I know, I know, all my blog posts lately just talk about recent articles but several have come out recently, and this one I'm really excited about! I've actually been checking the National Wildlife magazine website nearly every day in anticipation of this piece, which I knew was in the Feb/March 2009 issue which I knew came out some time in January. Hence, the obsessive checking. And here it is! As you all probably know, I traveled to Nepal last November, wait that would be November of 2007, trekking through the Himalayan foothills in search of the endangered red panda. The article is called Fighting for the Firefox: Nepal’s red panda is getting help from a small group of local forest guardians, but the highly endangered mammal still faces a troubled future as its habitat is lost to deforestation.
The first paragraph starts out...
IT’S AFTERNOON in eastern Nepal, near the India border, and a fine mist fingers its way over the broadleaf temperate forest. We’ve pitched camp near a giant mossy stone, carved all over with the words Om Mani Padme Hum, the ancient Buddhist mantra of compassion. I’ve flown halfway around the world, trekked on treacherously steep paths for days, endured squatting toilets and camped in freezing weather just for a chance to get a rare firsthand look at efforts to save one of the world’s most endangered mammals: the red panda.
In other news, I've been working hard on my book, writing new content, and rearranging my first few chapters into a cohesive story. I can write a feature article like it's nothing, since I've been doing it for nearly a decade and a half, but this is my first book and wrapping my head around the overall structure is challenging - but I'm actually having a lot of fun with it. I've cleared my plate of other tasks and made it my only focus for the time being. The first chapter in the book, The Making of a Christian Evolutionist, talks about how I came to be a Christian who accepts evolution. It takes the reader from me as a naive but faithful young child, through some challenging life situations and to the point where I became an atheist in high school and college, then ultimately back to the Christian faith. But of course during college, I became educated as an evolutionary biologist/ecologist. The chapter tells the story of my life, in a nutshell.
The next chapter is titled - as it stands now - The Fish Wars. This introduces the whole debate over evolution and creationism from the perspective of me teaching biology at the community college where I worked for several years, and the interactions with my students. This chapter gives a good, simple overview of what evolution actually is - and what it isn't. The next chapter is In Search of the Holy Grail of Truth (Or, I Don’t Quite Understand Your Question) - and it's in progress, but covers my experience testifying at the Texas State Board of Education in 2003 and this year (well late 2008 - and there's another hearing next week!), conflicting views on "truth" and how and why people come to believe what we believe.
The next chapter, There is a Striking Resemblance Between You and a Monkey, is about my travels to Colorado to spend Easter with the Epperson family, who were involved in the landmark 1968 Supreme Court case Epperson v. Arkansas that essentially overturned the infamous 1929 Scopes Monkey Trial which confirmed that it was ok to make teaching (human) evolution illegal. I love the title of this chapter! It's actually what someone said in a letter to Susan Epperson during the time of the Supreme Court battle back in the 1960s. The things people say! Yes, as a matter of fact there is a striking resemblance between you (and me) and a monkey!
So that's where I'm at now, completing and organizing and writing these first few chapters - the first half of the book. I've already done the excursions and such for the rest of the chapters too (which include narrative chapters on young earth creationism, and one on intelligfent design, among others). I'm having a lot of fun with it all, and am very excited about my progress! Prayers are much appreciated!!