That Sneaky Nose-horned Lizard, Hiding for 129 Years

That Sneaky Modigliani’s Nose-horned Striking Lizard:  

Extinct, or Hiding for 129 Years?

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.   (Proverbs 25:2)

Did Modigliani’s nose-horned striking lizard—a camouflage-capable variety of Agamidae “dragon lizard”—go extinct, or was it just sneakily hiding in Indonesia, for 129 years?

Modigliani-lizard.camouflage-contrast

A recent discovery of the sneaky reptile, laying dead near a volcanic caldera in part of North Sumatra (in Indonesia), proves that the nose-horned striking lizard has been hiding, sheltering in its place, unseen (by people) for more than a century—yet we now know that it never went extinct.(1),(2)

This biodiversity bonanza (for herpetologists, at least) was recently reported in Science News by Dyna Rochmyaningsih, and in Taprobanica (the Asian Journal of Biodiversity) by the research team of biologist Chairunas Adha Putra.

Nearly 130 years ago, Italian explorer Elio Modigliani arrived at a natural history museum in Genoa with a lizard he’d reportedly collected from the forests of Indonesia. Based on Modigliani’s specimen, the striking lizard — notable for a horn that protrudes from its nose — got its official taxonomic description and name, Harpesaurus modiglianii, in 1933. But no accounts of anyone finding another such lizard were ever recorded, until now.(1)

The breakthrough started with an accidental finding of a dead lizard, during the summer of 2018.

Modigliani-lizard.face-profile-closeup

In June 2018, Chairunas Adha Putra, an independent wildlife biologist conducting a bird survey in a mountainous region surrounding Lake Toba in Indonesia’s North Sumatra, called herpetologist Thasun Amarasinghe. Near the lake, which fills the caldera of a supervolcano, Putra had found “a dead lizard with interesting morphological features, but he wasn’t sure what it was,” says Amarasinghe, who later asked the biologist to send the specimen to Jakarta. It took only a look at the lizard’s nose-horn for Amarasinghe to suspect that he was holding Modigliani’s lizard. “It is the only nose-horned lizard species found in North Sumatra,” he says.(1)

During explorations of the forests in northern Sumatra in June 2018, we collected one naturally dead specimen and observed one live specimen of the genus Harpesaurus. We could clearly attribute both specimens to the species H. modiglianii. The two specimens (one naturally dead and one live) we found are the second known records for the species and our following observations are the first data on the biology of this species. Here we re-describe the species based on its holotype which is compared with the newly discovered specimen which was naturally dead and discoloured. The discovery of the third specimen (the live specimen which was not collected), allowed us to provide further notes on the live colouration and the first data on its in-situ behaviour and natural history.(2)

If one nose-horned striking lizard was found dead on North Sumatra, perhaps there are others still living—it was worth an investigation, since the chameleon-like lizard had not been eye-witnessed for almost 130 years.

“But simply there was no report at all about this species” following Modigliani’s, says [Thasun] Amarasinghe, of the University of Indonesia in Depok. He asked [Chairunas Adha] Putra to get back to the caldera to see if there was a living population. After five days, Putra found what he was looking for one evening, “lying on a low branch, probably sleeping,” according to the biologist. He took pictures of the lizard and measured the size and shape of its body parts, such as the length of its nose-horn and head. He also observed its behavior before finally releasing it the same night.(1)

Modigliani-lizard.scientific-illustration-antique

Indonesia’s Batak natives featured the lizard in their artwork and folktales, reminiscent of how both artwork and folklore recall “dragons” (dinosaurs) in Europe and other parts of the world.(3) So, “gone, but not forgotten” is now corrected to “never really gone in the first place”.

