Friday, March 14, 2008

Stretching the Brain

The other evening mother and I went to the Neighborhood Forum conducted by the State Representative for the district. She happens to be a personal friend, and the legislator for whom my brother works. Yes, Ray and I met Lyla through his art, not through Hawaii connections. It's a long story, but one that affirms the "there are no coincidences" view.

Anyway ... I was expecting to hear Lyla speak. Instead, the speaker was Dr. Axel Timmermann from the International Pacific Research Council at the University of Hawaii. The IPRC is a part of the Oceanography Dept. at the University with a goal of understanding both the causes and the effects of climate change in the Pacific region. Although I am sure that he toned his talk down from a presentation to a group of academicans, it was still a challenge to follow his message. The Message is the same one that Al Gore gives in "An Inconvenient Truth". CO2 levels are dramatically rising, and have been since about 1950. As CO2 levels rise, so do temperatures in the ocean and air. Polar ice caps and glaciers are melting. Sea levels worldwide are predicted to rise an average of 3' by 2100. Life forms -- most publicized are corals and polar bears -- are in trouble. The last time there was a comparable rise in CO2 was 55 million years ago. Then we had major volcanic activity in the North Atlantic to blame. This time we can only blame ourselves.

What are the impacts? A 3' rise in sea levels puts several popular neighborhoods on Oahu under water. What would Hawaiian beaches be like without their protective coral reefs? What happens in other coastal areas -- western North and South America, the Gulf Coast and the entire Mississippi Delta come immediately to mind. What happens to our ability to grow food crops as air temperatures rise? What happens to the food chain as life forms at its very bottom (those things that feed the critters that feed us) disapper? It's something to think about.

Meanwhile, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the US met this week in Texas. There has been lots of turmoil in recent years in the Episcopal Church, much of it from the Diocese of San Joaquin -- which includes Tuolumne Co., California. San Joaquin has had the reputation of being among the most conservative areas in the nation. Twenty years or so ago we elected David Scofield as Bishop. He soon became John David Scofield. Ray and I were voting delegates to that convention. We were among those who did NOT vote for Scofield, and among the few who afterward refused to sign the "loyalty oath" saying we would support him as bishop. The Episcopal Church has always been an inclusive church, making a place for everyone. Over time, Ray and I began to feel that we were not welcomed in our own denomination -- or at least in our home diocese. The red-white-and-blue shield of the Episcopalians began to disappear from local churches, replaced by Anglican symbols. In December, at Diocesan Convention, a majority of the delegates voted to remove themselves from the authority of the Episcopal Church in the US and affiliate with an Anglican group based in South America, the Southern Cone. This is like a US state saying that it doesn't like the policies of the Federal Government so it will leave the US and become part of -- let's say, Australia. This week the other US Bishops took away Scofield's rights and privileges as a priest and bishop in the Episcopal Church -- as in taking away ones rights as a citizen in your country of birth when you are naturalized in another country. So the Diocese of San Joaquin is beginning the healing process and reforming itself as a place where all are welcome. I think this is a political process Ray would have enjoyed being a part of.

Give thanks! Keep praying ....!

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