December 22, 2009
Returning to the MoonBy Jim Mahoney
On December 24, 1968, three young Americans broadcast a Christmas message to the world from the loneliest location man has yet to visit. As Apollo 8 orbited the moon, they broadcast stunning images of the vast emptiness of space surrounding the barren rock of the lunar landscape. For anyone who experienced it, it is an indelible memory. Forty-one years later, it still sends a soul-stirring message.
Overpowered by the sight and inspired by the loneliness, the astronauts read the opening verses of Genesis. Eventually, we got to see color images of what they beheld that night: a brilliant blue orb rising over the desolate moonscape, both floating in a sea of infinite blackness. Many people thought this startling vision would usher in a new era, where man realized how unique and glorious our world is, set as we are in the cold, indifferent emptiness of a vast and violent universe. Sadly, though, it was just another news event, quickly lost in the tide of the generally useless debris that comprises our news days.
Looking back on the achievement and the innocence of that broadcast, it's difficult to understand how we've come to a point where this time of year has become such a treacherous test of sensitivity. Back then, if someone was offended, nobody stuck a microphone in his face to broadcast his outrage to the world. Most of us were simply awestruck by the stark reality of creation.
Maybe it's time to take a look at Earth from that vantage point to see who we were then -- and what we've since become.
In the days of the Apollo Program, science couldn't afford corruption. The science that took us to the moon was practiced in the open. Its errors were evident to the entire world -- and there were plenty of them. Nonetheless, and despite the fact that the space program had strategic and political objectives, it was also a huge benefit to mankind. Perhaps the most important byproduct is the technology the world enjoys today. It was built on the shoulders of the people who solved the problems that made that broadcast possible.
It seems now that science has fallen into the hands of ruthless charlatans who appear to have no limit to their willingness to serve mammon and those who would enslave all of mankind. Worse, they seem to have little regard for the damage they've done to science's credibility in the mind of the layman. Their real damage is the loss of trust that will plague us for generations. Even if the hideous plans of their masters fail, the loss of trust caused by these monsters is likely to set civilization back every bit as much as Apollo advanced it.
The men who made the Christmas broadcast were all American military men. The possibility of an enemy within their own ranks would be as foreign to them as a lawsuit opposing their reading scripture. The scripture they read was part of a very specific cultural tradition. It is the bedrock of the civilization that gave rise to America. It enabled all that had come to be in 1968, and from then until this very moment. It is our patrimony.
Today, the military and much of the federal government seem to be in the grip of beliefs that would boggle almost anyone in 1968. Our soldiers are cut down by a commissioned military officer shouting the battle cry of the enemy, and our senior leadership is not only incapable of preventing the attack, but they can't bring themselves to identify what inspired it. Worse still, they openly declare their precious commitment to diversity to be more important than the lives of their own troops. A manifestly stupid idea is supreme to human life? That looks a lot like an official, established, and desperately foolish religious belief.
Meanwhile, our politicians and courts countenance relentless assaults on the religious beliefs that underpin our own civilization.
Of course, our civilization was under attack in 1968 as well. It was just that so few people recognized it or understood the aggressors. They were assumed to be an insignificant and transient minority. The tear gas had barely cleared from the Chicago riots at the Democratic Convention when Apollo 8 circled the moon. Most people regarded the rioters as a crazed fringe expressing the passing passions of inflamed youth. Adults hoped they would soon outgrow their peculiar ways. Of course, many did. Others persisted, however; and today, they appear to wield far too much influence, particularly over the minds of our youth.
No one, then, would have guessed that the inspiring power of the Apollo broadcast would be lost, or that the misanthropic ferocity of the radicals would persist to the threshold of enslaving all of mankind by 2010.
If I have a prayer this Christmas, it's that the fraud, corruption, and folly that surround us today will awaken the minds of our youth. From that awakening may they discover the value of truth. Truth is not the relativistic, silly-putty nonsense the educrats poured into their heads, but the objective, absolute, "jump off the roof and you'll bust your tail" variety. It's the kind of truth that made moon shots possible. May our youth rebel against the garbage they've been fed!
May they come to understand that the lives they enjoy today can vanish in a second, and that their lives are a product of a civilization with a specific history. May they realize the destruction of that civilization means darkness for centuries to come. May they understand that the enemies of our civilization, whoever and wherever they are, are our personal enemies. May they understand that the enemy is everywhere -- sometimes even in our own minds.
Most importantly, may our youth come to understand that our civilization really does descend from the birth of the Child in Bethlehem.
In times of crisis, we do well to embrace and pass on the traditions that saw our ancestors through tougher times than these. Grab on to yours, and brace yourself for the coming year.
"A Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you on the good Earth."
(You can check out that Christmas broadcast here. The broadcast is there in two versions, and the larger file is well worth downloading.)