Monthly Clergy Letter Project Newsletter


The new issue of Clergy Project Newsletter is now available on-line.  Topics this month are:

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Faith and Science in the Class Room: Class One – Awe and Wonder and Pastoral Applications


I am sharing this post from the Vatican Observatory because of the importance seeing how faith and science can exist in the same room at the same time.


In the weeks to come, I will offer brief reflections on two projects to bring science into the seminary classroom. Seminary, for those who do not know, is the name given to the school that future priests attend. The name “seminary” means “a seedbed.” Therefore, a seminary is not only a school of academics, but it is an environment of formation in which the soil of our hearts is tilled to receive the seeds of faith. As I have written about in the past, one of the deficiencies I experienced in my seminary education was instruction on questions of faith and science. Whether it be writing for The Catholic Astronomer, participating in wonderful experiences like the Faith and Astronomy Workshop, or being a guest on Slooh, God has allowed me to embark on a unique “independent study” that has bore a great deal of fruit. Recently, I was honored to meet Jennifer Wiseman, Director of the American Association for the … Continue reading →

Source: Faith and Science in the Class Room: Class One – Awe and Wonder and Pastoral Applications

“Restoration”


This was the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church bulletin for Sunday, March 18, 2018, the 5th Sunday in Lent (Year B).


While working on my doctorate, I learned the intricacies of word processing (first with Word Perfect and then with Word).  The first thing that I learned was the need to save my material and to do it often (we will save that thought for another day).

Then I learned Control-Z, the ability to undo whatever it was that I just did.  If I deleted something by mistake, then Ctrl-Z would allow me to recover the data quickly.

But, as much as we wish there was such a key, there is no Ctrl-Z key for life.  We don’t get many opportunities to “undo” something when it was a mistake.  And if you cannot fix something, where is the hope?

Perhaps the greatest single aspect of the Gospel message that Jesus brought to the people was that there was hope, that life was worth it.  But this is not automatic; we must repent of our past life.

The Season of Lent is that opportunity to restore our lives and begin anew.

~~ Tony Mitchell

“Safekeeping”


This will be the back page for the Fishkill United Methodist Church bulletin for Sunday, February 25, 2018, the 2nd Sunday in Lent (Year B).


We read in Genesis that we are to be stewards of this world, to take care of it, not just for today but for tomorrow as well.  Despite what some may say, how we treat this planet speaks to how we see the future.

In the Arctic Ocean, north of Norway, is the Svalbard archipelago.  And on one of the islands in the archipelago is the Global Seed Vault.  It serves as a backup for the other seed vaults around the world. One of the reasons for this and the other vaults is to protect seeds from all parts of the world from destruction by either man-made or natural causes and maintain a diverse collection of seeds for future use.

What was it that Jesus told Peter, that Peter had his eye on the real world and not the spiritual world?

If our vision of the world is limited to the present, we are going to have a very hard time getting to the future.  Tying ourselves to the present keeps us from going with Jesus and while we may think that it is safer to stay where we are (figuratively and literally), we end up in more danger.

Because of his faith, Abraham was able to envision the future, to see tomorrow even when it may not have seemed possible.

In our faith, we have a way to keep our future safe.

~Tony Mitchell

When False Rhetoric Sticks: How Do We Flip The Common Presumption Of Faith Vs. Science. – The Catholic Astronomer


As a priest with an assignment of diverse ministries (parish, primary school, jail ministry, and university students), there are ample opportunities to receive and address questions about faith and science from multiple perspectives. What I find fascinating is that, regardless of what ministerial environment the questions are posed, there is a common narrative that often emerges: Faith is against science. Much can be said about how this presumption has come to be the norm. Often times, I find that much of the fuel that feeds this fire doesn’t come from scientists, new atheists, or secular politics. Rather, I find that it is the poor understanding and presentation of biblical creation in a hyper-literalist manner combined with a history of scandals in the Church that has flipped the opinion of many to view Catholicism not as the vessel that pursues truth to a fallen institution that is riddled with scandal and corruption, lacking the needed transparency to foster trust in the … Continue reading →

Source: When False Rhetoric Sticks: How Do We Flip The Common Presumption Of Faith Vs. Science. – The Catholic Astronomer

Finding the truth


The part in straight text will be the back page of the bulletin for the 4th Sunday after the Epiphany at Fishkill United Methodist Church.  The part in italics was added for this post.


If you were to compare the content of my father’s chemistry text book with the content of the textbooks I used as a student and a teacher, you would see that they are very different.  For one thing, in the 1930’s, there were only about 90 elements; today there are at least 118 and the search goes on to find more (see Timeline of chemical element discoveries).

Known-elements-1650-present

By El Snubbe – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63155133

But what if someone decided there was a limit to what one could know in chemistry?  What would our world be like today?

Certain theories in place then have been modified, upgraded, or changed.  And yet, even with these differences, there is a certain fundamental truth.  But you must look for it; it does not come easily.   I discussed the idea of changing theories in “A Brief History of Atomic Theory”.  Other theories that dominated chemistry for many years were the phlogiston theory and caloric theory.  These theories dominated conventional thinking for many years, even with indications that they had changed.

That day in Capernaum 2000 years ago, the people experienced something they didn’t expect.  They saw Jesus give meaning to the Scriptures; they saw Jesus use the information in the Scriptures they way it was meant to be used, as an instrument of empowerment and freedom, not slavery and control.

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, pointed out that you needed to understand the Law, not just meekly repeat the words of the Law. One characteristic of the Old Testament prophets was their ability to speak to the truth, to go beyond, even when it was not what the people wanted to hear.

Jesus told the people to seek the truth and the truth would set them free.  In a world where so many people try to tell us what to think and what is true, Jesus’ words and actions remind us from where the truth comes from.

~Tony Mitchell

Across the Universe: Redating Easter? – The Catholic Astronomer


This column first ran in The Tablet in January 2016 The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has recently [2016] announced discussions to redefine the date of Easter. Pope Francis and various leaders of Eastern churches have also expressed interest in a common date that all churches would celebrate together. Easter was originally the Sunday following Passover, the first full moon of the Hebrew year. But the start of the Hebrew year varied from year to year. Jewish months, 29 days long, mirror the phases of the moon, and so every three or four years an extra month is needed to keep that lunar calendar in phase with the seasons. After the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, there was no central Jewish authority to determine when to add that month. Instead, Jews of the Diaspora relied on a Greek formula (devised in 432 BC by Meton) to add seven intercalary months over a repeating 19 year cycle. It was … Continue reading →

Source: Across the Universe: Redating Easter? – The Catholic Astronomer