Posts Tagged ‘science’


Since I was allowed to stay up late on Tuesday nights as a little gapher to watch the re-runs on CBC, Star Trek has been a part of my life. The stories, the social commentary, the inclusivity, the knowing of a better future to come. Watching as the technology I have seen on the screen has slowly and then rapidly become a reality. Think of what our Smart Phones (even flip phones) are like communicators, and sometimes tri-corders (and the body scans we can do now, like their med-beds), during C-tine, our video calls I do feel like asking for hailing frequencies to be open on screen. As each new era of the first book of my life emerged, readers know certain stores have resonated from the original, to the Next Generation to Deep Space Nine (DS9) to Enterprise to Voyager, enjoying Discovery, Picard and Lower Decks (looking forward to Prodigy and Strange New Worlds). Yet it is the underlying theme of all belonging, and freely being able to pursue one’s passion as purpose that resonate at the core of the storylines.

Which is why, as this section moves towards a close, this Reading Week as an instructor has been intriguing for what has come into my feeds. Clicked on Crave to watch the next episode of Season 3 of Discovery, and there was a documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nicholls (who originated the character of Uhura) and her work with NASA.

I encourage viewing for everyone, but I also encourage discussion and dreming after viewing. The documentary shares the story of Ms. Nicholls, whose Dad never believed in the word, can’t. She shared of being a teenager, and singer with Count Bassie’s orchestra. How the lead singer, a sultry siren, was no longer there, and she got the nod to take the lead imitating her predecessor during the set. At the end, Bassie came to her, and bluntly asked what she was doing? As well, to knock it off, she had actual talent, so sing. Could you imagine the same advice being given to a young woman in the music industry today?

See the source image

The story of her beginning to work with Rodenberry with a role on one episode of his show, “The Lieutenant” around racism, that was so controversial it has never aired. What began that day though was a friendship of deep discussions on importnat issues of justice. Rodenberry promising he would have something for her. What was that? In a show idea known as “Wagon Train to the Stars” that would become Star Trek. The character? One Ms. Nicholls would help name, Uhura, and create. For the command crew of the Enterprise, represented the mosaic of humanity plus a Vulcan. Though during the first season she would see her role continue to shrink to a simple catch phrase “hailing frequencies open” to the point of resigning. It was during this time, at an event, a fan wanted to meet her. She was tired, and did not want to, but the hosts kept pushing, The Fan- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the message, you can’t resign. The retort, who are you to tell me how to run my career. The rationale by Dr. King, it is the only show he allows his children to watch, that he makes time to watch with his children. She stayed, an African American Lieutenant, the commander of communications.

The story shifts to the convention era, where she met a person from NASA, as they were moving from the Apollo era to the shuttle era, and Ms. Nicholls, once again challenged the norm, for she pointed out she could not see herself in the astronauts. A visit to NASA revealed the rainbow that made space flight possible, but the actual astronauts had a selection bias, and there was 4 months left to go in recruiting for the program…and Ms. Nicholls was hired, one caveat, she did not want to be a mascot. She took in astronaut training so she knew what she spoke about, she also did not have NASA folks with her when she went on her recruiting talks, filmed her PSA’s for television and radio. 4 month, criss crossing the country, receiving threats of harm when she spoke out, challenging the military recruiting process, as she recruited civilians (and those in the military overlooked) to thousands of applicants to the first 35, adn the friendships she cultivated in there to the Challenger in 1986…\

But her message was simple, she saw something that wasn’t right, and wanted to make it right.

An underpinning of Star Trek, in spite of the Prime Directive. Striving for IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), a true courageous space for inclusivity. To move beyond the societal “isms” that were explored in Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Beyond the Stars” where Sisko, is back in time as a writer in the 1900s:

Sisko was the writer Benny Russell, who the readers believed was white. The world was very much polarized by colour, at least in the powerful money hands. This is the world that the bridge of Uhura challenged. This is the world that Star Trek in its IDIC continues to challenge, while cultivating critical and ethical thought processes.The shared extended metaphor of Bajoran-Cardassians, in the age of Reconciliaiont, of Settlers-Indigenous. And inspiring folks to discover their passions and pursue them. This is how I shaped the episodes and movies to be used in my teaching with youth and young adults, from exploration nights in youth groups, youth centres, young adult studies, discussion nights, oh and one fun confirmation cycle. It was a pleasure on Friday February 19, 2021 during a video conference out of Costa Rica linking the world (very Trekkie) to be able to thank one of the actors, who states she is a storyteller, Nana Visitor (played Major Kira Nerys in DS9) for the stories that inspired and have been used to inspire so many.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "TeC ”R Rica Tecnológico de Nana Visitor Friday February 19, 2021, 6pm Costa Rica AORNN SPACE"

