January 26, 2005

An unending wave of error

This entry is a little slow in coming, but in truth, that has let the story grow even more. The blog over at NewsDesigner.com has religiously tracked the usage of a photo that was purported to be a photo of tourists fleeing a tsunami wave in Sri Lanka. Turns out the photo was actually taken in China years earlier. (I remember seeing it run on the AP before.)

NewsDesigner's coverage began on Jan. 4 with this post. In the post, is the original caption info.

Well, here's a September 16, 2002, page with the fleeing people image and what appears to be the original wire service cutline: "Spectators "flee" as huge waves of the Qiantangjiang River approach in east China's Zhejiang Province Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002. Huge tides occurred as Typhoon Sinlaku swept through the southern part of the East China Sea at 5:00 a.m. since last Saturday, with the maximum wind force of 40 meters per second. (AP Photo/Zhan Xiadong, XINHUA)"

Read each post that relates to the erroneous coverage afforded this photo. You'll learn about the photo's history and how it spread. You'll probably be amazed to read who (individuals and organizations) fell for this photo without checking it out more or remembering seeing it before (as I did.)

Here is each post, starting with the first and working to the most recent.

Posted by JRC at 08:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

UPDATE: FDNY fatalities

Illegal partitions and water pressure problems may have contributed to the deaths of two firefighters on Sunday in the Bronx. Normally a "routine" fire, this blaze instantly flared up, trapping six firefighters on the floor above the fire, according to a New York Times article.

Trapped by a fire that had raced through a warren of makeshift corridors and suddenly roared up at them, the firefighters were pushed to the windows of two back rooms. As the heat scorched the [air] tanks on their backs, six firefighters leaped from the windows of [apartment] Four Ida [4-I], falling one after the other into a snow-covered alley at the rear of the building, effectively five stories below them. ... Two of them died; three were critically injured.

Such a frantic time on the scene of an emergency would normally remain unclear in retrospect as investigations examine how the tradedy unfolded. But not in this case. According to the NYT article, "The firefighters sent desperate calls for help, which were captured on an experimental radio taping system."

The tape recordings made at the Bronx fire were part of a pilot program, in which three of the city's 50 battalion cars were equipped to record all transmissions made inside buildings. Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced that the city would immediately expand the program to every battalion.

Those familiar with the tapes reveal that for some reason, the fire engine supplying water to the attack company lost water pressure. That's when things turned bad.

Then a problem developed on the third floor. The engine company there, No. 42, had lost water pressure. The chiefs on the scene instructed the engine company on the fourth floor, No. 75, to swap positions with Engine Company 42. One important question for the investigation, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Fire Department, will be why two hoses drawing water from the same equipment were not able to maintain equal pressure.

The departure of Engine Company 75 from the fourth floor left the remaining firefighters - from Ladder Company 27, and Rescue 3 - without any water. The engine company going up the stairs to replace it, No. 42, was the same one that had reported low pressure.

The fire suddenly burst in a thousand-degree bloom from the third floor to the fourth. Over the radio, a firefighter called out an "urgent" message, signaling a need for immediate help. But the blaze raced across the makeshift halls in Apartment Four Ida and pinned the firefighters in two back rooms. The next message was three words signaling the most dire emergency: "Mayday, mayday, mayday."

Possibly unable to reach the apartment window with access to the fire escape, the firefighters bailed out two other windows.

Fire officials said yesterday that an illegal partition appeared have cut off the path to the fire escape in Apartment 4-I, although it is not clear that the firefighters could have safely made it to the fire escape. Many apartments in the Bronx and northern Manhattan have been renovated into what amount to boarding houses, to accommodate the flood of immigrants who have filled the city's service industries in recent years.

The landlord was not immediately available for comment.

Another NYT article adds further info to the story.

In New York, with its vertical terrain, the department has honed one of the most aggressive interior attacks in use. It includes searching the floors above the fire.

"That's a routine search," Chief Garcia said. "Why? The people in the most danger, besides the ones trapped in the apartment that's on fire, are the people in the apartment above the fire. That's where the next greatest exposure is."

It is an offensive tack. And although the department has mastered its approach over a century, so that fatal fires for firefighters as well as civilians are now lower than ever, it has not come without the occasional deadly cost.

