Thursday, March 31, 2011

May 21st-The End of the World? Not!

All of the talk, discussion and articles about the end times coupled with the recent catastrophic events in Japan is unnerving. Certainly, the photographs and images of the extensive damage in parts of Japan and the horrific suffering and deaths of so many innocent people is apocalyptic, in some sense. The nuclear crisis in Japan is still not contained and who knows how much contamination there really is and how the population will be affected. Sadly, many Japanese people (and children) are living a nightmare, living in shelters, living with fear. My heart (and my prayers) goes out to them.
But is the world coming to an end? I doubt it. Most theologians would agree these are not the end times we are living through. It is a trying, anxiety-filled historical time for many, however, that's obvious to anyone who watches the news or reads newspapers.
Strangely, there is a group of "biblical devotees" who claim they've figured out that the world will come to an end in 2011 (not 2012 as many others claim). They are even going so far as paying for a billboard campaign warning people of the coming Judgment Day, which they believe will begin on May 21st with a huge earthquake.
According to an article I read titled, "Save the Date! Billboard Campaign Reminds Angelenos the End of Everything Is Coming," "Yesterday, KPCC's Patt Morrison spoke with Harold Camping from Family Radio, who explained that his group's research offered 'proofs and signs from the Bible' that 'judgment will be finalized' for the believers and non-believers in Jesus and that process will take five months, culminating in the ultimate end of everything on October 21st. 'We've come to the end of everything,' says Camping. That's a very scary wonder what children think when they see billboards or hear discussions about that strange prediction.
In my opinion, I don't think it's right to put more fear and anxiety in people than they are already dealing with. It's hard enough for some people to get through the day, feed their families and worry about the economy and then you have predictions like this......
The Bible says that God is a merciful God and God says, "Fear not I am with you, Always...."
"I hold you in the palm of my hand..."
May is a month devoted to Mary in the Catholic tradition. The Church honors Mary with many Marian devotions during May. It's a holy month, with thousands of First Holy Communions, Confirmations, May Crownings and the recitations of Rosaries throughout the world. I doubt highly that there could be a judgment day in May. All the money spend on billboards announcing warnings of doomsday, which can frighten children and some adults, could have been better spent on the poor, the homeless and the environment.
Humankind needs to worry about human pride, pride is one of the deadly sins and it's doing real damage in our world.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Church Going Green

I read about a great idea coming from a church in Smithtown, Long Island. Perhaps other churches will follow this good example. It's a great way to save money, while helping the environment. According to a recent NY Newsday article, an Episcopal church, St. Thomas of Canterbury is going green. Workers will soon be installing 48 solar panels. Bob Reimertz, who serves on the church's vestry was quoted as saying, "The investment will mean saving $2,500 in annual electricity bills because we're using free power from the sun." The project will be completed in a month.
The article stated that, "The church received a $28,000 loan for the project through the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island from a national church building fund." They will also receive a rebate from the Long Island Power Authority. Apparently there are at least seven other churches or faith based institutions on Long Island that use solar power. Protecting the environment and utilizing renewable sources of energy should be a priority for churches. It's the right thing to do and it saves money as well.
Also, New York City and Long Island are particularly vulnerable to sea level changes that can be brought about by global warming. At a map shows the damage that could happen to coastal areas if climate change and global warming continue. A sea level rise of only a few meters would "inundate thousands of acres of highly developed land on Manhattan, Long Island and the New Jersey Coastline." I would add Brooklyn and Queens too.
All of the major world religions have places of worship (not to mention valuable real estate) in these areas. They should come together and brainstorm on how to do their part to prevent global warming and find ways to use renewable energy sources. Just my it's time to rest.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wake Up World

