Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Mere Science And Christian Faith: Bridging The Divide With Emerging Adults"

Greg Cootsona, who pastored for many years at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, has a deep concern for "emerging adults," those between the ages of eighteen and thirty. They marry later and often don't fit in to church activities geared to couples or families.

Many also feel estranged from what evangelical churches say about science (if science is even addressed) and withdraw from Christianity, becoming the "nones" and "dones." This is especially acute in Oakland-San Francisco-San Jose, but also in the Chico-Redding area.

Cootsona, now teaching at Chico State University, is also administering a grant project through Fuller Theological Seminary that seeks not only to find out what this group thinks about science and religion but to develop guidance for churches seeking to engage emerging adults.

"Mere Science And Christian Faith: Bridging The Divide With Emerging Adults" ($17 in paperback from InterVarsity Press) is, writes Cootsona, "both a manifesto and a field guide. As a manifesto, it's designed to convince you that the church must embrace mainstream science for its future."

As a guide, it shows how churches can enter with emerging adults into the conversation about human origins, climate change, the findings of cognitive science, the meaning of technology, and questions about sexuality and gender.

"Emerging adults," Cootsona writes, "hear about conflict, but they seek collaboration or independence." He focuses on integrating science and faith, where possible. "This means that no discovery can dictate our theology or ethics, but also that no form of human insight and knowledge is outside of Christ. Put simply, God knows far more about science that Albert Einstein."

Accessibly written, personal and even poignant at times, the book is essential to any who are interested in emerging adults. It goes a long way toward achieving the goal of weaving "together mainstream science and the good news of mere Christianity into a narrative that's truly beautiful and beautifully true."

Cootsona is scheduled to present a "Mere Science" seminar, based on his book, on Saturday, April 7 from 8:30 - 10:30 a.m. at Bidwell Presbyterian Church. Cost is $10 per person with childcare and a continental breakfast provided. To register, visit

Thursday, March 08, 2018

"Maraschino Cherries: Travel Stories Of A Teacher Abroad""Maraschino Cherries: Travel Stories Of A Teacher Abroad"

When her granddaughter Michelle asked Chicoan Elisabeth Stewart for a story, she stopped short. "I don't have a story," she said. But Michelle insisted: "How is that possible, Oma? You have been around the world and lived a very long time. You must have a story!"

And indeed she does. In the early Eighties Stewart had completed fourteen years teaching Home Economics at Paradise High School and needed a change. She got it--with the help of the Department of Defense.

The tale is recounted in "Maraschino Cherries: Travel Stories Of A Teacher Abroad" ($6.99 in paperback, self-published; also for Amazon Kindle). It's a personal story of overcoming fears, reaching out to strangers, and finding love, told with kindness and simplicity. Stewart was witness to history (such as the fall of the Berlin wall), confronted sadness and even death along her own journey, but a quiet optimism prevails.

It began with a phone call to her apartment one hot Chico afternoon in July.

The representative of the Department of Defense Dependent Schools had an offer to teach home economics in Frankfurt, Germany. Betty Thompson (her name then) had applied weeks earlier, holding her ground as the interviewer announced that sixteen applicants would be questioned. She was number seventeen. It took a bit of old-fashioned resolve, but she got an interview, too.

Later that summer she found herself in Frankfurt with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Barb, ready to settle in. First, though, was the "new teacher processing procedure" from the Office of Personnel Management. "The OPM person had a stack of folders on her desk easily five inches high. She opened the first folder and we began the work…. My head filled with a fog as sound blurred and drifted away from me, vision faded, and I dozed."

Word got around about an American woman who fell asleep during the orientation. Then she met Robert Stewart, a science teacher, who was also part of the program. It's safe to say her eyes were opened.

Saying "yes" to a proposal "was the easy part"; turns out that getting married in Germany was "a whole nother kettle of bratwurst" and only the beginning.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

"Have Your Cake And Be Happy, Too: A Joyful Approach To Weight Loss"

Weight loss coach Michelle Hastie of Paradise is convinced that most diet programs get off on the wrong foot. They're all about limits and can't-haves. Her alternative "asks you to lose weight while living your life. In fact, this method of weight loss requires you to be so incredibly full of life that your body has no choice but to transform."

What that means is spelled out, encouragingly, in "Have Your Cake And Be Happy, Too: A Joyful Approach To Weight Loss" ($14.95 in paperback from Absolute Love Publishing,; also for Amazon Kindle). "You are going to lovingly step inside of your body and communicate with the deepest version of yourself," Hastie writes. "You become an expert not in nutrition or exercise, but in you and your body."

There are seven "steps" in Hastie's program ( which focus not only on "total body transformation" but "total life transformation." "Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full," but do so in a context of living "connectedly, intentionally, joyously, truthfully, abundantly, deliciously, fully."

It's easy to indulge in pity parties and excuses when one "blows it." "If you feel like you can't tell the difference between excuses and truth, listen to your feelings. In yoga, there is an emphasis on body communication. The belief is that your body sends you messages through symptoms and feelings. … Always follow what makes you feel better. … If you are feeling lazy, either get up and move or be lazy and proud!"

Meditation and spirituality are important. "Whatever higher power or universal law you decide to trust … you can be assured that this higher power believes that you don't have to struggle. … When I don't know how to solve a problem, I close my eyes, breathe, and thank the universe for sending me the answers I am seeking."

In listening to the body's call for balance, moving from "can't have" to "choose not to have," "the body responds to your intentional and clear actions by loosening the waistline of your pants once again."

For Hastie, that's the bottom line of the bottom line.