A decade ago most experts thought of global warming as the largest challenge civilization faced—but one that would happen relatively gradually. That cautious optimism has faded as one study after another has proved that the earth was more finely balanced than we’d understood. The climate crisis is bearing down on us much faster than most people realize. The temperature rise has started melting every frozen thing on earth. In the Arctic Ocean, white ice that reflected the sun’s rays is quickly turning into water that absorbs more of the sun’s heat. And, as the ice melts, there’s the very real chance of a catastrophic rise in sea levels.
Beyond Belief: All references to God in the Oscar-nominated movie The Queen have been bleeped out in a version distributed to Delta and some other airlines. The president of the distribution company said it was a mistake made by an overzealous employee who had been told to edit out all profanities and blasphemies (USA Today, January 25).
Hardness of heart. Scripture uses this image to describe those who are impenetrably stubborn, those who are unwilling or unable to see God’s glory or to reorient their lives to God’s call and claims. But what causes hardness of heart? Is it always human sin, those things which we have done which ossify our hearts and rigidify our minds? Do tragic accidents sometimes harden us in ways that make it difficult, if not impossible, to remain open to transformation, to sustain a mental, emotional and moral agility?
The prominent place of food and meals in the Bible may be surprising to us fast-food and take-out eaters. Back in biblical times, gathering and preparing food took time and occupied a significant part of Israel’s life. The danger of famine (due to natural calamities or crop failure) gave special importance to food. Water was drawn from a well or spring, not a faucet or commercial bottle. Bread was baked from scratch, and beans and lentils simmered for hours.
I was at a class reunion with several former classmates when one of them, a professor of philosophy, asked an unusual question: “What fears have you conquered over the years and what new ones have you acquired?” Not eager to make our private fears public, each of us waited for someone else to open up the discourse. One person finally listed some familiar fears, including “mice,” “being left out or abandoned” and “the dark.”