Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Why Sharks Want You to Ride Your Bike

Why Sharks Want You to Ride Your Bike

Check out this new bike rack outside Monterey Bay Aquarium!  It’s a shark where you can park your bike.  It is strong, useful and beautiful.

That’s what my favorite architecture writer, the 1st century Roman Vitruvius, says that every structure should have: strength (firmitas), usefulness (utilitas) and beauty (venustas.)  (Many buildings have 2 out of 3; strength and beauty, but no closets. Or strength and utility, but really ugly.  Or useful and attractive, but they fall down!)

Sharks, also, are strong, useful and beautiful.  Strong? No argument.  Useful? Like all top predators, such as lions, they promote habitat diversity by eating a variety of prey, so that one prey animal doesn’t dominate and overeat other animals or plants. Beautiful?  Look at the graceful lines and sleek profile. 

Sharks really want us to ride our bikes.  Less driving means we put less CO2 in the ocean.  That means a healthy habitat and more food for all ocean critters – less warming and less acidification, which both cut down on what’s available for dinner.  Ride your bike and keep food on the plate for all sea creatures.

Are sharks huge scary eaters?  No!!  Sea otters eat a quarter of their weight every DAY, 15 lbs.  Sharks eat a quarter of their weight every MONTH, even white sharks.

So ride your bike and the otters and sharks and other ocean critters won’t go hungry.  Really.  Recycling is great, reducing plastic essential, but the BEST thing to do for the ocean is drive less and buy local.  

Ride your bike to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I will get you in free!  That’s not a joke, it’s a promise.
I write these Blue Theology devotionals on ocean stewardship and spirituality every Wednesday here and on Facebook.Come visit our ministry in Pacific Grove and learn why God loves the ocean and wants us to love it, and sharks, a bit better.  And to ride our bikes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

White Shark Cafe

White Shark Café

Who doesn’t like hanging out at a café, eating and meeting friends?  But do you travel thousands of miles to your Pete’s or Starbucks?  And when you meet up there do you behave completely differently, and sort of weirdly?

That’s what thousands of white sharks do every spring, swim thousands of miles from the California coast to a remote open ocean area, to spend a couple months hanging out at what Stanford University scientists dub “the White Shark Café,” half way between San Francisco and Honolulu.  (Another scientist quipped a better name – “White Shark Bistro – beast row.”)

Why do they go there?  The surface waters are barren, much less food than their usual “coastal cornucopias.” (No seals, sea lions etc., yummy shark food.  And white sharks need to eat a lot.)  While at the café the sharks, especially the males, do weird “bounce dives,” fast repetitive dives as deep as 450 meters, down and up quickly over and over, day and night.  Is there more food deep down, or is it a mating ritual?

How do scientists know about the café and what sharks do there?  Amazing technology, acoustic tags that help locate them, satellite tags collecting data, drones scouting the sharks and tags, lab techniques analyzing the chemistry and DNA of the water and animal residue – all aboard the research vessel Falkor and an amazing interdisciplinary team of marine scientists.  They’re in the middle of their two-month first ever expedition to the café – follow it at (Yes, Schmidt, like Eric and Wendy, the Google execs providing the ship and tech support.) 

The café is the size of Colorado, part of the 40% of international waters in the world ocean, “belonging” to no one and everyone, ie needing extra protection.  And you think your café is special?   The shark café is being proposed as a World Heritage Site; this expedition will give them more info for the application.

What does this have to do with Blue Theology, our ministry of ocean stewardship and spirituality?  What’s the White Shark Café’s good news?
-God loves each and every creature and wants every single one of us to have food and family.
-God gave us brains for a reason and is happy when we use them. 
-Faithful readers will know I love Pope Francis’ insistence, in his “Laudate Si” encyclical on environmental stewardship, that we must do a “careful inventory” of all God’s creations in order to protect and preserve them. 
-And don’t you think that God loves to hang out, meeting and eating with friends, just as much as anyone else, wet or dry?

If you are a pray-er, hold in your prayers these researchers on this long dangerous trip.  And pray for the sharks as well, who are not at all the mean violent creatures of the movies, just boys and girls looking for dinner and a date, maybe kids.  Bless them all.
I write about Blue Theology every Wednesday here and at Facebook.  Six different groups of youth and adults are coming to our Blue Theology Mission Station in Pacific Grove this summer to learn about ocean stewardship and spirituality, with a “spiritual” tour of the Aquarium, service work on dunes and beaches, whale watching and kayaking optional.   We are proud of our fine church latte machine, and we surely do a lot of eating and meeting – perhaps we should call ourselves the Blue Theology Café.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018



What color do you get when you mix green and blue?  Cool names: turquoise, sea green, azure, teal, ultramarine, beryl. 

But we chose Aquamarine!!

I coined the phrase “Blue Theology” 15 years ago when I kept reading about “Green Theology,” “greening our churches,” “the Green Bible” and I asked myself, “Is there such a thing as Blue (Ocean) Theology?  Is Blue Theology simply Green Theology that is wet?  Or does the ocean teach us about God in different ways than the land?  Does our faith call us to care not only for the dry and green parts of creation, but for the ¾ of our planet that is wet and blue?” 

But most faith communities still think green more than blue.  The denomination of the church where we do our Blue Theology ministry, the Disciples of Christ, has an excellent program, “Green Chalice,” that certifies churches that are engaged in creation care in all aspects of their ministry. (The symbol of the Disciples denomination is a red chalice.) 

A “Green Chalice” congregation commits to environmental stewardship in energy use, buildings, landscaping, coffee, local food, creation care worship with a “green” message, etc.  There are two tiers, Green Chalice Congregations (150 of those) and Certified Green Chalice Congregations (only 15, nationwide.)  First tier is about intention and changing three things.  Certified is much more rigorous.  Our church just completed the certification process (mostly through the hard and faithful work of Kimberly Brown, one of our Blue Theology preachers I featured recently in these posts) and got this nice certificate.

But our church is all about Blue Theology, not Green.  (Of course we do all that other good green stuff.)  So naturally we said, “We’re not just Green.  We do Blue Theology.  Can we be designated an “Aquamarine Chalice Congregation?”  The good national folks agreed:  we are the very first Aquamarine Chalice Congregation!

It’s a great word, aquamarine.   Literally it means “water of the sea” or sea water.  We are a sea water church.

Every Green and Aquamarine Congregations commits to this Covenant:  Check out the verbs: worship, study, repent, advocate, and rest.  A good set of promises.

Green Chalice Covenant:
As children of God and followers of Christ Jesus, we covenant to:

-Worship God with all creation and pray for the healing of the earth.
-Study the climate crisis and engage others in climate solutions.
-Repent and forgive for the harm we have inflicted on the earth that sustains life.
-Advocate for ecojustice public policies and witness by living sustainable lifestyles.
-Rest in God’s good creation and invite others to delight in nature.
_________________ for more on our Blue Theology Ministry.  I post these ocean
devotionals every Wednesday here and on Facebook.   Come visit us in beautiful aquamarine Pacific Grove!