Saturday, February 27, 2016

Risen - A New Twist to an Old Tale

    SPOILER ALERT: Don't read this if you plan to see the movie and don't want to know the story line. 

     The new Christian movie "Risen" starring Joseph Fiennes takes an old story and gives it a new twist.  Joseph Fiennes stars as Clavius, a Roman soldier who reports directly to Pontius Pilate and has been kept busy fighting Jewish zealots in Jerusalem in 33 A.D.  Clavius is tired of the fighting and only wishes for a position in Rome, a wife and family, a peaceful place in the country, and a day without death. 

      Through his duties he becomes an eye witness to the crucifixion, watches Jesus being buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and seals the tomb with the stamp of Pilate.  After the body of Jesus disappears from the sealed tomb, Clavius is charged with finding the body of Jesus and presenting it to Pontius Pilate to prove that Jesus has not risen from the dead.  Ceasar will be visiting Jerusalem soon and Pilate wants to head off any unrest that might happen if Jesus' followers think he is miraculously alive again. 

    Clavius begins by interrogating everyone who claims that Jesus is alive, including Bartholemew and Mary Magdelene, but to no avail. No one can lead him to a dead or alive Jesus.  However, he finally discovers where the disciples are hiding.  When he breaks into the upper room he finds the disciples there, with Jesus in the midst of them.  He is dumbstruck. Instead of returning to his soldierly position, he follows the disciples to Galilee, and although he is following out of curiosity and interest, he tells Pilate he is trying to uncover more information.

     When Pilate gets wind of this, he sends the soldiers after them.  Clavius ends up hiding the disciples from the Romans, and joins them in Galilee. Although at first there is some tension, they accept him as part of their group and share bread and wine with him.

     The disciples and Clavius meet up again with the risen Jesus in Galilee.  While fishing with the disciples Clavius witnesses the miracle of the fishes.   He sees Jesus heal a leper, and although he cannot reconcile what is happening, he cannot deny what he sees.  This man who was once dead is alive again.  Lepers are healed. Even though he participated in Jesus' crucifixion, Jesus accepts him and loves him.  Clavius is a changed man.  Although he does not join the disciples as they spread out over the world to preach the gospel, he cannot return to his old ways.

     In a way this story is the story of every Christian, which I consider myself to be as well.  At some point, even if we can't remember when, we were all non-believers.  There was a moment in time when each of us met Jesus face to face.  We had to overcome our fear of being wrong about who He is.  We had to reconcile what our heads told us could not be true, with what our hearts told us to believe.  We may have at first followed Him from afar, but then drew closer as we learned who Jesus really is and how He changes lives.  Although we may have considered ourselves enemies of other Christians at first, we eventually understood them and joined the fellowship.   We left the life that we previously led and made our own way on a new path to a new way of living and thinking.

   "Risen" is the story of Clavius, a Roman soldier, and it's the story of every non-believer's path to the faith.  It's a story that's shared with million throughout the world down through the ages, and a story that will be repeated many more times over until mankind finds a peaceful place and a day without death -  the day that Jesus returns and sets up his Kingdom once again on earth.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Timeless Message of "Fiddler on the Roof"

