It’s all over my Facebook newsfeed: some retail stores are bucking the trend and staying closed for Thanksgiving Day, and people—Christians and atheists, conservatives and liberals—are applauding them for it.
Recently the online world has been filled with images of people in desperate conditions, images not from Pakistan or Syria but from the Greek islands closest to Turkey: Chios, Lesbos, Leros. One picture showed a migrant raft landing near sunbathing tourists on Kos, an island I once knew well. It was a way station on my yearly visits to the nearby island of Patmos, where St. John was once a refugee himself. I went there to visit another immigrant to Greece: a spiritual poet named Robert Lax, who was Thomas Merton’s best friend.
Egypt is facing a severe water shortage, which is getting worse as the population grows. Researchers at Alexandria University are developing an innovative desalination process using a membrane that binds with the salt as salt water passes through it. Since no electricity is used, the process requires about half the energy that other desalination methods use. It is hoped that the membrane, consisting of five components, can be mass-produced and used worldwide (Christian Science Monitor, October 28).