I was listening to a video clip on the Democracy Now website which featured an interview with Ralph Nadar. He made the following comments which pertain to the nuclear crisis in Japan and what Americans should learn from it. "What we're seeing here is 110 or so operating plants in the United States, many of them aging, many of them infected with corrosion, faulty pipes, leaky pipes and combustible materials...Why are we playing Russian roulette with the American people for nuclear plants whose principal objective is simply to boil water and produce steam?...This is institutional insanity and I urge the people in this country to wake up before they experience what is now going on in Japan." Ralph Nadar is a consumer advocate and a longtime critic of nuclear energy, so his remarks are not surprising. But many people are concerned with the crisis unfolding in Japan and many people (especially parents) are questioning the building of nuclear plants near earthquake fault lines and fault zones. That doesn't make sense. Also, Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York is only 38 miles north of NYC and 20 million people live within a 50 mile radius of the nuclear plant. I'm grateful that Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday declared that Indian Point should be closed, after a federal report noted that it is the most vulnerable to earthquakes in the nation. Apparently, reactor #3 is built on a fault line (a fracture in the earth).
I understand the need and challenge in supplying and meeting energy needs. It is a difficult problem. I agree with those who would like to see money and ingenuity spent on renewable sources of clean energy such as solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal heat.
We have to care for God's creation and be good stewards of the Earth. We have to use common sense and expand our thinking about renewable energy sources. The ongoing crisis in Japan is a wake up call. Parents are concerned for the future of their children. No one wants nuclear power plants that can't be turned off in an emergency or shut down. And then there is the problem of nuclear waste. There is much we can learn from the nuclear crisis in Japan.
The Earth is a precious gift from God and it should be treated with respect and great care.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The World Needs Prayers

I'm just too sad about what's happening in Japan to write. I've lost my creativity for the time being. My heart goes out to the Japanese people, who are dealing remarkably well with a horrific situation. I watch the images of the 9.0 earthquake and the tsunami that hit Japan and I can't believe my eyes. It looks like footage from a doomsday movie. Recently, the history channel showed a "documentary" titled "2012." It's filled with so-called ancient prophecies about the end times and doomsday scenarios. I watched it out of curiosity and also to see what children are viewing on TV. I've been told by parents that many children and preteens talk about the documentary and the end times in school, at the lunch table. One parent told me her son told her, "The world is going to end in 2012." He didn't say, "It might end." Kids are talking about this. And then there are the real and very frightening images they see on TV. Between the tragic and scary events happening in Japan (the nuclear crisis is very serious) as well as the uncertainty and violence in the Middle East and I can't believe the mess the world is in. It's just depressing seeing and thinking about what people have to deal with and the pain and anguish they have to go through.
My prayers are with the Japanese people and also with those in the Middle East who are struggling for a better life. I hope and pray things don't get worse. We are living through uncertain times. Prayer is needed more than ever.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bible Verses on Billboards

I'm back from sunny Florida. What a beautiful state! I love flowers, especially pink ones and there were so many beautiful pink flowers to gaze at and appreciate. (As far as I'm concerned (theologians agree), the beauty and uniqueness of flowers is proof of God's existence-all of nature to be more exact). I enjoyed Florida, but I still have a love for New York and all things New York. I'm a native New Yorker, through and through.
While in Florida, my husband and I happened to notice a billboard that I liked. It was simple. In large print which covered the entire billboard (with a colored background), it said, John 3:16. That was it-simple and to the point. My husband asked me what that Bible verse was. That was an easy question, which I was happy to answer.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life.
There is so much depth, hope, unconditional love and perfection in that one verse, which is why Christians hold up signs at sporting events printed with that verse. It says it all. It always comes back to Jesus and God's immense love for each of us.
One of the most popular blog entries that I've written is titled, "Hopeful Messages on Billboards." Scripture on billboards? I think that's a great idea too.
This is what I wrote in a previous blog, "I love the idea of posting optimistic, hopeful messages on billboards. I've wondered why the Church doesn't advertise more on billboards. I think it would be great to have optimistic, hopeful, religious messages on billboards to encourage faith, belief in God and state the benefits of a prayer life, especially during trials or hard times. Belief in God gives people hope......Optimism is good for the soul."