Cicadas and Resurrection

Our pastor had some good reflections in our church newsletter on the 17-year locusts (a.k.a. “cicadas”) coming out of the ground around these parts.  He manages to connect cicadas to people, sin, the church, death, resurrection, and baptism! [Read more...]

A Christian physicist, the Higgs particle, and an anthropic multiverse

Christian physicist Stephen M. Barr, of the University of Deleware and a frequent contributor to  First Things, wrote with some other scientists a paper on the Higgs field–an aspect of the so-called “God particle”–that is getting new attention in light of the collider that has recently assembled evidence about this mysterious yet fundamental entity.  See The Large Hadron Collider, the Multiverse, and Me (and my friends) » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.  After the jump, a sample and a link to a very lucid popularized explanation from Dr. Barr about his findings, having to do with both the multiverse and the anthropic principle (the notion that the laws of physics are what they are in order to make possible human life). [Read more...]

The tornado set a record

One of the tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area on Friday was the widest ever recorded at 2.6 miles.  It was rated an EF5, which is the very top of the tornado scale.  Nine days earlier, another EF5 had hit Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb.  And in 1999, Moore had another of the rare EF5′s.  That twister featured winds at 302 m.p.h., the strongest winds ever recorded.  On Friday, the extra-wide tornado had winds just short of that, at 300 m.p.h.   Good thing it struck out in the country or Oklahoma City would have been blown off the map, with untold numbers of casualties.  As it was, 18 people were killed, including two tornado chasers.  The three tornadoes that we endured that night paled by comparison. [Read more...]

Dodging tornadoes

Oklahoma City and surrounding communities were struck by multiple tornadoes Friday night, killing nine people.  This was only 11 days after an EF-5 tornado hit Moore (a southern suburb of OKC).  We were in northeast Oklahoma, a long way from the tornadoes that made the news, for my father’s funeral.  But our county too had three tornadoes.  The funeral was in the morning, but that night the tornado sirens went off three times and we had to scramble to find shelter. [Read more...]

Stephen King on Intelligent Design and God

Stephen King is the living master of horror fiction and a pretty darned good writer by any standard.  NPR has an interesting interview with him on the occasion of his new novel, Joyland (which sounds like a good one), in which he affirms his belief in Intelligent Design. [Read more...]

God in the whirlwind–and a personal interruption

Well, in our travels, we went through Moore, seeing the devastation that was truly awful–in the sense of both “terrible” and in the older sense of “awe-inspiring.”   A whole swathe of the city, marking the twister’s path, just obliterated, with houses, businesses, and other structures reduced to unrecognizable piles of debris.  Coming back, we went by a forested region outside of town, the trees just knocked over and thrown about like toys.

We didn’t see our two sets of relatives by marriage who lost their homes.  They were at work when the tornado struck (a major reason the loss of life was relatively small being that most people in the neighborhoods where it hit the hardest weren’t at home at that time of day).  They came back to find their homes blown down to the foundations.  We were told that they are feeling philosophical about it all. [Read more...]

Tornado destroys Moore, OK. Again.

Growing up in Oklahoma, in tornado alley, I remember hearing that tornadoes, like lightning, never strike the same place twice.  Well, that’s not true.  In 1999, Moore, Oklahoma–a big suburb between Oklahoma City and Norman–was struck by a monster tornado, an F-5, one so big scientists had to alter the scale, killing 44 people and wiping out a big swathe of the city. (I happened to be there a couple of days later and saw houses, shopping centers, and office buildings reduced to piles of garbage.)  But Moore rebuilt.

Yesterday, Moore was hit again by another huge tornado that might have been even worse.  The funnel at the top was two miles across and killed over 50 people (a toll that will likely go higher).  I know two families in Moore, relatives by marriage of my wife.  We got word that both of them lost their homes.

We’re on the road and should be driving through what’s left of Moore later this week.

UPDATE:  Now they are saying 24 were killed, rather than the larger numbers released before.  See this.

Huge tornado levels Oklahoma City suburb, killing dozens – The Washington Post.

Your Local Attractions

We are getting ready to set forth on an epic road trip, going the length and breadth of this great land of ours.  I’ve always wanted to do that.  To get our minds ready for summer vacations and as an experiment in localism, I would like to ask you this:

If I or any other reader of this blog were to come through your neck of the woods, what should we see?  What should we do?  Where should we eat?  And if we eat there, what should we order?  Is there any historical fact, cultural curiosity, or quirky inside information that we should know about?

I realize that some places may not have all that much to them, but I have found that if you scratch the surface, interesting things are everywhere.  Other places, like big cities, have an overabundance of things to do, and what visitors need are recommendations and inside information.

I’d like to hear about natural vistas, odd museums, and local industries.  And food:  I’m a diners, drive-in, and dives kind of guy.  Particularly serious BBQ.  Chicago has deep-dish pizza and otherworldly hot dogs.  What food stands out in your city, region, or locale?  As for tourist traps, well, I’m going to be a tourist.

HT:  Jackie

UPDATE:  Everybody, these are priceless suggestions.  I will make a pilgrimage to some of these places.  Some I’ve been to already and concur about how great they are.  And some actually will be on our route this summer!   I urge all of you to refer to this as an online travel guide.

Gay marriage and state tyranny

English theologian John Milbank gives a different argument against gay marriage.  He says it will give the state direct control over reproduction, removing the mediating effect of the family in favor of purely legalistic, arbitrary, and commodified state regulations. [Read more...]

Chrysostom predicts the 21st century

Thanks to Bob Miller for showing me this quotation from John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) from his Homily 5 on Titus:

“Woman was not made for this, O man, to be prostituted as common. O you subverters of all decency, who use men, as if they were women, and lead out women to war, as if they were men! This is the work of the devil, to subvert and confound all things, to overleap the boundaries that have been appointed from the beginning, and remove those which God has set to nature.”

This early Church Father is not just ranting and raving; rather, he suggests a whole approach to issues like these:  What are we made for?  What are the “boundaries,” or do you really think we can do without any boundaries at all?