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Columnists
A lesson from the storm
 09.12.17

They are "A people for others," it says outside St. Ignatius Church in Houston. This was never more evident than during the last week.

"It's devastating. It is just unbelievable. Everything is underwater. And I do mean EVERYTHING." You could hear the heartbreak in Father Norbert Maduzia's voice when he took to Facebook to share his walkthrough of the parish entrusted to his care since 2006, now severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey. But you could hear his hope, too.

When Norbert first sent a message to his parishioners, it was Sunday. He wrote: "I have arrived at the Church for 7:30 a.m. Mass. ... The dumpsters are floating in the parking lot."

He added: "All of the parking lot areas have water ... Please do not risk high water. Stay safe."

As waters rose, he went from noting floating dumpsters to only being able to access the front door of the church by boat. He wrote: "I spoke with Cardinal DiNardo yesterday and said to him that as a native Houstonian I've never really felt fear in regard to a hurricane or major storm. However, with this situation I have been feeling a lot of 'angst' -- much like the apostles in the boat in the midst of a storm while Jesus slept."

In this storm, he still found room for faith in the future. He wrote: "With all of the news in media and Facebook, it's easy to become overwhelmed and allow fear to enter into our hearts and minds. Perhaps this constant barrage of news has numbed our faith or caused doubt to enter. We can sit and fret or we can pull together as a people for others and do something about it even now."

Days later, he found himself in glass-half-full mode, so to speak: "All of the chairs in the reservation chapel had floated and separated into two groups against the two walls leaving the center "aisle" leading to the tabernacle without obstructions! Amazing."

He even managed a touch of humor: "In front of the church, the waters rage on like rapids. Whitewater rafting experts would rate this as a beginner rapid, but rafts and inexperienced kayakers should definitely stay away." He finished: "Friends, I have heard from many of you and we are all saying the same thing: 1. We are the Church. 2. We will rebuild. 3. Our faith will be stronger because of all of this. and 4. What can I do to help? To hear everyone saying these things is the balm that is healing a broken heart. Scriptures tell us that the LORD will heal the broken-hearted and thus, through all of you, we are being healed and will be made new."

These Christians encounter God alive in each other, and find God in caring for each other. Norbert sent an alert from the neighboring Good Shepherd parish which had flooding, too, but which also figured out a way to create a welcoming space for people to have meals together or pick up food. "We're also flooded, but church is more than a building!" was the message Good Shepherd conveyed. Parishioners rallied to assess neighbors' needs, pool resources and help recover what had not yet been destroyed.

Before and after the storm, Father Norbert prayed the same prayer: "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world." This prayer is about total confidence in the providence of God. One grows in confidence, even amidst trial and tribulation -- and, in this case, a home and a parish church facing much destruction.

It's an attitude and a prayer we could all afford to better consider.

At a time when we all too often see the worst of humanity, in Houston, Norbert and so many others showed us some of the best. When we live for others, we give the greatest gift. It's a testament that our lives are meant for giving, on the model of the creator giving our lives to us in the first place. In storms and in calm, it's the way to live.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.


Columnists
Blame for Disaster
 09.12.17

"How many once-in-a-lifetime storms will it take," demands "The Daily Show" comic Trevor Noah, "until everyone admits man-made climate change is real?!"

His audience roars its approval.

When Hurricane Irma hit, so-called friends admonished me, "Look what your fossil fuels have done! Will you finally admit you are wrong?"

No. It's the alarmists who are wrong — on so many levels.

First, two big storms don't mean much.

The global warming activists must know that because when Donald Trump joked about a lack of warming on a snowy day, they lectured us about how "weather is not climate — one snowstorm is irrelevant to long-term climate."

They were right then. But now that bad weather has come, they change their tune.

Time magazine reported confidently, "Climate change makes the hurricane season worse."

But Irma and Harvey came after a record 12 years without any Category 3-5 storms. Over those 12 years, did Time say the absence of storms proved climate change fear exaggerated? No. Of course not.

It seems logical that warmer water may make storms worse, but there's no proof of that.

The government's own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says neither its models "nor our analyses of trends in Atlantic hurricane and tropical storm counts over the past 120-plus years support the notion that greenhouse gas-induced warming leads to large increases in either tropical storm or overall hurricane numbers."

As Irma approached, The Washington Post ran an even dumber headline: "Irma and Harvey Should Kill Any Doubt That Climate Change Is Real."

That's phrased to make any skeptic look ridiculous.

Of course climate change is real! Climate changes — it always has and always will. For the past 300 years, since "the little ice age," the globe warmed about three degrees. The warming started well before man emitted much carbon.

So the real unanswered questions are:

1. Will climate change become a crisis? (We face immediate crises now: poverty, terrorism, a $20 trillion debt, rebuilding after the hurricanes)

2. Is there anything we can do about it? (No. Not now; the science isn't there yet.)

3. Did man's burning fossil fuels increase the warming? (Probably. But we don't know how much.)

I resent how the alarmists mix these questions, pretending all the science is settled. Notice how Trevor Noah, above, tossed out the words "man-made," as if all climate change is man-made?

OK, he's just a comic, but New York Times writers constantly yammer about "human-caused" and "man-made" climate change, too.

Politicians (and ex-politicians like Al Gore) are eager to exploit our fears by calling for more spending and regulation in the name of fighting deadly but preventable climate change — as if feeble efforts like the Paris climate accord would have made the tiniest difference. They wouldn't. It's all for show.

A video I made about this seems to have struck a chord. It got more than a million views over the weekend.

Some people reacted with anger online: "the scientific community suggest that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet. Isn't (it) at least a little reckless to put a finger in each ear and say 'Nuh uh! LALALALALALALALALA!'"

That would be reckless. But no one advocates that. We already spend a fortune on subsidies, mandates and climate research. The real questions are outlined above.

A calmer commenter wrote, "Don't forget the hurricanes of the past. 1926 Miami, 1935 Keys, 1947 West Palm Beach, Donna 1961. People act like hurricanes like these have never happened."

Right. And he left out Galveston's hurricane in 1900, which killed as many as 12,000 people.

One commenter added, "It's called El Nino and La Nina. We will be entering El Nino again (and) so seeing storms actually form. It shifts back and forth every 7-10 years or so. Do schools not teach these things?"

Climate fluctuates, and humans don't have too much to say about it.

Maybe someday humans will be gone. The storms will continue. But at least there'll be less hot air.

John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.


Letters
'Go Pre'
 09.13.17

In my 30-plus years of business travel it never ceased to amaze me when people made the connection between ‘Coos Bay’ and Steve Prefontaine, aka ‘Pre’. Whether it was Boston or Brussels, Maine or Macau, when I said I was from Coos Bay Oregon often the response was “Did you know Pre?”

Even among young people who weren’t born when Pre was setting records and inspiring a whole generation at the beginning of the jogging boom, his larger-than-life persona still captures the imagination of those who have only heard of his exploits on the track and still marvel at the gutsy determination he exhibited as he raced his way into our collective memories and imaginations.

Kudos to the City of Coos Bay and the Prefontaine Committee for recognizing its ‘famous son’ in a fitting manner through the extremely well done, larger-than-life murals recently completed in the pedway south of the Egyptian Theater. It will undoubtedly become a focal point for locals and tourists alike that want to pay their respects to an athlete who, some 42 years after his untimely death, still lives on. Go Pre…

— Nick Furman

Coos Bay