Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chumash Heritage Sanctuary

Chumash Heritage Sanctuary

The “seashell people” need our help. 

The Chumash (seashell) native people, for 15,000 years residents of California’s Central Coast, have petitioned NOAA to create the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, protecting 140 miles of coastline between Cambria and Santa Barbara, and the waters offshore.

Hear the plea of Chumash Tribal Council Vice-Chair Violet Cavanaugh:

“Uplift the Universe, inspire the world populations, feel Mother  Earth’s Joy, our great Oceans of Water are all peoples, and all peoples should take a Stand Now, protect our Sacred Coast, the Viewshed of the Ancestor for over 15,000 years, ask friends to sign the Petition and share in your community, sing the song of the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary!!

“It is time to pass the story of how we protected our coast to our children, we must teach them the true meanings of our resources, the life ways of our oceans, the connectivity of all life, working together to be one great Mother Earth Community, uplifting for the Children of the Future, connecting to the joy of life rather than living the sorrow of greed, power and dominance. Create a new source of revenue for our community, expand research, assist Mother Earth in replenishing our resources, assist the fishing industry to reach greater heights of viability, include all voices of our community, this is our ocean and we know how to take care of Her!!”

I signed Violet’s petition to NOAA to create the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary.  I encourage you to also.

(Brief background:  The Northern Chumash Tribal Council has petitioned NOAA to designate 140 miles of coastline between Cambria and Santa Barbara and offshore waters as a new National Marine Sanctuary.  This would close the gap between the Channel Islands Sanctuary and the Monterey Bay Sanctuary.  It would forbid any future oil and gas drilling.  Chumash sacred sites on and off shore would be preserved.  NOAA would use ecosystem management practices to preserve the rich diverse ocean habitats.  

Of our current 15 National Marine Sanctuaries, CHNMS would be the first to focus on indigenous culture and history as a primary core value along with protection of ocean habitat.  A widespread coalition of civic and environmental groups supports the Tribal Council petition.  Fishing and oil interests oppose it.  NOAA has accepted the petition, along with others, a big first hurdle, but there are many more steps, and there is no timeline for when NOAA will decide.  It is by no means a done deal, especially with a new administration. It took years and years and hundreds of community meetings to effect the designation of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  Add your name, your support, your money, your prayers to this sacred cause.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Geology

Christmas Geology

Check out this rock nativity scene!  It’s by my new second favorite Christian geologist Juan Cisneros, a Ventura, CA rock sculpture artist.  (You can watch a YouTube video of him building the scene – the manger is three feet high.) Here at the Blue Theology Mission Station we rejoice any time God shows up near water. 

Seeing the Christmas story told by beach rocks reminded me of my other favorite Christian geologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

What do this contemporary Mexican American and last century Frenchman have in common? Both Juan and Pierre work with rocks and they both seem to love the Incarnation, God becoming flesh and matter. 

They are also both sort of Bad Boys, another reason I like them.  An interview with Juan reveals some personal challenges in work and lifestyle for which he says the beach and his rocks have been a deep healing place.  Teilhard was a brilliant Jesuit scientist (geology and paleontology) and philosopher who was condemned by his church and forbidden to teach or write, accused of being soft on original sin and too radical about the cosmic Christ.  Only recently has he been rehabilitated and affirmed – another reason to thank the current Pope.  But during all those decades of condemnation Teilhard also found peace and faith with the rocks and the wisdom of creation.

Some favorite Teilhard quotes:

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” 

“By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers” 

“Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen.”

“By virtue of Creation, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.” 

“Blessed be you, mighty matter, irresistible march of evolution, reality ever newborn; you who, by constantly shattering our mental categories, force us to go ever further and further in our pursuit of the truth.” 

We could call Christmas “Matter Day,” the day we remember (in Teilhard’s words) the mighty matter, reality ever newborn.  In other words, the word made flesh.  We could call it “Rock Day,” when our Rock and Redeemer laid the foundation.  I’ll just call it “Blessed Be You Day,” to the baby, the artist, the scientist, who remind us all matter is holy, and nothing is profane.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Seaside Mary

Seaside Mary

Mary was sitting beside Monterey Bay, reading Isaiah, when the angel approached.  “Fear not!” he said, “Here’s a flower and some good news.  See, your book is open to Isaiah 7, and yes, you are the one to have the baby Immanuel, God with us.”

This “Monterey Bay Mary” window shines over the altar at St. Mary’s by the Sea Episcopal church in Pacific Grove, right across the street from the Disciples of Christ church where we have our Blue Theology Mission Station (ocean retreats and youth mission trips.)  Since both congregations love Jesus and love the ocean, we are great friends and colleagues.

Actually, we should probably give St. Mary’s credit for being the earlier adopter of Blue Theology.  Over 125 years ago, when the women who founded this church commissioned San Francisco Arts and Crafts genius Bruce Porter to design this window, they asked him to feature local plants (cypress tree and wild iris) and to place Mary overlooking the bay, which is just a block from the church.  (Porter had already designed the gardens at Filoli on the SF Peninsula and the windows at SF’s Swedenborgian church.)  They told Porter, “Jesus loved walking by the sea, and we figure his mother did too.” 

This past week hundreds of us gathered in this historic 1880’s clear-heart redwood church for the memorial service of its beloved rector emeritus Dwight Edwards.  Staring at that window throughout the service, I heard the angel saying to me, and to all of us, “Fear not.  Sit by the sea.  Greet any angel who stops by.  Let God enter in. Welcome the incarnation.  May God be born in you today.”

Thanks Bruce, Dwight, Mary, Gabriel for calling us to sit by the sea and welcome in your watery Word.

(We are booking Blue Theology retreats and youth mission trips for 2017.  We’ll show you the window as well as the bay.  I post these reflections every Wednesday morning, here and on Facebook, on my page and at Blue Theology Mission Station.)