A friend and former colleauge in journeying with those in life recovery and exiting homelessness to home, is now at home in Costa Rica cultivating his own passions around space exploration and community building as a teacher. This was a conference part of TEC. The exciting news that kicked off was Costa Rica adopting their own Space Agency (after a long history of working with NASA, and some excellent books co-authored by my friend, Bruce Callow). Their initiatives around education and STEM that has seen them in schools outside of Costa Rica (including Calgary), and having cameos with the books at the last Vul-Con before c-tine (and as rumours/bills from the Town Council of Vulcan the last focused event such as that).

We then shifted to an incredible and inspiring talk by our storyteller. Ms. Visitor shared about those great moments of entering The Flow. That is that moment when everything aligns, and it no longer feels like struggle or work, just going and what amazing things happen within a team when that moment is realized by a team. I have had the pleasure of experiencing those moments in my own writing and teaching, but also in community builidng and spiritual direction with the teams and communities we were a part of, an dyes it is powerful. The challenges thrown out that the way work is done needs to change, understanding work as a person with nothing outside the work is unhealthy and wrong. We need to cultivate a world that allows for healthy balance with work and life, and watch the miracles roll out, just think we have gotten this far with the broken system, how much farther could we go with an unbroken system?

Of course, there was talk of the power of representation within Star Trek, Ms. Visitor sharing when she first read the character of Kira, she thought it was a man, because rolls like that did not exist in the early 90’s for women. And when she found out it wasn’t, she wanted it. She shared on her Women of Trek project, interviewing the actresses who have played the powerful roles. The hope of Ms. Nicholls health holding so after c-tine she will be able to interview her in person for the book/documentary. This was one of the greatest moments, as there was the allusion that inclusivity also involves mental health and disabilities for pursuit of passions. As the character of Tilly in Discovery was brought up, for she is brilliant, yet can be crippled by anxiety, and she is important to show, that we can still be who we are in experiencing the world, and chase our passions.

Which leads us into a reflection for this first weekend of Lent,

If inclusivity was the norm

If you could live your dreams/passions

Who would you be?

*Guess what– that’s who Creator made you to be.

For more on Nana Visitor, read Bruce Callow’s article here.

My Facebook message after the event:


I wasn’t that old, it was at a family dinner at my Nan and Granddad’s I remember. The image on the screen, the man in blue and red catching the helicopter…and yes I believed what I had seen on the spinner rack at the Mac’s stores— a man could fly. Christopher Reeve was the embodiment of hope. Superman and Clark Kent. There was a time with this meta-myth I would easily say one was born knowing who Superman was, with the advent of social media and algorithms, and those that only chase “gloomy realness” I am not so sure anymore. There has been many movies (I discount Man of Steel and Batman versus Superman), t.v. shows, cartoons, radio shows, novels, comics (monthly, weekly, comic strips, graphic novels, and collections out there)–and a host of family-Supergirl, Superboy, Bippo the Super-monkey if you will.

Yet at the core, is a hero designed by two Jewish boys. The original iteration was a villain, but by the time Action Comics #1 (1928) hit the newsstands, it was the familiar hero we know today. Superman started out fighting corporate corruption, as a voice and hero for the disenfranchised, the other. He was in PSA’s against racism, and fought the KKK. He would save the multi-verse, and fight to sexual trafficking as well in his career. My most familiar version was the post-crisis one crafted by Calgarian, John Byrne.

But I digress (can you see the fan boy coming through). What is the origin of the Man of Steel? The Man of Tomorrow? And how does it tie into the ancient wisdom stories of the Hebrew Bible and our modern world discourse around climate change today?

The Moses story was the meta-narrative used to craft the origin. Moses as the Hebrew Bible’s book of Exodus, tells us there came a crisis for the Hebrew people in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh did not know the patriarch that had settled them, and he became fearful of the nation within his walls (hearing anything about our current political climate in those words? Fear generation?). As such, Pharaoh set out on an program of genocide by eliminating all male babies of a certain age to ensure a culling. Moses’ family set Moses out in a basket on the river for a safer life, a new life, they did not know if it would work, but they hoped.

