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24 July 2008

Eucharist at Incarnation.

Yesterday, I went to the Holy Eucharist Service at Church of the Incarnation. I’ve been wanting to visit there since I was in seminary, and recently I have been thinking of it more and more. I suppose my main motivation that pushed me to go was the fact that I have been missing partaking in Communion. Watermark presents the Elements once a month on Sunday night with Raise the Mark; however, I never make it out to it – fully of fault to my own. As Watermark adds a Sunday night service, I’m curious what they will do with extending Communion, but hopefully it will become part of the service on a scheduled basis. Still, I really enjoy expanding my perspective as regularly as possible (though, this too finds rare application) and receiving the Eucharist in an ecclesiastical environment defined by higher liturgy has steadily grown more and more appealing to me. I’ve also been poking around for something mid-week that can motivate my focus. So I went.

What I found was something very meaningful and satisfying. I felt pretty out of place, like I was “the new guy,” and this brought out a little more of my natural paranoia to be sure. I never really knew what was coming next and what my response was supposed to be – both in aspect to standing, sitting, and kneeling, as well as, the proper vocal affirmation in call-and-response readings. I followed along as best I could through the 20 year old Common Book of Prayer that was provided by my pew, but I never quite stopped flipping through, trying to find more insight to where we were and what was to come. As far as propriety and courtesy with regard to when to bow, kneel, how to hold hands when receiving the Body (for those interested, it is right hand over left, symbolizing a manger), etc, I just followed the lead of others around me. Thus, I was also that guy who, while everyone else was praying and looking penitent, was looking hopefully out of the corner of my eye for some sort of cue on about everything that went on.

Having been once, followed by an insightful conversation with my father (who is Anglican), I think I survived without desecrating the chapel, and at the same time, graciously found peace and satisfaction in the Eucharist and worship of our Creator and Savior. Two for two on goals met. I am very much looking forward to next week, because knowing now what I do and having already seen everything, I feel pretty confident that I won’t be so paranoid and can better participate in the worshiping our Lord and receiving the grace of His Sacraments.

16 July 2008

Hummer is greener than Toyota Prius.

Here's an interesting editorial from The Recorder.

March 7, 2007
Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage
By Chris Demorro
Staff Writer

The Toyota Prius has become the flagship car for those in our society so environmentally conscious that they are willing to spend a premium to show the world how much they care. Unfortunately for them, their ultimate ‘green car’ is the source of some of the worst pollution in North America; it takes more combined energy per Prius to produce than a Hummer.

Before we delve into the seedy underworld of hybrids, you must first understand how a hybrid works. For this, we will use the most popular hybrid on the market, the Toyota Prius.

The Prius is powered by not one, but two engines: a standard 76 horsepower, 1.5-liter gas engine found in most cars today and a battery- powered engine that deals out 67 horsepower and a whooping 295ft/lbs of torque, below 2000 revolutions per minute. Essentially, the Toyota Synergy Drive system, as it is so called, propels the car from a dead stop to up to 30mph. This is where the largest percent of gas is consumed. As any physics major can tell you, it takes more energy to get an object moving than to keep it moving. The battery is recharged through the braking system, as well as when the gasoline engine takes over anywhere north of 30mph. It seems like a great energy efficient and environmentally sound car, right?

You would be right if you went by the old government EPA estimates, which netted the Prius an incredible 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles per gallon on the highway. Unfortunately for Toyota, the government realized how unrealistic their EPA tests were, which consisted of highway speeds limited to 55mph and acceleration of only 3.3 mph per second. The new tests which affect all 2008 models give a much more realistic rating with highway speeds of 80mph and acceleration of 8mph per second. This has dropped the Prius’s EPA down by 25 percent to an average of 45mpg. This now puts the Toyota within spitting distance of cars like the Chevy Aveo, which costs less then half what the Prius costs.

However, if that was the only issue with the Prius, I wouldn’t be writing this article. It gets much worse.

Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

The plant is the source of all the nickel found in a Prius’ battery and Toyota purchases 1,000 tons annually. Dubbed the Superstack, the plague-factory has spread sulfur dioxide across northern Ontario, becoming every environmentalist’s nightmare.

“The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants and the soil slid down off the hillside,” said Canadian Greenpeace energy-coordinator David Martin during an interview with Mail, a British-based newspaper.

All of this would be bad enough in and of itself; however, the journey to make a hybrid doesn’t end there. The nickel produced by this disastrous plant is shipped via massive container ship to the largest nickel refinery in Europe. From there, the nickel hops over to China to produce ‘nickel foam.’ From there, it goes to Japan. Finally, the completed batteries are shipped to the United States, finalizing the around-the-world trip required to produce a single Prius battery. Are these not sounding less and less like environmentally sound cars and more like a farce?

Wait, I haven’t even got to the best part yet.

When you pool together all the combined energy it takes to drive and build a Toyota Prius, the flagship car of energy fanatics, it takes almost 50 percent more energy than a Hummer - the Prius’s arch nemesis.

Through a study by CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.

So, if you are really an environmentalist - ditch the Prius. Instead, buy one of the most economical cars available - a Toyota Scion xB. The Scion only costs a paltry $0.48 per mile to put on the road. If you are still obsessed over gas mileage - buy a Chevy Aveo and fix that lead foot.

One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses.

11 July 2008

On Beer & the American Feminist Church.

