Science and Technology Blog
This blog contains articles about science, technology and a life of faith.  Written by the rector of Grace, these articles first appeared as the trailer articles in the Weekly Grace email newsletter.

Ecclesiastical Opportunity

For decades, I have noted that the evangelical churches today are in theological error as much or more than the Roman Catholic church that they started out protesting almost five hundred years ago.  They have come full circle replacing the pope and clerical hierarchy with a doctrine of biblical inerrancy and the authority of the local pastor to interpret.  In many ways, the evangelicals and the Roman Catholic churches are polar opposites, and neither may be capable of leading Christianity beyond the devastating abuses we read in the news every day.


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Ecclesiastical Opportunity

For decades, I have noted that the evangelical churches today are in theological error as much or more than the Roman Catholic church that they started out protesting almost five hundred years ago.  They have come full circle replacing the pope and clerical hierarchy with a doctrine of biblical inerrancy and the authority of the local pastor to interpret.  In many ways, the evangelicals and the Roman Catholic churches are polar opposites, and neither may be capable of leading Christianity beyond the devastating abuses we read in the news every day.

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Diminishing Resoures, Politicians and a Finite Earth

There is a paradox in the world of building highways.  A reasonable person might observe a congested four lane road and believe that doubling the size of the road to eight lanes would decrease traffic congestion.  But the reality is quite different and has been observed in cities around the world for fifty years.  If you build a bigger road from point A to point B, the traffic congestion will remain about the same as before or worse.


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Rights

I have followed the latest culture wars over the appointment of Sarah Jeong to the New York Times editorial board.  When I first heard about the appointment, I was upset about the apparent double standard and Ms. Jeong’s tweets about white people that would be judged racist or worse if any other race group were to be substituted for “white.”  But then I read what she said and realized that, very often, her writings were in response to even uglier words hurled by her detractors.  Not a great strategy for a response to ugliness, but understandable if you are not a member of the dominant power group in North America that is white.


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Schedule 80

Being co-owner of a winery, I get to do some things with technology that are not generally done by the average home-owning handy-person.  The latest project has involved installing a seven-ton (84,000 BTU) glycol chilling unit to cool wine tanks.  The plumbing used to circulate the coolant (propylene glycol) is a stronger form of PVC pipe like they use for your lawn sprinklers called “Schedule 80.”  The stronger stuff withstands the constant pressure and temperature changes in this application.  The cheap stuff at the big-box hardware store will never hold up to these conditions.


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Cultural Epistemology

According to that wizard of the web, Google, epistemology is “the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.”  Reading a National Geographic article about India recently, I reached a new understanding of how we come to know things – it is often culturally dictated.

Warning: This note contains references to human practices that are seldom mentioned in public.  While other countries were mentioned in the article, India was the most developed nation of the group.  So, we have the very odd situation of urban and rural residents of India who pay good money for cell phones with Internet service, defecating in open fields.  The global health term for this practice is “OD” and the first word is “Open.” 


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Christmas is coming!

My how time flies! It seems like we just started this year and it is already almost over. 
 
This coming Sunday is the beginning of Advent.  During the season of Advent we celebrate the hope that comes with the anticipation of the Savior’s birth, but so many of us get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and baking and parties and programs and decorating and … and … and … (feel free to fill in the blanks here – there always seems to be one more thing to add to the list). We are overcome with anxiety rather than joy and we anticipate the end of the madness rather than the celebration of the coming of the Christ-child. We are too busy to really take the time to remember why we are celebrating in the first place.
 
This year at Grace, our children and youth will be spending time getting ready for the annual Christmas pageant. While they are doing this we are intentionally taking time to build that spirit of anticipation that is meant to be felt during Advent. I would like to challenge you to do the same. How will you embrace anticipation? What brings your hope to life?
 
Many say that it is already Christmastime, but I say it is not quite here yet. Christmas is coming and I look forward to searching for daily reminders of that hope.
 
 


The Eschaton

The “eschaton” (pronounced “esk’ ka ton’’) is a Greek word in the Bible referring to the end of times. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet preaching about the imminent end of time and the return of the “son of man.” He uses this word a lot. For me, in these last few days of sabbatical, it is also the end of times. The end of that daily view of the blue Aegean Sea, the end of daily swims in the sea, talking to locals, writing and reflecting about serious things. I am sad to see the time go. Most of all, I am grateful for the time.

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The Evolution of Religion

I have read several books on this journey. Professor Bart Ehrman’s book, “Jesus Interrupted” was among those and it turned out to be the perfect provocateur with a background of world religions developing over 8,000 years paired with the development of Christianity over the past 2,000. I will not try to reproduce the numerous insights from a three hundred page book and it would make a fabulous group study book, let me give a few key points of Ehrman’s which, by the way, are nothing new to my seminary training nor to anyone who has taken Education For Ministry. It was a good survey book for me and reminded me of some important things.

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The Purpose of Religion

Religion has developed a bad reputation in the western world. A major reason for this is that certain ideologies and political opportunists have hijacked Christian religion (in the west. Same thing happens in the east with other religions.) to maintain political dominance. As a result of this all too obvious fusion of Christian religion with a particular political and ideological position, those who don’t buy the politics simply discard Christianity and religion in general as a stooge for what they see as oppressive politics. In this note, I would like to demonstrate that what is needed is exactly the opposite of what all the “I’m spiritual but not religious” and “I’m atheist because your religion is bad” claim.


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