Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eupan may start in your backyard

We planted a garden several weeks back. I do not even remember when we planted for sure.

We spent time today working it. Perhaps 6 total "man" hours were involved today.

But, the mystery is that over the past several weeks - in incremental moment and times, the work of creation has been doing its work. While I believe in God - and uniquely believe in who God is made known in the person of Jesus - I like the language of Jesus in parables concerning gardens, soil, seeds, and harvest. In a parable of Jesus in Mark's Gospel, Jesus relates the following - which I have chosen to render in "my own translation" simply for consideration and pause - adding periods to slow down our reading:

It is also like this with the Kingdom.

A man scatters seed.

On the earth.



He sleeps.

He wakes.

The seed sprouts.

The seed grows.

He does not know how.

By itself.

The soil produces.


First the stalk.

Then the head.

Then the full kernel in the head.

As soon as the grain is ripe.

He harvests.

The harvest has come.

One of the things I value about this parable, and the lessons I am learning in the the garden, has to do with how unimportant I am in "creating" it and "making" "it" happen.

We spent a few hours in the garden today - and there has been thought and intention and planning - but the good of the garden happens mostly -

- without me.

Our six hours of work pale in comparison the the hours of "work" that happen with each ray of the sun and each droplet of rain - that I can neither create nor prevent.

It grows of its own.

I scatter, but I can not make it grow.

My hope, my prayer, my desire is that we will find ways to make eupan happen.

I will scatter the possibilities of it, and learn to trust with patience and enduring calm that night and day, as I sleep and rise, somehow apart from my knowing, goodness will sprout and produce a harvest of goodness.

Towards eupan.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

(footnote - several tomato plants are now in the ground - and the corn rows that did not survive a late freeze, have been reseeded. Potato plants are growing well, peppers are not quite ripe, and the carrots and spinach have produced their leaves as they emerge.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

We kill . . .

By our anthropocentric bias, it seems evident that many world crises are anthropogenic, perhaps leading to our anthropocide - and certainly the extinction of some species within the biosphere.

We can change our ways.

Will we?

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I pray . . .

I strive to be a person who effects, embodies, and lives toward eupan.

It is not easy.

I may, in fact, be a horrible model or example of it - and I am certainly no exemplar.

Today I am reminded of the reality that individual persons continue to perpetuate and extend violence in our world. In the name of justice, sometimes violence is effected.

I pray for many people; parishioners, kids, family members, criminals, students, administrators, politicians, sinners, saints, doctors, teachers, wives, husbands, addicts, lawyers - and the list could go on.

I strive to be a person who effects, embodies and lives toward eupan . . . but sometimes prayer is easier.

Praying for people is easy. Actually living out goodness, especially towards those who perpetuate and extend it, is much more difficult.

So, I pray.

I pray that God will help me to effect eupan.

Prayer is easier than embodiment.

Embodying goodness takes more work than prayer.

But, I will continue to pursue prayer - and embodied goodness by embodying forgiveness.

Today I am reminded that as hard as it is, both prayer and embodied forgiveness are better and easier than the pursuit of institutional disputations that perpetuate violence. I pray, especially, for the persons who are responsible for perpetuating violence. God be with you, God redeem you, and may God save us.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our consumption of "Fuels from Hell"

On page 32 of his book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, Thomas Friedman writes
"To put it another way, the Industrial Revolution gave a whole new prominence to what Rochelle Lefkowitz, President of Pro-Media Communications and an energy buff, calls 'fuels from hell' -- coal, oil, and natural gas. All these fuels from hell come from underground, are exhaustible, and emit CO2 and other pollutants when they are burned for transportation, heating and industrial use. These fuels are in contrast to what Lefkowitz calls 'fuels from heaven' -- wind, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, and solar power. These all come from above ground, are endlessly renewable, and produce no harmful emissions."

This reminded of a June 26, 2008 post from a brilliant friend, James K.A. Smith on his blog, which I will cite below (with permission). If we are committed to eupan, we must consider ways in which we consume goods and resources for our good, that “take away” from the good of others. We consume goods and resources that take away from the good of the creation.

James K.A. Smith wrote:

“Orwell: On the Invisible Underbelly of our Consumption
I'm currently finishing a book project in which I briefly discuss the way in which the liturgies of consumerism also feed off the invisible--vast networks of production and distribution which are almost entirely hidden from view, and about which we rarely ask. This brought to mind Orwell's straight-shooting analysis of Western (especially British) culture's dependence upon coal, which also seemed to "magically" appear in the grate of the homes of the middle class. Here are two exemplary passages from The Road to Wigan Pier: [Published in 1937.]