The cause of the loss of water pressure is still unclear, but firefighters from Engines 42 and 46 encountered a frozen hydrant upon arrival.

According to fire officials, the men from the two engine companies found that the closest hydrant was frozen. Instead, they attached their hoses directly to reserves of 500 gallons of water, which is stored on the engine in what is called a booster tank. Other firefighters stretched other lines to the next available hydrant, with the help of a third engine company, No. 75.


At first, the flow was strong. But then the pressure to the house on the third floor dropped, the officials said. Possible causes being investigated yesterday, they said, included freezing water or debris trapped in the hose, or a malfunction of the engine that pumps water from the hydrant.

Another firefighter in the department died later in the day when he was separated from his crew while searching a basement.

Services for the three men have already begun.

Wake and Funeral Services for Lieutenant Curtis W. Meyran


Krauss Funeral Home
1097 Hempstead Turnpike
Franklin Square, NY

Thursday, January 27, 2005
Friday, January 28, 2005
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
7:00 PM - 10:00 PM


Our Lady of Lourdes
65 Wright Avenue
Malverne, NY

Saturday, January 29, 2005 at 10:00 AM **
** This Time May Change To 11:00 AM

Wake and Funeral Services for Firefighter John G. Bellew


Joseph W. Sorce Funeral Home
728 West Nyack Road
West Nyack, NY

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM


St Margaret’s Of Antioch RC Church
115 West Central Avenue
Pearl River, NY

Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 11:00 AM

Wake and Funeral Services for Firefighter Richard T. Sclafani


Colonial Funeral Home
2819 Hylan Blvd at Tysen’s Lane, SI

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Thursday, January 27, 2005
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
(Times Tentative)


Our Lady Star of the Sea Church
Hugenot Road and Amboy Road, Staten Island

Friday, January 28, 2005 at 11:00 AM

Posted by JRC at 07:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

Spill could have been worse

The chlorine leak caused by a Jan. 6 train derailment in Graniteville, SC, could have been worse, according to an Associated Press article. I certainly learned from it. The article is a new approach to the story of the wreck, and it goes to show that not all SC emergency responders are redneck hicks. (Hopefully En Fuego appreciates that observation.)

Firefighter Bill Elliott watched a dog collapse in front of him in the midst of one the nation's deadliest chemical spills and began wondering if he had on the proper protective gear.

``He just fell over dead in front of us,'' said the 43-year-old Elliott, who hoped his hazmat suit was strong enough to protect him. ``It was too late then, we was in the middle of it. I said, 'Well, here we go boys.' It was intense to say the least.''

Elliott's years of emergency training at the Savannah River Site, a former nuclear weapons complex about 15 miles from Graniteville, paid off earlier this month when toxic chlorine gas was released following a train wreck.

Just three months before the green-blue chlorine cloud blanketed the tiny textile town on Jan. 6, Elliott had practiced responding to a mock train derailment with a chemical spill at SRS.

When the real thing happened, about 5,400 residents were evacuated from Graniteville after a train slammed into a parked train, rupturing a tanker of chlorine, spewing a vapor cloud across the town. Nine people were killed and more than 250 were injured.

Surrounding communities have long prepared for an accident such as this because the site where atomic bombs were once made during the Cold War is so close.

The story continues, explaining how proximity to the Savannah River Site (with its resources and training) paid off.

``Everything just fell in like clockwork,'' said Elliott, who has worked in emergency services for 25 years. ``I know people complain about drills, but man, it sure paid off this time.''

Elliott also was part of a crew that found six of the nine victims and rescued one man who was trapped in his car near the accident site.

``What probably saved his life was that he was entrapped in the car because most people probably would have got out and sucked in the vapor cloud and that would have been it,'' Elliott said.

The town is still recovering from the disaster. Some 50 homes remained off-limits Friday as officials need to inspect those homes closest to the crash site and crews were continuing to clean the wreckage.

Evacuee Janet Scott, who returned home more than a week ago, complimented everyone involved in the response.

``I think if they hadn't had all the practice they might not have been able to respond to the accident as well as they did,'' Scott said. ``I think they did a wonderful job all the way around.''

