How hot is it?

Cogitation 29/207 Saturday 20 July 2019 This week it’s been almost too hot to spend much time outside, though the large shade trees in our yard helped keep us cool.

The news media does a good job in giving both weather reports and activity advisories. Our Campus Life weekly had this to say: “You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when a heat wave is predicted.

Excessive Heat Watch–Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heal Warning criteria in the next 24-72 hours.

Heat Advisory–Heat Index values are forecasting to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs = 100-105 degrees F).

Excessive Heat Warning–Heat Index values are forecasting to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs = 105-110 degrees F).

If there’s something to give one pause it’s adding adjectives such as these to weather conditions: fiery hot, flaming hot, roasting hot, scorching hot; burner hot, oven-baked, parching dry, sun burned, and not far behind, high humidity. Is it fall yet?

Terms associated with high temperatures include heat wave, heat exhaustion, heat rash. With extreme heat and humidity heat evaporation is slowed and the body must work hard to maintain a normal temperature. Keep hydrated, we’re told. Avoiding becoming dehydrated also keeps cramps at bay.

A little heat humor

A little humor might help deflect some anxiety about heat. Like responses to “It’s so hot . . .” It’s so hot it must be 90 in the shade. It’s so hot I take a hot shower to cool down. It’s so hot that all chocolate is drinkable. It’s so hot that the sand on the beach has turned to glass. An old one: It’s so hot that when the cows in Texas saw the popcorn pop on the stalk they though it was snow and laid down and froze. Ya, it’s trite, but there you have it.

Another measure of heat

I like my coffee and tea and soup hot. Lukewarm leaves me. let’s say, disappointed, but not boiling hot. Marty sometimes makes gazpacho, served cold. Spices or condiments added to cooked foods help crank up the flavor.

I’m O.K. with heat units up to Cayenne and above that, just a hint of Habanero.

I just learned about the Scoville Heat Units used to mark the hotness of peppers, from green to the hottest shades of red and amber. The index measures 0 units for sweet bell peppers to 15 million for pure capsacan. I did not know that there are so many varieties of peppers and that there’s a constant search for the gold standard hottest one.

I’m not eager to taste the hottest ones, but give me a Jalapeno at 3,500-8,000 units, and a pinch of Serrano (8,000-23,000 units), Cayenne (30,000-50,000), and maybe even Habanero (200,000-350,000), but leave the Carolina Reaper (2.2 million) at a respectable distance.

Years ago I spent a few weeks in Haiti with Dr Gerald Miller, my brother-in-law, who with other physicians rotated at a clinic sponsored by the Churches of God. Our cook bought Pima peppers, and other foods, at the open-air market. Mmm, the little Pima (above 30,000 Scoville Units) went a long way to spice up rice and chicken. During our stay I did various interviews and wrote articles and other materials for the sponsoring mission and service agency.

What kind of planet do we want to see?

Humans have impacted the current time period more than any other time in history. One name for the period is Holocene, that is the epoch that began 11,700 years ago after the last major ice age. Another name gained traction in 2000 for the current geological age: The Anthropcene.

According to The Encyclopedia of Earth, “The word combines the root ‘anthropo’, meaning ‘human’ with the root ‘-cene’, the standard suffix for ‘epoch’ in geological time.”

What’s new since the industrial revolution of the early 1800s, and the atomic age since the 1950s, is that human activities have made a significant global impact, including climate and environment. Humans have made planet-scale influences on life on Earth.

And why shouldn’t we, some ask. There are ways of seeing Earth, the cosmos as harmonious, shared space and time, not just a commodity for humans to willfully exploit. We know better, even as our actions show differently. Around the globe one result of human impact is higher temperatures and rising sea levels. Thankfully, efforts at awareness are driving changed practices, even as climate change deniers are still barging on as though the world owes us everything and we owe it little.

Whatever we call this current era, it’s simply and clearly the age of humans. Humans can either act in the interests of nature, wildlife and humankind itself, or humans can choose to stick their heads in the sand.


I’m flummoxed that some Christians in the United States support the current administration’s disregard for coherent policies that address the good for people, environment, nation and globe. It’s as though the advances in science, education, government, technology, social well-being, business, the arts and other areas have little bearing on shaping a progressive, compassionate, serving state now and deep into the future.

We’re no longer in wild western mode, slavery mode, robber baron mode, exclusionary of peoples of different cultures mode, denial of climate change mode, rapacious of fossil fuels mode, disregard for the homeless and rejected mode, little regard for anything other than oneself mode. It’s as though we’re selling our souls for pure self-interest. God have mercy.

Articles of faith as a way of seeing

(This blog’s getting long, but hopefully more in the way of exhaustive than exhausting)

My faith community since its formation in 1525 has developed confessions of faith, the most recent, Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective (Herald Press,1995). The compilation serves the church by providing guidelines for the interpretation of Scripture, gives guidance for Christian belief and practice, offers an outline for instructing new believers, builds a foundation for unity within and among Mennonite and other Christian churches, anchors Christian belief and practice in changing times, and aids in sharing Mennonite belief and practice with other Christians, members of other faiths, as well as with people of no faith.

