We will be using as little electricity as possible in our churches for worship, which means no lights in our sanctuaries, no fans, no air conditioning, no use of organs (you know what I mean), no refreshments at coffee hours following worship using electricity (and Lutherans consider coffee hours to be something nearly sacramental), and whoever is not able to walk to our churches is urged to car pool, so that at least three people are in each vehicle arriving at our churches.
Why are we doing this? To call attention to the destruction of our environment due to dirty fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas; to inform BP, Halliburton, Transocean and other dirty fossil fuel and drilling companies that we really do “mean business” (and thank you, Jill Paperno of Glenford, for your letter about fracking and Halliburton!); to start an expression of repentance for what we, as consumers, have done to contribute to the oil eruption in the Gulf of Mexico; to challenge our national churches, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to stand up for our social statements and claims about wanting to protect God’s creation; to challenge our government to “come clean” on energy reform because of global climate change. Have you noticed, by the way, how warm it has been this summer so far? Welcome to global climate change.
We have invited Lutheran churches in Kingston to participate in “No Fossil Fuel Sunday,” and we now invite all local faith communities in Saugerties to observe an equivalent sabbath, either this Sunday, August 1 or some other sabbath. We all need to repent and do what we can to heal the earth. Will you join us?
I will be walking to Atonement for worship and home from Atonement after worship, a distance of 15 miles. So motorists out and about early Sunday morning, please don’t hit me. I’ll be walking Route 32 from East Kingston into Saugerties, starting at about 5:15 a.m. Sunday. Honk if you see me! And let all of God’s people say Amen!
Rev. Edward R. Schreiber
Atonement Lutheran Church
LOW STANDARDS Regarding your picture on page two of the July 15 issue (“Honk for Impeachment”), I think it raises the question of whether this is responsible journalism.
If you feel the point raised by these individuals is worth discussing in the paper, I think you’re obliged to have that discussion. If you published it simply because two people in Saugerties decided to have a demonstration, then you’re setting the bar pretty low.
In order to be taken seriously as a newspaper, you have to pay attention to your standards.
The photo and caption cited depict two supporters of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche demonstrating in Saugerties, and briefly describes their positions on impeachment, financial regulation and manned space flight.
SOS A BIPARTISAN GROUP I was pleased to see on the front page of the Saugerties Times (which I get a few weeks late since I am out of the area) for July 15 that Operation SOS is continuing its work by sponsoring a picnic/roast for the benefit of our overseas troops on the Fourth of July. I was honored to be associated with that organization for a time while I was still in ministry in Saugerties. I congratulate the committee members and especially Gaetana Ciarlante for their faithfulness to this work these many years.
I do, however, have to correct one misleading statement in the article: “Ciarlante founded Operation SOS in late 2003 as a charitable project with the Town of Saugerties Republican Club.” This sounds like Operation SOS was founded by the Saugerties Republican Club which was not the case. For those who might still have their issues of the Saugerties Times from October or November of 2003 will find that the idea was floated by me through letters to the editor as a way of supporting our troops despite the political differences we were having regarding the War in Iraq. I was later approached by Gaetana Ciarlante to get better organized which I credit her fully for doing that. However, it was never my intent in those first letters and I certainly never noticed a political flavor in all our efforts to support our service men and women. It was purely a bi-partisan effort of both Democrats and Republicans and probably independents for our young men and women (Democrat, Republican or otherwise) who were putting their lives on the line for all of us.
Again, I commend the bi-partisan efforts of the Saugerties folks to show in tangible ways that our servicemen and women are not forgotten. Having served overseas in the late 1960’s I know how much letters and packages from home can bolster one’s spirits.