Posted by JRC at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FDNY loses 3 men in 2 fires on Sunday

Two separate fires in New York City, the first in the Bronx and the second in Brooklyn, have claimed three firefighters today.

The loss of the three firefighters is the most for the department since Sept. 11, 2001, when 343 members were killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

Since then, 41-year-old James J. O'Shea died of a heart attack after battling a blaze in Queens on Sept. 27, 2003, and 30-year-old Thomas Brick was killed while battling a fire at a Manhattan warehouse on Dec. 16, 2003.

Three firefighters were killed Father's Day 2001 when a five-alarm fire set off an explosion in the basement of a Queens hardware store.

Photographer Steve Spak had the following text on his website this evening. I believe it is the actual announcement that the FDNY dispatchers read over the department radio channels today. If it is not the actual message, it is very close to what would be read.

A Signal 5-5-5-5 was tranmitted at 1636 hours, on Sunday, January 23, 2005. It is with deep regret that the department announces the death of Lieutenant Curtis W. Meyran of Battalion 26 which occurred on January 23, 2005 as a result of injuries sustained on Sunday, January 23, 2005 at Bronx third alarm box 2997 (66-33-2997) transmitted at 0758 hours, Sunday, January 23, 2005.

A 2nd Signal 5-5-5-5 was tranmitted at 1652 hours, On Sunday, January 23, 2005. It is with regret that the department announces the death of Firefighter John Bellew of Ladder 27 which occurred on January 23, 2005 as a result of injuries sustained on Sunday, January 23, 2005 at Bronx third alarm box 2997 (66-33-2997) transmitted at 0758 hours, Sunday, January 23, 2005. May they rest in peace and God bless their families and friends.

A 3rd Signal 5-5-5-5 was transmitted on Sunday January 23, 2005. It is with deep regret, the FDNY announced the death of FF Richard T. Steffani of Ladder Company 103 as the result of injuries sustained while operating a Brooklyn Box 22-1770 transmitted at 1336 hours today. May he rest in peace.

Additional reading from NYC's ABC affiliate.

Posted by JRC at 08:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Inaugural favorites

I was able to catch bits and pieces of TV coverage of the inaugural activities that took place in DC today. As usual, I was struck by the grandeur of the events.

The Speech
Bush's inaugural speech didn't wow me as much as it seemed to wow some of the talking heads on ABC, CBS, and NBC. I thought the last several minutes were the strongest.

The network's talking heads loved to talk about the allusions that Bush made. I don't know all of the allusions, but a few lines did stick out to me, such as when Bush said,

Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self.

One paragraph later, he continued with a very Judeo-Christian theme,

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service and mercy and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

As he closed, Bush made some statements that I would take to be references to the tsunami and related relief efforts.

And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom, not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as he wills.

The final lines of Bush's speech seemed to be among the best worded in the speech, in my opinion. The closing was close to the traditional "God bless you and God bless America," but Bush's wording was different. I wonder why?

In our time, it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may he watch over the United States of America.

The Music
It's hard to beat a military band as far as quality and content. The arrangement of "God of our Fathers" was extremely powerful. I wish they'd sung more than two verses, though.

And the national anthem. Finally, someone got it right. Air Force Technical Sergeant Bradley Bennett did an amazing job singing the song in a classical tenor style. There was no slipping and sliding around, looking for notes under the guise of style. He knew where the notes were and hit them. Straight on.

[Disclaimer: As an Air Force Reserve brat, I might be biased. But I'm not.]

And as I've mentioned before on my blog, I like all the verses, especially the fourth. Wish he could have sung that, too.

The Parade
I didn't get to watch much of the parade, but I did see some of the beginning. I was glad to see the NYPD and FDNY up near the front with their Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps. I've heard and seen the FDNY and NYPD Corps on several occasions.

There's little that is more powerful than the sound of the pipes, snares, and bass drums.

The NYPD (and Port Authority PD) both had trucks from their Emergency Service Unit in the parade. Of the cops that died on 9-11, many were from those units.

And the FDNY had the beautiful 10-Truck in the parade. Engine 10 and Ladder 10 were housed directly across the street from the WTC in one of two firehouses in NYC to house rigs with matching numbers. (There's over 200 firehouses in the city.)

10-Truck was destroyed in the collapse of the towers and the Seagrave fire apparatus manufacturer employees donated this truck as a labor of love.

