Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas prayer for 2012

Each Christmas Eve, my wife and I host a traditional Italian "Feast of the Seven Fishes" for family and friends. Marie creates a masterpiece every time. However, as the father of the household, I like to lead guests in  prayer before we start. Well, 2012 was a challenge for us with illness, the death of Marie's father, the death of one of my most long-timed friends, and more, including the tragedies in our national community. I composed a special prayer for the occasion; I hope you find meaning in it.
Merry Christmas and happy new year.

Prayer before Christmas Dinner  2012

We are grateful for the many ways we are blessed this night.

In a world where many walk in hunger; we’re blessed to have an abundance of food. And so, may we eat with humble and grateful hearts.
In a world where many walk alone, we're glad to have each other.
At a time when many are in sorrow, having had their children and other loved ones taken from them unexpectedly, we're grateful for this moment of joy and to be together, especially in the light of an extraordinary year.

Having survived a year of illness, we hope that God's compassions never fail us,
and that his mercies are new every morning.
We give thanks for the relief from the sickness of this past year and for the hope of renewed health.

On this night of joy and in this moment of togetherness, we also feel the absence of people we loved. 
Let us remember the Christmas celebrations of the past and be grateful for having had them.
Let us soften our hearts and be more compassionate with everyone we meet and be in harmony with one another.

And finally, let's remember the central reason we are here. The beauty of this table tonight is that we gather as people with a wide range of beliefs. Yet whatever we believe, one fact is indisputable:
Jesus Christ, who was born this night, said that the two great commandments that contain the whole law of God are to love your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, with your whole mind, and with your whole strength. And also to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

So in light of all what we believe, what we have endured and all we face ahead,
may this food restore our strength, giving new energy to tired limbs and new thoughts to weary minds.
May this drink restore our souls, giving new vision to dry spirits and new warmth to cold hearts.
And may this time together restore our souls as we head into a new year with the opportunity to be renewed.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Climate Change May Have Abetted the Wrath of Khan (Genghis, that is)

One of the world's greatest conquerors seems to owe his success to global warming. Still think this phenomenon is inconsequential?
According to The Economist, two academic researchers have uncovered evidence that it was changes to the climate that helped Genghis Khan take over half of Eurasia. Data found through tree-rings indicate that during his rise to power, Khan's world was wetter and warmer than in millennia past. This led to richer grazing than normal, which powered his horde's most powerful asset: their horses. 
These finding are not conclusive. The researchers, Amy Hessl of West Virginia University and Neil Pederson of Columbia University, are consulting with other scientists and a historian to test their theories. But regardless of the outcome, this theory further supports the notion that climate change does indeed alter history in ways that we would not normally imagine.