COM = Cross on the Moon; September was a busy month for Google’s Lunar X-Prize. 22 teams are competing for the $30M purse. They meet October 4-5 for their fourth team summit. Team ARCA claims to have launched a test flight from a high altitude balloon. We are waiting for more info. Details are here: Lunar X-Prize
Since the prize deprecates (reduces) in value in the coming years, there is a strong urgency to place a rover on the moon. The deadline is in 2014.
In other news, the X-prize awarded first place to five, 8th grade friends from New Jersey called “Team Land Lords” who competed in creating a simulated lunar rover using Legos.
The Pew Foundation released a report this month that tested religious knowledge. Although not a surprise, Atheists and agnostics scored significantly higher than other groups. Jews, then Mormons followed by evangelical Christians were last. The report and in-depth analysis is here: Pew Religious test .
Finally, I came across this statement and want to share with you. Our thoughts will form words and from those we act. These actions become habits that define our character and it is our character that becomes our destiny.
My point is we need to constantly evaluate our thoughts to check if they are the character we want to be. Your faith plays a significant role in keeping your moral compass true.
Very Best to All,
Michael Clark, President
Cross on the Moon, Inc (non-profit)
COM = Cross on the Moon; Tomorrow begins the Fall semester for most campuses across the US. Middle schools and high schools also start. Last week was student orientation. Freshmen arrive to learn the school’s policies and expectations. Students make friends and acclimate to new settings.
I enjoy this time of year. It is refreshing to see the eagerness on young faces. Being an adjunct faculty for CMU in Pittsburgh, I often spend time on campus. Last week it was to prepare for a research paper. Observing the public notice boards is always a fun past time. What pleasantly struck me were the appeals to join a worship group, mostly Christian but not exclusively. The school has an inter-faith council and groups wanted to be clear that they were a member of it.
Many decades have passed since my freshman days. My faith was immature then and I regret not aligning with Christians to help grow my relationship with Jesus. It takes courage to explore both the universe and our relationships in it. I find students in my classes to be bright academically, and if one listens carefully, they are asking questions about God at the same time. I hope parents would support their sons and daughters choice to join a campus worship group over some other social choices campus life offers.
The class of 2014 begins tomorrow. It is the largest in my University’s history. We have significant international and cultural diversity. 12 freshmen had perfect SAT scores and some with perfect scores did not get accepted. I can appreciate that similar statements can be said at other universities. This gives me hope that people we are training to be tomorrow’s science and engineering leaders, may be guided by moral choices they develop from studying their faith.
August 15, 2010-Pittsburgh, PA. I am not an expert in quantum physics but I worked decades in advanced technology sectors. A recent posting by NPR  on quantum entanglement experiments have me questioning core scientific beliefs but not my spiritual ones. If anything, my faith is not shaken when new scientific theories surface. The premise, and now possible proof that something can go faster than the speed of light  leads to incredible possibilities like teleportation  and information exchanges through time. Things in nature that science couldn’t explain before, like the efficiency of photosynthesis, the compass cells in birds that allow them to navigate  , and perhaps the mechanism of telepathy are discoverable in a new field called quantum biology.
At no time have I believed a discovery in science, or an act of engineering to diminish the mystery of God. A mystery in this context is different from a problem. Whereas a problem is something that someone might eventually solve, the mystery of God is something we live with and touches people in different ways. Harvey Cox, in his book  explains the difference between mystery and problem this way:
The mystery of the universe often first confronts us when they (we) feel overwhelmed by its utter vastness. Does it have an edge or stop anywhere? And what is beyond that? Many also feel baffled by the conundrum of time. When did it start, and what was there before? Will it ever end? Then what? Even when they learn about a space-time continuum that is “finite but unbounded,” this hardly answers the dilemma. Then there is the inevitable question our prehistoric ancestors began asking soon after they stood upright. Is the universe friendly, hostile, or just indifferent to human life? ….
The awareness of one’s own mortality raises the question of the meaning of life, and this eventually spawned philosophy, religion, and culture. ….
Again, there are thoughtful people who suggest that since these questions are essentially unanswerable, we should just stop asking them. But what does it mean that we never do stop asking? The sheer persistence of such questions tells us something about what it means to be Homo sapiens, and their (our) intractability demonstrates what science can do, and what scientists agree it cannot, and should not be expected to do. They remind us, as Einstein put it, that “behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly.” ….
Despite the efforts of well-intentioned people who shrug them off as “meaningless,” we do go on wondering and asking, even though we recognize there will never be “answers” to these questions as there are answers, if not provisional, to scientific ones. That is why “mystery” and not “problem” is the appropriate designation. If in some distant future generation people do stop asking them, they will begin to look more like the humanoid robots of science-fiction novels.
