Tag Archives: God’s Grandeur

Notes from a volcanic eruption in Iceland

Guest post by Bob White on the Holuhraun Eruption, Iceland, September 2014.  Cross-posted from the Science and Belief blog.

Robert (Bob) White, FRS is Professor of Geophysics at Cambridge University and Director of The Faraday Institute. He has recently published a book on Natural Disasters called Who is to Blame?
Nature, Disasters and Acts of God, (Oxford: Lion Hudson), 207 pp. ISBN 978-0-85721-4737

Picture: Einar Rafnsson/RUV. Click for source.

We arrived at the eruption site around midnight on 1st September 2014. We were fortunate to be there because it is in a 10,000 square kilometre exclusion zone in the interior of Iceland due to the danger of volcanic gases, floods and ash plumes. As scientists monitoring earthquakes caused by the eruption my team and I were part of just a handful of people allowed in. We stood in the middle of a black volcanic desert 3,000 feet high. The darkness of the night was uninterrupted by any human lights. And we knew there was no-one else within at least 100 kilometres of us in any direction. Continue reading

Old Literature – but surprisingly relevant

Our environmental problems aren’t quite as new as we sometimes think they are.  Here, some lessons from an old, old poem:  (Originally published Jan 7, 2009)

A good friend, who doesn’t think himself an intellectual but who in fact is one of the best-read people in my life, sent me two different pieces over the last couple of months, both of which qualify as being old, if not ancient.  But which both speak volumes to our present environmental predicament:

Today, a poem that is at least 150 years old:

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

“the grandeur of God”

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge |&| shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

Continue reading

The Victory that is Easter

Every year I try to write an Easter-themed devotional. (See some previous posts here.)  Here are this year’s thoughts on the occasion of Holy Week.  This will be emailed to our newsletter list in a few days, but as many on this blog and on our Facebook pages don’t get the newsletter, here’s your copy early.  Enjoy – and let me know what you think in the comments.

It is the start of Holy Week.  We Christians of whatever label take time this week to remember and celebrate events that are at the heart of our faith:  A coronation march into an ancient city.  A sham trial.  A barbaric execution.  An unexpected finale with earthquakes, empty tombs, and wild rumors.  And finally, a dead man come to life.  Euphoria, despair, confusion, victory – all in one short week. Continue reading

So How Do You Pray about A Tsunami (and an earthquake) (and a nuclear melt-down)?

Oil Spills are bad enough – but how do you pray about a Tsunami?

It hasn’t been a year since the Gulf oil spill, which we rightly saw as the worst environmental disaster in memory.  At that time I wrote a piece trying to come to terms with that situation: “How Do You Pray about an Oil Spill?” And now I sit pondering a disaster that could turn out to be exponentially greater than the BP/Halliburton fiasco.  I am doing so at my dining room table, in a part of the world that is seismically if not politically stable, many miles from the nearest nuclear facility.  I am looking out at a landscape where the first birds of spring have arrived and are singing up a storm: Robins, redwing blackbirds, a cedar waxwing and (I think) a pine warbler (see pic below and tell me if I’m right, birders!)  just this morning.  The contrast between my window and the stories on my computer screen could not be more different, and I am forced to ask the same question I asked last summer: How do I pray about what is now happening in Japan? Continue reading

Old Literature: The Lion, the curse and the evangelical

“Old Literature” is an occasional series pointing to works of the past, sometimes well known, sometimes not, that have embedded in them a clear creation care message.  [Check out previous posts in the series here.] C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books are perfect subjects for this series, and have long been on my mental list.  Before I got to him, though, Dean Ohlman at Wonder of Creation blog did the job for me, with a little Isaac Watts and John Newton thrown in for good measure.  Here is his meditation on Narnia – reposted by permission:

[Peter said,] “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:18-21)

Continue reading

A Hymn for Earth Day (and Easter)

On this 39th celebration of Earth Day, it doesn’t hurt to go back a few hundred years for some perspective.  (Thank you, Melanie!)

[CC License via Flickr]

Awake, Thou Wintry Earth
J. S. Bach  (from Cantata 129)
(1685-1750)

Awake, thou wintry earth,
Fling off, fling off thy sadness.
Ye vernal flowers, laugh forth,
laugh forth your ancient gladness.
A new and lovely tale
Throughout the land is sped,
It floats o’er hill and dale
To tell that death is dead.
Descended to the grave,
Where our beloved lie sleeping,
Hath Christ returned to save
Man’s heart from woe and weeping.

O earth, break forth and sing,
Renew thy bright array,
With fairest blooms of spring
Bestrew the Savior’s way.

(Thomas Blackburn)