Read the story about the truck here. FDNYTrucks.com has a page where you can see the past and current rigs from Engine 10 and Ladder 10. The photos are kind of large and you have to scroll down a ways to find the current 10-Truck that was in today's parade.

What a wonderful touch to honor these groups at the front of the parade.

The Un-favorites
Of course, the talking heads were not popular with me. Peter Jennings--no surprise--was the worst, talking way too much when he would have done better to let viewers use their own ears to hear the goings-on.

In the parts I saw, Jennings excessive talk began right after the inaugural speech. Later, when I watched some of the procession to the White House, he was still going.

He and his cohorts at that point were complaining about all the security being provided to the president and leader of the free world.

"Hardly a favorable picture of a free society," they were saying. Or "Washington is a secure city. We all know that."

What about the thousands of people lining the route who cast their votes for the man--or his opponent? What about the post-9/11 world?

Those thousands of people had a say in the selection process of the leader of their country. And they voted for him in larger numbers than ever.

And DC as a secure city? What about the plane that slammed into the Pentagon across the river on 9/11? Who are they to declare DC, NYC, Boston, or any other city secure. Especially when they berate the government for not knowing about and preventing the 9/11 attacks?

The other talking head who annoyed me was the local DC anchor who was commentating during the parade. He has an Emerald-sounding surname and he moved to the DC station some months ago from NYC.

As the NYPD and FDNY went by, all he could do was talk about the pipers and drummers on St. Patty's Day in NY. He talked about the PD ESU squads a little, but didn't mention their sacrifices on 9-11. And he seemed to know nothing of the importance of 10-Truck.

The Music, (Reprise)
As I type this, I've been inspired by the day's pageantry, so I've got Robert Shaw's "Battle Cry of Freedom" CD playing as I type. It's a great thing to have on hand. Beautiful, quality patriotic choral music along the lines of the music at the swearing-in of Cheney and Bush--It's not "Stars and Stripes Forever" and John Phillip Sousa.

Oh, and Shaw's CD includes the fourth verse of The Star-Spangled Banner.

Posted by JRC at 05:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Burning in this cold

Last night as I was finishing posting An Enlightening Read, the tones sounded on my scanner for a structure fire. I was about to head downstairs for a hurried meal with the just-arrived wife before rushing off to a girls basketball game.

A sheriff's deputy arrived almost immediately and reported a fully-involved house trailer fire. After weeks of spring-like weather, then days without reaching 32 degrees and temps sinking into the single-digits, I've been poised for more fires.

Turns out this was the fifth fire for the department since Monday. Usually they have average one fire per month that causes damage to a building.

Trailer fires usually get knocked down quickly, so I was just going to let it go when the deputy reported a possible entrapment. That, unfortunately, made it more news-worthy, so I scarfed down three or four bites of dinner and grabbed my camera gear.

I reached the scene in a few minutes and grabbed my Nikon, with its new 10-70mm lens, flash, and a new flash bracket to get the flash higher off the camera. It looked as if this was going to be another fire providing mediocre night-time photos, but I was alert enough to get a few shots with a flare-up of flame at one end of the trailer. Considering (a) the distance I traveled (b) the kind of structure that was burning and (c) the proximity of the fire to the fire department, it's amazing that I got any flame photos.

Thankfully, the occupant escaped before emergency workers arrived. In the department's five fires this week, nobody has been injured--almost miraculously. Turns out four of the five fires can be attributed to the cold weather. There was a malfunctioning kerosene heater, a cracked chimney that allowed fire to spread, and a wood stove that caught something on fire. Last night's was the result of a heater that was under the trailer to thaw frozen pipes.

So I talked to the chief more in-depth today and got the go-ahead from my editor to work up a cold-weather fire-safety article for our next issue. The keys for a successful story pitch were (a) good photos (b) being able to tie the spate of fires together to give the article some structure.

[BTW, the photo that is second from the left will probably run in the paper, so enjoy the sneak preview.]

Posted by JRC at 04:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

An enlightening read

Jon at Shifting Sand posted a link to an interesting article on the rise of conservatism on college campuses. Thanks also to Jen at Boston Commoner for her thoughts on her college choice in her post linking to Jon's original post.