Moses was raised as an Egyptian, and upon discovering his roots, became a voice and actor of hope and emancipation for his people.

Jor-El, saw a world ending crisis coming to Krypton. He took his scientific data to the governing council that did not want to act. Did not want to create a panic in the populace. Did not want to believe that nature would conspire to rebel against their unethical dominionist ways. They laughed, they mocked, they used media to discredit him as hokey, call it a farce, fake news, fake facts, that this is all about the normal rhythms of space and their world.

Jor-el and his wife built a rocket to save their son from this self-inflicted genocide of the planet Krypton driven by ignorance. For what would have been the cost to listen? What would have been the cost to make their world and their people healthier by transitioning industries? Supporting one another? Why they would have to change the great Kryptonian ethos of “we’ve always done it this way.”

Kal-el was rocketed to earth. As he grew through puberty and his powers emerged, technology allowed for him to connect with his heritage. He grew, with the support of the core values he was raised with as Clark Kent, into a symbol of hope, and an emancipator for Earth from fear and corruption though the battle was a bit more cyclical than what the Hebrews had–wait—having read the Hebrew Bible, nope it was just as cyclical as that ancient wisdom works share with us.

Both Moses and Superman became hope. Jor-el is a symbol of what happens when we ignore science and truth because it is inconvenient, or disruptive to an echo chamber narrative we want to craft. I may not think climate change will be as catastrophic as the young are predicting, but I am no scientist. Though I have to ask, if we shift gears to a healthier relationship with creation, more of a caretaker than the strip mine dominion approach, back to the actual relationship and entrustment God gave us in Genesis 3 what is the worst that can happen? Cleaner air? Cleaner water? More equitable relationships between nations? Healthier holistic life? Being able to see and be with one another as neighbour?

If it is true and we ignore the end game is Krypton’s. Though there is another end game in the journey no one is addressing, by the voracious and bully focus of climate denial, we are doing something else. We are telling a generation of youth, our leaders now and in the future, that we did not equip them, we do not trust them, they are not valid or valued as members of society. Let that sink in. Aside from austerity measures that are harming the most vulnerable:

we through our lack of ability to discourse and change, are telling our young that they do not matter and then became outraged when their response to Gen X to the Baby Boom is the middle finger.

The question before us on planet earth is simple, who in the origin story of hope do we want to be:

The Kryptonian High Council or Jor-el?


The false question extremists on either side of the religious spectrum want us to believe. See, it is either all about what science says and God is pushed out (extreme left) or science is all witchcraft (extreme right)…yet, neither is right (and yes these are rather blunt analogies).

See, science is wonderful, so is religion. Science explains how things work, and faith/religion give us the why (other why’s of life can be found in whatever philosophy fills that intrinsic mystery within). On Sept. 18, 2019 at Ambrose University’s Pop Up Theology I was able to find a new resource in the complimentary conversation.

The Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation (found in social media at fb.com/csca.ca; csca.ca/youtube; twitter: @CanSciChr and Instagram at @CSSCA_73) presented “God through a Scientist’s Eyes”. It was the culmination, no rather a wrong word, the continuing conversation between the two books of faith: The Holy Scriptures and the Book of Creation. The two books of science and faith. Pastor John Van Sloten was our guide for this conversation. He is a Calgary pastor that may sound familiar to readers as he is also the author of The Day Metallica Came to ChurchA bonus was the discussion was free, so there was no barriers to this primer, and that a sponsor also provided a free copy of his book, Every Job a Parable.

Van Sloten had used the Templeton scholarships (monies available for pastors to preach science, by taking time to connect with actual scientists and discover the book of creation through those trained to read it). It was enjoyable for the level of conversation, understanding and unpacking. He also pointed out that too often church clerics will bastardize science with trite things like a using a fact about a 3 in 1 in nature to preach on the Trinity, or saying you can find God because an amoeba has a cross image on it. This is about unpacking the miracles that happen with understanding how to cure cancer, microscopic surgery, astrophysics.

The term Climatological Sin in regards to climate change. A reminder to the church corporate that we had failed in being care takers and stewards of Creation, as the vocation was given to humanity in Genesis 3. Why does climate change matter to a Christian, it is a deeper issue of faith, care and reconciliation.