Rev. Richard Rockwood
Grand Rapids, Michigan
CRIMES AGAINST NATURE Last week I returned from another visit to the coal fields of West Virginia and the fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining, and went to see the movie Gasland, screened at Onteora High School. This is a fabulous documentary about the current and potential environmental dangers of hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking), a process used to extract natural gas, especially from the Marcellus shale which runs from West Virginia up through New York State. In the film, we see farmers and ranchers whose water became so severely contaminated their tap water could be lit on fire. People and animals were experiencing a wide variety of terrible and unusual illnesses — in many cases with cancer. Air as well as water was being dangerously polluted. People were in shock. How could this be happening to them?
I was immediately struck by the parallels and similarities between the causes and effects of mountaintop removal mining in the Appalachians and fracking, which is happening in many states and could be in our backyard. Big powerful energy companies like Halliburton and Massey Energy are extracting energy sources from the ground at great profit and with little or no regard for the people, the workers or the environment. On my trips to West Virginia, I have been privileged to meet amazing people who have been fighting both “big coal” and government agencies who have not protected them for many years.
They have watched their homes and communities being destroyed and their family and neighbors die. They have fought for greater regulations and for existing regulations to be enforced — and they have fought hard. We have an opportunity to stop this happening in our state before it starts and to fight to stop it throughout the country. I was excited that there were almost 600 at Onteora High School to see Gasland. They were shocked and ready to fight. There is legislation in the New York State Senate to impose a one-year moratorium on fracking, time for the people of New York State to organize for a complete ban on the process. We do not want to have to go from town to devastated town in New York in just a few years hearing stories of contamination, illness and destruction.
The filmmaker of Gasland has a website (www.gaslandthemovie.com) with updated information and suggestions for action.
I will be showing the excellent documentary film Coal Stories at the Pine Hill Community Center, August 8 at 3 p.m. This tells the story of the disastrous practice of mountaintop removal mining and the brave people who are fighting it. I will also have current stories and news from my last visit to West Virginia — an inspiration for us. See www.appalachiarising.org to hear about BIG DC demonstration to end mountaintop removal mining.
PATERSON’S SELFLESS CRUSADE
We must all applaud the bravery of Governor Paterson in trying to save the state from financial meltdown. The easy way would have been to tax millionaires, big banks and Wall Street a little more. But that would have been picking on a very small, unpopular minority. Nobody likes that 1 percent of the population that owns everything and continues to make million-dollar salaries during this prolonged recession. In fact, about 90 percent of US citizens want to tax the rich and big corporations more.
So you have to hand it to Paterson, going against the popular sentiment to do the right thing. How noble his purpose as he cuts budget spending for public schools, health care, retirees and the handicapped.
Paterson’s selfless crusade seems to be spreading. Candidate Cuomo has stated flatly that no matter what gets cut, the salaries and profits of billionaires won’t be touched. Even President Obama is getting into the act. After giving a trillion to Wall Street and several trillion to the corporations involved in the invasions and occupations of the Middle East, the federal government is just about broke.
It would be so easy demanding that the bankers give the money back and that our soldiers return home from any number of military adventures abroad. But Obama, with his audacity of hope, is going to take the knife to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, education, etc. Bush tax cuts for the very rich will almost certainly be extended. What courage!
Astrophysics is interesting because we know so little about the biggest thing there is: the universe. It seems the more we learn about the universe the bigger it gets, always expanding beyond our grasp. Bob Berman states that “we can only observe 1.6 percent of the universe at best since the light from 98.4 percent of all galaxies will never reach us.” He thinks the cosmos may well be infinite so it will never be understood by us finite beings. “There are too many unknowns,” he writes. “And who can honestly grasp these various infinities of matter, density, space and time?”
There are two possibilities: The universe is finite and we may eventually solve its mysteries. Or the universe is infinite and ultimately unknowable. The data and theories point more and more to an infinite universe, but I think it is far too early in the game to say whether the universe is finite or infinite.
This is an exciting time in astrophysics precisely because we know so little. We are just beginning to explore outer space, the solar system, let alone the universe. There is still much to discover about the cosmos, about 98.4 percent would be my best guess.