Monday, August 30, 2010

an altar in the world

My summer preaching series was focused on the Lord's Prayer. At the end of summer, and the series, I realized that the prayer can be understood as an invitation not just to pray those words, or to a life of prayer, but actually to a whole way of living, that incorporates awe, and humility, and ethics, and compassion.

As I was preparing for this week's sermon, I listened to portions of a book by the Rev. Dr. Barbra Brown Taylor, called "An Altar in the World". I made reference to this book as I introduced the Old Testament reading from the Book Of Exodus, which described Moses' encounter with the burning bush. For Moses, the burning bush represented the presence of the mystery of God.

I highly recommend "An Altar in the World", as a guide to things we can do on a daily basis that may help us become more aware of God's presence. Here is a video clip from Youtube, of an interview with Barabara Brown Taylor:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

“6.9 billion and counting”

That’s not the number on the McDonald’s sign telling us how many they have served. That’s the world population., according to the best numbers I could find online.

This past Sunday I showed a short video called “The Miniature Earth”, which presents the world and its people as if we were a village of 100. This is based on the work of a researcher named Donella Meadows.

Dr. Meadows taught at Dartmouth College, and worked and wrote extensively, and with great influence, in the areas of environmental conservation, global development, and the limits to growth. She founded the Sustainability Institute, which combined research with a practical experiment in cooperative living on an organic farm in Vermont.

In 1990, Dr. Meadows published a report called “Who lives in the Global Village?” Many people have picked up on her idea of presenting the state of the world, and the relative status of different groups in terms of a village of 100 people. “The Miniature Earth” is just one of a number of such presentations that are easily found at YouTube. Here is the link to the one I used.

After the worship service I had a conversation with someone who works in the actuarial field. Actuaries are often employed by the insurance industry, to assess risk, and help companies calculate the amount of money they must set aside to pay annuities and death benefits. The person I spoke with was quite surprised to see that the video presentation made the claim that the world’s population is evenly divided between men and women. My friend questioned this, because he knows that statistically, women live longer than men. His question made me curious enough to look it up.

According to the website of the French Institut National D’Etudes Demographiques, the world population is about 50.3 % male, and 49.7% female. This site went on to say that 105 boys are born for every 100 girls, but that since males have a lower life expectancy, this difference evens out in adult years.