  Last night I attended a local high school performance of "Fiddler on the Roof."  Aside from being  awestruck by the giftedness of our local young people, I was once again touched by the timeless message of this story. 
     For those who've never seen it, "Fiddler on the Roof" is the story of Tevye, a Russian-Jewish peasant living in the fictional Russian town of Anatevka in the early 1900s.  He has a strong relationship with God and the musical is peppered with his often comical "chats" with the Almighty, though we only hear Tevye's portion of the conversation.  In Tevye's world, life is a delicate balance.  Each person is like a fiddler balancing on a rooftop, trying to play a pleasant tune while not being knocked down by adversities and hardships of life.  He thinks that the only way to keep your balance is by adhering strictly to "Tradition!"  
    Tradition dictates the rules of life. Every person has their role to play - the papa, the mama, the son, the daughter.  As long as everyone plays their part correctly and no one questions those roles, things move along fine.
   However times are changing in Tevye's world.  The young people are starting to question the traditions, especially in the realm of marriage. Tradition dictates that marriages are arranged, with Papa having ultimate say in who the daughters will wed.  Tevye is "blessed" with 5 daughters, and being a poor family they do not have dowries.  The matchmaker in town is working hard to arrange suitable marriages.  However, the daughters have different ideas. 
    Each daughter strays from the tradition a little further in her choice of husband. The first daughter Tzeitel rejects a prospective arranged marriage to a rich elderly butcher, and begs her father to let her marry her childhood sweetheart Motel.  He is a nice Jewish boy of the same village, though a poor one, but when Tevye sees how much she loves him, he relents and gives permission.
    The second daughter Hodel chooses her own husband, Perchik, who is an outsider, a student, an intellectual, a radical with "new ideas."  He introduces strange new thinking to the town.  He believes, among other things, that girls should be educated, and that men and women should be allowed to dance together, which is forbidden in the strict Jewish society.  He is an idealist, and believes that if enough citizens band together to protest against the Czarist system of government, they can  change the world.   Hodel falls in love with him and they become engaged.  When it's time for Perchik to leave town to join the student movement, they do not ask for Tevye's permission to marry - they plan to wed no matter what. They only ask for his blessing, which he eventually gives, seeing he has no other choice.  Tevye sadly sees Hodel off at the train station to join Perchik in a distant town, not knowing when they will ever see each other again.
    The third daughter Chava goes beyond what Tevye can tolerate by marrying a Russian Christian soldier, after Tevye advises her to stay away from him.  This is moer of a break from tradition than Tevye can accept.   He feels he is being forced to choose between his faith and his daughter, and though heartbroken, he chooses his faith.  His daughter is dead to him.
      The Jews of the town are eventually evicted by the Russian soldiers, and everyone sadly heads off in different directions, taking their meager possessions and their rich traditions with them.
    Though the story is set a land foreign to us in a distant century, the story lines ring true and the  themes are timeless - love, faith, family, change, choice, forgiveness.  Don't we all have our own set of rules and roles to play that keep things on an even keel?  And when someone or something challenges those patterns and introduces a new way of thinking, we have to decide if we are going to accept the new way or struggle against it.  Sometimes we can bend and adapt and sometimes the choice is just too much.  We reject the new way and take comfort in our "traditions."   I see this in my church as we try to introduce contemporary songs and worship styles, and some resist.  We also see it in society with marriage no longer being defined as a union between one man and one woman.  Some can accept this and some cannot.
      If change happens too rapidly, things can get bent to the breaking point - relationships, institutions, governments, families, political systems.  That's why we have liberals always pushing for change, and conservatives always holding back.  The push and pull allows for advances and progress without creating so much havoc in society that we completely lose our way. Tradition is comforting in hard times and fine to hold on to but sometimes the old ways need to bend to allow room for new ideas and growth.  That is the delicate balance we all must keep, the balance between stability and change, old ways and progress, comfort and risk, safety and adventure, just like the fiddler balancing up there on that rooftop.        

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Losing Your Job Due to Downsizing - A Blessing or A Curse?

     Is losing your job, especially in middle age, a blessing or a curse?   It can be either, depending on your situation.  If you have never thought beyond your current situation, are buried in bills, or get all your identity and self esteem from your work, it's hard to see it as anything but a curse.  But if you are in a relatively good situation financially, have money saved for an emergency, and have a good support system, and have other interests, it could be a blessing in disguise.

     The company that I work for is undergoing one of these corrections, commonly known as a "downsizing."  This has happened every 4 or 5 years since I've worked there, which is over 20 years, so I've been through at least 4 or 5 of these.  It's a medium sized manufacturing company with offices and plants all over the world.    Apparently when business is booming, they hire lots of people to keep up with the demand.  Then when the economy slows down and sales drop off, they see it as an opportunity to cull the workforce.  In the past they have used these down times to get rid of the non-productive "dead wood" workers.  It always served as motivation during the good times to be as productive as possible, so when the bad times came you wouldn't be one of those cut.

     But this time things are different.  The company is under extreme pressure to reduce costs, due to the growth of globalization.  A few years ago we moved much of our manufacturing from the unionized northern states to the non-union states in the southern United States.  But that's not enough.  Now we are to competing with companies that employ low cost workers in Asia and India.  The people who are being cut this time are not the dead wood non productive employees. They are good people who have 20 and 30 years experience in specialized fields.  True, some of them are being offered attractive incentive packages to convince them to retire, and others are being laid off because their positions are eliminated.  The company is cutting some of their best employees and is losing much of the expertise that has taken decades to accumulate.

     These are people who have dedicated their entire working career to making the company profitable and they are being let go without much of a thought as to what's being lost.  There will be little or no chance for knowledge transfer, since they didn't know they'd be leaving so soon.  And the people who will be taking up the slack are on the other side of the world.  Due to time zone differences and opposite schedules it's almost impossible to find time to train them.