This is not the first time that something surprising like this has happened. As the Chesapeake Bay’s population of Atlantic Sturgeon recently illustrated—and as the infamous Snail darter fish dramatically illustrated before that: “unseen” does not necessarily mean extinct or extirpated.(4),(5)

Sometimes someone is hidden, intentionally, to evade detection from a known threat—such as, to use a Biblical example, when Jehosheba snatched up and hid the royal infant Joash, while wicked Queen Athaliah was murderously purging the palace of competitors, after she usurped reign over the kingdom of Judah.(6)

However, when it comes to explaining the concealment of lizards, from humans (and others), the real reason is usually much less sensational—these lizards are prudently use their chameleon-like camouflage powers to stay out of sight.(1)  The Modigliani’s nose-horned lizard can appear bright green, highlighted with yellow, or it can shift into a dull orangish-brown when it feels threatened.(1)

Although this lizard’s self-defense strategy is not very dramatic, it works!(7)

In fact, it displays God’s caring providence. God deserves due credit for every one of His creatures that uses camouflage—because it was God Who both designed and built them, including the reclusive dragon-looking lizard who quietly lives a low-profile lifestyle in remote parts of Indonesia.(8)

Modigliani-lizard.camouflage-contrast

References

  1. Rochmyaningsih, D.  2020.  A Nose-Horned Dragon Lizard Lost to Science for Over 100 Years has been Found. Science News (June 9, 2020), posted at https://www.sciencenews.org/article/nose-horned-dragon-lizard-lost-science-found .
  2. Putra, C. A., et al.  2020.  Rediscovery of Modigliani’s Nose-Horned Lizard, Harpesaurus modliglianii Vinciguerra 1933 (Reptilia: Agamidae) After 129 Years Without Any Observation. Taprobanica: The Journal of Asian Biodiversity. 9(1):3-11 (May 2020), posted at http://file.taprobanica.org/2_harpesaurus_modiglianii_taprobanica_9_1_2020_3_11-43750-3349_561.pdf .
  3. Cooper, William R. 1995. After the Flood: The Early Post-Flood History of Europe Traced Back to Noah. Surrey, U.K.: New Wine Press, pages 130-161. The valuable and ongoing impact of this ground-breaking book is truly marvelous–how this book has magnificently honored and served the Lord Jesus Christ, and blessed the lives of many Christian scholars, will only be fully known in eternity.
  4. Johnson, James J. S. 2015. Anadromous Fish ‘that Swam with Dinosaurs’ Neither Extinct nor Extirpated. Creation Research Society Quarterly. 51(3):207-208.
  5. The Snail Darter-versus-Tellico Dam controversy—with $100,000,000 in government funding at stake—was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Tennessee Valley Authority v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153 (1978). “The snail darter (Percina tanasi) is a tiny perch-like fish that was declared “endangered” in 1975, later to be down-listed to “threatened” status in 1984. Meanwhile, major litigation2 filed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 banned the already-ongoing $100 million project because its completion might interfere with the “critical habitat” of the snail darter. In other words, that case involved a peanut-sized fish stopping a Congress-funded project, only to later learn that a thriving population of snail darters were busily being fruitful and multiplying in streams not that far away from the project site.” [Quoting Johnson, James J. S.  2020.  Should We Grouse about Not Seeing Grouse? Creation Science Update (July 7, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/should-we-grouse-about-not-seeing-grouse  .]  Regarding the need for balance in decision-making, as well as clarity in communication, when solving “endangered species” problems, see Morris, J. D. 1999. What Can be Done to Help Endangered Species? Acts & Facts. 28(5).
  6. 2nd Kings chapter 11, especially 11:2-3.
  7. Proverbs 27:12.
  8. God’s providence is the only realistic explanation for how camouflage works as it does, both genotypically and phenotypically. See Sherwin, Frank J. 2016. Smart and Stealthy Cuttlefish. Creation Science Update (January 11, 2016), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/smart-stealthy-cuttlefish . See also Sherwin, Frank J. 2010. Tapir Testimony to Creation. Acts & Facts. 39(1):15, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/tapir-testimony-creation .

