Where’s Your Sense of Humor?

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Lately I have had a serious “reality check.” It is not just that different individuals and cultures find different things amusing. It is that no matter what we human beings find amusing, our “sense of humor” can be used for good or evil as much as any other faculty of the human mind. The worst part is that all too quickly, we can be blindsided by the evil side of humor—and the better-developed our “sense of humor” is, the more easily we may be blindsided. We need to ask ourselves why this is so.

Lately I have had a serious “reality check.” It is not just that different individuals and cultures find different things amusing. It is that no matter what we human beings find amusing, our “sense of humor” can be used for good or evil as much as any other faculty of the human mind. The worst part is that all too quickly, we can be blindsided by the evil side of humor—and the better-developed our “sense of humor” is, the more easily we may be blindsided. We need to ask ourselves why this is so.

Caring for God’s Creation

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Elephant ivory has been treasured for millennia, but “Researchers believe that since 2010 an average of nearly 35,000 elephants have been killed annually on the [African] continent. They warn that if the rate of poaching continues, the animals could be wiped out in 100 years” (BBC, August 18, 2014). Some areas in Africa are harder hit than others.  For example, “In Central Africa it is estimated that elephant numbers have fallen by about 60% in a decade” (ibid.). “The illegal trade in elephant tusks has soared in recent years, and a kilogram of ivory is now worth thousands of dollars” (ibid.). 

Elephant ivory has been treasured for millennia, but “Researchers believe that since 2010 an average of nearly 35,000 elephants have been killed annually on the [African] continent. They warn that if the rate of poaching continues, the animals could be wiped out in 100 years” (BBC, August 18, 2014). Some areas in Africa are harder hit than others.  For example, “In Central Africa it is estimated that elephant numbers have fallen by about 60% in a decade” (ibid.). “The illegal trade in elephant tusks has soared in recent years, and a kilogram of ivory is now worth thousands of dollars” (ibid.). 

Divide and Conquer

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Jesus Christ taught that a house divided against itself will not stand (Luke 11:17). He also taught that one of the signs of the end of the age will be “nation fighting nation”—in the inspired Greek, this means “ethnic group against ethnic group” (Matthew 24:7). When we look around the globe, we see these prophecies being fulfilled more and more as Syria, Iraq, Egypt, the Holy Land and Ukraine are torn apart by internal divisions. And the United States is not immune! Racial tensions in the U.S. have reached another high as emotions and the use of force to deal with them escalate in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson (USA Today, August 19, 2014). Powerful protests have erupted in Ferguson in response to the shooting of an 18-year-old black man. Police action against black males has created problems in several cities this summer, including Detroit and now St. Louis. The U.S. is also experiencing increasing divisions among its elected officials at the national and state levels and among its citizens. 

Jesus Christ taught that a house divided against itself will not stand (Luke 11:17). He also taught that one of the signs of the end of the age will be “nation fighting nation”—in the inspired Greek, this means “ethnic group against ethnic group” (Matthew 24:7). When we look around the globe, we see these prophecies being fulfilled more and more as Syria, Iraq, Egypt, the Holy Land and Ukraine are torn apart by internal divisions. And the United States is not immune! Racial tensions in the U.S. have reached another high as emotions and the use of force to deal with them escalate in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson (USA Today, August 19, 2014). Powerful protests have erupted in Ferguson in response to the shooting of an 18-year-old black man. Police action against black males has created problems in several cities this summer, including Detroit and now St. Louis. The U.S. is also experiencing increasing divisions among its elected officials at the national and state levels and among its citizens. 

Pope’s Star Is Rising

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“He’s an ambassador of peace to a world in great need of it” wrote one journalist during the Pope’s recent visit to South Korea (Catholic News Agency, August 14, 2014). Following a mass in Seoul attended by mostly non-Catholics, the Pope performed the “beatification of 124 Korean martyrs.” A Thai woman in the audience commented “‘I think that the Pope is not just for Catholics, but for the world. He is for peace, and his kindness to the whole of humanity’ displays that” (Catholic News Agency, August 17, 2014). During his trip, the Pope also reached out to both North Korea and China (Associated Press, August 18, 2014). 

“He’s an ambassador of peace to a world in great need of it” wrote one journalist during the Pope’s recent visit to South Korea (Catholic News Agency, August 14, 2014). Following a mass in Seoul attended by mostly non-Catholics, the Pope performed the “beatification of 124 Korean martyrs.” A Thai woman in the audience commented “‘I think that the Pope is not just for Catholics, but for the world. He is for peace, and his kindness to the whole of humanity’ displays that” (Catholic News Agency, August 17, 2014). During his trip, the Pope also reached out to both North Korea and China (Associated Press, August 18, 2014). 

Drought Danger in Western USA

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“A 14-year drought in the southwestern United States has drained reservoirs such as Nevada’s Lake Mead to record lows. But satellite measurements show that the losses are even greater underground” (Nature, July 25, 2014). “The Colorado River basin—which supplies roughly 40 million people in seven US states—lost roughly 65 trillion litres of fresh water [between 2004 and 2013]… roughly 1.5 more than the maximum capacity of the United States’ largest reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada and Arizona. ‘It was way more than we ever thought,’ says study co-author Jay Famiglietti, a water-cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California” (ibid.). 

“A 14-year drought in the southwestern United States has drained reservoirs such as Nevada’s Lake Mead to record lows. But satellite measurements show that the losses are even greater underground” (Nature, July 25, 2014). “The Colorado River basin—which supplies roughly 40 million people in seven US states—lost roughly 65 trillion litres of fresh water [between 2004 and 2013]… roughly 1.5 more than the maximum capacity of the United States’ largest reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada and Arizona. ‘It was way more than we ever thought,’ says study co-author Jay Famiglietti, a water-cycle scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California” (ibid.). 

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