      Nevertheless, the cuts continue and will not stop until the company has reached it's S&A target.  There's no way to prevent it, so what is one to do?  First of all, having witnessed the business cycle repeat itself numerous times, we should have learned long ago to live our lives like we have a job but could lose it at any minute.  Don't make big unnecessary purchases.  Save as much as you can.  Pay off the bills you owe and stay out of debt.   Don't live beyond your means.

     Second of all, it's fine to be a dedicated employee but don't let work take over your life.  Don't spend every waking hour at work.  Cultivate networks of friends inside and outside your workplace.  Be a shoulder for others to lean on.  It's been shown that people who have good support systems consisting of friends and family suffer less stress and are happier and healthier altogether.

     Develop other interests, social and otherwise.  Do crafts, play an instrument, join a book club, go to the gym.  Do something that you love and find stimulating.  You'll keep your brain and body active,  learn new skills and make connections that could provide useful in case of a job loss. 

     Continue to perform your job to the best of your ability and keep a positive attitude.  Keep your skills up to date.  Take classes, attend seminars, read up on the latest technology. Don't become a dinosaur in your field of expertise.  

     If you've done all of the above, an still end up being downsized, you'll have an easier time finding work or adjusting to your new situation.  Your financial situation will be less precarious.  You'll have lots of connections who may be able to help you find something else.  You'll have outside interests so you don't climb the walls with boredom in the mean time.  You'll have developed additional skills and interests that may lead you in an entirely new direction that you never dreamed of.  You might just find yourself doing something you love and getting paid for it.  Wouldn't that be a great way to spend the remainder of your working life?  Don't look at it as a curse.  With proper preparation and a positive attitude, a job loss just might be the opportunity you've been waiting for all your life.  You may find yourself doing something you've really wanted to do all along.  It could be a blessing in disguise.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Beyonce's "Formation" - A Masterpiece of Marketing

   In the past week there has been a lot of buzz about Beyoncé's new "Formation" single.  She surprise-debuted the video the day before the Super Bowl, and featured it in her performance at halftime of that event.  There have been reams of gushing reviews by people of all colors, analyzing almost every frame of the piece and extolling the deep social and political  messages it contains.  It's been called an anthem for black pride and black women  in particular.  It's a pulsating rap tune, with a hypnotic rhythm and weird techno instrumentation.  There's a lot of rapid fire imagery, some flitting by so fast you want to slow it down to decipher what you're seeing.  It's too much to grasp in one viewing alone.  I've watched it several times and have to admit it invites a lot of speculation about what it all means.
     Beyoncé is a master of marketing herself by creating controversy.  She's taken images representing just about every hot button issue to the black community and rolled them into an almost five minute long montage.  It starts out with scenes of post Katrina flooding, with Beyoncé herself sitting atop a mostly submerged police car.  The very next image is of flashing police lights and an anonymous person running in the street.  We see an old run down neighborhood, presumably post Katrina.  Then we are taken into the drawing room of a southern plantation, and the black women are clearly in charge here as they sit in their white antebellum style dresses, cooly fanning themselves.  After that there's lots of dancing and booty shaking, with Beyoncé in one of her trademark skin tight bodysuits.  There aren't many men in the video, and the few that we do see seem to be there only to point out stereotypical roles of males in black society - the preacher, the basketball player, the entertainer represented by mardi gras drum majors, and finally the black suited body guards who surround Beyoncé as she stands in front of her plantation.  At one point a boy in a Trayvon Martin-style hoodie dances before a line of white police officers.  We see "stop shooting us" scrawled in graffiti on a wall. 
     But the focal point of almost every scene are the women and girls.  Beyoncé's own daughter Blue Ivy frolics in the halls of the mansion with her friends while the white dressed ladies hold court in the drawing room.  And then there's the "formation" - Beyoncé's line of black chorus girls who do their updated version of  a Rockettes performance in a parking lot.  Instead of high kicks they grind hips, but there's a threat even to the chorus girls: "prove to me you got some coordination...or you get eliminated."  Beyoncé herself promises lots of rewards to her man in return for sexual prowess.  There's no doubt who has the power here.   It's the women who rule over the men, but Beyoncé rules over them all.
    You can't blame her - she's got lots to crow about.  Nobody knows the exact figure, and reports vary, but her net worth is well over $100 million, some say $250 million or maybe as high as $450 million along with her rapper husband Jay Z.   She also has great timing.  The commercial that immediately followed her Super Bowl performance was an ad for her new tour that launches in April and for which tickets are now on sale, with extra dates being added due to demand.  As long as she can continue to stir up controversy and grab the attention of blacks and whites alike, her net worth will continue to grow.  In all fairness, she has pledged to use revenue from her new tour to raise money for citizens of Flint, Michigan who were victimized by the leaded water travesty there.   Beyoncé is a social commentator, an artist, a performer, a diva, a philanthropist, but above all she is a very smart business woman.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

That Special Brand of American Craziness - The Super Bowl!