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Norman-French Cuisine, the Soft Culinary Invasion of A.D.1066

Norman-French Cuisine Invades England (Somewhat) in A.D. 1066

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Nevertheless He [i.e., the Creator-God] left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and He gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.  (Acts 14:17)

The year A.D. 1066 is best remembered by William the Conqueror’s successful invasion of Britain—an event that changed world history forever.(1),(2),(3)

Viking-reenactors.approaching-battle

As this author’s previous history research has reported, the fate of America’s George Washington actually hung in the balances during the Battle of Hastings (!), on the 14th of October, A.D.1066.(1),(3)

However, did that invasive immigration of Normans also change the dietary habits of Britain’s inhabitants?

Archaeologists from Cardiff University and the University of Sheffield have combined the latest scientific methods to offer new insights into life during the Norman Conquest of England.  … But little has been known about how it affected everyday people’s lives. … There is evidence the Norman invasion led to more controlled and standardised mass agricultural practices. Pork became a more popular choice and dairy products were used less. But on the whole, a diet dominated by vegetables, cereals beef and mutton remained largely unchanged.(4)

In other words, according to recently reported archeological research, the conclusion is that the Norman conquest of England only changed popular cuisine habits “somewhat”, but “not so much”.(4),(5),(6)

Dr. Elizabeth Craig-Atkins of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology said: “Examining archaeological evidence of the diet and health of ordinary people who lived during this time gives us a detailed picture of their everyday experiences and lifestyles. Despite the huge political and economic changes that were happening [in 1066], our analysis suggests the Conquest may have only had a limited impact on most people’s diet and health.  “There is certainly evidence that people experienced periods where food was scarce. But following this, an intensification in farming meant people generally had a more steady food supply and consistent diet. Aside from pork becoming a more popular food choice, eating habits and cooking methods remained unchanged to a large extent.”(4)

Before the Norman invasion, in A.D.1066, the island of Britain’s demographics displayed the mix of original Celtic peoples and later-arriving Saxons, plus a sprinkling of settlers from two centuries of intermittent immigrations by Norse Vikings.

Bayeux-Tapestry-Wm-coronated-England.Xmas-AD1066

However, when Duke William’s force came from Rouen, they brought with them their Norman-French language, plus some Norman-French dietary preferences. French cuisine often features poultry, plus the Viking heritage of Normandy always included fish, such as cod, salmon, and herring.(2),(5),(6)

Viking-ship-with-Lutefisk.pic

Eventually, bones reveal who was eating what.(4),(5),(6),(7)

Researchers used a technique called stable isotope analysis on bones to compare 36 humans found in various locations around Oxford, including Oxford Castle, who had lived between the 10th and 13th centuries. Signals from food we consume are archived as chemical tracers in our bones, allowing scientists to investigate the quality and variety of a person’s diet long after they have died. … Levels of protein and carbohydrate consumption were similar in the group and evidence of bone conditions related to poor diet—such as rickets and scurvy—were rare.(4)

The study of diet enables exploration of the impact of political change on everyday life through its illumination of the provisioning, marketing, selection and preparation of foodstuffs. … Previous analyses of diet in England during the 11th-century Norman Conquest have focused on changes in food culture brought about by French cultural influences. These include increased consumption of domesticated pigs and wild species, as well as changes in cooking practices, such as a greater frequency of roasting and new methods of slow cooking…. These changes can be set against developments in food culture, which characterise the early centuries of the late medieval period, such as the increasing consumption of fish….(5)

Repton-Viking-bones.unearthed-heapUnlike swine raised far from coastlines or navigable rivers, swine raised by Vikings—and by Norman French—were often fed fish scraps.(7)

Isotope analysis was also used on 60 animals found at the same sites, to ascertain how they were raised. Studies of pig bones found their diets became more consistent and richer in animal protein after the Conquest, suggesting pig farming was intensified under Norman rule. They were likely living in the town and being fed scraps instead of natural vegetable fodder.(4)

