“The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world,” Rick memorably quoted in his once safe haven in Casablanca. Rick had fled his country for moral causes, only to become jaded and callus in an unfeeling universe. So it was with interest that I read the story of the Gastonguay family that my wife pointed out to me. The Gastonguays were stranded at sea when they took their kids and father-in-law and tried to sail away from a US rife with abortions, homosexuality, and “the state-controlled church.” Apart from sailing lessons, and perhaps a primer on US history, the little family had all they needed. They believed that their religion was sufficient to survive on Kiribati, their personal Xanadu, where there aren’t enough people to interfere with free religion. The Gastonguays, however, ran into a series of ocean storms after they set out from San Diego in May, eventually being rescued by a presumably Catholic Venezuelan fishing vessel. Their plane fare home is being footed by the godless government they fled.
Mrs. Gastonguay seems to be the family spokesperson. She notes how the Bible is pretty clear on social issues, according to the story on NBC. I couldn’t help, perhaps a bit naughtily, of thinking of the Bible as well, particularly Ecclesiastes 11.1. “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” That bread may be quite soggy, however, and the government you distrust might just have to bake you some new if you are to eat. I complain about government policies and shenanigans on this blog, but it is because I appreciate the ideals upon which this country was founded. Religious freedom is more or less a reality. Our government doesn’t force you to have abortions or marry a homosexual. School vouchers, which the Gastonguays may appreciate, are about the closest we come to a state-sponsored church.
Shifting genres a bit, I think of the hair band Styx’s hit, “Come Sail Away.” On that mythic journey the unnamed captain sees a gathering of angels swirling about his head. Of course, the angels are really aliens inviting him aboard their starship for an even more dramatic exit from a planet so full of troubles that any good Christian should have trouble sleeping. I can’t say that I don’t dream of escaping every once in a while. The ills that churn my stomach most are a pythonesque capitalism that just won’t let a poor soul breathe free without having to earn an extra greenback or two on the side. If it was up to me, however, I think I’d rather hang with Dennis DeYoung and await the unfolding of the grand illusion. That starship might just be the closest any of us will come to heaven on earth after all.