Like I said this was a good primer as it was a pastor communicating science to us. The next step for those who were attending, or maybe just curious about dispelling this false dichotomy is at St. Mary’s University Conversation Series on October 2, 2019 at 7p.m at McGiveny Hall where Father Adam Hincks, SJ, PhD (in Astrophysics) will discuss does the Big Bang and God conflict? (spoiler as they said last night at the presentation, it does not).

It is part of unpacking our world, understanding perspectives to seek out other ways of seeing the world and entering into a deep listening to learn, and then if necessary raise questions.


I had the surprising pleasure last night of attending Professor Brian Cox’s lecture at the Jubilee auditorium, thanks to my good friend Scott. I was not sure what to expect, it was about physics was all I had heard. For those who may not know, Professor Cox is a cosmologist and particle physicist. So yes I followed perhaps 1/4 of what was being said (seriously I am smarter than that, but it is a field of interest not deep study). The hook is that Professor Cox is the one that explained the science of Doctor Who. We entered into a timey wimey fun night.

Image result for picutre of light from big bang

Picture of light of Big Bang

The crux was understanding space and time, to be able to understand black holes (always cool) and the Big Bang. Whoa! Yes, dear reader, we can see the light from the Big Bang at about a billionth of a second after it happened, and, man, is it an awesome picture looks like a Dyson Sphere (my Next Gen. Trekkies will get) on fire. Robin Ince, his co-host of the Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC Radio 4 (and podcasts). As a professional comedian he brought a higher level of levity and connect-ability, though that was already present with how Professor Cox presented his lecture (though, as he said, at this price can you call it a lecture).

black hole

Image of Black Hole

Robin Ince did a great job of explaining energy transfer and re-incarnation, as different atoms from previously existing things now making us up (it was an explanation of what comes next, and death to his son).

It was a wonderful job with full images (and the dreaded Conics from Grade 12 Math 30) to explain how our universe formed, and the possibility of life on other worlds (which is a yes or no answer). In my own understanding I hold life on other worlds is infinitely possible and why no contact? Would you want to make first contact with our world currently?

There was some good questions taken from the audience as well. FYI when Ant-Man goes to the quantum realm he would not be able to breathe (but the wormhole from Thor is scientifically accurate).  Another question raised, was can physics explain good and evil.

I actually do not remember fully Professor Cox’s answer. For the lecture up to this point, seeing the wonders of all the universe again together was awe-inspiring. It truly was for me, confirmation, through evidence, that science explains the how of our galaxies. It is our spiritual beliefs that give the why behind things. In fact, this synergy is needed. As Professor Cox would take time to explain science does not exist within a vacuum. The creative is a part of it, that is the arts, drama, philosophy, etc. It all needs to work together.

Yes, the how and why is out there for what life is about. It is not found in an isolated silo, but in a multi-disciplinary sharing to more deeply understand.

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Soul Ripples my new book on inter-generational mental health, faith, and beginning recovery is available at Amazon.

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In the course of reading/writing for progressive religious it is sometimes challenging realizing that there is few Canadian authors. Yes, I am aware of Gretta Vosper, but she has gone to the outliers of progressive into spiritual atheism, the question arises what if (or I still hold to be true in faith) a Holy Mystery? This is the background for a belated Christmas present from my daughter’s godfather to me (belated because I think he read it before, which is what happens with us and books).

Image result for j. steiner calgary authorJ.Gregory Steiner, SJ’s (2018, Archway) The Evolution of Belief: A Christian Perspective for the Future takes a look at the evolution of theology and doctrine within his home faith tradition (Catholicism, he was after all a Jesuit) and how science complements and expands upon this understanding. What it means moving forward. It is not an “AHA!” text for anyone who has read other progressives ala the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, or John Shelby Spong, but what it is, is another testimony (yes let’s reclaim that word) of a person sharing how their belief has been shaped by life. How they can see how things do not have to be at war or odds, but are interwoven in a tapestry, and how personal and corporate beliefs evolve and change over time.

I also have a partiality to the book as the writer is a fellow Calgarian, I encourage you to explore it. If you are a deeply read progressive, it is good to be encouraged through the stories of others, if you are just curious, it is an excellent way to begin to bring cohesion to your worlds. Breaking down barriers and allowing flow.

Buy the book here.

 


2016

 year of endings.

Globally some say,

hope died.

The fight for hope in spite of fear is rekindled

Many scholars, poets, actors and fools crossed over

from the global world.

Down home…

it was a time of professional loss

In community served

the little deaths and ends

as lockers packed

apartments packed up

doors locked

lives locked away

to be unlocked by a new.

