Myanmar cyclone #2

With the hardness of our hearts, it is easy to look at massive tragedy such as the cyclone (hurricane) that hit Myanmar (Burma) this week and then quickly turn away and forget.

John Piper has “6 ways to react to the cyclone

  1. Be softened to the pain nearby.
  2. Pray for the followers of Christ in Myanmar.
  3. Pray for the millions of unbelievers near the calamity and far from it.
  4. Pray for those of us who live in the seeming security and prosperity of America
  5. Give money to replenish the coffers of compassion “since you also are in the body”
  6. Muster a team from your church, and when the doors are open, be ready to go.

Piper gives specific ideas for how to pray for each of these on his Desiring God blog.

Grace and Peace


This might be a new word for you: vog.

Vog is volcanic smog, produced when sulfuric acid and other gases emitted by volcanoes mixes with oxygen and water vapor in the presence of sunlight. It can cause or aggravate respiratory problems among humans and damage plants. Below is an image showing this noxious gas around Hawaii, where Kilauea, which has been erupting continuously since 1983, produces large quantities of vog.

The image is from NASA Earth Observatory.

Wikipedia article on vog.

USGS page on vog, from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Grace and Peace

P.S. Kilauea releases about 1000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere per day. This is small compared   to the 200,000 tons of sulfur dioxide that is released into the atmosphere per day through burning of fossil fuels and other industrial processes.

Myanmar cyclone flooding

Cyclone Nargis (a cyclone is the same thing as a hurricane or typhoon) struck Myanmar (Burma) this week. Over 10,000 people are dead, and more will die of disease in the upcoming days and weeks. Satellite imagery shows the extent of flooding, and could be useful in saving lives if action is taken quickly. The following images are from the NASA Earth Observatory.

The top image shows the area around the Irrawaddy River delta before the cyclone hit, with the distributary branches of the river clearly discernable. The bottom image shows the extensive flooding following the storm, with the capitol city of Yangon almost surrounded by water, and many low-lying areas completely covered.

We live in a world of suffering. Pray for the people on the ground.

Grace and Peace

Chile volcanic eruption

After 9000 years of dormancy, Chaiten Volcano in Chile stirred to life on May 2nd. The images below show the plume of ash extending from Chile, across Argentina, and out over the Atlantic ocean on May 5th. The eruption has forced the evacuation of two nearby towns, and an estimated 25,000 cattle near the volcano could die of starvation because their food is covered by up to 15 cm of ash.

The story and images can be found on the NASA Earth Observatory site.

Grace and Peace

Bad apologetics and the search for Noah’s Ark

Christianity Today has a brief article on amateur archeologists who mount expeditions searching for Noah’s Ark: Finders of the Lost Ark?

A number of explorers have laid claim to discovering Noah’s Ark, usually on or near Mount Ararat in Turkey. But each always finds something different. Obviously, logic dictates that they can’t all be right—and most must be wrong. Churches and Christian conferences have hosted speakers who tell fantastic tales—in fact, too fantastic. Time after time we have realized that their discoveries have as much historical value as The Da Vinci Code. As much as we would like to believe them, their claims remain speculative and unproven.

The article contrasts the sensational claims of amateurs such as Ron Wyatt and Robert Cornuke, who have both claimed to find the real Noah’s Ark, with the rather tedious work of professional archeologists, who put together the stories of civilizations one pottery piece at a time. Wild speculation will always find an audience, but will fade quickly with time. Like the rest of life, most work of Biblical archeology is done one little bit at a time.

Grace and Peace