Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

About Reading Through Lent

The brandished sword of GOD before them blazed
Fierce as a comet ; which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime : whereat
In either hand th’ hast’ning angel caught
Our ling’ring parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain ; then disappeared.
They looking back all th’ eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand ; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms :
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon ;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wand’ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
John Milton, Paradise Lost

We thinke that Paradise and Calvarie,
Christ's Crosse, and Adam's tree,
stood in one place;
Looke Lord, and finde both Adams met in me.
As the first Adams sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soule embrace.
John Donne, Hymne to GOD my GOD, in my sicknesse

The average North American uses five time as much grain per person yearly as does one of the two billion persons living in poor countries. We use about 2000 pounds each. All but 150 pounds of this we consume indirectly in meat, eggs and alcoholic beverages.  But the poor Asian eats less than 400 pounds a year, most of it directly as rice or wheat. It may surprise us to realize that in Europe, where many of us have our roots and where people generally enjoy an adequate diet, each person consumes about 1000 pounds of grain a year, half of what a North American eats.
Doris Janzen Longacre

When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.
St. Jerome


  1. !

    Particularly the last from St. Jerome.

  2. I have written these words before, and expect to do so again. I hope you don't mind me plagiarizing myself.

    I learned more about ethics in a biology class than any dozen religious sermons that I can remember.

    Most people are surprised to learn — as I did during an undergraduate lecture — that we can take dramatic steps towards feeding the world’s poor, and it has little to do with throwing a few dollars in the collection plate, or saying an extra decade of the rosary.

    The greatest sin of our generation is that every two seconds, malnutrition takes a child’s life. The math means that 40,000 children die every day.

    Sadly, as this millenium settles in, we’re not making much headway in the fight against hunger. When the Cold War ended, we were promised a peace dividend, and the more optimistic among us hoped the money would be used to promote justice throughout the world. Hasn’t happened. High unemployment and its attendant social problems have made people in developed nations increasingly insular, less willing to look across the oceans when many are suffering next door. After all, charity begins at home.

    Truth to tell, it will probably get worse before it gets better. A recent United Nations’ report suggests that food production will have to triple to feed the world’s people in the year 2050.

    So what should we do about it? We could let plant geneticists loose, breeding hardy strains of super plants. The world might be better off if tomato vines produced more tomatoes. But few people, even ardent technophiles, believe that we can increase yields by 300 per cent. Besides, serious problems arise from tampering with the gene pool.

    It would be wise to slow population growth, by encouraging developing nations to limit procreation. But that road is fraught with peril. Many world religions, Catholicism chief among them, believe any form of birth control is morally reprehensible, and refuse to condone it. Some developing nations take a belligerent view, suggesting that we have no right to rape the world’s resources and then smugly tell them how to live. No wonder most experts believe that we’ve already lost the population war.

    That’s why the best solution may be to change our position on the food chain. You see, animals high on the food chain are incredibly inefficient — it takes more land and natural resources to feed meat eaters. A hundred gazelles can graze on a hectare of land, but those hundred gazelles will only feed 10 lions. So a hectare of land can feed 100 herbivores, or only 10 carnivores.

    Think of it this way. An acre of land in a warm climate can produce 60,000 pounds of celery each year, or 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, or 40,000 pounds of onions.

    Or it can produce 250 pounds of beef.

  3. I had no idea about the statistics! Thank you for giving me so much to think about. A friend on Twitter was just suggesting that I read a few books about food consumption.I think I will. There is so much that goes on in this world that people need to be more aware of.



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