Watching coal-miners at work, you realise momentarily what different universes different people inhabit. Down there where coal is dug it is a sort of world apart which one can quite easily go through life without ever hearing about. Probably a majority of people would even prefer not to hear about it. Yet it is the absolutely necessary counterpart of our world above. Practically everything we do, from eating an ice to crossing the Atlantic, and from baking a loaf to writing a novel, involves the use of coal, directly or indirectly. For all the arts of peace coal is needed; if war breaks out it is needed all the more. In time of revolution the miner must go on working or the revolution must stop, for revolution as much as reaction needs coal. Whatever may be happening on the surface, the hacking and shovelling have got to continue without a pause, or at any rate without pausing for more than a few weeks at most. In order that Hitler may march the goose-step, that the Pope may denounce Bolshevism, that the cricket crowds may assemble at Lord’s, that the Nancy poets may scratch one another’s backs, coal has got to be forthcoming. But on the whole we are not aware of it; we all know that we ‘must have coal,’ but we seldom or never remember what coal-getting involves. Here am I, sitting writing in front of my comfortable coal fire. It is April but I still need a fire. Once a fortnight the coal cart drives up to the door and men in leather jerkins carry the coal indoors in stout sacks smelling of tar and shoot it clanking into the coal-hole under the stairs. It is only very rarely, when I make a definite mental effort, that I connect this coal with that far-off labour in the mines. [...] You could quite easily drive a car right across the north of England and never once remember that hundreds of feet below the road you are on the miners are hacking at the coal. Yet in a sense it is the miners who are diving your car forward (pp. 29-30).

In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior person generally. For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior. You and I and the editor of the Times Literary Sup., and the Nancy poets and the Archbishop of Canterbury and Comerade X, author of Marxism for Infants–all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel (pp. 30-31).

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eupan starts in local communities - in Bethany Oklahoma @ Southern Nazarene University, too!

At Southern Nazarene University, we are pleased to announce the formation of Student Government's Task Force for Campus Stewardship and Sustainability!

This group will dedicate themselves to having their voices heard regarding practices of sustainability that affect students today, and students of the future!

If you have an interest in being on this Task Force? Membership is OPEN to ALL!, the first meeting is Wednesday, April 15th at 2:00pm, at SNU, in the Student Life Conference Room located in the Webster Commons.

by Stephen Vandervort
posted by Marty Alan Michelson

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oklahoma City Opportunity towards eupan!

The Oklahoma Society for Science and Faith (OSSF) is pleased to announce the Ecological and Environmental Ethics conference to be held on the Southern Nazarene University campus on April 23 - 25, 2009.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Larry Rasmussen, Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth and Dr. Laura Ruth Yordy.

I have the privilege of serving on the Board of the OSSF and have read written works by each of the authors and am certain the conversation and reflection will be worthy of your time.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We need better models - and need to be better models

I have returned from a week of teaching in Costa Rica - in the Cloud forest located in San Gerardo de Dota, a small community in the Talamanca mountains in the midst of a precious ecosystem.

One of many observations I came home with has to do with simple practices of "reduce, reuse, recycle."

We lack good models for reducing, reusing, and recycling. (And, particularly in Oklahoma, in my observation.)

While I was with undergraduate and graduate students, professors and parents who work in the midst of the laboratory environment in Costa Rica, I noted that they reuse and recycle - well, everything! From writing on pages across the entire line (ignoring those faded pink lines that leave white space) - to printing on the back side of every piece of paper - to composting all food and sorting through all tin, aluminum, cardboard, paper, and more - I came home with a model that I can pick up on whereby I might learn to practice better the issues of care and concern for my own, personal use, towards eupan.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

The Natural Step

Passing along information here as I continue to learn.

The size of the problem equals the size of the opportunity

The Natural Step is an international not-for-profit organisation [sic] dedicated to education, advisory work and research in sustainable development. Since 1989, we have worked with thousands of corporations, municipalities, academic institutions and not-for-profit organisations [sic] that have proven that moving strategically toward sustainability leads to new opportunities, reduced costs, and dramatically reduced ecological and social impacts.

The Natural Step Framework is a proven, scientifically robust model that helps organisations [sic] make pragmatic decisions to move toward sustainability. We research the science of sustainability and link it to real world applications. We create dialogue about the opportunities and challenges in building a sustainable future. We are accelerating change toward sustainability.

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.