The reporter, Brian C. Anderson, managed to get some quality quotations --Quote is a verb, remember -- and I can only imagine his enjoyment as he coaxed them out of the students.

Here's a teaser from the story.

Today’s right-leaning kids sure don’t look much like the Bill Buckley–style young Republicans of yesteryear. “Conservative students today will be wearing the same T-shirts, sneakers, and jeans that you find on most 19-year-old college kids,” says Sarah Longwell of the Delaware-based Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), which promotes the Western intellectual tradition on campuses. Jordana Starr, a right-of-center political science and philosophy major at Tufts, tartly adds that you can spot a student leftist pretty fast: “They’re the ones who appear not to have seen a shower in some time, nor a laundromat.”

And another...

Katherine Ernst, a perky, blond, and diminutive recent NYU grad, confirms the point. Like many students I queried, Ernst already leaned right when she arrived on campus. But the left-wing propagandizing of her professors made her conservatism rock-solid. “One professor, right after September 11, gave a terrorist-sympathy speech that went, you know: ‘Oil, oil, oil, they’re poor, we take advantage of them, it’s really complicated, blah, blah, blah.’ It was something that I and many other students living in our financial-district dorm really enjoyed,” Ernst says acidly. “The worst professor I ever had, though, was for a course in administrative law,” she recalls. “Every class—no exaggeration—included at least five references to ‘Bush was selected.’ ” A final straw for Ernst came when a professor—“a for-real communist”—walked out of a class he was teaching “to take part in some stupid protest march.” So there you have it, says Ernst: “You pay thousands and thousands and the prof takes off to carry a no justice, no peace sign around Union Square Park. How could anybody exposed to this kind of stuff not become a raging right-winger?”

I love the last line of that last extended quote. "How could anybody exposed to this kind of stuff not become a raging right-winger?” So collegiate.

Posted by JRC at 06:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

An entertaining read

King-of-the-blogs Jon at Personal Trainer has a funny story on his blog. It's an easy read if you've got a few minutes.

He manages to describe blogging very creatively. It's funny, because I feel that somehow I've been on that island...

Posted by JRC at 06:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 12, 2005


I parked my car next to a road sign. I was at an overlook. The Page Valley stretched below me with the Shenandoah River winding through the close part of the valley. The sign said something like "Scenic Page County: Keep it that way. Don't litter."

As I readied for my hike on the last day of 2004, I picked up a slight whiff of some foul smell. I looked down the hill and saw why.

Directly below me was a rotting deer carcass. Off to the right was an older carcass.

Evidently some hunters had some success, and didn't want their kills, so they dumped them here.



Once I hit the trail, I noticed tire tracks. An old jeep road, the trail is plenty wide for a vehicle. I don't think that the National Forest allows motorized vehicles on this trail.

From the tracks, I deduced that the vehicle was a four-wheel-drive truck with large off-road tires. I pictured an 80s-era Ford F150. Apparently, the truck had been here recently. I think the recent frost and relatively recent rains would have mostly erased the tracks.

In some spots, the soft soil has been deeply rutted by the tires, and probably others before. In other areas, I could see the tracks where fallen leaves have been crushed by the tires.

I was on this trail in August on my mountain bike, and I don't remember any signs of automobiles then.

After about 1 1/2 miles, the jeep trail ended and the path became narrow and rocky. Still, I could see tire tracks. Must have been a tight squeeze, I thought.

Finally the tire tracks ended. In their place, I could see where a good-sized animal had been dragged. In the dirt were marks from the fur. On the rocks that studded the trail, were dark red stains.

Surely a responsible, ethical hunter would not have driven on a closed trail just because he was too lazy to muscle his kill out of the woods.

So why would someone do this?


Suffice it to say that I don't have answers for these questions. I'm not a hunter, but I don't have a problem with someone who is as long as they are reasonable about their hunting practices. In reality, the questions I pose could be asked by someone who does hunt responsibly.

Posted by JRC at 08:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

A godly perspective on the tsunami

I've been reading articles for the last week or so dealing with how different religions respond to the South Asia tsunami--what do they say about the tsunami and their deity's role in it? So when I saw Bet's post, I was hooked. She linked to Jon at Personal Trainer. He's got a well-written theodicy--which is a "defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil." (Thanks to Bet for looking up the definition of theodicy in Merriam Webster.)

