me was a Penn State geology professor, talking with animation about the Marcellus shale; how new technology was going to upend the energy industry, and (what's more) how it was going to upend the economy of rural Pennsylvania.    Know what? He was right.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"It is we who need to change" - Chapter 6 of Laudato si

Hope long deferred makes sick the heart; but a Desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
These words are from the book of Proverbs,  though when I read them I always hear echoes of the English mystic Thomas Traherne.  They remind us, as Traherne does, of the centrality of longing to authentic humanity.  Who we are is constituted, as much as anything, by what we deeply desire; and disordered, unattainable desire leads to a heart sickness that cannot be cured.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Small group study on the Papal Encyclical

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am privileged to lead an adult education class at State College Presbyterian Church in a couple of weeks, on the topic of "Caring for Creation with Pope Francis".

Together with Matt Carlson from St Paul's Methodist and John Brockopp from Grace Lutheran, we're planning a small group study for those who would like to explore the message of Francis' encyclical in greater depth.  The plan is to meet for a limited number of sessions (six; one for each chapter of the encyclical) at 2-week intervals from late September to early December - finishing around the time that the crucial COP21 climate summit gets underway in Paris.

If you live in the State College area and are interested in taking part, you can sign up through Google Forms and we will get back to you.

Image from the Catholic publication Our Sunday Visitor

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Carbon Pricing and Trinity 13

On my Facebook page I regularly post the Collects, that is the special prayers for the week, that are prescribed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.   I find it a helpful exercise to get to grips with these prayers and the ideas behind them.  Sometimes, despite the archaic language, they feel as though they might have been written yesterday.  At other times there is a grinding of mental gears as my thought world and Cranmer's fail to mesh.

In Anglican-speak this week is the "thirteenth after Trinity", and there is a bit of that grinding as I use the Collect for the day:

Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service: Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.