Advances in science do not threaten faith today or its future. Instead, think of faith as being evoked by the mystery that surrounds us and not the mystery itself. Faith is a basic posture toward the mystery, and it comes in an infinite variety of forms . Hindu and Buddhist perspectives on time and history differ markedly from those of Christianity and Judaism. Nirvana is different from the Kingdom of God. Furthermore there are radical dissimilarities in views of the human self and its relations to others. All people of faith have in common living with the mystery but it is how they live with it that differs. For this reason, practicing one’s faith while using science to travel among the stars has, and will continue to exist.
Humankind will always ask the deep questions, even as we explore His universe. Christians will persist in a sense of awe and reverence to a loving God as we gain earthly understanding of God’s vast creation. Cross on the moon supports the practice of faith, with a focus on honoring and acknowledging God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit on earth and on other worlds.
 The Future of Faith ISBN978-0—06-175552-1, pages 24-26
COM = Cross on the Moon; We are officially a 501-C-3 organization!
Effective July 2009 and in a letter dated July 22, 2010, The U.S. Internal Revenue Service acknowledges Cross on the Moon as tax-exempt. We are also tax exempt in the State of Pennsylvania. Your 2009 and 2010 donations can be deducted under the full extent of the law. We will provide a reciept and a reminder email in December for your tax records.
As proof that private enterprise has entered the space-business, next month a Californian company Interorbital Systems plans to begin launching personal satellites from kits they provide for $8,000. The price includes delivery into space. Source is a July NPR story here.
Houses of worship on earth, however grand are more than mere buildings. One example is the Salt Cathedral of the Zipaquira Mountain, located in Northwest South America. The still functioning salt mine dates back 2,000 years. Every Sunday more than 3,000 visitors come to worship.
If you missed our last newsletter, then this link will take you to past copies. We use Constant Contact, a service that allows you to add people or opt out.
Allow me to close by asking for your prayers to the men and women of Kennedy Space Center who make human space flight achievable with their attention to detail and passion to explore. This week 1,000 employees were given lay-off notices. More reductions are in the near future. Many skilled engineers are available to the private sector.
President, Cross on the Moon
COM = Cross on the Moon;I write this on the evening of the 234th birthday of the United States. July looks to be very promising for us and I am optimistic about the future. Our June status is about leadership changes for our board of directors, gaining Pennsylvania Income tax exemption, a good link to moon information from the moon society, and a few more months for space-workers as NASA has extended Shuttle flights into early 2011, not end the program this November.
We wish Nancy Lee Cochran and Martin O’Toole the very best as they leave the board of Cross on the Moon. Their resignations were sadly accepted last month. In keeping with our by-laws to have 5 directors, I am pleased to announce that Michael (Mick) Stuthers and Artur Matuszewski accepted our invitation and were unanimously approved in June’s meeting.
Our application before the Federal Internal Revenue Service for tax exemption is approaching a full year this July. We gave our attorney legal power to speak for us back in late April. They have had several discussions and both believe that a positive result will happen in the next few weeks. I am optimistic too. In a related matter, we requested Pennsylvania State tax exemption and were approved this month, i.e: 2 month process.
NASA this month announced they will fly the Shuttles in 2011. They had planned on retiring the fleet this year. The reason given was a schedule slip preparing a scientific payload for the Space Station. More information is here: NASA in 2011
The Moon Society has been writing about the moon for many years. They recently added an Indian Space Office and have posted several of their newsletters to the public. India has an advanced space program and was responsible for confirming significant quantities of water on the moon. I encourage you to review their site here: Moon Society
President, Cross on the Moon
COM = Cross on the Moon; Our activities this month focused on Memorial Day and reviewing some articles from the Moon Society. This is a worthy organization that believes as we do that there will be lunar colonies one day. More info is here: Moon Society
Space industrialists are marching forward quickly. NASA held an industry day this month in Houston that discussed near future missions. These include remote robot operations from the earth to the Space Station and from the Space Station to the moon. This Friday, June 4th Space X could launch from Cape Canaveral for thier first test flight of the Falcon 9. This is NASA’s choice launch platform for when the Shuttle retires this year. With a 1.6 billion contract representing 12 flights and an option for additonal missions, the total contract value is near $3.1 billion. Read more here: SPACE X info
On April 22nd 2010 the Deep Horizon oil drilling platform collapsed and in the resulting days, oil and gas has been entering the Gulf of Mexico in the billions of barrels. Robots and their skilled operators are trying to cap the well, a hard task at 5,000 feet under water. Space is a similar, hostile environment. Distance to the moon is much farther. Robots will lead first but mankind will follow. There will be lunar societies. We hope individuals who work for months, maybe years on the moon will be free to practice their faith. Discussions at cross on the moon can help us understand if worship is valid, no matter where in the Universe.
President, Cross on the Moon
The single quality that arguably separates humans from other animals is our desire to mark graves to remember and understand life’s mystery. In this behavior we are alone in the animal kingdom. Porpoise use high-level language and many animals like the otter and monkey learn to use simple tools. But early man alone used collections of rocks to mark graves and through history adapted other forms as his world-view grew.
