Russell and Duenes

babel comes in for a landing

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My two-year-old son, Eli, has taken after his dad and granddad in being fond of airplanes – at least insofar as a toddler can be said to be “fond” of anything – and he loves calling out all the airplanes (“ah-bees” is his word for them) he sees in the sky. Of course, like me, he also enjoys watching planes on You Tube. So when we sit down to pull up some videos together, I never know all the different airplane videos we might watch, but one thing we almost always watch is wide-body jumbo jets taking off or landing.

There’s always been something about L-1011’s, DC-10’s, and 747’s that gives me a feeling of awe, especially when I consider that they actually fly. And so tonight we watched the biggest beast of them all, the Airbus A380, that double-decked monstrosity that carries over 550 people. Obviously I’m not the only one awed by them, seeing as You Tube is full of videos showing various approaches, and in each case, the people doing the filming are expressing wonderment and reverence. As often happens to me, I started thinking (this gets me into trouble far too often). We ooh and aah at this massive new piece of artistry floating through the sky, and we think of how incredible it is that we can actually design something like this. And make no mistake, it is incredible. Yet as I watched the planes land, I couldn’t escape an uneasy feeling. What if one of those things goes down? Is our engineering really that good? Do we need to have a plane that large? Why do we want them? Are they saving airlines money, or are they, at bottom, a testament to man’s constant yearning to push the limits, to feel big and important, nay I say it, to be God?

I have to be careful when I ask these questions, for surely it can’t be right to argue that man should avoid designing and building great things. For these are also a testament to God’s image in us, our desire to properly imitate God in His creativity. But when these things fail, as they inevitably do, we find ourselves shocked and horrified. For we hope that they will not fail. And such a hope will always be a misplaced one, just as the men and women at Babel misplaced their hope in “building ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” So in the pursuit of our creativity and industry, our calling is to follow the apostle’s wisdom: “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”


Written by Michael Duenes

August 14, 2009 at 2:49 am

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

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