The 74th General Convention, meeting in Minneapolis last summer, accepted the following resolutions with science-and-religion import (to read each piece of legislation in its entirety, click on the title).
The report of the ST&F Committee to the General Convention was accepted. It includes a proposed reorganized approach to the Committee's work during the coming triennium. Rather than form subcommittees to do in-depth studies of a few topics (as it did during the previous triennium), the Committee proposes to form an electronic resource center of articles, research reports, book reviews, essays, bibliographies, etc., that bear upon the faith and the faithful living of Episcopalians, in the opinion of the Committee. Each will be prefaced with a statement that draws out its significance to theology, worship, or ethics.
The Committee thinks that this electronic resource library will be of educational value to the Church at all levels, from its individual members, to parish and diocesan study and discussion groups, to diocesan and national church committees and commissions.
The text of the ST&F report may be found at ST&F Blue Book Report.
Members can expect to receive copies of the new Network brochure printed for the General Convention. Everyone is asked to give these to prospective new Network members and/or put them into parish tract-racks, in order to help publicize the existence and mission of the Network.
In this new feature, we invite our members to introduce themselves with short biographies. Please send your own bio-sketch to the Editor. Give your email address if you wish others to contact you.
Canon Ross has served as chairman of the Floyd County Emergency Planning Committee; chair for the Floyd County Environmental Planning Authority; chair, vice-chairman and member of the Floyd County Board of Education; member of the David School board of directors; chairman for Church Housing Association of Prestonsburg; board member and treasurer for the East Kentucky Science Center; and supervisor for the Floyd County Conservation District. He has presented for the Kentucky Governor's Conference on the Environment, Federal Highway's Administration's Southern Resource Center's Environmental Conference, and currently serves the Big Sandy Community and Technical College as an adjunct professor (Human Ecology & Biological Concepts).
While with the Department for Environmental Protection Canon Ross was awarded Environmental Inspector of the Year, Solid Waste Inspector of the Year, Hazardous Waste Inspector of the Year, and Underground Storage Tank Inspector of the Year. He was twice elected to the Environmental Inspector's Association, once serving as the organization's vice-president. While serving as scoutmaster of Troop 877 on Abbott Creek in Floyd County, Kentucky, Canon Ross' troop was one of three troops statewide to be recognized by Kentucky Educational Television for their environmental work and featured in a lengthy broadcast of kids devoted to environmental issues. He has both graduate and undergraduate studies/degrees in Environmental Science/Wildlife Biology and Resource Management and a host of professional environmental development education.
His email address is email@example.com.
I was formerly a management consultant with Arthur D. Little, Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., where I worked on management, development, and sales of consulting assignments for federal agencies concerned with information policy, for libraries and library service organizations. I participated in studies, system designs, and technology forecasts for domestic and foreign federal agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and industries including oil drilling, computer services, telecommunications, education, news and journal publishing.
My first career was as a reference librarian at the Seattle Public Library. I then directed the libraries at a 2500 patient Washington State residential institution for the Washington State Library. My professional activities include chairing the Subcommittee on Genetically Modified Foods of the Episcopal Church's Committee on Science, Technology & Faith. I have been active in the American Public Health Association's Caucus on Public Health & the Faith Community, where I was particularly interested in the roles of faith communities in environmental health. I am also active in leadership of faith-and-environment issues in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, where I have published a newsletter for many years. I have also written several articles for popular religious publications. I received my A.B. degree from Bryn Mawr College, a Master's in Library Science from the University of Chicago, an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master's degree in Theological Studies from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recently a young friend, a college student, asked me how I became a science writer. I said I'd think about it and let her know.
I thought about it for a few days and decided the question should be: "When did you become a science writer?" So, okay, Hannah, here goes...
As soon as I got out of the Marine Corps in 1946, I enrolled in the University of Minnesota to finish college. For a few extra bucks I did some freelancing. One article I wrote for Ski-U-Mah, the University’s monthly magazine, was about Dr. Maurice Visscher, a pathologist on the medical school faculty. I had in mind talking with Dr. Visscher about Sister Elizabeth Kinney's then-popular but controversial technique for treating polio, which was epidemic at the time. But I also knew that Dr. Visscher was involved with some other scientists working for world peace. He described for me their concern about the possibilities of biological warfare. Much more serious, they believed, than the threat of a nuclear war. He went into great detail. That may have been my first "science" article. Ski-U-Mah paid me $20.
A few months later, Victor Cohn (yeah, the same one who was later a founder of the National Association of Science Writers) phoned to ask if he could visit us in our Veterans Village quonset hut. His city editor on the Minneapolis Star-Journal wanted a feature story and photos. Hardly a science stor--well, maybe the sociological aspects. I told him he would get two veterans; my wife had been in the Navy medical corps when we met. The photographer was delighted because our first-born was taking her first steps. I knew who Vic was because I had seen his byline on many stories about scienctific research at the University, but the Star-Journal did not have a "science writer." Nor did any other newspaper that I can recall.
