Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Passing of the Year

Each year has meanings and memories, some of those that are personal to each of us and those close to us. In 2015, my sister Mary and my brother Jack passed from this life into eternity and they will always be in my thoughts and prayers. May we each treasure our own memories, happy or sad, of the passing year.

There are also memories of the year that are shared by our society and by human civilization. 2015 was certainly a year of contrasts, some things that provided great hope and inspiration, some were evidence of horror and depravity. Some events could even be described as just plain weird.

Bloodshed caused by terrorist acts caused by extreme ideology became a growing reality and ominous threat this year, particularly from the "Islamic State" (aka ISIS, ISIL, etc.) Paris was attacked twice, in January and November, with great loss of life. The terror came to our shores in a big way with the attack in San Bernardino in December. And the people in the Middle East where this barbarism was spawned continue to suffer the most. The situation triggered a massive migration of people, posing the challenge to western societies how to discern those who are truly refugees while protecting their people from infiltration by possibly large numbers of terrorist agents and sympathizers.

Some acts of barbarism are more insidious, as we were reminded again this year by a series of undercover videos revealing the grotesque practices of Planned Parenthood (as if abortion were not horrific enough already). As long as these activities are permitted to go on and are even funded by our tax dollars, we have to ask how much more civilized are we than the brutal ISIS forces.

Not all the events of 2015 were so depraved or discouraging. Our expansion into the universe continued with some spectacular exploration. Pluto, Mars, Ceres and other worlds provided some spectacular scientific and visual surprises to our robotic explorers and the humans controlling them from Earth. Meanwhile, advances were made to enable human beings to expand themselves outward and to provide for future generations. Entrepreneurial companies SpaceX and Blue Origin demonstrated reusability of rocket stages, a critical step toward dramatically lowering the cost of space travel. And in a bipartisan action, Congress passed a commercial space bill that, among other provisions, recognizes claims on resources harvested from asteroids and other celestial bodies. So much for "limits to growth"!

The 2016 US presidential election has already seen a long run-up in 2015, producing its share of frivolity and weirdness, along with some enlightening moments. We should not let the trivialities distract us from the seriousness decisions we face in 2016. Things have gone seriously wrong as a politically correct fantasy world has been imposed on us. It's time to move decisively toward a culture of life and a new birth of freedom.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Have a Holy and Merry Christmas!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Luke 2:1-14

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Hanukkah and Our Attitude about the Future

(This is a post I originally made in 2003 and feel is worth repeating each year, especially in light of some very dark anti-human views of the future vs. ongoing and emerging developments that can provide resources for future generations (e.g. this recent headline).)

Rabbi Daniel Lapin has a provocative column in WorldNetDaily on a message of Hanukkah that is relevant to people of all faiths. He shows examples, ancient and modern, of how a pessimistic Malthusian worldview has been repeatedly disproved by the Creator's providence of material resources and the ingenuity to utilize them to provide for the future. Rabbi Lapin says:
It only seemed that we lacked sufficient copper, whale oil or wood. In reality, our God-given ingenuity developed exciting new technology that eliminated our need for each commodity just as it was becoming scarce.

Hanukkah's miracle was that, day after day, the Temple's menorah just kept on burning in spite of an apparent shortage of fuel - a metaphor, surely, for all apparent shortages that can be overcome with faith. Hanukkah invites us all to express gratitude to the Creator whose beneficence is boundless. It stimulates discussions that can spur our spiritual growth. It reminds us that with His gift of creativity, challenges become optimistic opportunities to partner with God in creatively solving all material shortage.