I’m a Lutheran Grace Wolf-Chase

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wheaton, Ill. Astronomer

I think astronomy teaches us humility and reminds us that God is bigger than human understanding. It cautions us not to demand that the Divine conform to limited human ways of imagining God.

I pray that humanity will unite across our diff erences in order to protect and preserve the delicate web of life on our planet, and to appreciate the diversity and interrelatedness of that life.

I believe science and religion are connected because they both make truth claims about the nature of reality, albeit from diff erent perspectives and with diff erent emphases. One might say science is concerned with the “how” of the origin and workings of the cosmos, while religion is primarily concerned with the “why” questions of ultimate purpose and meaning.

I share my faith through my vocation as a scientist. Along with my Jesuit colleagues at the Vatican Observatory, I view scientifi c exploration of the cosmos as a form of worship, honoring the God of “all that is.” The motto of the Vatican Observatory is “Deum creatorem venite adoremus”: Come let us adore God the Creator.

Serving on the task force that created the ELCA social statement on education was a wonderful experience whereby I could connect with other Lutherans who share my passion for advocating quality education for everyone.

People are surprised that I gave birth to three children during a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at NASA Ames Research Center (Mountain View, Calif.). My mentor was certain that established some

20 AUGUST 2017

kind of record. In any event, it was as challenging as it was rewarding!

I think it’s important for religious leaders to contribute to science by working with scientists to help people of faith form conscious bridges between their religious and scientifi c understandings of nature. Far too much time is spent arguing the results of science, with not nearly enough time allotted to thinking about how scientifi c knowledge might enrich theological refl ection, and how technology produced through the application of science can best be used toward improving life for the poor and marginalized in society.

My favorite piece of Scripture is Psalm 8:3-5: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fi ngers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.”

Appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s “SuperSoul Sunday” gave me a strong appreciation for the challenges of fi lmmaking, and the creativity of those involved in this endeavor. The three -minute piece in which I appeared was the result of a full day recording at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago!

I’m a Lutheran because I’ve found a deep appreciation for paradox and ambiguity among Lutherans who seek to ask the right questions, rather than demand all the answers.

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Photo: Will Nunnally

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