Monday, June 2, 2014

The Astro Orbiter and What the Dog Saw

I was about to board my Astro Orbiter at WDW when I took this picture of the sky writing above (JESUS 4 GIVES). My grandchildren were more concerned with the ride, so I strapped myself in and researched the phenomenon later. It turns out there’s this guy named Stevens who has been writing pithy God oriented sayings throughout Florida’s skies for several years now. He feels that’s what God wanted him to do after he retired from being a pilot. It was my fifth trip to Disney World and I’m always impressed by what Walt’s vision has accomplished. I’m also reminded of what it lacks: it has packaged the quintessential American experience without mentioning the BG (Biblical God) that was so important to the founding of our country. Magic, spells, and Maleficent tales are all too common in the story lines. To be fair, the Bible has its share of demons, angels, and miracles. Life is more than just bread alone in both Kingdoms.
Both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have written extensively about the value of fantasy and, of course, their writings are excellent tributes to the efficacy of that medium to communicate the Gospel. I have read the Lord of the Rings 5-6 times as well as C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. Of particular interest to me is what a Messianic friend of mine said about happy endings and cultures. He has traveled the world extensively and studied many cultures and world views and said that the Western world is unique in that most of its stories have happy endings and most of the Eastern/Oriental world does not. This is true even though much of the West is living in a post-Christian world, the stories have lingered on.
It has been a few weeks since I’ve offered an installment in my Luther’s Baggage book. Yes, I’ve been busy with a move to a new house, but I’ve also been trying to find a true-to-life and interesting ending to my (first) book. Toward that end, I went to the library at the Holocaust Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan to do some research. A very helpful librarian brought me several books on the way Jews were treated in Germany during this time period (1530’s). But what I’d really like to do is spend a few weeks in Wittenberg, Germany and Krakow, Poland (and places in between) to see if there are local historical groups and museums that could help me refine the storyline. I did alter the plot and I’ll be resuming the saga next time.
Over the last several months I have been quite enthralled reading and listening to, via audio books, an author who has really impressed me: Malcolm Gladwell.  He has great insight and an amazing ability to reinterpret common beliefs in surprising ways. He does this through detailed research and clever reasoning. While I am not sure of his spiritual beliefs, every book has had one or more quotes from the Bible. The four books that I have read are: Outliers, Blink, The Tipping Point, and David and Goliath (actually I’m finishing it as I write this). He has written another one that I have yet to get: What the Dog Saw. Here is the way this book is described in an online promotion: “What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell our most brilliant investigator of the hidden extraordinary.” 
I highly recommend anything that Malcolm has written. The book David and Goliath does retell the Biblical tale in a surprising way. While Malcolm has complete respect for the Biblical story he does reveal how it might have actually occurred. It's similar to how the Bible explains how the river Jordan stopped when Joshua’s men set their feet in the river. It acknowledges that this was because there was a landslide upstream; God uses natural processes for many miracles; His input is in the divine timing of it all. Which brings me to the end of this post.

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