I'd much rather read the truth that Jon has pointed us to than to read the thoughts of the unsaved journalists who I have been seeing in print all over.

The New York Times ran a story using the tsunami as a springboard to talk about the growth of religion throughout the world. One of the main points of the story is that people of all religions are shunning "fundamentalist" beliefs of their religion. Guess that's good news for all the moderates in the world. I don't get it.

Ms. Goodstein even managed to work the ol' alma mater into her article. I'm impressed. Really.

I can see it now.

Editor: Ms. Goodstein, we need you to write a story. To appeal to the religious-minded readers of this liberal publication, we need a story about religion. Here's what we need you to do: (1) say religion is growing; (2) say fundamentalism isn't; (3) bring up Franklin Graham's statements about Islam; and (4) get that wacko school in South Carolina into the story somewhere. We haven't mentioned it in a while.

Ms. Goodstein: Sure thing, boss. When do you need it?

And she did it. Each of those elements is in this story. ...just remember, it's part of "all the news that's fit to print."

Some other articles on God and the tsunami show the broad range of thought on the God of the Bible as well as the deities of other beliefs. I think it's profitable to know what people are thinking.

God Was There Before the Tsunami
A rabbi takes a very deistic approach, stating that "Outside of a couple of Biblical exceptions, Nature has run on its own inner-clock. It is not manipulated by God as a means to punish. Nature is not "angry". It is what it is."

Seeing God's mystery in the tsunami's wake
A NY Newsday column which comes close to the truth, but never quite gets there. Talks to clergy from several religions, including another rabbi who says, "I always shudder when I hear the tsunami referred to as an act of God. I don't see it as such. But I see the outpouring of relief aid and the rescue efforts and the kindness of people from all different walks of life as an act of God."

Faithful seek answers after Tsunami
Similar to the above piece, but an article, not a column. Has similar rabbinical statements to above links, while including more from Eastern religions.

Why did God allow this disaster? What a silly question
Garth George uses this piece to take pieces of the Bible to support that the tsunami was a random occurence and that attributing it to God is silly. He quotes "Robert Paul Reyes writing in an obscure weekly newspaper called the Lynchburg Ledger published in rural Virginia.'When disaster strikes we shouldn't be praying to the heavens for help, we should be looking to see how we can help our fellow brothers and sisters. The world's immediate and generous response to the tsunami relief effort is a picture of the good that the human community can accomplish. Humankind can perform miracles without God being in the equation at all.' I like that. I suspect God does, too."

God and the tsunami: How can a merciful God allow such disaster and suffering?
Transcript of a program called "Scarborough Country in which author Anne Graham Lotz says "I know that God is a loving God. I don't look at the tsunami and what has happened at Asia. I look at the cross. And when I look at the cross of Jesus Christ, when God sent his own son to die to take away my sin, I know that God loves me. So, I don't know the love of God is in question when this happens." A couple other personalities, including Rabbi Shmuley Boteach weigh in before author Tim LaHaye (Left Behind) makes the point that "we're looking through a glass darkly. We don't see the end from the beginning."

Where's God when a tsunami hits? Many Jews, Christians and Muslims would say their deity is in South Asia at the source of healing
A lenghty, confused article that says, "The Book of Job has been called a literary masterpiece. But it provides no single answer. Job, in his anger at God, cannot fathom why the Supreme Being allows injustice. In the midst of his pain, Job eventually ends up uncertain, simply marvelling at God's magnificent and complex universe. Many Jews, Christians and Muslims (who all belong to the same Abrahamic tradition) are satisfied to end up in an ambiguous place similar to Job. They acknowledge they don't know why untold misery can take place under the watch of an omnipotent God." After the Holocaust, according to the article, Jews and Christians became dissatisfied with Job's position. As a result, "These dissenters began to reject the foundational belief of many Jews, Christians and Muslims -- that God is "Almighty," and that's what makes God worthy of the name God."

Area rabbis answer tough questions in wake of disaster
Cleveland-area rabbis (male and female) share their beliefs about God and his soveriegnty, especially in relation to the tsunami.