      I get apprehensive every year about the end of January, when I realize that once again it’s almost time for the Super Bowl, that annual celebration of the special brand of American excess which shows the world what we’re made of.  It’s a super concoction of sports, eating, drinking, gambling, music, and showmanship – all the essential properties that make American great.  (Don’t tell Donald Trump!)

     This year you could either fork over an average of $4639 for a ticket, or be one of the 12 million of us who preferred to watch at home (or in a sports bar.)  For your investment of time and/or money, you got to witness some of the highest paid athletes in the world bash their bodies against each other and perform tremendous acts of athleticism, all in an attempt to win bragging rights, membership in an exclusive club of Super Bowl winners, and that little gold ring.

   What’s more, if you left the room to go to the bathroom, you risked missing half the entertainment.  Advertising agencies devoted their best talent and $5 million per 30 second commercial spot trying to  produce the most bizarre, funny, outrageous, and heart rending commercials possible.  (Puppy-monkey-baby, anyone?)

    And that’s just the game itself. Halftime is another category altogether.  Parents of school age children must decide if they want to let their children watch and risk exposing them to another wardrobe malfunction a la Janet Jackson.  The producers seem to walk a fine line between keeping the young men in the audience interested and not offending everyone else.  Each year features at least one scantily clad young lady, and lately they have been leaning toward wild cartoon-like colors & characters to keep the kids and old ladies watching too.  This year there was even a nod toward the finer arts, with the band Cold Play backed up by members of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles.  Bravo! I couldn’t tell if they were actually playing the chartreuse and hot pink violins they held.  If they were, they it was impressive because they were simultaneously jumping up and down to the music. That has to take some practice.  (When will Joshua Bell be invited to do halftime?)   After witnessing these spectacles, it’s hard to imagine ever getting too excited over a marching band again, but don’t worry. We will.

    And any Super Bowl party is not complete without mountains of mouth watering delectable dishes to much on, preferably finger foods that you can get from plate to mouth without looking, or worrying if your are holding your fork correctly.  It’s part of the tradition. 

     You have to wonder what the people around the world think as they look on. Do they think Americans are totally crazy?  Is this the highest expression of our societal values on display?  Should we be a little embarrassed about it?   I believe the Super Bowl is popular partly because it takes place in that downtime in the dead of winter, long after the Christmas holidays are over, before the trees start budding, when there’s not much else going on of interest except bad news and politics.  It distracts us from the humdrum of  our daily lives for just a few hours, and gives us something to get excited about.  It’s kind of like Mardi Gras, the Barnum and Bailey Circus, and the gladiators all rolled into one.   Maybe it is a little crazy, a little excessive, a little bit over the top, but anything that brings friends, family, and complete strangers together for a few hours, gives us something to cheer for and something to laugh about, and inspires someone to cook all that good food can’t be all bad, can it?   Next year when the Super Bowl rolls around, I think I’ll be looking forward to it.            

Friday, February 5, 2016

Women, Combat, and Babies - They Just Don't Mix

Women, combat, and babies:  these are three words that should probably never be uttered in the same sentence, but two recent news releases about women in the United States Military caught my eye. The first was in December when Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced that all combat roles would now be open to women.   Female soldiers will now be able to drive tanks, fire mortars, and lead infantry soldiers into battle.  They can be Army Rangers, Navy Seals, and Green Berets. The only stipulation is that they can meet the standards of the job they wish to fill.

     The other announcement was that the U.S. Military will now increase maternity leave for new mothers from 6 to 12 weeks.   Several of the branches had just increased it to 18 weeks, so this is actually a reduction for them, but now all branches will have a uniform 12 weeks leave after the birth of a child.

    This made me wonder, what happens if a woman in a war zone or combat job gets pregnant?  Currently, a deployed pregnant woman is immediately sent back to the states.    Usually, she is given the option to leave the military or stay in.  If she chooses to stay, adjustments are made to her work environment.  For instance she cannot wear body army or climb a ladder, she can only work 8 hours a day, and exposure to hazardous chemicals is eliminated.  Once the baby is born, she has 6 month to get back into physical shape but she cannot be deployed overseas until 1 year after the birth.

