Plain Speech from the Heart(ache)land

The John Brown Mural hangs in the Kansas Statehouse.
The John Brown Mural hangs in the Kansas Capitol Building. That is a Bible that the crazed abolitionist is holding in his hand.

by guest writer, Lowell Bliss

The next time you hope for some plain-speaking legislation to come out of your state legislature, you may want to take a moment and be careful what you wish for.   This is the story of three environmental bills recently introduced in the Kansas statehouse. I live in Kansas.  We’re generally known for being plain-spoken.

Our governor Sam Brownback says he has an “All of the Above” energy policy.  I do not consider that plain-speaking any more than when President Obama uses the same phrase.  “All of the above” means that an executive can throw a sop to renewable energies without threatening the continued exploitation of fossil fuels. And thus we have our first bill, House Bill 2241, which wants to give our state utility companies a break on the Renewable Portfolio Standard.  They will no longer have to get a certain percentage of their energy requirements from renewables by the original deadlines – 10% by 2010, 15% by 2016 and 20% by 2020.  Surely these deadlines aren’t onerous for America’s second windiest state.  Even our name is a Native American term for “People of the South Wind.”  The bill also grants vague exemptions for “firm transmission” (i.e. standards don’t go in effect if there aren’t transmission lines available) and “excessive costs.”  There were a couple of occasions last summer when the nation of Germany reached the 50% mark in obtaining its electricity from renewables. Germans are the largest ethnicity designation of Kansas citizens.  Perhaps we could take some inspiration from the Old Country. Continue reading

Chaos on the high seas: A parable for our times revisited

Headlines from November, 2010:  Carnival Splendor finally reaches San Diego dock; passengers begin to disembark.

and from February 15 (today), 2013: Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship: ‘Blessed’ Passengers Return Home With Stories of Horror

Jesus rebuked people in his day who were able to predict the weather but unable to understand the signs of history right in front of them: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 

Perhaps it is time we learned to interpret some of the parables that are right in front of us.  You think? Continue reading

Hurry up and Rest!

After a long hiatus that has included many activities besides writing blog posts (including bringing a new book When Heaven and Nature Sing to publication), I’m back and happy to be posting again.  Enjoy!

There’s an old parable I use from time to time to remind friends or colleagues (or myself) of how easy it is to try too hard or schedule too much and thereby to fall further behind.  The story goes like this:

Continue reading