Article I is about God. First paragraph: “We believe that God exists and is pleased with all who draw near in faith. We worship the one holy and loving God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit eternally. We believe that God has created all things visible and invisible, has brought salvation and new life to humanity through Jesus Christ, and continues to sustain the church and all things until the end of the age.”

Further: “Beginning with Abraham and Sarah, God has called forth a people of faith to worship God alone, to witness to the divine purposes for human beings and all of creation, and to love their neighbors as themselves. . . .

“God’s awesome glory and enduring compassion are perfect in holy love. God’s sovereign power and unending mercy are perfect in almighty love. God’s knowledge of all things and care for creation are perfect in preserving love. God’s abounding grace and wreath against sinfulness are perfect in righteous love. God’s readiness to forgive and per to transform are perfect in redemptive love. God’s unlimited justice and continuing patience with humankind are perfect in suffering love. God’s infinite freedom and constant self-giving are perfect in faith love. To the one holy and ever-loving triune God be glory for ever and ever!”

Article 5 is ” Creation and Divine Providence.” First paragraph: “We believe that God has created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, and that God preserves and renews what has been made. All creation ultimately has its source outside itself and belongs to the Creator. The world has been created good because God is good and provides all that is needed for life.”

Confession of Faith serves as an aid to apply God’s living word to seeing how Scripture celebrates the essential goodness of all created life while at the same time having open eyes to suffering and the bondage of evil.

Confession and forgiveness as a way of seeing

The late Austin Farrer offered this confession as a way of seeing human life set right with God:

“O God, save me from myself, save me from myself; this frivolous self which plays with your creation, this vain self which is clever about your creation, this masterful self which manipulates your creation, this greedy self which exploits your creation, this lazy self which soothes itself with your creation; this self which throws the thick shadow of its own purposes and desires in every direction in which I try to look, so that I cannot see what it is that you, my Lord and God, are showing to me. Teach me to stand out of my own light, and let your daylight shine. (The Complete Book of Christian Prayer, Continuum, New York, 1997)

Farrer was a theologian and philosopher, considered to be an outstanding figure of 20th century Anglicanism. He served as Fellow & Chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford, 1935-1960, and Warden of Keble College, Oxford, 1960 until his death in 1968.

A ‘divinely-inspired’ way of seeing

Caedmon (658-680) was the first Old English Christian poet, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “whose fragmentary hymn to the creation remains a symbol of the adaptation of the aristocratic heroic Anglo-Saxon verse tradition to the expression of Christian themes.”

Caedmon was an illiterate herdsman who in a dream was commanded to sing “of the beginning of things.” He found himself uttering “verses which he had never heard.” He was directed to the monastery at Streaneshalch (now called Whitby). “The abbess St Hilda believed that Caedmon was divinely inspired and, to test his powers, proposed that he should render into verse a portion of sacred history, which the monks explained. By the following morning he had fulfilled the task.”

Cademon became part of the abbey and spent the rest of his life putting into vernacular poetry the Scripture he learned from his more learned brethren. The original dream hymn is the only certain copy of his verse that survives. Such insights from the past can and do offer Eureka moments for the post-moderns we are. God be praised.

A prayer of God's greatness and goodness

Now we must praise the ruler of heaven,
The might of the Lord and his purpose of mind,
The work of the glorious Father; for he,
God eternal, established each wonder,
He, holy creator, first fashioned the heavens
As a roof for the children of earth.
And then our guardian, the everlasting Lord,
Adorned this middle-earth for men.
Praise the almighty king of heaven.
Caedmon, 7th century
From The Complete Book of Christian Prayer (Continuum, New York, 1997)

Sights to see

From a poppy flower in sister-in-law Vivian’s garden to scenes on the Greencroft campus, a walk in the shade of a woods divided by the Elkhart River in Goshen, to art with nature’s materials at Fernwood, these splashes before our eyes present themselves in delight and invitation to care.

Fernwood nature art installation, sprung to life.
This flower evokes a long-remembered comment from a gardener in England: “My hydrangeas are calling for water.”




2 thoughts on “How hot is it?

  1. Helo, John!

    We haven’t heard of the “Dean’s List” but we enjoy almost any musical entertainment. I was most intrigued with your discussion of Scoville Units and I have long known about these because I am a regular user of hot sauce. Some are too hot for me and remind me of a friend saying one time, “Food shouldn’t hurt!” Right now Sriracha is my favorite hot sauce, I like the chili flavor and it is very spicy but not overwhelming. The Pima peppers you had in Haiti sounded good to me. As always, I agree with your comments about the Trump Administration: denying Science and doing everything in their power to undermine our Democracy! We pray for relief in 2020.

    We are looking forward to seeing you and Marty the afternoon of August 2. We will give you a call when we are on our way from Shipshewana and give you an ETA.

    Monty & Ginger



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