These dietary differences complicate research for archeologists who rely upon Carbon-14 dating methods. Traditional radiocarbon dating usually assumes a terrestrial food-based diet—ingesting photosynthesis-fixed 14C via eating grains, root vegetables, fruits, and nuts, plus various meats and dairy products derived from grain-fed or grass-fed herbivores.(7),(8)

Viking-codfish-drying.rack

However, fish-dominated diets—supplemented by pork from swine raised on fish scraps—accumulate less Carbon-14 in human bones, so dietary adjustments are needed when estimating date-of-death timeframes for the bones of those who habitually ate fish and other foods traceable to a marine food-chain.(7),(8)

Meanwhile, whatever good food is eaten—whether it’s from a terrestrial food-chain (like chicken), or from the sea (like fish)—should be eaten with thanksgiving, because good food is its own proof of God’s caring providence.(9)

For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5)

photo

References

  1. “But what if there had been no George Washington to ‘father’ America? … If the battle [of Hastings] had gone the other way and William the Conqueror had died, then he would not have been alive to have [fathered] a son named Henry (England’s Henry I), who was born two years after the Battle of Hastings. Since George Washington is a [F21] direct descendant of Henry I, Washington wouldn’t have been born roughly 700 years later…”  Johnson, J. J. S. 2012. Christmas, Vikings, and the Providence of God. Acts & Facts. 41(12):8-10, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/christmas-vikings-providence-god .
  2. Haywood, J. 1995. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Viking World. London, UK: Penguin Books, pages 14-15, 80-81, 137.  Normandy’s William the Conqueror was an F5 descendant of the famous Norwegian-born Viking Hrolf (the Ganger) Ragnvaldsson, who established Rouen, Normandy.
  3. Andrusko, S. M., et al. 1983. Genealogical Research at the Library of Congress. Library Trends. 32(1):51-65, especially page 53. See also Ashley, M. 1998. The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens: The Complete Biographical Encyclopedia of Kings and Queens of BritainNew York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 439, 497-504, 521, esp. 499. ICR’s adjunct faculty, British historian Dr. William R. Cooper, provided helpful scholarship with this biogenetic data analysis.
  4. Cardiff University staff writer. 2020. Norman Conquest of 1066 Did Little to Change People’s Eating Habits. Posted by PhysOrg (July 6, 2020) at https://phys.org/news/2020-07-norman-conquest-people-habits.html .
  5. Craig-Atkins, E. B. Jarvis, L. Cramp, et al. 2020. The Dietary Impact of the Norman Conquest: A Multiproxy Archaeological Investigation of Oxford, UK. PLoS One. 15(7): e0235005 (July 6, 2020), posted at https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0235005 .
  6. Some of the biochemical findings were unexpected. It seems that the Anglo-Norman clergy, who mandated cultist dietary restrictions for the common folk, did not practice what they themselves preached. “It might be expected, for example, that Christ Church’s monastic community observed religious proscriptions against meat [1 Timothy 4:1-5], and so consumed more fish (and poultry) than individuals interred in the other cemeteries. However, this appears not to have been the case, as Christ Church has the lowest mean δ15N and δ13C values compared to the other sites. The three individuals from Oxford Castle may have had a higher social status, and therefore a diet richer in meat and fish, but in this case, as the mean δ15N value is highest, but the δ13C value is lowest, marine dietary input must have been negligible in this small sample of individuals.”  (Quoting Craig-Atkins, E. B. Jarvis, L. Cramp, et al., cited in the previous footnote).   On Europe’s dietary restrictions during the Dark Ages, see Kurlanksy, M. 1997. Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. New York, NY: Walker & Company, pages 24 & 35.
  7. Johnson, J. J. S. 2018. Viking Bones Contradict Carbon-14 Assumptions. Acts & Facts. 47(5):21, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/viking-bones-contradict-c14-assumptions .   For a short podcast on this topic, review James J. S. Johnson’s “Why One-Size-Fits-All Radiocarbon Dating Doesn’t Work”, ICR Creation Science Update Podcast (August 24, 2018), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/one-size-fits-all-radiocarbon-dating-doesnt-work .
  8. Jarman, C. L., M. Biddle, T. Higham, et al. 2018. The Viking Great Army in England: New Dates from the Repton Charnel. Antiquity. 92(361):183-199. See also Arneborg, J., J. Heinemeier, N. Lynnerup, et al. 1999. Change of Diet of the Greenland Vikings Determined from Stable Carbon Isotope Analysis and 14C Dating of their Bones. Radiocarbon. 41(2):157-168.   Arneborg and her team recognize how diet must be accounted for when using Carbon-14 dating methods: “If the bone collagen is of terrestrial origin, the measured (conventional) 14C age is converted into a true calendar age by using the global tree-ring calibration curve. However, this simple procedure is not applicable when the bone collagen is derived in part from marine carbon which, due to the marine reservoir effect, appears several hundred 14C years older than the corresponding terrestrial carbon. This seriously constrains the dating of bones of people who have had access to food protein from the sea.”
  9. Acts 14:17. See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2011. Our Daily Bread: How Food Proves God’s Providence. Acts & Facts. 40(4):8-9, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/our-daily-bread-how-food-proves-gods/ .