Bet links to the ever-useful journalism site, Poynter Institute, which has a similar, but different roundup.

Anyway you look at it, it seems that people are searching for answers.

I like the conclusion that Jon comes to at Personal Trainer.

The lesson of Job is let God be God, and every man a liar. We cannot know why this or that happens. We simply humble ourselves before God with the quiet assurance that "the Judge of all the earth shall do right." All creation groans and travails waiting the day of redemption. We long for the day when He shall make all things new. In the interim, thank God for the next breath, the gift of life, the cross of Christ, and Jesus' resurrection from the tomb that assures us death has no final victory!
Posted by JRC at 10:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 02, 2005

A good ending

It's about 11 a.m., bright, sunny, and unseasonably warm for the last day of the year. On my way here, I drove with the sunroof all the way open. I've just cinched the shoulder, chest, and waist straps tight on my backpack. I take one last survey; everything's here and the car is locked.

With that, I'm on the trail to enjoy a day off. (And I need it, too. It's been four days since I got back from vacation in SC.)

The sun is warm. I'm in a short-sleeved t-shirt and cargo pants -- all neutral colors, except for my purple backpack and the red fleece jacket strapped to my pack. I brought it more to make me visible to any late-season hunters than to keep me warm.

I'm on an old jeep trail that runs along a mountain ridge. On my right, the mountain slopes down. To my left, it's the same story. As the trail rolls along the ridge, the surface varies from clay, to sand, to rock, to grass, to soft, rich soil. I walk quickly, hardly making noise as I go. There are no songbirds and no other animals to be seen. Miles away down in the valley is a train. I clearly hear its horn as it approaches crossing after crossing.

From the beginning of the trail, I can see that someone has driven a large truck on the trail recently. It's National Forest land, and I'm not sure the trail is open to motorized vehicles. I don't want a run-in with the truck's driver out here, so I'm alert for other human life. Thankfully, I find no one.

Eventually the trail leaves the ridge line as the mountain gets steeper. I'm on the west face of the mountain, and I can see tiny houses down below in the midst of valley farmland. Another few minutes and my trail leaves the jeep path. I can tell where the truck stopped. Apparently, it's already gone. The trail gets rockier, narrower, and steeper. Now I'm looking to the east. On this side of the ridge it's so hazy, I can hardly see the valley floor.

My eyes dart from the rocky path to the little GPS receiver in my hand. The reading has gone from hundredths of a mile to feet. I'm getting closer. I can tell that my destination is to the downhill side of the trail.

I'm 80 feet away, and I can see where the Green Cache must be hidden. In seconds, I'm there and I've become the first person to find the newly-stashed cache. I swap out some items and sign the log. But that's only part of why I've hiked almost two miles.

Be still
I replace the cache, hiding it by arranging the rocks and branches as they were when I found them. The area where I was standing has become bare so I spread loose leaves over the spot to erase signs of my visit.

Then it's back up to the trail. It's a rocky area, so I find a nice bench-like rock along the trail. Out comes the snack food, and water bottle, and my trusty old Palm. There is a breeze, and I'm going to be less active for a while, so I put on the fleece.

The rock slopes slightly downhill. I put the pack on the uphill side of the rock as a pillow. I snack on Wheat Thin (100 Calorie packs) and granola bars as I open my Palm. I've got the Bible loaded on it, and for the next hour I read from Romans. Overhead the branches of the nearby trees look like a road map against a clear blue sky.

There are still no songbirds. And, more importantly, no people.

Eventually, I rise, refreshed. It's back down the trail, where again I move quickly and quietly. I enjoy the day's warmth, although I'd be perfectly happy if it were freezing cold. Cold weather makes me feel alive, pulling me outside where I can be active.

The naked forest seems an anomaly in this warmth. There should be buds and green bursting forth everywhere. But it's not, and I'm glad. I like the winter forest. I can see things that would otherwise be hidden.

At some point, I finally hear a bird. Sounds like a crow. Later I hear another bird. Sounds like it might be a hawk. I pause, scanning the sky above, beside, below. I can't see the bird of prey. Its call is getting fainter.

It seems as if I've hardly been on the trail for my return when I reach the trail head. My hike is over. In a few hours, so will 2004.

A good ending.

Posted by JRC at 09:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack