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Giving the trumpet a certain sound

June 2008

Myanmar Hit By Cyclone

A tropical cyclone hit the southeast Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma) on May 2. Winds of 120 to 130 miles per hour plus a 12-foot high tidal wave swamped much of the low-lying Irrawaddy delta, a rice growing region.

A week after Cyclone Nargis flattened low-lying villages and killed whole families at a time, the military junta finally agreed Friday to allow a U.S. cargo plane to bring in food and other supplies to the isolated country. Myanmar gave the green light after confiscating other shipments, prompting the U.N. to order a temporary freeze in shipments.

The U.N. agreed to resume flights but relief workers, including Americans, were still being barred entry.

With phone lines down, roads blocked and electricity networks destroyed, it was nearly impossible to reach isolated areas in the swamped Irrawaddy delta, where the stench of unburied and decaying bodies added to the misery.

Heavy rain that is forecast in the next week is certain to worsen the plight of almost 2 million people awaiting food, clean water, shelter and medicine.

Diplomats and aid groups warned that the number of dead could eventually exceed 100,000 because of illness and said thousands of children may have been orphaned. ("Aid Shipments to Myanmar to Resume; More Rain on the Way," foxnews.com, May 9, 2008)

It appears that for political reasons, a great disaster is still happening.

Inspired commentary

While any particular disaster, even great ones such as the cyclone mentioned above, are candidates for a last-days sign, the frequency with which they currently seem to be happening is perhaps an even greater sign.

In the last scenes of this earth's history war will rage. There will be pestilence, plague and famine. The waters of the deep will overflow their boundaries. Property and life will be destroyed by fire and flood. We should be preparing for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for them that love Him." (Maranatha, p. 174 (1897))

We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude. (Testimonies for the Church, v. 9, p. 11)

Wheat Stocks Diminishing

A recent news report discussed a decline in the stocks of wheat, a basic food item:

Across America, turmoil in the world wheat markets has sent prices of bread, pasta, noodles, pizza, pastry and bagels skittering upward, bringing protests from consumers.

But underlying this food inflation are changes that are transforming U.S. agriculture and making a return to the long era of cheap wheat products doubtful at best.

Half a continent away, in the North Dakota country that grows the high-quality wheats used in Fleishman's bagels, many farmers are cutting back on growing wheat in favor of more profitable, less disease-prone corn and soybeans for ethanol refineries and Asian consumers.

"Wheat was king once," said David Braaten, whose Norwegian immigrant grandparents built their Kindred, N.D., farm around wheat a century ago. "Now I just don't want to grow it. It's not a consistent crop."

In the 1980s, more than half the farm's acres were wheat. This year only one in 10 will be, and 40 percent will go to soybeans. Braaten and other farmers are considering investing in a $180 million plant to turn the beans into animal feed and cooking oil, both now in strong demand in China. And to stress his hopes for ethanol, his business card shows a sketch of a fuel pump. ("Emptying the Breadbasket," washingtonpost.com, April 29, 2008)

The demand for meat is growing in the third world as our own meat-heavy diet is increasingly adopted world-wide. It takes about 700 calories of animal feed to produce a 100-calorie piece of red meat, so a shift to a meat-rich diet requires large increases in grains, which in turn requires greater use of expensive fertilizers, which in turn raises the demand for oil. ("The Global Food Crisis," Rachel's Democracy & Health News #958, May 8, 2008)

Inspired commentary

Will men and women be warned? Will they cherish the light, or will they become slaves to appetite and base passions? Christ presents to us something higher to toil for than merely what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed. Eating, drinking, and dressing are carried to such excess that they become crimes, and are among the marked sins of the last days, and constitute a sign of Christ's soon coming. Time, money, and strength, which are the Lord's, but which He has entrusted to us, are wasted in needless superfluities of dress, and luxuries for the perverted appetite, which lessen vitality and bring suffering and decay. It is impossible to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, when they are filled with corruption and disease by our own sinful indulgence (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 61)

Factory Farming of Animal Products

A study of U.S.A. meat, milk and egg production indicates some current methods are not working well:

Factory farming takes a big hidden toll on human health and the environment, is undermining rural America's economic stability and fails to provide the humane treatment of livestock increasingly demanded by American consumers, concludes an independent, 2 1/2-year analysis that calls for major changes in the way corporate agriculture produces meat, milk and eggs.

The 111-page report released today, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, finds that the "economies of scale" long used to justify factory farming practices are largely an illusion, perpetuated by a failure to account for a raft of associated costs.

Among those costs are human illnesses caused by drug-resistant bacteria associated with the rampant use of antibiotics on feedlots and degradation of land, water and air quality caused by animal waste too intensely concentrated to be neutralized by natural processes.

Several experts said the report, by a commission of experts with varying backgrounds and allegiances, is remarkable for the number of tough recommendations that survived the grueling research and review process, which participants said was politically charged and under constant pressure from powerful agricultural interests.

In the end, however, even industry representatives on the panel agreed to such controversial recommendations as a ban on the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals -- a huge hit against veterinary pharmaceutical companies -- a phase-out of all intensive confinement systems that prevent the free movement of farm animals, and more vigorous enforcement of antitrust laws in the increasingly consolidated agricultural arena. ("Study: Factory Farming Taking Toll on Health, Economy," washingtonpost.com, April 29, 2008)

Inspired commentary

Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Rom. 8:21-23.

Human beings are suffering the results of their own course of action in departing from the commandments of God. The beasts also suffer under the curse. Disease in cattle is making meat-eating a dangerous matter. The Lord's curse is upon the earth, upon man, upon beasts, upon the fish, and as transgression becomes almost universal, the curse will be permitted to become as broad and as deep as the transgression. (Pacific Union Recorder, Nov. 7, 1901)

Page created:05/12/08. Updated: 05/12/08
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