 

Court Okays Tunneling Pipeline under the Appalachian Trail

APPALACHIAN TRAIL, N.H. (Lakes of the Clouds hikers hut)

U.S. Supreme Court Okays Tunneling Pipeline under the Appalachian Trail

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

(attorney admitted to bars of Texas & Colorado)

AppalachianTrail.hiking-PresidentialRange

APPALACHIAN TRAIL, N.H. (Presidential Range)

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  (Proverbs 3:6)

Earlier this month (June 15, 2020), the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a federal appellate court ruling that previously prohibited the new Atlantic Coast Pipeline from being laid under part of the Appalachian Trail.(1)

Environmentalist groups, as well as hiking enthusiasts, had protested how the proposed “Atlantic Coast Pipeline” would be constructed to run underneath part of the historic Appalachian Trail.(2) The pipeline construction company, however, prevailed in court.

Dominion Energy, which has partnered with Duke Energy, to build the 600-mile pipeline from West Virginia to northeastern North Carolina, welcome the high court’s ruling as an ‘affirmation’. Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby noted that 50 other pipelines ‘have safely crossed under the Trail without disturbing its public use.’ The pipeline will be installed hundreds of feet below the trail’s surface, he said, and emerge more than a half-mile away on either side.(2)

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (“Appalachian Trail”), which is older than the USA, is perhaps the most famous and best-loved of America’s hiking trails. Hiking trails, as this author has recently reported, provide wonderful opportunities for appreciating God’s creation.(3)

pipeline-map.AppalachianTrail-crossing

But what relevance to Biblical Christians is there to an environmental lawsuit about flowing petroleum products under a famous mountain hiking trail?

The proposed subterranean pipeline involves some $8 billion in projected costs, to convey natural gas across part of the commonwealth of Virginia.(2) All of the physical land (in controversy) belongs the U.S. government—specifically, the land in question is allocated (by Congress) to the George Washington National Forest in central Virginia. The U.S. Forest System is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.(4)

As such, the legal presumption is that such federal land can be used for commercial purposes, if doing so is a responsible “wise use” of the land, providing public benefit and avoiding reckless waste of resources.(1),(4)

U.S. Forest Service-managed lands routinely lease to private businesses, for timber and other commercial uses, so long as the U.S. government benefits from the contracted uses. So, there is no big surprise when part of a national forest is contractually leased to a private business (for ranching, timber, or petroleum operations), so long as the government contracting system benefits the USA.(4)

However, the complicating legal factor, in this equation, is that a segment of the multi-state Appalachian Trail cuts through the George Washington National Forest. That historic trial is itself declared—by congressional action—as a natural resource to be administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.(2)

