Wednesday, August 21, 2019

How Long, O Lord?

How Long, O Lord?

Recently my prayers have included way too many laments.  “How long, O Lord?”  Or as we phrase it for our visiting Blue Theology pilgrims, “This sucks!”  (Other prayers – Thanks, Help, I’m Sorry and Wow!)

Latest lament – the government’s plan to drill fatal holes in the Endangered Species Act.  That’s the metaphor Rabbi Daniel Swartz of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life uses:

“The Endangered Species Act acts like a modern-day Noah’s Ark, protecting the last remaining animals and plants and the places that they live from total annihilation.  The Trump administration announced its intention on Monday to drill holes into the ark, threatening to sink the only thing keeping the planet’s most vulnerable wildlife from disappearing forever.” 

The stated purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species and also "the ecosystems upon which they depend." California historian Kevin Starr was more emphatic when he said: "The Endangered Species Act is the Magna Carta of the environmental movement.”

The administration announced this week many serious changes to the original Act, which was passed in 1973 (Nixon administration) 355-4.  One that really makes me lament:

“The changes also inject economic consideration into what should be purely scientific decisions about protecting wildlife. If an oil company claims it will lose millions of dollars if it can’t drill in an imperiled species’ habitat, that consideration will now be given greater weight than the ultimate existence of that species.” (Rabbi Swartz)

Some good resources for religious responses to this latest attack on God’s creation: (includes a good bulletin insert for Endangered Species Day May 17.  Every day should be Endangered Species Day.) My friend and UCC colleague Pete Sawtell’s fabulous Eco-justice Ministry, with free weekly thoughtful theological reflections, this one on The Endangered Species Act.  His three theological reasons for protecting and saving endangered species:

Briefly, there's the religious principle of "the integrity of creation," there's the ecological reality of God's inherently relational creation, and there's the old traditions of Judeo-Christian ethics which state our obligation to care for "the least of these" -- which includes livestock and wildlife.”

Pope Francis wrote (Laudato Si, 33), “Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.”

Here at the Blue Theology Mission Station we lift up especially sea critters.  Ecologist Carl Safina  writes, “Marine animals teetering above extinction on the critically endangered list are coelacanthssouthern bluefin tunahawksbills and leatherback sea turtles. Marine endangered animals include: loggerheadsgreen and olive ridley sea turtles, various species of sawfishes and blue whalesDugongshumphead wrasseswhale sharkshumpback whalesgrey nurse sharks, and great white sharks are examples of marine animals that will likely go extinct if little changes.”.

Wondering what to do?  There’s no public comment period (more lament, how long until we return to following the rules?)  But you can write your congressperson in opposition and ask for them under the Congressional Review Act to disapprove a final rule issued by a federal agency.  But it must be done in 60 days! has a direct link.

After the flood God made a covenant with all of creation, not just humanity.  How long, O Lord, until we honor that covenant?
_____________ for info on our youth service trips and adult pilgrimages on ocean stewardship and spirituality along Monterey Bay.  We’ve seen turtles, whales, sharks – not yet a coelacanth!  I post these Blue Theology Tide-ings most Wednesdays here and at on Facebook.  Come and sea!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Water's Democracy and Voice

Water’s Democracy and Voice
“I advocate for a democracy of water, which has a threefold meaning: (1) ensuring that humans and all living beings have access to the water they need to survive and flourish, (2) bringing multiple perspectives regarding water into dialogue with one another so that these different perspectives can work together to address pressing water issues, and (3) listening to the voices of water. “  Elizabeth McAnally, “Loving Water Across Religions, Contributions to an Integral Water Ethic.”

“The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”  Thomas Berry

I’m convening a conversation about water at our church, Christian Church of Pacific Grove, tonight, and then next week another session about baptism.   My new fav book, “Loving Water Across Religions,” is the inspiration. 

Any ideas and suggestions most welcome. 

I have been on a grandmother tour these past few weeks, 6 month old Lula and 6 week old Owen, such blessings.  They began life in the water of their fabulous mothers’ wombs, and  will be dealing with water issues throughout their lives.  Our Blue Theology Mission Station welcomes youth and adult groups to study and serve our blessed water world, especially the ocean.  I post these ocean devotionals most Wednesdays here and on Facebook.  Be in touch.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Fleshy Algae

Fleshy Algae

“God seems especially fond of diversity,” we often say on our “spiritual tours” of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Animals come in so many different sizes, colors, how they find dinner, strategies for not being someone else’s dinner, techniques for finding a mate or making babies.  If there was one best most efficient way, everyone would do it.  But no, we see such diversity in all creation.d

We try to make this key theological point with our Blue Theology youth service groups and adult pilgrims along the Monterey Bay. 

Usually it’s the fish I point to make this diversity point, but it works also with plants and algae.  This past week the fabulous algae/seaweed expert Dr. Judith Connor taught us Aquarium volunteers about “fleshy algae” before we went on shift.  (She gave this half hour presentation to 19 different shifts throughout the week – thanks!)

Fleshy algae!  Just the term got our attention.   Turns out in Monterey Bay there over 700 different kinds of fleshy algae (which means they are the ones that are not calcified, like coralline algae.)  They’re fleshy.  700.

Here was the best part – her descriptive adjectives.   Maybe it’s just me, but these are some fabulous adjectives.

Dr. Connor says that fleshy algae comes in five different textures or body types. (I’ll give just one example of each type.)

-Delicate  - feather algae

-Velvety – dead man’s fingers

-Leathery – giant kelp

-Bumpy – cow’s tongue

-Corrugated – sea palm

Some obvious advantages – if you are bumpy you have more surface area to absorb food, like our intestines.  If you are velvety/slippery it’s hard for an animal to land on you and eat you.  Diverse adaptations to find dinner and not be someone else’s dinner.

Dr. Connor, who is also a master gardener, referred to these wet landscapes, with hundreds of Monterey Bay algae, as gardens, or meadows, all growing and thriving diversely together. 

“Consider the fleshy algae of God’s ocean meadows, how they grow.  They neither spin not toil, but Solomon in all his glory is not arrayed as one of these.”
Come and sea our fabulous fleshy algae along the shores of Monterey Bay, half a block from our Blue Theology Mission Station at the Pacific Grove Christian Church,  or on a spiritual tour of the Aquarium.  Blue for info on day trips, weekends, a week doing ocean learning and serving.  I post these ocean devotions every Wednesday here and on Facebook.  (Ask to join the FB Blue Theology Mission Station group and you’ll get a notice of every new post.)

Fabulous photos of sea palm and dead man’s fingers by NOAA’s Steve Lonhart.