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God. Life. Spirituality.

Archive for October 2013

The Art of Living Well

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Top 5 Regrets

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.

~ Voltaire


Written by MattAndJojang

October 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm

7.1 Magnitude Earthquake Hits The Philippines

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At least 20 people were killed on Tuesday when a major 7.1 magnitude earthquake tore down buildings across three islands that are among the Philippines’ most popular tourist attractions, authorities said.

Fifteen of the fatalities were in Cebu, the second most important city in the Philippines and a gateway to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, civil defence office spokesman Reynaldo Balido told reporters.

Five other fatalities were reported on neighbouring Bohol and Siquijor islands, famed for their idyllic white sands and turquoise waters that are typically visited by fast boat from Cebu.

“I was fast sleep when suddenly I woke up because my bed was shaking. I was so shocked, I could do nothing but hide under the bed,” Janet Maribao, 33, a receptionist in Cebu, told AFP.

“I was so scared, I could not even run out of the house. It was only 30 minutes later that we were able to leave the house.”

The quake struck at 08:12 local time (0012 GMT) near Balilihan, a town of about 18,000 people on Bohol, at a depth of 20 kilometres, the United States Geological Survey reported.

The town lies across a strait about 60 kilometres from Cebu island.

Residents and tourists reported extensive damage to old churches and modern buildings, including a university, while major roads had also been torn apart.

Patients streamed out of one of Cebu’s major hospitals, which was damaged. Local media reported one floor of the building caught fire.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, authorities were struggling to reach or contact damaged areas, with power lines as well as phone networks down, and a full picture of the disaster had yet to emerge.

“Communication lines are quite difficult here,” Neil Sanchez, head of the Cebu disaster management office, told ABC-ClimestoneBN television.

“Even the disaster risk reduction management office has been damaged. We had to move elsewhere.”

Cebu, with a population of 2.5 million people, is the political, economic, educational and cultural centre of the central Philippines.

It hosts the country’s busiest port and largest airport outside of the capital Manila. It also has a major ship building industry.

Bohol is famous for its “Chocolate Hills”, more than 1,000 small limestone hills that turn brown during the dry season.

A church on Bohol that was built in the early 1600s by Spanish colonisers collapsed in the quake, according to Robert Michael Poole, a British tourist who was visiting the area.

“It’s absolutely devastated … the entire front of the church has collapsed onto the street,” Poole said.

However he said there was nobody in the church at the time of the quake.

Tuesday’s quake was followed by at least four aftershocks measuring more than 5.0 in magnitude.

USGS initially reported the quake as having a magnitude of 7.2, but shortly afterwards lowered it to 7.1.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a Pacific-wide tsunami threat.

The epicentre was 629 kilometres from Manila.

The Philippines lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of islands that are prone to quakes and volcanic eruptions.

More than 100 people were left dead or missing in February last year after an earthquake struck on Negros island, about 100 kilometres from the epicentre of Tuesday’s quake.

The deadliest recorded natural disaster in the Philippines occurred in 1976, when a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake devastated the Moro Gulf on the southern island of Mindanao.

~Source: The Telegraph

Written by MattAndJojang

October 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

Why Higgs boson matters

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Photo: CERN

Photo: CERN

On Oct. 8 Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics for their theory on how matter acquires mass.

This work — which they began researching in the 1960s — was confirmed last year by the discovery of the Higgs boson (a subatomic particle nicknamed “the God particle”) at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva.

If this has anyone scratching their heads or wondering how it fits in with their faith, then it’s time to check back with what a Catholic physicist and a Catholic astronomer had to say about this mysterious particle during the summer.

U.S. Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican astronomer, told Catholic News Service that the particle finding “indicates that reality is deeper and more rich and strange than our everyday life.”

When people go about their everyday business working or relaxing, they don’t think about the tiniest building blocks of physical matter, but “without these underlying little things, we wouldn’t be here,” he added.

Brother Consolmagno said the Higgs boson had been nicknamed “the God particle” as “a joke” in an attempt to depict the particle as “almost like a gift from God to help explain how reality works in the sub-atomic world.”

Because the particle is believed to be what gives mass to matter, it was assigned the godlike status of being able to create something out of nothing, he added.