A while ago, a friend of mine sent me this article. In the business of life and work, I have just gotten around to reading it. Now you can too. There are obvious problems with the article, but if you really care, then just read my disclaimer in the comments...or here.

This is taken directly from Credenda, Volume 11, Issue 2: Recipio.


Ben Merkle

As Melville put it-"The world's a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow." This quote descibes wonderfully how feminism ruined beer. Our culture is lead by its pulpits. As the preachers of Christianity became emasculated, our culture was dragged into effeminacy. Part of this trend in our culture is reflected in the destruction of our beer.

We see the result of this curse in the drastic disparity between American beer and the beer served throughout Europe during the last century. For decades America's beer of choice has been the watered-down lager, brewed (as was recently advertized) in vats the size of Rhode Island; whereas our European brothers have enjoyed a diverse selection of the richest and darkest beers. What transpired in the American religion to rob us of this selection? Our culture, with our European ancestors, began well, but something happened along the way.
Beginning in Europe, one of the most Christian beverages in the European world was beer. Charle-magne's favorite brewer, Saint Gall, was a Christian missionary to the Celts.1 Shortly after Charlemagne's reign, the church became Europe's exclusive brewer, and in order to imbibe, one needed to be on good terms with the church. When a young woman was married, the customary response to any wedding gifts was a special ale the church brewed called the "bride ale" (which later evolved into our word bridal). This close association between the church and beer was originally part of our own country's heritage. When the pilgrims, seeking religious fredom, landed at Plymouth rock, the first permanant building put up was the brewery.2
However, somewhere along the road America lost its stomach. This is evidenced in the type of beer selections that Americans have been given over the last eighty years. Europe has been blessed with a great variety of beers, from the Belgian Ale to the English Porter. America, however, has had one beer-a watered down lager in an aluminum can. Why is that?
During the latter half of the nineteenth century and into the beginning of the twentieth, American culture experienced a major shift in power. This shift is more thoroughly described in the Thema of this issue, but the result was a bowing of the church to feminism. As the reins of the clergy passed into female hands, piety became blurred with femininity. This abdication of masculinity paved the way for prohibition. In general, beer, especially the darker beer, is a drink preferred by men. But as femininity became enshrined as godliness, the feminine scorning of alcohol became more and more synonymous with virtue.
During the early twentieth century, the fight for a dry country and the fight for women's suffrage went hand in hand. The following lines from a prohibition-era song demonstrate this: "But if the men can't drive it out we'll call for women voters; they'll scrub out the nation's barber shop with all the whiskey bloaters. When we get women voters, good-by to beerkeg toters. O-ho! O-ho! When we get women voters."3
In order to drive out the sins of America, what we needed was women voters! Many of the prohibition songs display this presumption that the sanctifying influence in this world was femininity. "'Twas near the hour of midnight, two lovers loitered late. The moon hung o'er the city, while they hung o'er the gate. And as he stooped to kiss her, his arm around her belt, an odor strong of liquor then suddenly she smelt. In vain he did deny it, then vowed he'd drink no more; When she replied, sarcastic, `I've heard such talk before.' How often, O how often, he begged, and then did sigh; how often, O how often he listened for reply. At last, in desperation, he swore that he would quit; but in the moonlight tender, she simply said, `You git.'"4, 5
Prohibition was simply applied feminism, and the passing of the eighteenth amendment was feminism victorious. When prohibition was finally repealed in 1933, most of the breweries had gone under. Only a few of the largest had been able to survive during prohibition by making malt products or near beer. (It was often said that whoever named near beer was a poor judge of distance.)6 When prohibition was finally repealed the remaining breweries were then left with the task of reintroducing the American people to beer.
Since only the largest breweries had survived, brewing became a mass-marketing endeavor. Beer was pumped out as quickly as possible and marketed to please the greatest number possible. Unfortunately, the repeal of prohibition had not removed the great prejudices against the drink. To fight the resentment that women had againts beer, the breweries had to market their product to please women. This became even more important as World War II replaced the working man with Rosy the Riveter. Brewers had to brew beer that the working woman would like. The solution was a very light beer that anyone could get down-a lager.
The lager is a lighter, practically clear beer. It's a far cry from the dark, chewy porters and much more appealing to feminine tastes. American brewers even advertise how few calories lagers contain, appealing to the weight-conscious female mind. It would seem that the goal of American brewers has been to brew a beer that bears as little resemblance to beer as possible.
Recently, as the micro-brew market has opened up, America has seen the resurgence of a number of great beers. But this is only a superficial recovery. While it is true that we are now offered a variety of beers, the root of the problem remains. The church, in general, still links the prohibitionist mentality to piety and can't even stand alcohol in the Lord's Supper. It would appear that the American culture aptly portrays the American church. We have an emasculated church and wimpy beer to match.

1 Gregg Smith, Beer (New York: Avon Books, ) p. 18.
2 Jim West, Drinking With Calvin and Luther! (Carmichael, CA: Jim West 1995), p.14.
3 Dr. J. B. Herbert, The Live Wire, (Chicago: The Rodeheaver Co., ) No. 8.
4 Ibid. No. 7.
5 Although not discussed in this article, one begins to wonder if there is a correlation between the demise of American lyrics and prohibition.
6 Gregg Smith, Beer, Avon Books, New York, p. 121.

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