Flying Bear at CU Boulder

Here’s some more animal curiosity, which unfortunately ended in some tragedy. Last week at CU Boulder, my Alma Mater where I got my Master’s of Science degree, students found a bear resting in a tree outside their dorm. Eventually the bear was tranquilized and fell on a safety mat. The picture by a student became viral.

As the Daily Camera article explains, the bear was killed near Boulder a few days later trying to cross the highway. Below the video of the action.

 

“Tourism That Makes A Difference”

Last week Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, opened the 7th world congress on pastoral ministry in tourism. The congress was held in Cancun, Mexico and Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to reflect on the subject. I would highlight the following aspects from the Cardinal’s address and Pope Benedict’s Message.

1. Sign of the times: Cardinal Veglio explicitly called tourism “a sign of the times”, and the Pope hinted at the same point. This language use is very important for in the context of the New Evangelization, it identifies one key area in which the Church is called to respond with  “new ardor, methods and expressions”. The numerous examples of youth traveling, backpacking, seeking speaks to the truth of this affirmation. The missions organized by the Church respond in part to this sign of the times, like CreatioMissions. The Pope encouraged a serious pastoral service to respond to this reality and the brilliant slogan: “tourism that makes a difference“.

2. Homo viator: The Pope’s key spiritual insight, that traveling reflects the inner dimension of a human being who seeks by nature.

Travelling reflects our being as homo viator; at the same time it evokes that other deeper and more meaningful journey that we are called to follow and which leads to our encounter with God. Travelling, which offers us the possibility of admiring the beauty of peoples, cultures and nature, can lead to God and be the occasion of an experience of faith, “for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator” (Wis 13:5). 

3. Tourism is a right: Cardinal Veglio insists in the dignity that tourism can bring to peoples and that is a right from which many poor people are often prevented from exercising. In his informed address the Cardinal sheds a light on its importance from several international documents. Not only can tourism take a negative form in its absence for some people, but also in its dangerous traits of exploitation and abuse, already mentioned before in other occasions. 

4. Tourism and environment: The Cardinal was clear on recognizing the environmental dimension of tourism, both the risk of destruction that comes from it and the possibility of making it “sustainable and ecological” (1). The Pope also emphasized the importance of beauty and sustainability (2):

(1)like all human reality, it is not exempt from risks and negative traits. It can promote dangerous urban and environmental changes, the deterioration of the cultural heritage, a decline in values and, what is much worse, the undermining of human dignity.

(2)Firstly, we need shed light on this reality using the social teaching of the Church and promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological…. our pastoral action should never loose sight of the via pulchritudinis, “the way of beauty”. Many of the manifestations of the historical and cultural religious patrimony are “authentic ways to God, Supreme Beauty; indeed they help us to grow in our relationship with him, in prayer. These are works that arise from faith and express faith” (General Audience, 31 August 2011). 

 

Biocentric Extreme: We are not plants!

This story is both upsetting and bizarre, and strangely and sadly somewhat comical for many who posted comments online. I came across this from a very environmentally minded friend, who thought it was hilarious. I don’t even know what to make of it.

A Swiss newspaper named Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman actually tried to live off sunlight. Her goal of attaining a sunlight diet was part of a spiritual quest that required the woman to give up eating or drinking, instead just soaking up the Sun and its magnificent rays. Unfortunately, she is now dead because people cannot live off sunlight.

The Tages-Anzeiger is based in Zurich, where the woman purportedly lived in nearby Wolfhalden. Though her name has not been released out of respect, she was in her fifties and started her quest for a sunlight diet in 2010, after reading about the Indian Yogi who claimed to have lived off sunlight alone for over 70s years. Our investigative team debunked the Austrian documentary about the Yogi in 2011.

What’s worrisome is that according to the Tages-Anzeiger, this trend of ‘sunlighting’ is part of a larger scheme called a ‘sunlight diet’. There are now diet ‘gurus’ out there actually tricking people into believing that sunlight can be the bulk part of a healthy diet. Officials say the incidence of sunlighting is highest in Germany, Britain and Australia.”

 Now, this is very scary stuff. My uncle for example constantly sends me articles that some way or another are trying to make the point that we are just like other animals, that since we came from other species through evolution “we are fundamentally made of the same stuff”. This case seems like an extreme concrete application of that idea. It is putting into practice the theory preached, where the denial of humanity becomes in fact the death of humanity. For the in depth explanation, and foot of the inspiring Guru see here:

The woman embarked on the diet after watching the controversial 2010 documentary film “In the beginning there was light,” newspaper Tages Anzeiger said today.

The movie centres on Swiss chemistry doctor Michael Werner, 62, and 83-year-old Indian yogi Prahlad Jani, who both claim to derive sustenance from spiritual means rather than the intake of food – a concept also known as breatharianism.

Werner claims to have lived without food since 2001, while Jani told the documentary of how he had lived for 70 years not only without food, but also without water.

The woman, from the east of Switzerland, saw the movie and decided to try to survive entirely on light, preparing for the process by reading a book by Australian breatharian Ellen Greve, who goes by the name Jasmuheen.

In line with the book, the Swiss woman, who was in her early 50s, did not eat or drink anything for a week – and even spat out her saliva – before resuming drinking in the second and third weeks…. An autopsy showed that she died of starvation, ruling out any other contribution to the cause of death, the newspaper reported.

This was the fourth known death linked to breatharianism and Jasmuheen’s books since the practice emerged in the early 90s.

 

Bees and Liturgy

Bees are back in Catholic Liturgy, on the most important celebration of all, the Easter exsultetThis is from an article from New Liturgical Movement. I have posted on Easter and bees here, and here.

Soon I will post on Pope Pius XII message to beekeepers, though if you want a sneak peak see the full NLM article here. Below the text and photos in honor of bees. Thanks to Fr. Daniel who is a nature lover and sent me this link.

the absence of the references to the bees in the former English translation of the Exsultet in the previous English edition of the OF Missal. They are back — though they never left the Latin text itself of course. Here are the relevant parts of the newly revised and corrected English translation:

This is the night of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, 
and full of gladness.
The sanctifying power of this night dispels all wickedness,
washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees to build a torch so precious.