Federal “park” lands are not the same as federal “forest” lands. Federal lands assigned to the U.S. Park Service are not routinely leased, for subterranean activities, to private businesses for commercial development.(1),(4)

Unsurprisingly, the multi-purpose “wise use” standards used in federal forests (by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) are not the usual “preservationist” property use norms applied by National Park Service (of the U.S. Department of the Interior), so there is a jurisdictional overlap that complicates how the federal government can manage the physical trail-within-forest land involved.(1),(4)

Further complicating this multi-agency “turf” dispute is the combination of federal statutes (i.e., laws passed by Congress) that conditionally permit and/or prohibit what uses can be made of “lands” managed by the Forest Service, versus those administered by the Park Service.(1)

Meanwhile an $8 billion project pivoted on this terminology question:  is the Appalachian Trail a long piece of federal “land” assigned to the Park Service?(2)

In short, the majority vote in the U.S. Supreme Court decision said No, thereby determining that the pipeline could pass underneath the Appalachian Trail, because the scenic hiking trail was not itself a physical piece of “land”.

We are tasked with determining whether the Leasing Act [of 1920] enables the Forest Service to grant a subterranean pipeline right-of-way some 600 feet under the Appalachian Trail. To do this, we first focus on the distinction between the lands that the Trail traverses and the Trail itself, because the lands (not the Trail) are the object of the relevant statutes.(1)

Rather, the trail was deemed a passage-way through (and over) land, what the law calls an “easement” (or “right-of-way”)—similar to how rural streets are access-ways that separate neighbors, but the physical land itself (under the traveled road) is considered to be owned by the property-tax-paying landowners who border the roadway. (This was the law, in 1968, when the Forest Service granted a trail-administering “right-of-way” easement unto the Park Service.)

Pursuant to the Trails Act, the Forest Service entered into “right-of-way” agreements with the National Park Service “for [the] approximately 780 miles of Appalachian Trail route within national forests,” including the George Washington National Forest. … A right-of-way is a type of easement. In 1968, as now, principles of property law defined a right-of-way easement as granting a nonowner a limited privilege to “use the lands of another.” … Specifically, a right-of-way grants the limited “right to pass … through the estate of another.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1489 (4th ed. 1968). Courts at the time of the Trails Act’s enactment acknowledged that easements grant only nonpossessory rights of use limited to the purposes specified in the easement agreement. … Stated more plainly, easements are not land, they merely burden land that continues to be owned by another.(1)

Here is how the judicial majority summarily explained their decision:

In sum, read in light of basic property law principles, the plain language of the Trails Act and the agreement between the two agencies did not divest the Forest Service of jurisdiction over the lands that the Trail crosses. It gave the Department of the Interior (and by delegation the National Park Service) an easement for the specified and limited purpose of establishing and administering a Trail, but the land itself remained under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. To restate this conclusion in the parlance of the Leasing Act, the lands that the Trail crosses are still “Federal lands” … and the Forest Service may grant a pipeline right-of-way through them—just as it granted a right-of-way for the Trail. Sometimes a complicated regulatory scheme may cause us to miss the forest for the trees, but at bottom, these cases boil down to a simple proposition: A trail is a trail, and land is land.(1)

Now, there is an aspect of this analysis that should catch the attention of Biblical Christians—this ruling reminds us that forested land (“real property”) may be itself physical matter, yet the right or opportunity to travel through that forested land is not itself physical material.

An entitlement to hike along (i.e., upon) a particular trail is an “easement” (a/k/a “right-of-way”), a non-physical right to travel under certain conditions (such as traveling without causing waste, during certain timeframes, etc.). But the opportunity to hike on a mountain trail is not itself a physical thing, like a rock or tree or hard-packed soil.

