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Monday, June 22, 2015

My Take On Pope Francis and His Encyclical

Pope Francis has published his encyclical and the 192 page document holds a lot of good stuff, that, hopefully, is going to be taken on board and will begin the change that is needed in this world we live in.

I’m not about to summarize the encyclical … that would be a lengthy blog post.  Instead I just want to say that he has covered a lot of topics from global warming to the issue of water, (even covering the pollution of the oceans), and the effects on the poor and developing countries.

It’s pretty obvious he has done his homework and presents both the scientific as well as the biblical and theology side.  Oh, and he also addresses the varying opinions about global warming that are out there.

He also has not been soft in his criticism of the way wealthy countries/corporations use and abuse poorer countries who sit on goldmines such as fossil fuels, but do not have the means to protect their environments from the ravages of the greedy.

All in all, this is a powerful document.  But one that gives hope.  He points out things that are working now as examples of what can be done.
One sentence that I was impressed with “…Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy….”
Oh now wouldn’t that be an ideal world!

Right at the beginning he opens with the words of St Francis …“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”….

and in the very next paragraph he boldly states “…This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters….”

It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the document.

Regardless if you are a devout Catholic, of other Christian faith, Muslim or other religion, Agnostic or Atheist, you can take out the religious part if you want and you will still find this is a powerful document.  This man packs a heap of a punch and has a fair amount of influence.  I’m hoping that it pays off.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

His Letter Is About To Go Public!

Do you remember the blog post I did recently about Pope Francis and the environment? … well, in it I said that the rockin’ Pope was going to be issuing an encyclical (see end for definition), about the environment and humanity’s relationship with nature.

Well, be prepared, folks - it’s due out on Thursday.  That’s June 18th and I will try to keep you posted as soon as I hear what it says.

In them meantime - wrap your laughing gear around this.  Last Tuesday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the UN trotted over to the Vatican and he and the Pope had a bit of a pow-wow session on climate change and its impact on the poor of the world.

They weren’t alone, there were scientists, diplomats and religious and political leaders in there as well.

As I said in the previous Pope post (say that 10 times quickly), his stance as rankled some of the more conservative Catholics not to mention the climate change skeptics.  They reckon that the Pope is being misled by climate change scientists.  And, get this - they believe that our sweet Francis should be arguing that fossil fuels are the moral choice for the developing world!  Now this statement doesn’t surprise me in the least as this has just been released “…The U.S. could be completely powered by renewable energy by 2050, according to a report from Stanford University…”.  CNBC NEWS . So I'm wondering how much these "skeptics" have invested that they are scrambling to try and back the fossil fuel industry

This “greenery” thing from the Vatican is actually not new.  Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment.  And, surprising, Pope Benedict was labeled a "greeny" after he initiated projects to make the Vatican carbon-neutral. Other religious groups, including evangelical Christians, have spoken about the impact of environmental destruction on the poor.

Also, just as an aside.  Did you know that Francis, when he was a Cardinal back in 2004, actually came out and said that destruction of the environment contributed to inequality and the need for social reforms.

Wait - there’s one more fact I want to tell you.  He also trained as a chemist and became very interested in the links between environmental destruction and social ills, including a dispute over paper pulp mills on the border with Uruguay, which Argentina claimed were polluting local drinking water.  Unfortunately it went to the World Court and they backed Uruguay.  Source

It's not a new thing for him and, obviously something he's very passionate about.

So … it’s going to be interesting on Thursday when it all becomes public. 

An encyclical is a letter - and one from the Vatican goes round to all Catholics world-wide … it’s read out during the service.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Big Boys Are In Town - G7

What’s in the news at the moment …. that is, world news, is the G7 meeting that’s just ended in Germany.
A quick definition of G7 = The Group of Seven is an informal bloc of industrialised democracies - the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom - that meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security, and energy policy.

In my opinion I don’t think that these topics are as important as the topic of the health of our planet.  Well, maybe you could put in there “energy policy”, but that’s just a red herring in my book.  They want us to believe that they are all for sustainability but then they go home and nothing gets done.
Although, I have to hand it to France with the latest news that new commercial buildings have to have 50% green on their rooftops …. solar or plantings. More Info

So back to G7.  What are they discussing under “global economic governance”.  The one mission that Obama had going into this meeting was to get the European community to continue with the sanctions again Putin.  Duh … they’re not working anyway!!!!  There’s still fighting going on in Ukraine and the Russian economy is picking up - not going down.  So what’s the point?

Next, “International security” - well, that’s a given - ISIS and what they can do about that.  Not a lot really.  Fundamentally ISIS has risen up because of corrupt politics and people in poverty and despair.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not in favor of ISIS in any way, shape or form and they’re sure not helping their people at all.