In January of 1948, I hitchhiked westward and got a job on the Alamosa (Colorado) Daily Courier, covering the courthouse, city hall, state college basketball games, and other things. One courthouse office intrigued me: The Upper Rio Grande Conservancy District. The door was always locked, no lights on. Then one day I encountered an engineer unlocking the door. I knew he was an engineer by the boots, dark green twill trousers, sheepskin jacket and broad-brimmed Stetson. I asked if he had a story.
"Sure. You can write about the flood we're going to have next June 22."
For the next two hours he guided me through charts, graphs and tables he kept on snow depths in the mountain watershed, water content of the snow pack, average daily temperatures, the quantities of water in mountain reservoirs (measured in "acre feet") and of river flow at various times of day (in "second feet," or cubic feet per second past a given point). He talked about riverbed capacity, diminished by silting and willow growth, and eroded levees. The river had not been well-maintained since before World War II. He told me of measures that needed to be taken, but said he was having trouble getting the ear of Washington. I wrote the story and the politicians on the city council got on phones to their friends in Washington. Commitments were made for dredging the channel and repairing the levees. Immediately.
Was it science writing? Primitive perhaps, but I think so. While in Alamosa, I also wrote about the Great National Sand Dunes built by nature, just east of town and how fairly recently a potato had been developed by a midwestern university especially for the San Luis Valley's 92-day growing season. It was that short growing season that drove us out of Alamosa a few months later, night temperatures still plunging into the freezing range in mid-May.
I got a job on the Albuquerque Journal. I covered courts and picked up real estate transfers, marriage licenses and divorce decrees and other important stuff, In the third week of June our AP and INS (remember that one?) teletype machines began carrying Upper Rio Grande flood warning stories. On June 22, the "flash bulletin" bells dinged on the wire machines and the stories told how Alamosans were holding their breaths and crossing their fingers as the river crested within an inch or so of the tops of the repaired levees.
Soon the Journal's city editor let me take on the middle Rio Grande, formerly his beat. I wrote about how the big federal reclamation projects were making possible greater cotton crops, but also how Elephant Butte Dam had slowed the river's velocity, causing it to silt and back up into what had long been identified as a natural desert swamp, appropriately named San Marcial by early explorers. I wrote about "transpiration" through the leafy salt cedars that proliferated, putting so much water into the air that the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District could never deliver all the water it was supposed to under the compact terms to Texas and Mexico. I reported a geological scheme for correcting the problem--by drilling an alternate channel through a large deposit of volcanic rock running parallel to the river.
A U.S. forest ranger invited me to ride La Luz Trail with him, the first trip of Spring, up the face of the Sandia Mountains. All the way to thre crest he talked about the flora and fauna, the geology, the air, and Rio Grande Valley, which we could see thousands of feet below. I got better at listening that day, and when we stopped to rest the horses. I got out my pencil and paper and wrote furiously.
We moved to California the summer of 1952 and I joined the staff of the Glendale News-Press. Glendale's fortunate proximity to the epicenter of the early morning July 10 Tehachapi earthquake got me first crack at that story, including a national byline on AP. For the next week I learned and wrote a lot about seismology. Otherwise, not much science to report there; but on the side, a Hungarian immigrant music scholar hired me to put his college textbook on the mathematics and physics of tone scales and harmonics into decent English. I got an extra $25 for an article about his work in our Sunday supplement.
The Fresno Bee, for eight years, let me write about the San Joaquin River and other water resources. Very soon I was writing about very deep wells and their access to deposits of both salt water and fresh water. I learned about shearing actions of the earth which crimped the well-pipes and stopped the water flow. Then there was the ingenious local photographer who invented a camera he could lower into the wells and get pictures of the blockage. After that he developed a "swedge," (a hydraulic swelling wedge) which could reopen the blockage in many cases and put a $200,000 well back in business.
My favorite story, looking back, was the late summer day when a state ranger phoned and invited me to drive out to the arid western side of the county and "see the million dollar barley fire we're trying not to put out." A welder repairing a seam of a huge steel silo had inadvertently set fire to the barley inside at that point. A salvage enginner from San Francisco, noting that it never rains in the San Joaquin Valley in July, rented all the canvas he could find and spread it around the silo. He borrowed two of the huge vacuum machines used by the Port of Stockton to suck copra from the holds of ships from the Middle East, and began pulling the barley out of the silo. He poked steel reinforcement rods inside the silo to track the fire's path. He kept the vacuum machines as far away from the fire's course as possible, of course, and saved about 90 percent of the $1 million worth of barley. I wrote about pyrology.
In 196I I left newspapers for a while and entered politics as a deputy to Alan Cranston, then state controller One of the attractions was the controller's membership on the state lands commission. I got to write about the natural science of California's great state parks and oil development on state lands. Offshore oil drilling was a hot topic. I wrote about slant drilling, which enabled an oil exploiter to steal oil from a neighbor's well. More exciting was the idea engineers brought to the lands commission for ocean-floor drilling, which would avoid the visual pollution of ugly acres of drilling and pumping platforms and towers. The engineers said they could drill and cap off the wells at the ocean's floor and pump the oil ashore and inland to appropriately located refineries. I ghosted an article for Controller Cranston's byline and we sold it to Harper's.