JJSJ-eating-crawdads-in-Mississippi

Appreciating biogenetic family history (wearing Texas Czech Genealogical Society shirt, while eating crawdads in Mississippi)

Likewise, our human lives—as living creatures specially created in God’s image—are more than just our physical bodies. Yes, part of us is physical—God made us from dust of the earth. Yet God added to that physical stuff non-physical personal lives—which can be described by words like soul, spirit, personality, etc.—which is the part of us finite creatures that somehow shows a hint of our infinite God.(5)

So, when you take your next nature hike—take time to observe the wide and wild variety of physical animals (like bees, bunnies, and butterflies—or June-bugs, jaybirds, and jaguarundis)—interacting with physical plant-life (like trees, bushes, grasses, flowers)—within the geophysical environment (including rocks, soils, sunlight, rain, freshwater streams). Appreciate God’s caring handiwork!(3)

JJSJ-Ohio.AD2005-foresthike

Ohio forest hiking, AD2005 (wearing Glattfelder family history shirt)

But don’t stop there! Appreciate also your own human activity of walking, hiking, strolling.

A simple nature walk in your neighborhood—or hiking a mountain trail—is an opportunity to be grateful for that moment that God has given you.(3),(4),(5)

That very opportunity is taken (or neglected) within a physical context of time and space, yet the opportunity itself is not physical. The opportunities that God gives to us are intangible blessings—they are like easements—we can use them or lose them, but they are not physical stuff that we can store inside a garage.

Part of storing up treasures in Heaven involves recognizing and using our God-given opportunities to honor the Lord Jesus Christ here on Earth.(6),(7)

Even taking a walk, where you are now, can become an opportunity to see God’s glory in the so-called little things—details of His magnificent creation.  It’s not necessary to go hike the Appalachian Trail to see God’s artistry in what He has made.(7)

Lakes-of-the-Clouds-Hut.boy-on-trial-near-hut

APPALACHIAN TRAIL, N.H. (Lakes of the Clouds hikers hut)

References

  1. U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, 2020 WL 3146692, ___ S.Ct. ___ (June 15, 2020), reversing 911 F.3d 150 (4th Cir. 2018). Justice Thomas used this comparison: “If analyzed as a right-of-way between two private landowners, determining whether any land had been transferred would be simple. If a rancher granted a neighbor an easement across his land for a horse trail, no one would think that the rancher had conveyed ownership over that land. Nor would anyone think that the rancher had ceded his own right to use his land in other ways, including by running a water line underneath the trail that connects to his house. … Likewise, when a company obtains a right-of-way to lay a segment of pipeline through a private owner’s land, no one would think that the company had obtained ownership over the land through which the pipeline passes. Although the Federal Government owns all lands involved here, the same general principles apply.”
  2. Wheeler, T. B. 2020. Supreme Court Rules Pipeline Can Cross Under Appalachian Trail. Chesapeake Bay Journal (June 16, 2020), posted at https://www.bayjournal.com/news/energy/supreme-court-rules-pipeline-can-cross-under-appalachian-trail/article_531842f4-afd0-11ea-8bd4-cf3bc0da0e9a.html .
  3. Johnson, J. J. S. 2020. Sweden’s Fun in the Sun, Nature Hiking. Creation Science Update (June 5, 2020), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/sweden-fun-in-the-sun-nature-hiking .
  4. Johnson, J. J. S. 1995. Introduction to Environmental Studies, An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Applied Ecology, Conservation Policy, and Environmental Ethics. Dallas: NWQD Press, LeTourneau University. Regarding the roles of the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service, see especially pages 57-76.  Regarding hiking the Appalachian Trail, see pages 1-9 of Appendix F.
  5. Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 102:18. See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2012. Grackles and Gratitude. Acts & Facts, 41(7):8-10, posted at https://www.icr.org/article/grackles-gratitude/ .
  6. Matthew 6:19-21.
  7. Revelation 4:11.
JJSJ-in-Alaska.bus-ride

Alaska adventure, en route from Seward to Anchorage