    I applaud the military for allowing women the same opportunities as men, and also for providing new mothers with better family leave than many major U.S. corporations.  I am still, however, trying to reconcile in my mind the thought of a women in a combat situation potentially becoming pregnant.  With women deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m sure it’s already happening.  Soldiers on deployment are supposed to abstain from sexual relations, but soldiers are only human and many do not.   Pregnancies still happen. Many women in the military, upon finding themselves pregnant, have reported pressure to have abortions and if they didn’t, they were looked down upon.  It is often assumed that the woman became pregnant on purpose in order to get out of the service.   They have forfeited scholarships and pay increases and felt shame and guilt for their inability to fulfill their duties to their country.

     I would like to suggest a solution to this situation. I believe if a woman wants to serve in a combat position, she should give up her right for that period of time to bear children.  Every woman going into a combat situation should receive birth control implants before being deployed.  These are small silicon "sticks" that are implanted surgically under the skin and release hormones that prevent pregnancy. These are currently sold under the brand names Nexplanon in the U.S. and Jadelle outside of the U.S., among others.  The implantation would be done, of course, with the woman's full knowledge and consent.  With this method of contraception, there is no need to remember to take a pill, they can't fall out or be lost or forgotten, and they remain in effect until they are surgically removed.  We’ve all seen the pictures of new recruits in line at boot camp, receiving 3 or 4 shots in both arms at once.   The military immunizes soldiers against all types of conditions which would interfere with their ability to serve.  Why not “immunize” women going into combat against pregnancy as well?  After all, once you enlist you are considered “government property” and you forfeit all kinds of other personal rights.  Women who want to serve in combat should willingly postpone pregnancy until they are in a position to bear and raise a child. 

     We currently have an all-volunteer military.  It takes time and money to recruit and train enough soldiers to fill all the jobs available.  The U.S. government has made an investment in every solder, and when a woman in combat becomes pregnant, much of that investment is lost.  She can no longer perform the duties she was trained to perform, and someone else needs to quickly take her place.  Also, the fatigue and nausea of early pregnancy could easily make her unfit for combat and jeapordize her ability to perform her duties, endangering fellow soldiers’ lives.  If a woman wants to serve in the most dangerous roles, she should willingly give up her right to reproduce temporarily.  The military is currently implementing procedures to allow soldiers to freeze sperm and eggs, in case an injury happens that would prevent them from having children later on. 

   I am all for equal rights for women.  Giving up one’s fertility for a limited amount of time actually makes women more equal to men.  If a woman’s religion prohibits her from using birth control, she will need to make a choice between combat and following her religious convictions.  She can always opt for military positions that do not require it.

   The bottom line is this: women, combat, and babies don’t mix.   If the military wants to put women into combat, and women want to willingly go there, they need to cooperatively do something to remove the possibility of pregnancy from the mix.   Mandatory Norplant implants for women in combat would be the perfect solution.  The cost of the implants would be a bargain compared to the cost of lost personnel and additional recruiting and training required to replace expectant mothers who can no longer perform their combat duties.  



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Who Needs Cursive Anyway?

