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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


Daily Boost

June 7, 2013 - The Loneliness

By Scott Harrup

Ray Bradbury would have applauded this recent headline from Popular Science magazine: "Apply for a One-Way Trip to Mars." A news story limited to science fiction a few years ago is now reality, although the outcome remains unknown.

In Bradbury's 1950 classic The Martian Chronicles, the red planet is a backdrop for a series of stories examining some of life's deepest questions about personal identity, family, prejudice and religion. Whatever you think of Bradbury's conclusions, his prose is as beautiful as it is thought-provoking.

For our 25th wedding anniversary, Jodie gave me a Bradbury anthology that includes The Martian Chronicles. Here's a sample:

"A government finger pointed from four-color posters in many towns: THERE'S WORK FOR YOU IN THE SKY: SEE MARS! and the men shuffled forward, only a few at first, a double-score, for most men felt the great illness in them even before the rocket fired into space. And this disease was called The Loneliness, because when you saw your home town dwindle to the size of your fist and then lemon-size and then pin-size and vanish in the fire-wake, you felt you had never been born, there was no town, you were nowhere, with space all around, nothing familiar, only other strange men. And when the state of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, or Montana vanished into cloud seas, and, doubly, when the United States shrank to a misted island and the entire planet Earth became a muddy baseball tossed away, then you were alone, wandering in the meadows of space, on your way to a place you couldn't imagine."

If the Mars One project is successful, participants will certainly grapple with issues of personal identity, relationships, religion and Bradbury's other themes. But "The Loneliness," I believe, will be the biggest challenge. Particularly if the first few people to arrive have an unpleasant enough experience that no one else wants to join them. This is, after all, a one-way ticket to a destination more desolate than the Sahara and colder than Antarctica.

Imagine being marooned on a distant, desert planet and growing old with just three other people. Imagine becoming the last survivor and being "given" an extra-long life as an extraterrestrial Robinson Crusoe.

Stories like Bradbury's and news reports such as Mars One's cause me to reflect on our amazing world and all the blessings surrounding us. I'm all for pushing the boundaries of science and exploration, but I'm in the camp with the majority of explorers who would insist on a return to their home planet.

Spring rain, wildflowers, the gentle crash of surf during a beach vacation, family picnics, a stroll in the park, Thanksgiving and Christmas reunions ...

That's just the beginning of my list of "Things I'd miss on Mars." You could easily write your own.

"Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops" (Psalm 65:8-10, NLT).

— Scott Harrup is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (




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