Showing posts from January, 2009

Confessions of a space geek (part 2)

The science news website Universe Today is one of my most-read sites and the following post really caught my imagination recently: an account of the first manned mission to the moon, not the one that landed in '69, but the one that circled the moon the previous year (a good year '68! 'Twas when I was born :-) The 3-man team produced the first photos of the dark side of the moon as well as the haunting, iconic shot from moon orbit looking back at the earth: one of the most famous photos of all time and one that made many people reassess their understanding of life on earth and our place in God's creation.

Here's us on this insignificant little greeny-blue rock in the middle of a vast, apparent near-nothingness, and yet God cares so deeply about EACH person that has ever and will ever live there. Cares enough to send us his Son so that we might live with him for ever.


40th Anniversary of the Great Gamble: Apollo 8

Written by Nancy Atkinson

Confessions of a space geek...

I'm a real sucker for anything space-related (sci-fi, NASA, SETI, Hubble telescope images, etc...). Indeed, my blog used to be called "The Final Frontier: Chaplain's Log" in a not-too-subtle nod to Star Trek lore. This is partly fed by just a boyish sense of escapism in the same way that Westerns inspired an earlier generation with tales of derring do, outlaws, street fights, colonisation of harsh landscapes... and harsh treatment of natives! And just as in Westerns, Sci-fi films + tv series over the years have moved from the native/alien-as-enemy to the native/alien as potential friend/deserving of rights and respect. But I also find all of this opens my mind, stimulates my sense of wonderment and imagination and ultimately is one of the ways that I feel God's presence.

The original "Star Trek" was very much ground-breaking in this sense with its multi-racial (including 'aliens') crew, maintaining the frontier-speak and a sense of adventure and …

A Tale of Two Presidents

This is an interesting article comparing Obama and Bush in terms of their respective styles of public speaking that I found over at the website of the British Jesuits(

A Tale of Two Presidents

Michael Sean Winters

Is Barack Obama the High Priest to George Bush’s preacher? Michael Sean Winters looks at the leadership styles of the outgoing and incoming Presidents of the United States.

One of the great distinctions in American religious life is between those churches which have priests and follow the common lectionary – Catholics, Episcopalians (Anglicans) and Lutherans – and the evangelical churches where the preacher chooses his texts, usually Pauline epistles or readings from the Hebrew Scriptures. For the first group of Christians, there is exposure to a wide variety of texts with a special focus on the Gospels, and the priest must tailor his sermon accordingly. For the second group, the agenda of the preacher (evangelicals do not have priests) determines what the…

Slumdog Millionaire could only have been made by a westerner

The following article from The Guardian newspaper's Film Blog sheds some interesting light on how this truly wonderful film (set in Mumbai) is being received by certain high-profile Indians. It raises the intriguing argument that it has taken a Westerner to produce what may well be the most authentic piece of Indian "social realism" for many years, given India tendancy towards cinematic escapism through the medium of Bollywood films. The miracle of the film is that is does so in a way that doesn't dwell on the poverty in a preachy kind of way. Nor does it (in my opinion) simply exploit the depravation for entertainment. As Boyle himself said in a Culture Show interview with Mark Kermode on BBC 2, Mumbai slums are incredibly busy places with people working their socks off, finding a way to get their children to school. They are dynamic and inventive, the place buzzing with life and the poverty by no means abject. The film reflects all of this brilliantly and the same …

Stunning photo from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn

This breathtaking photo is a genuine optical image taken from the far side of Saturn. Here's the explanation from Astronomy Picture of the Day:

In the shadow of Saturn, unexpected wonders appear. The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun. Cassini saw a view unlike any other. First, the night side of Saturn is seen to be partly lit by light reflected from its own majestic ring system. Next, the rings themselves appear dark when silhouetted against Saturn, but quite bright when viewed away from Saturn and slightly scattering sunlight, in the above exaggerated color image. Saturn's rings light up so much that new rings were discovered, although they are hard to see in the above image. Visible in spectacular detail, however, is Saturn's E ring, the ring created by the newly discovered ice-fountains of the moon Enceladus, and the outermost ring visible above. Far in …

Mennaisian Youth Gathering - St. Francis Xavier's College, Liverpool, Dec. 19th-22nd

This year it was the turn of the English Brothers to host our annual Youth Gathering for students aged between 15 and 18 from De La Mennais Brothers schools. In recent years participants have come from France and England only (as members of St. John the Baptist Province: France-Italy-England), but this year it was decided to open the gathering out to schools run by our Brothers in Spain... with dramatic consequences!!
There were 20 French participants (16 teens + 4 lay adults) and an ever-changing number of English participants, mostly from SFX College, though augmented by some recent former pupils and friends, most of whom were past "Team Win!" De La Mennais expedition participants. The English group was augmented by the notable participation of Jacob, a student from the Brothers' school in Southampton, St. Mary's College. Far and away the largest (and loudest :-) group were the 40 Spanish teens + 4 adults (inc. 2 Brothers) who signed up for the weekend event,. These…

"Slumdog Millionaire" - a great film from British director Danny Boyle

Saw a preview of "Slumdog Millionaire" tonight followed by a Q&A with director Danny Boyle. The two are well matched. Both film and director are vibrant, engaging, honest, compassionate without being mawkish and ultimately immensely likeable, as well as being in love with the city of Mumbai in all its extreme contradictions.

I whole-heartedly recommend the film. It has already garnered a number of awards and looks like getting nods for the big ones come Oscar time. Given the worldwide popularity of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" it looks like Boyle and his team have a substantial hit on their hands. A thoroughly deserved and belatedly commercial success for one of Britain's top directors of the last 20 years (Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, The Beach, 28 Days Later, Millions, Sunshine).