Family graves were often near the home or community churches but as populations moved to the cities, burial ground became scarce. The “Boot Hills” of the American frontier west were an early attempt to solve the hallowed ground problem. In the 1870’s, major cities in the United States started to turn to large, reserved areas of land for their cemeteries. Simply, the population needed space for the living and there were advantages in having a community of graves outside the city limits in park-like settings. The economics of caring for these parks created a noticeable segregation for its inhabitants. The wealthy families could afford ground with the best views and large plots for mausoleums and the poor were buried in the lower sections that were prone to flooding and were closely packed together. Some areas of these cemeteries were intended as temporary resting places.
Thousands of immigrants helped build the U.S. cross-continental railroads that bridged the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Some of these worker’s faiths required that their bones be eventually returned to their home country. The markers for these people were not set to last even a decade in city cemeteries along the train tracks. Unfortunately, money never arrived, in most cases the identities of these hard working people are impossible to trace.
Simple markers like those shown in the black and white photo of 1944 are views of grave markers in Little Falls Cemetery, Attu, Aleutian Islands, Alsaka. The cemetery was a temporary location for deceased soldiers during the Aleutian Campaign of World War II; the bodies were disinterred after the war and reburied elsewhere.
Yes, cemeteries have social segregations and veterans are often grouped in areas of special significance or singled out with special inscriptions. National cemeteries exemplify this tradition of honoring its soldiers and statesmen.
This post about memorials comes on the heels of Memorial Day, a day reserved in United States for remembering its fallen soldiers. Every nation honors its veterans with visits to grave sites to reflect on the ultimate price that was paid. The predominant faith marker is the Christian cross although the Star of David and other symbols mark soldiers’ graves in Battlefield National Monument parks such as at Arlington, Normandy, Manila, and Cambridge. To learn more about these, see Battle Monuments. The Commission administers, operates, and maintains 24 permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil. Presently there are 124,909 U.S. war dead interred at these cemeteries, 30,921 of World War I, 93,238 of World War II and 750 of the Mexican War. Additionally 6,177 American veterans and others are interred in the Mexico City and Corozal American Cemeteries.
To be sure, there is a commercial aspect to Memorial Day in that our society treats the day to foster increased weekend commerce ranging from appliances to mattresses sales. But the core meaning remains to remember and give honor to those that died for us. That resonates with followers of Jesus. Here, the cross has significance for those remembering and those in remembrance. Christians know they will be both through their eternal life.
Well, so far we touched on memorial parks, segregated cemeteries, and the use of the cross to mark graves, especially those of soldiers in National Memorials. As mankind explores, it shouldn’t be a surprise that individuals will take their faith with them. We used the early American West “Boot Hills” as a burial place example but won’t the same be needed by moon settlers? Eventually men and women will die on the moon. They will be buried there. Some will make the ultimate sacrifice for their nation or perhaps our world.
Shouldn’t the symbol that marks these lunar graves be one of choice? Will there be a Lunar or Martian Memorial Park? The same needs mankind has to understand the mystery of life will continue beyond earth’s orbit. The economics of space will constrain the return of human remains in the way railroad worker bodies couldn’t be returned to their country. Believing we will outgrow our need for God is just wrong. Mandated identical flat plates on the moon to mark our heroes’ graves seem too sterile. We need our faith and should envision a collection of moon markers one day with at least a few being crosses.
For more information, please see our May 2010 Newsletter.
COM = Cross on the Moon; We, like most everyone in the US filed our Federal and State tax forms before April 15th. COM will be one year old this July so filing was a first for us. After 283 days and 244 pages of correspondence in 14 separate transmissions, the US IRS Federal Tax exemption agent still has our application under her review.
We are not discouraged and will keep moving forward by posting articles, videos, and links within our charter. To that end, COM revised its by-laws to promote global theological discussions. Placing a cross on the moon is one implementation of such a mission. Many of our postings have increased in technical material about space travel, specifically plans to return to the moon.
The US budget encourages private companies to pick up the missions that the Space Shuttle had. There are only three more Shuttle flights before the program ends. However we expect to see more news about private space planes and advanced space robots. Robonaut-2 is an example where the upper body of a human has been mechanically created with fine granular movements in its fingers. Robonaut-2 is a partnership between NASA and GM. That is, government and industry sharing the costs. More information can be viewed in the video here:
We need to hear from you in emails or by posting on the site. “Promoting global theological discussions” begin with asyncronous messaging like this one. We will continue to move forward so that the symbol of the cross will be broadcasted from the moon. The technology is there but comes at a cost. In perspective, the finances to put a cross on the moon will be much less than airing a single commercial during America’s Super Bowl. However the cross will speak to more people and outlast generations beyond the atheletic shoe or popular energy drink you see on TV for 30 seconds.
If you have an opinion, please speak your mind below.
Cross on the Moon
This video tells a story of one team’s plan to visit the moon in late 2012 near the sea of tranquility where Apollo 11 landed.
NASA and GM have teamed to make the next generation of robot work side by side humans in space. Robonaut-2 or just R2 will be sent to the Space Station this September 16th. Story is here: R2 goes to Space Station