Tag Archives: redemption

Poinsettias – More Than Just a Pretty Plant?

Poinsettia_thumbnailHave you ever wondered why every year around this time, grocery stores are flooded with poinsettias?  It would be strange to see them any other time of the year, but where do they come from, and why are they associated with Christmas?

As it turns out, the plant we know today as the poinsettia has a very interesting history! Native to an area of Southern Mexico known as Taxco de Alarcón, the Aztecs used it for Continue reading

Creation and Incarnation

Originally posted December 20, 2010.

We who advocate for creation care tend to overlook some important connections between the central beliefs of the Christian faith and our obligation to care for the world God has placed in our hands.  Christmas – when we celebrate the Incarnation, literally the ‘enfleshment’ of God in human form – is one of those overlooked connections.  The following is an excerpt from my book, Our Father’s World, chapter 3:

In middle-school and early high school, one of my children went through a serious “I have a crush” phase.  Her idol was a singer with a popular contemporary Christian music group.  An enormous poster hung over her bed, and every song he released was purchased, listened to, memorized and sung – over and over and over.  One year the group was scheduled to sing in Chicago, just three or four hours from Madison.  And it happened that the concert was close enough to my daughter’s birthday that we could make her birthday party be a trip to see her idol on stage.  So we bought the tickets.  We even paid a bit extra so that she and her friends could stand in line before the concert to meet him in person.  The great day came and everything, for once, went off without a hitch.  We arrived at the concert venue in good time, stood in line, got our autographs, put in the earplugs, and enjoyed the concert.  It was a highlight of her young life.  My ears are still ringing. Continue reading

Looking for Hope on Earth Day #44

“Hope springs eternal,” we say, and Earth Day certainly demonstrates that truth.  Earth Day was founded in hope in 1970; as you will read below, we are still hopeful.  The question is, should we be?  In the face of all of our challenges, where should we look for real hope?  These are my Earth Day #44 thoughts (see some earlier year’s thoughts here and here:

Madison Wisconsin, can arguably claim to be the historical center of the modern US environmental movement.  This small city has direct connections to many of  the movement’s pioneers:  John Muir (Yellowstone National Park), Aldo Leopold (“Sand County Almanac” and many other works), Sigurd Olsen (The US/Canadian Boundary Waters), Gaylord Nelson (founder of the first Earth Day), and Cal DeWitt (Au Sable Institute).  Perhaps because of these historical connections, the current voices of the environmental movement can often be heard in this city, and what these voices are saying – and not saying – is worth noting. 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

Streetlights, breast cancer and Rubik’s Cube…

A couple of months ago, the Madison WI utility folks showed up on my street, dug some holes, brought in several shiny new poles, and next thing we knew, we had a half a dozen new streetlights – including one right outside my bedroom window.  These aren’t just any streetlights – they are the latest LED technology, and easily bright enough to read by, while consuming only a fraction of the energy of the older ones. It appears these brilliant additions use less electricity than one old-fashioned 100 watt bulb, but make those older sodium lights look like bathroom nightlights.  Signs of progress, yes? Maybe… Continue reading

Autism, Asthma and the New Face of the Environmental Crisis

Autism and asthma are two conditions that concern me personally; a number of close friends have children who are on the autism spectrum, and my daughter works as an autism therapist.  She also suffers from asthma, as do millions of others in her generation and younger. Now it appears that there may be a deep connection between these conditions – one that we never would have suspected.

In the good old days, environmental problems were easy to spot, and relatively easy to manage.  If a river was polluted or the air in a city was unbreatheable, we could identify the sources and clean them up.  If an oil tanker leaked or an oil well blew up, the mess was horrendous, and remediation was expensive but it could be done.  Two articles in this week’s Sunday New York Times show that this is no longer the case.  No – there still plenty of these simple environmental challenges all around us.  But we are learning that we are facing an entirely new class of problem:  changes in our own bodies caused by unforeseen and unintended consequences. Continue reading