In Greek mythology, Icarus’ wings burned as he flew too close to the sun, and he fell to earth. In the Bible, mankind fell to earth in disarray as their Tower of Babel grew too close to the heavens. The message? Sometimes too much of a godly thing may not be meant for man…
Anyway, that’s how this white-knuckled flier thinks every time they get me on a plane. I didn’t trust these metallic monsters when I was in the Air Force, and I still don’t trust them now. I mean honestly, how the hell are we to believe 100 tons of steel can stay up there in mid air like that? There aren’t enough free peanuts to convince me the whole flight isn’t just a liquored-up illusion.
Even though they reassure us that accidents on planes are more rare than driving to work in the morning, there’s some kind of dark vertigo terror hiding in our brains that whispers: “But this one could be the one!”
The Greek Gods preferred it that way — best to keep us mere mortals in line. The real God may prefer it that way too. Not to scare us. Rather, to remind us that no matter how great we grow, we’re-still-not-in-control….to reassure us that this-is-not-all-there-is….to comfort us that we’re-not-alone-because-there-are-hands-to-catch-us.
A hundred and fifty years ago Karl Marx instructed us that “such religion is the opiate of the people.” To this day there are atheistic acolytes from Richard Dawkins to Bill Maher who make that same case, and make it well.
Only I never knew a pilot or a passenger in trouble up there asking any atheist to “save me.” Which doesn’t prove a thing. But it does make you wonder the next time you climb aboard to defy the cosmic laws of gravity. And wonder can sometimes be even more wondrous than wisdom.
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