On a very windy day last April, Colorado’s largest utility company generated 57 percent of its power from wind, a national record. Overall, the United States gets just 3 percent of its power from wind, and utility companies are reluctant to become more dependent upon it due to its variability (CNN.com, August 6). The San Antonio Water System has agreed to be the first site to host an experimental system that produces renewable energy from the flow of water in municipal pipelines. The system incorporates vertical axis turbines that generate electricity in large, gravity-fed pipelines (WaterWorld.com).
Aug 30, 2012
A sample sermon issued by the Church of England to tackle the stigma of mental illness suggests that some biblical characters could be diagnosed as having had mental disease. King Saul’s mood swings might have been signs of bipolar disorder. St. Paul’s Damascus road experience could have involved some sort of breakdown or psychotic episode. And the New Testament suggests that Jesus’ own family suspected that he was losing his mind. People who find these suggestions offensive should consider this question: “Do we mistakenly believe that God cannot or will not work through people with mental illness?” (Daily Express, August 28).
Aug 16, 2012
“Walmart Moms” are defined by the superstore chain as women with children 18 years of age or younger living at home and who shop at Walmart at least once a month. The Bentonville, Arkansas–based company studies this group very carefully, including their political leanings. President Obama won a majority of their votes in 2008, but their votes are up for grabs in 2012. Obama’s advantage with Walmart Moms drops dramatically in the battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome of the presidential election this fall (Bloomberg.com, August 2).
Aug 16, 2012
David Barton’s historical revisionism about American history has been wildly popular with conservatives who want to believe, like Barton, that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that the founding fathers did not share modern notions about the separation of church and state. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a Republican candidate for president in 2008, said he wished that every American could be made to listen to a telecast of David Barton lecturing, even if at gunpoint. However, Barton’s latest book, The Jefferson Lies, has drawn criticism not just from liberals or professional historians, his usual critics, but from a group of evangelical pastors, black and white, from Cincinnati. They called for a boycott of Barton’s publisher, Thomas Nelson, because the book seeks to justify Thomas Jefferson’s ownership of slaves and glosses over the third president’s racism and heretical views about Christ. Thomas Nelson has since pulled the book from the market (NPR, August 8, and World, August 9).
God in the rocks
Aug 16, 2012
Early in his career, Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin told his spiritual director that he intended to abandon his interest in rocks and natural philosophy to focus on the spiritual life. His spiritual director responded that if he were to do so, he’d be abandoning his vocation as a Jesuit, since Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, urged his followers to find God in everything, no matter what they were doing (James F. Salmon SJ, with Nicole Schmitz-Moormann, in The Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity, Wiley-Blackwell).