  My son, who is a sophomore in high school, entered grade school in the early 2000s, about the same time the educational gurus who were designing curriculum decided that it  was not important for kids to learn cursive handwriting anymore. The reasoning was, I suppose, that most communication these kids made was going to be via computer and typed on a keyboard, so why waste time learning to write long hand?  They did teach printing to some extend just in case they needed to jot something down and did't have a computer handy, but the kids in that age group never learned to write.
     Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, penmanship was greatly stressed in schools and was taught as an importantt subject.  If you've ever seen the handwriting of someone who was educated in that era, you may have noticed how they all conform to the same style.  The script is neat & concise, with the letters all slanting the same direction, and produced with the same orderly strokes.   There was apparently no allowance made for "personalizing" your handwriting aback then - it all looks the same.
     By the time I entered school in the early 60's, we learned to write cursive in about the 2nd or 3rd grade, but after that nobody really told us we were "doing it wrong" if we chose to modify it to our own liking.  As long as it was legible, it was okay.  In fact, many of the girls I went to school with adapted the same fat curly writing style, with big loops in the letters, and circles dotting the i's.   Maybe they were copying each other.  Others did have their own personal style, and I could identify most of my friends handwriting at a glance.
    But at some point someone decided it wasn't important to teach kids to write any more.  So consequently, this past week my son was given an assignment in history class. He was to find two letters written home by two WWI soldiers, read them, and then do some sort of project about it.  He had to print out copies of the letters, so the teacher knew they weren't fabricated.
     This was a problem because most of the letters he found on line were written in cursive, and having never learned to write it, he couldn't read it either!  I helped him search until he found one letter that was typed, and one that was printed, and he was able to complete the assignment.
    But this points out a huge problem - if you don't learn to write cursive, you probably can't read it very well either.  That means you must depend on "translations" to read anything that was handwritten before the year 1985.  Among the original documents you can't read are the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, and the Magna Carta.  Also, you may have trouble signing your own name, if printing is not acceptable.
    This might not seem like that big of an issue unless someone needs to do research on handwritten documents of the past, but it just seems like a basic skill that needs to be taught.  What if one of these kids find a treasure trove of old letters in their attic someday from years past?  It sure would be nice if they could read them.   Will they need "translators" in the future, specially schooled in the art of reading cursive? It sounds ridiculous but it could happen. I notice lately some of the school districts in our area are reintroducing the teaching of long hand in their curriculum.  I hope it catches on and others do so too.  In the mean time, I may be teaching a class or two at my kitchen table.  Who needs cursive? I think everyone does!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Climate Change - Prophets of Doom or Voices of Reason?

    August 18, 1966. That's the day the world was going to end. At least that's what some self anointed prophet had proclaimed. The nightly news had reported it, and I believed it. It sounded perfectly plausible to my 8 year old self. After all, I had read in some science book somewhere that one day the sun would explode and destroy everything in the solar system. (I always could read way beyond my level to truly comprehend.) So I assumed that's what was happening.
     As the doomsday approached, I worried about it a lot. I couldn't understand why my parents and everyone else around me were just going about their normal business as usual and didn't seem the least bit concerned. Weeks passed, and then it finally arrived. August 18 - the last day of planet earth. As I rode my bike around the block, the sun's rays beating down upon me seemed especially hot. (It was, after all, mid August.) Was it happening? Was the sun starting to percolate, and soon would over boil?  I waited tensely throughout the day, and went to bed that night with great relief. I guess you can't believe every doomsday prophet, can you?
     I thought about this story yesterday as I was taking a nice walk outside because it was 50 degrees in Ohio in February. This is highly unusual weather for us to be having this time of year. It's  been an odd fall and winter all around. While we usually spend Thanksgiving Day inside sleeping off our turkey dinner, this year we piled the bikes into the car and took off for the bike path. I took along a jacket but I really didn't need it. And Christmas shopping was awesome, not having to run from car to store in the biting cold. It was actually quite pleasant outside.  Yes, we did have a few frigid days in January, but nothing like years past. I can't say I'm not enjoying this unseasonably warm weather, but it also makes me worry a bit.
     Scientists announced just this month that 2015 was the warmest year on average since records have been kept. The world is 1/4 of a degree warmer on average than ever before. That doesn't seem like much to us, but it's a big deal to the scientists. If this trend continues the world's  climate is definitely changing. I'm sure we will have more cold snowy winters in Northeast Ohio, but winters like the one we're having now will happen more and more frequently, and eventually become the norm. If 50 degrees becomes the norm in Ohio in February, what will it be like in Florida and Arizona? 150?  And even scarier, what will it be like in July?
    Some blame the warm weather on El Nino, but what is causing El Nino, and why is it creating more warmth than ever before?
     The Book of Revelations of the Bible is full of terrifying images of the end of the world. In the Revelation version of the last days, all the grass and a third of all the trees are burnt up  (chapter 8:7.)  Men are tormented by terrible sores and are scorched with fire and great heat (chapter 16:9.) The Euphrates River dries up (verse 12.) All the islands "fled away", perhaps due to rising seal levels? Lots of other terrible things happen, and I'm sure it's not all meant to be taken literally, but could it be that some of these things are a result of the earth's overheating?
     The warning that scared me back in 1966 was bogus and there was no reason to get worked up about it.  Everybody knew that but me.  But I think this time the "prophets" (scientists) warning us about global warming are basing their predictions on real observable data and changes taking place. Nobody knows for sure how bad it will get or how long it will take, but if we want the earth to be a habitable place for our children's children's children, we'd better take heed to the warnings and start doing whatever it takes to reverse the trend.  Otherwise there may not be anyone around come 2166.