A few years later I was working in Washington, D.C. for Congressman Phillip Burton (D-San Francisco). Early on, Phil gained some seniority on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. With help from the Sierra Club he introduced three really good bills to preserve land for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands. We didn't get any of them passed that term, but a few years later, thanks to some deaths, retirements and fortunate election losses of senior members, Phil became chairman of the National Parks Subcommittee and he, who never owned a pair of hiking boots in his entire life, more than doubled the acreage of our national parks, through the science of politics. And if you don't think politics is a science, you never saw Phil Burton at work.
In the 1970s I was working for Congressman George Miller and again wrote a lot about water, the San Joaquin-Sacramento Rivers Delta in particular.
When Flo and I had moved back to California in the late '70s, I sold quite a few freelance articles, but didn't make much money. Flo, who had a steady job, was getting nervous. Every Sunday she read the classifieds to me. I ignored her. I was teaching a couple of college courses in advanced newswriting. Wasn't that enough? Then one Sunday in the late summer of 1977 she looked up from the Chronicle classifieds:
"Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory at UC Berkeley needs a science writer," she said.
"I'm not a science writer," I replied.
"You can fake it," she said.
To keep peace in the family (our four children were long gone and on their own by now), I pulled out my resume and wrote a cover letter. The first sentence: "I am not a science writer. However...." Then I made a list of all the pieces I had written over the years that might qualify as "science" stories. It was pretty long. I got the job.
That's when I became a science writer. I know, because that was the classification on my personnel forms. For the next dozen or so years I got to write about science in all the disciplines practiced in that multi-faceted national laboratory. When friends asked me, I told them I write about science in plain English. Some of my leftwing friends confused Lawrence Berkeley, which I knew had no classified federal contracts, with Lawrence Livermore. Those friends accused me of selling out. "Not on your life," I told them. "I'd go on welfare first."
Since retirement over a decade ago, I have found freelance and contract jobs that keep me qualified as a science writer--in my own mind, at least. It was great fun to spend some months in Newport News, Virginia, teaching people at the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF, now the Jefferson National Laboratory) how to write about their science in plain English. I've also done a lot of writing about biomedical science and up-to-date technology for assisting people with disabilities in many activities. This writing was for various do-gooder, bleeding heart, raggedy-ass, nonprofit organizations; for which I have special d-g,b-h,r-a, n-p rates.
It keeps me busy...and out of the pool halls.
The Rev. Dr. Fred Burham, historian of science and founding leader of the ST&F Network, recently retired as the third director of Trinity Institute (see article in the last issue of this Newsletter, -Issue 2-2, Sts Peter and Paul-). Every year, the Trinity Institute National Conference has identified the leading edges of contemporary theology, which necessarily include the influences of science and technology. In a retrospective of the twenty National Conferences he put together, he says that he recognizes a persistent theme: working to piece together a postmodern puzzle.
"As historians look back at the 20th century, I believe that they will recognize one of the great intellectual shifts in human history, comparable to the development of ancient Greek philosophy, the emergence of the medieval synthesis, the birth of the Renaissance, and the rise of modern science. In other words, the 20th century was an era when old and established ways of knowing and thinking became flawed and the human community struggled to find alternative ways of knowing that were both intellectually sound and psychologically secure.
"When the twentieth century opened, we still lived happily and securely in the safe house of Enlightenment reason and modern science," he writes. "God had built for us a perfectly harmonized, clockwork world.... Slowly but surely, however, the scientific community that had built this rational kingdom began to discover cracks in its walls," and the search for additional pieces to the puzzle resumed, using new techniques.
Read the entire essays in the archives of Trinity News, "Postmodern Puzzlers".
The large and famous cathedral of the Diocese of New York, housed a display of astronomical instruments last summer. Called "Heavens," the display consisted of telescopes installed in the nave of the Cathedral--perhaps surprisingly. They afforded visitors a close-up of details of the architecture and the stained glass. "Presented matter-of-factly, the telescope maintains its identity as a tool of science," said the cathedral website, "thus engaging the space visually as well as historically. Tensions between Faith and Reason are implicit and unresolved in the pluralized title, as well. The Heavens provides viewers a chance to more closely examine their surroundings as well as their beliefs.
For the current calendar of worship, events, and displays at the cathedral, see the Cathedral Website.
Invitation to join the ST&F Network
Join the ST&F Network, and help your church. The Network constitutes a pool of resource people with scientific and technical background who can serve as consultants for the Episcopal Church, through its various committees, commissions, and boards--especially the Executive Council Committee on Science, Technology and Faith.
The Network serves as an Association for Episcopalians interested in how faith and ethics interact with technology and science (including medicine, environmental studies, and other disciplines). Any Episcopalian, lay or ordained, with an interest in the interactions of faith with science and technology may belong to Network as Regular Members. There is no limit to its size, and no formal training in a scientific or theological discipline is required. Non-Episcopalians are welcome to become Associate Members and to enjoy the benefits of the Network.
The duties of Regular Members are as follows: