Monday, May 23, 2005

San Onofre and Aliso Beach


On Saturday, Kurt led a geology field trip for Math/Science Upward Bound high school students to San Onofre beach and Aliso beach. The San Onofre part was right next to that nuclear power plant. There happens to be an earthquake fault right next to the plant and the goal was for the students to determine if the fault poses any threat to the plant. By looking at where the fault comes to the surface and knowing the ages of layers, one can determine that the fault hasn't seen an earthquake in at least 125 thousand years, and therefore poses little threat.

We also went to Aliso beach, near Laguna, and looked at some mysterious rocks which come from an alleged mountain of the coast of California which doesn't exist anymore. We also had time to goof off an nearly get hit by gigantic waves breaking along the tide pools. On the right, you'll see Kurt in the middle stooping down to photograph something as a student and I see our lives flash before our eyes. OK, not really, the wave breaks several feet before us and only our feet get wet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Life in all its fullness


"The thief comes only to steal, to kill, to destroy; I have come that men may have life, and may have it in all its fullness" - Jesus (John 10:10)

God wants us to have live overflowing, above the ordinary, beyond the sufficient. As I give my total self to him, he says he will give his total self to me. This means the real possibility of health for my total being (body, mind, emotions, relationships), and material needs being met. Above all, there is the promise of eternal life.

Jesus said he came to give life, not just ordinary existence, but life in all its fullness and abundance. On the other hand, the Enemy comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. The line is clearly drawn. On one side is God with goodness, life, and plenty of all that is necessary for life, and on the other side is the archenemy of our souls, who comes to rob us of God's blessings, to oppress our bodies through disease and accidents, and to destroy everything that we love and hold dear. I've got to believe that God's highest desire for me is this life Jesus came to give. What else is worth having?

Jesus the Messiah here declares his intention to recover and restore to man what was the Father's intent and to break and block the Enemy's intent to hinder our receiving it. He comes in defense of life, and life beyond what we can imagine. By his words and actions, he opposed any thing, force, or person that might diminish life as he wanted it. Likewise, he calls us to do everything within our power to preserve and enhance the lives of those around us. In addition to spreading his good news of redemption, we are to work to reduce poverty, disease, hunger, injustice, and ignorance.

Jesus opened a new dimension of life for all mankind. As Paul says in 2 Cor 5:17, "When anyone is united to Christ, there is a new world; the old order has gone, and a new order has already begun" (NEB). Or as other translations have it, "When anyone is united to Christ, he is a new creature: his old life is over; a new life has already begun."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Christ and Nothing


quote from an essay by David Hart

As modern men and women—to the degree that we are modern—we believe in nothing. This is not to say, I hasten to add, that we do not believe in anything; I mean, rather, that we hold an unshakable, if often unconscious, faith in the nothing, or in nothingness as such. It is this in which we place our trust, upon which we venture our souls, and onto which we project the values by which we measure the meaningfulness of our lives. Or, to phrase the matter more simply and starkly, our religion is one of very comfortable nihilism.

This may seem a somewhat apocalyptic note to sound, at least without any warning or emollient prelude, but I believe I am saying nothing not almost tediously obvious. We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess; our culturally most persuasive models of human freedom are unambiguously voluntarist and, in a rather debased and degraded way, Promethean; the will, we believe, is sovereign because unpremised, free because spontaneous, and this is the highest good. And a society that believes this must, at least implicitly, embrace and subtly advocate a very particular moral metaphysics: the unreality of any “value” higher than choice, or of any transcendent Good ordering desire towards a higher end. Desire is free to propose, seize, accept or reject, want or not want—but not to obey. Society must thus be secured against the intrusions of the Good, or of God, so that its citizens may determine their own lives by the choices they make from a universe of morally indifferent but variably desirable ends, unencumbered by any prior grammar of obligation or value (in America, we call this the “wall of separation”). Hence the liberties that permit one to purchase lavender bed clothes, to gaze fervently at pornography, to become a Unitarian, to market popular celebrations of brutal violence, or to destroy one’s unborn child are all equally intrinsically “good” because all are expressions of an inalienable freedom of choice. But, of course, if the will determines itself only in and through such choices, free from any prevenient natural order, then it too is in itself nothing. And so, at the end of modernity, each of us who is true to the times stands facing not God, or the gods, or the Good beyond beings, but an abyss, over which presides the empty, inviolable authority of the individual will, whose impulses and decisions are their own moral index.