These conjectures are not only bad reasons to believe in God, they are also bad science, he told CNS.

“You’ll look foolish, in say 2050, when they discover the real reason” for a phenomenon that was explained away earlier by the hand of God, he said.

But he did point out that faith and hope can exist in the scientific community. For example, “no one would have built this enormous experiment,” tapping the time and talents of thousands of scientists around the world, “without faith they would find something,” he said.

“My belief in God gives me the courage to look at the physical universe and to expect to find order and beauty,” he said. “It’s my faith that inspires me to do science.”

Father Andrew Pinsent, a former particle physicist who worked on an experiment at the previously mentioned CERN, wrote a column about the Higgs boson finding this summer for the Catholic Herald in England. The priest, currently a research director at Oxford University, said the discovery has “no obvious implications for theology” but said it is still “worth reviewing its implications for the human quest to understand life, the universe and everything.”

The priest pointed out that the research that went into discovering this subatomic particle was done in part to “fulfill one of the most noble human aspirations: to know the causes of things.”

He said the Higgs boson finding “is a piece of the puzzle of how (not why) the universe works” but he also said it was “scarcely a final answer.”

– Carol Zimmerman

Written by MattAndJojang

October 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Epiphanies of Poetry

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Photo: Happydog/Flickr

Photo: Happydog/Flickr

The other day, I woke up with the quote in my head from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day.

“…what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

And I started thinking: where is the poetry in my life lately?

I used to find it everywhere. I used to swim in it. It used to be part of my daily existence. But recently, I’ve been so focused on, I don’t know…Living? Making money? Worrying? The space in my heart and mind for poetry got crowded out, I guess. And just when I started pondering that, what do you know? All this beautiful poetry started appearing.

On a random Facebook posting of someone’s, I read this,

“I’d cut my soul into a million different pieces just to form a constellation to light your way home. I’d write love poems to the parts of yourself you can’t stand. I’d stand in the shadows of your heart and tell you I’m not afraid of your dark.”

Andrea Gibson

I’d never heard of Andrea Gibson and thought this was so elegant and gorgeous. So I looked her up and discovered this amazing woman performs her poetry (watch her do it).

Going to watch poets was one of my favorite things to do when I lived in Austin, TX. I’d go to Ego’s and experience poets doing their thing. (Now, the Austin Poetry Slam takes place elsewhere.) It was so inspiring and exhilarating. I wonder what those poets who held me breathlessly captive in that dive bar are doing now. They were housewives and software salesmen and teachers and plumbers and all kinds of people in their “day” lives who would show up every Wednesday night and express life so vividly, so viscerally, through poetry spewed forth with intense vitality, humor, truth, and plain sheer guts. You just felt so fully alive when you left. Like they’d plugged you into their electricity of observation and source, so you felt what they felt but also felt your own stuff. They opened you up to observe and feel in your own way. They even inspired all us lay peeps in the audience to write our own poetry. (At least this one lay person.)

I hope they’re writing and performing still—releasing that kind of passion and intelligence into the ethers can only make the world a better place.

A few hours after I discovered Andrea Gibson’s poetry, I went on a walk in my neighborhood, and when I’d almost arrived back home, I ran into two butterflies doing a dance. Just right there on a street under the Hollywood sign, with garbage dumpsters and me as their audience. I watched them for a while and had to try to take a few photos to capture the magical butterfly dance. I noticed their shadows dancing with them below. It seemed to go on forever, and they never got tired. I wonder how long they continued before resting, or if they ever did.

Then this came my way via the wonderful Brain Pickings:

“A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”
Robert Frost, Letter to Louis Untermeyer, 1916

“Heed the words of Robert Frost. Start with a big, fat lump in your throat, start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, or a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now, not two weeks from now. Now.”
Debbie Millman

Yes. I don’t think I need to expound upon this. I know I don’t want to.

Take what you want from these poets and their work: Mary Oliver, Andrea Gibson, Robert Frost, Debbie Millman, and the butterflies. That’s what it’s for. (And you can end your sentences with prepositions if you want to. In poetry, anything goes.)

~ Elise Ballard

Written by MattAndJojang

October 7, 2013 at 9:55 am