Okay, so this gave me a scare. I mean, I know our government keeps secrets, but sun outages seemed pretty major to me. Like maybe we ought to make a run on bottled water and other supplies. I guess you can leave sun screen off the list, though. How long would we even last with the sun gone out? Then I read on. “Sun outage” in this case means that the sun will be directly behind the satellite providing your service and it may cause outages, not go out itself. Such is the world in which we live. Just the other day I was having a conversation with a fellow thinker who indicated that I should be writing on clay tablets (since I know how) because they survive longer than any other form of media. I have to admit the idea has appeal.
In these days of fake news and alternative facts, though, I wonder if there’s something about the sun they’re not telling us. A few months back, before I ever saw this dire warning, I was worried about the earth’s rotation slowing down. You see, I had tops as a kid. No matter how hard you pulled that string, the top would always eventually stop. Now, it may have been a very big bang that started all of this, but it was still a finite bang. It stands to reason that eventually our spin will run out of steam. Then I read that yes, indeed the earth is slowing at a measurable rate. Infinitesimal, but still measurable. I often bemoan how short the days are, but knowing capitalists like I do, when the days grow longer so will work hours. So what other secrets are they keeping from us?
Compared to all this, the fact that only television service might be disrupted seems strangely inconsequential. The sun is directly responsible for life on this planet. At least in its physical aspect. We need it for warmth, light, and food. And it helps with lift one’s mood too. How you say something matters. Not only is precision in language important, but, being social creatures, how you say it counts. Perhaps it’s news to those used to texting, but curt emails are often read as angry emails. I know people who claim to be too busy to respond with social niceties. I secretly wonder if such people should be held up as the shining examples they often are. Perhaps if we said “please” or “thank you” we won’t face any sun outages at all.
Religion is inextricably tied to the past. So when I noticed an article in Wired entitled “The End of Then: Past? Present? Online, It All Runs Together,” by Paul Ford, I determined to read it once I could figure out whence that musky aroma arose. Maybe it is just my imagination, but the order of the major advertisements in Wired seems like a pre-packaged sexual scenario. Near the beginning of the magazine is an aromatic ad for Chanel for men. A few pages on is a more than full-page ad for Viagra. A few pages on is a short piece on Trojan lubricants, followed coyly by that rare cigarette ad. (I’m probably reading too much into this, but I’m a creature of the past.) Where was I? Oh yes, the End of Then. Ford’s point in the article is that the internet has made access to the past incredibly facile. Anyone with a portal into the web can find scads of information about the past, making past and present indistinguishable in a sense. My thoughts turn to the future.
The future seems to be the true unknown country. Not long ago I saw a story on the internet about how scientists conclude time travel to be impossible because we have not found messages from the future on the web. But we have found the past. Or have we? Ford mentions our fascination with Babylonian tablets, and suggests future historians will be equally intrigued by our continuous electronic chatter. But I turn back to that clay tablet. Those tablets, many of which were already in the deep past well before the Bible was scrawled, preserved what was important for a pre-industrial society: receipts, court records, and myths—the stories of the gods. And their command to build a round ark, at least according to Irving Finkel, whose book seems not to be available in the United States. Those myths, adapted to biblical proportions, have long been in the public domain, and yet, are they really in any sense present? Try giving students a quiz and find out.
We have a past that will always remain inaccessible. The present, for better or worse, is all we’ll ever have. Religion, however, is tied to the past. True claims are based on historical events, some less believable than others, that are permanently out of reach. We can watch how religions play out in the present and decide later. In the future. But the past haunts us forever. I, for one, had thought that cigarettes were on their way to extinction. But I need to put this edition of Wired down because that cologne ad is making me dizzy. And it leaves me wondering about future prospects and what religion has to do with any of it.