Now we come to “Energy policy” - climate issues, which, in my opinion, should be the most important.  Why?  Well, without a planet nothing else matters.  I’ve had a look at the agenda of this two day event and there was 45 minutes designated to this important topic.

I don’t like these power hungry countries and their “meetings”.  They’re like the big kids in the playground huddling together to work out who to bully next instead of looking at how to deal with the kids who don’t have food in their lunchbox or how best to fix the environment our children have to play in.

I should have titled this post "One Big Boy and One Big Girl" - that's who is really wielding the power.

I know I look at things in a simplistic way, but then I believe life really is quite simple.  We all need food, shelter, compassion and love and the great majority of us are not getting these basic requirements.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Apple Pastry Desert YUM!


1 cup cashews soaked
 with filtered water for at least 4 hours.
Juice of 1 large orange
2 Tblsp maple syrup
1 cup semi-soft coconut oil
Apple and cinnamon sauce
7 sheets Filo pastry
Coconut sugar.


Blend the cashews with a little filtered water until creamy.
While the blender is on add:
  • The orange juice
  • Maple syrup.
Put into the refrigerator while you do the pastry.

Hint: This cashew cream can be done the day before and stored into the fridge until you are ready. If you wish to make your own apple/cinnamon sauce, this also can be done the day before.  All it is is stewed apples with cinnamon added to taste.

Prepare the filo pastry using olive oil between the sheets and on top.
Lay out on a greased oven tray.
Slice in half lengthways then slice into oblongs. You should be able to get 5 large oblongs.
Prick the top of each oblong.
Bake at 200°C or 400°F for 10 - 12 minutes until golden.

While the pastry is cooking add the coconut oil to the cashew cream and whip through. Keep it at room temperature.

Cool the pastry

To Assemble:

One pastry oblong.
Apple sauce.
Cashew cream.
Pastry oblong.

Spread a spoonful of the cashew cream along the center of the top of the pastry and carefully spread.
Sprinkle with a little coconut sugar.
Refrigerate until ready to use.

Totally Vegan and it ROCKS!!!!

New Category, Yes, I'm Adding Recipes!

I was cooking this morning some fancy feast seeing as it is Saturday here and very cold, and I had a thought that I should really have a recipe section on this blog.

Now, I know that there are a ton of recipes out there in cyberspace that are totally free and easy to get, so I'm not going to be crass and just copy them ... no fun in that.  The recipes coming up on here will be ones I have made up or tweaked to, in my opinion, make better.

The first one is a delicious Apple Pastry Thingy that is dead easy to make.

Monday, June 1, 2015

New Zealand Clean and Green?

For those readers who don't live in New Zealand, let me clear up something about this country.  We are not clean and green as the advertisements say, we are dirty and trashy.  This was brought home not that long ago by our own Environment Minister Nick Smith saying that a ban of plastic bags … you know, the ones the supermarkets put the groceries in - was not justified, nor was he going to give any consideration to a ban.  Read more here.

I find this appalling.  Not that I'm surprised.  The New Zealand landscape is littered with rubbish of all sorts from plastic bags to plastic water bottles and everything in between.  Just ask a tourist to this country what they think of our clean green image and they will shake their heads and say "Really? I've not seen any evidence of clean green." 

Even out in the countryside where the image of sheep grazing in paddocks and hobbits running over beautiful green hills fills the foreigners head ….. until they actually get here.  Oh, don't get me wrong - Hobbiton is very clean as are other defined tourist spots.  But those visitors who wander off the tourist trail are in for a bit of a shock.

It's estimated that we New Zealanders use about a billion plastic bags each year.  Granted, they do make useful bin liners and doggy poop collectors.  I've also seen them made into a stunning dress for our Wearable Arts festival.  But these are no reasons to keep them.

Why do we continue to lag behind the eight ball when it comes to our environment?  Why do we not take heed of what other countries are doing with banning plastic bags, putting more into recycling and generally trying to increase the sustainability of their country?

How narrow minded Nick Smith is not to be able to see that a ban on plastic shopping bags is just a small start in the education process that most New Zealanders need to have.

Five Reasons To Say No To Plastic Bags 

I did write about this back in 2013 about using reusable bags.  And do I use reusable bags?  Yes I do, and I take my own plastic bags from bread etc to put my vegetables in, I then wash them, dry them and put them into my shopping bag for the next time.  So, if I can do it, why can't others?

And, just as an aside:  As for being a "tidy Kiwi" - it would help considerably if one could find a rubbish bin (or trash can) to actually put the rubbish in!

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