Page from Bible found at World Trade Center site--but what's the message?
By GREGORY J. RUMMO
Doe, an actor and a photographer claims he found a page from the Bible in the rubble of the World Trade Center that described a tower that reached into the heavens.
“After more than 93 days of fires, a skinny little frail page from the Bible survived. I find it quite unbelievable,” he told New York Post reporter Maria Alvarez whose story on this “shocking revelation of faith and hope” was reported in the February 11 edition of the newspaper.
Doe who was accompanied by Michael Bellone, a safety director with the New York City Fire Department found the page near the place where the south tower once stood. The page was from the book of Genesis and told of the account of the building of the Tower of Babel.
“It was amazing,” Bellone said. “We can’t rebuild fast enough. We can start all over again.”
While we can all relate to Mr. Bellone’s enthusiasm, his exegesis of scripture leaves much to be desired.
The story of the building of the Tower of Babel, recorded in Genesis chapter 11, occurred several millennia before Christ and sometime after Noah’s flood in an area called the Plains of Shinar, the region we know as Mesopotamia.
The whole earth spoke one language back then, and the nomads living in that region got together one day and said to each another, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
But their motivation for building the tower was wrong. Instead of trusting God and his plans for their future, they built a structure that would literally “vault” them above the heavens and place them at a strategic vantage point where they thought they could establish themselves above both man and God. By building this monument to themselves, they reasoned they alone would control their destiny.
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary notes that the purpose of the undertaking was twofold: “First, they wanted to assure themselves of the strength that comes from unity. The city and the tower would tie them into a solid group, so that they might be powerful-even without God's help. They said: ‘Lest we be scattered.’ On the other hand, they were determined to make themselves renowned, to make for themselves a name.”
“The sins of self-sufficiency and pride predominated in their thinking. They wanted to make sure that they would not be forgotten. The tower would hold them together and secure their names from oblivion. They defied God and set out to prove their towering structure would be a monument to their energy, daring, genius, and resources.”
The Bible goes on to say that God wasn’t amused with this at all. He “confused their language” and the people’s worst fears came upon them. God “scattered them over all the earth.”
When Doe found this portion of Scripture the New York Post reported he said it was “a sign from God that He is still watching over us.”
Doe is at least right about that. God is still watching over us, and is capable of speaking to us today-even through the rubble of what’s left of the Twin Towers.
The post-9-11 resurgence of God in America is good. And God’s voice is certainly discernable in the midst of all the cross talk and cacophony of life on planet earth in the 21st-century if we know how to listen for it. But upon hearing God's voice, it then behooves us to make an effort to rightly understand what he is trying to say in its proper context.
Even if that means we may not like the message he is trying to convey.
Black water: Test results trickle in; researchers not yet drawing conclusions Wednesday, March 27, 2002
By CATHY ZOLLO, email@example.com
The results are trickling in on black water samples sent far and wide for testing, but researchers are not yet drawing conclusions on its cause or on the effect it may have had on sea life in the waters off Southwest Florida and in the Keys.
Scientists will meet Thursday in St. Petersburg at the Florida Marine Research Institute, which is heading up the search for answers, to discuss their findings and draw some conclusions.
In the meantime, researchers from as far away as Fairfax County, Va., are looking into possible reasons for the phenomenon.
Robert Jonas, a microbiologist at George Mason University, has samples collected by Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Tropical Research in the Keys and is trying to count bacteria.
Jonas wasn't sure yet if his samples would lend themselves to such testing because he has to be certain that bacteria weren't reproducing since they were collected.
"We have certain expectations about the number of bacteria in normal coastal ocean water," Jonas said. Good, clean ocean water has between 1 and 3 million bacteria. Elevated levels would be in the area of 10 times that, Jonas said.
And Dr. Larry Brand, professor of marine biology at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine at Atmospheric Science, said he heard about a routine sampling expedition that collected the black water in February.
Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration trip weren't aware of the phenomenon at the time they were sampling between Key West and the Ten Thousand Islands that hug Florida's southwest coast. They collected in areas on the fringe and the core of the water, according to later reports by fishermen. Brand's samples came from the edge.
Brand refused to speculate on what his findings might mean but said the samples had an odd array of organisms, including green algae that is not normally found in gulf water.
"There are a lot of surprising results people would not have expected," Brand said. "Generally, you see green algae under polluted conditions."
Brand cautioned that what appear to be differing reports may be different aspects of the same phenomenon.
"They appear to be contradictory, but they may not be," Brand said.
So far, researchers returning results to the marine research institute have found that the water has indications of large amounts of plant plankton and has no evidence of red tide, a naturally occurring algae that has plagued Florida's Gulf coast for years.
In the most recent status report on the event published by the marine research institute, Research Administrator Beverly Roberts still questions whether a red tide connection exists.
In the months leading up to and including the black water phenomenon that may have begun as early as November, red tide was rampant along the Southwest Florida coast, littering its beaches with dead fish and causing respiratory problems for residents and visitors.
Roberts noted that there were no dead fish associated with the black water, "but perhaps a relevant point is that fish kills were occurring when this phenomenon was being observed in January," she said in the report.
What researchers say repeatedly is that the event was an unusual and complex one.
Fishermen were the first to spot the black water that they said, at its worst, floated large gelatinous globs and had spider web-like filaments running through it.
They also noted an absence of game fish in normally rich waters, and fishermen are reporting the worst season for several different types of fish that they've seen in many years.
They'd spotted a huge mass of black water apparently devoid of fish just off Southwest Florida and moving slowly toward the Florida Keys. Satellite imagery from January and February shows the water mass was larger at some points in time than 730-square-mile Lake Okeechobee in central Florida and had its beginning as early as November.
Commercial fishermen demand answers to 'black