Personally

S-H-A-T-T-E-R-E-D

Matriarch no more

—Pain

the littlest of us getting their wings

empty school room hooks

tears of a son,

hugs of a mum.

Not knowing how to fix as a simple Dad

what is shattered within.

Empty seats of what was thought as sanctuary

ripped out like stuffing from a neglected teddy bear

YET…

in the midst of the death

the loss

the endings…

a New beginning awaits

Not just the close of a chapter

or a year

but a book

for a new one will appear

as I hold the death card in my hand,

I choose not to reflect or live into the end that has been

but embrace the beginning that is to come…

for at the end of every dark hallway

a light can be switched on

it is the light I choose

to live into

out of

and through.

to a new year

a New Hope

is lit.

The Death card is about endings, and that includes the ending of a life. What everyone seems to forget, however, is that the Death card is not exclusively about the end of a human life. In fact, it’s far more likely that the card is telling you that a goldfish or a houseplant will die. Death can mean the “end” of anything: The end of an era, the end of a trip, the closing of a restaurant, the breaking up of a band, the conclusion of a very rough week.

From: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/learn/meanings/death.shtml

 


Okay in the big debate that comes up around census time, and the “nones” or spiritual, but not religious quotient rises I must admit that I see it as a false dichotomy.

-Waiting for the gasps to subside-

It is yet another thing we use to create Us/Them waves. Instead of looking beyond the label we choose (Religious, Spiritual, Atheist, Political, Philosopher, Ethics, Humanist—do I need to digress into the different ways we label ourselves as children of the creator?). It is a system we use individually and collectively to feed the intangible piece of our whole. Some call it Spirit, others soul, some the Cosmic Christ…you can fill in the Holy Mystery term for that piece of you, but we all know it is there. It is the piece that binds the whole physical, mental and emotional together. It is the piece that drives our purpose and belonging.

Now, this is the time, when someone will look at me and go, you are an intelligent person, you trust science. How can you buy into this? Sometimes nicer, sometimes more vulgar.

It is simple, boil down science to what it truly tells us about our origins and we are literally created from stardust. What is more mystical than that?  Seriously…I want to know.

But I digress in what my wife calls my smart ass quotient. It starts there, but it is also knowing what lens to bring to what issue. Science explains the how of the beautiful creation around me and in me, that I am a part. Spirit tells me the why…and that is the rub. For we are created from star dust, to be an interdependent in the web of life on this earth within this solar system and apart of the multiple galaxies.

Yet (there’s always a yet)…we are here for a purpose.

That is the question of the Spirit each of us must answer. Why did the stardust take your form? Why are you here?

So are you brave enough to let go of the dichotomy. Let go of the labels. Exist in the here and now, blessed with the holistic you, and simply discover, why am I here? And live fully into it, and out of it to transform this world for the better in your actualization of love?


A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds

A garden statue of Francis of Assisi with birds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been a blessing to re-enter a relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, I still look fondly upon my time there as a lay minister of praise. One of the great resources that has come to me is Elizabeth Rapley’s The Lord as Their Portion: The story of the Religious Orders and How they shaped our world. I am not done this work so there may still be more musings afoot. But what has come to mind is when I hit the section on the rise of the Mendicants, and more earnestly her snapshot of Francis The Poverello.

She points out his failure as a merchant (more enjoyed spending of the money, than the makin of) and then his less that successful soldiering, where on his first mission he was injured, captured and became a prisoner of war for  seven years. See Francis of Assisi is my patron, and one of the reasons I am attracted to his mysticism and story is that he lives. Meaning that there is no hiding what he truly was.

Rapley raises a new question to show the relevance of the story of saints today (ancient or contemporary as with Dorothy Day or even the 14 year old girl shot by the Taliban). After Francis’ return from captivity he entered a spiral of self-destruction, addiction, partying, thieving, etc… hmmm…a spiral of self-destruction with erratic behaviours…

I am pondering if Francis doesn’t hold another story of redemption and healing for today, with all those that have suffered trauma and now live with the mixed blessing of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Why? Simple, he responded as one returning from war time. Yet in the midst of it, there was a point of clarity where he discoverd a true purpose for life.

A true purpose, the rise of the mendicants that followed him into poverty to care for the world, a reflection of the true life of Christ, the true gospel.

How does this story reflect on those we journey with who may have encountered trauma and are still living through and into the darkness? How can we shine the light? How did Francis leave the darkness?