“What’s the big deal?”

This week I sat on my couch watching TV. Nothing unusual about that, it’s one of my favourite places.

What was slightly unusual was that I watched live, in high definition, while four astronauts launched aboard the latest Space X Crew Dragon space vehicle, a commercial partnership between NASA and Space X.

I watched live, in high definition while the launch rocket returned safely to earth, landing on a drone ship in the north Atlantic Ocean after depositing its cargo in space.

I watched live as the Crew Dragon orbited the earth a couple hundred miles above the surface, and at thousands of miles per hour.

27 hours later I was back on the courch and watched live, in high definition while the ship approached the international space station, a football-field sized mechano set similarly orbiting the earth, docked and the four went aboard to greet three other astronauts already on the ISS.

As an aside, there are only 6 sleeping cabins on ISS, so one of the new arrivals has to sleep on the Crew Dragon which will remained docked at the ISS until next March. I guess it’s like a visitor sleeping in their caravan parked out on the driveway!

All this happened less than 60 years after the first manned space flight, 12 years after Space X flew its first rocket into orbit, five years after they first successfully landed a launch stage rocket, and six months after the first crewed Space X test flight.

By any measure, the pace of development since Yuri Gargarin did a lap of the earth in his Vostock spacecraft back in 1961 is astonishing. It’s a testament to human ingenuity, determination, technology, ability to learn and problem solve, ambition, creativity, collaboration, desire to explore and a thousand other things.

Honestly, as I sat there I was gobsmacked as I processed what I was watching. Sure none of what I saw was the first time you could live-stream a rocket launch or watch video from the ISS, but I guess there are moments when you realise the significance of what’s happening.

As I watched, enthralled, my 13 year old wandered past. I called her over, told her what I was watching, how amazing had been the technological growth and how astonishing it was to be able to sit on the couch in Brisbane, watching all this unfold in real time hundreds of miles overhead.

She said “What’s the big deal dad? It’s just some people going to space.” and went back to reading her book. She barely feigned interest for 10 seconds.

This is the same kid who will never know life without the internet, or mobile phones, or streaming video. Youtube started two years before she was born. She beat the iphone into existence by a handful of days.

It’s no insult to her of course, she only knows what she knows. She’s only lived the life she has. She has never known any different.

To me though, it was an extraordinary thing to watch. And I was left pondering the meaning of it all.

Just how much further will human ingenuity, ambition, creativity (and yes, greed) take us over the next 60 years? I’ll be approaching my 110th birthday by then, so I’m not sure I’ll see the answer, but can you imagine what we’ll be up to if the rate of change continues?

I put that experience alongside the global scientific community’s response to the COVID19 pandemic and the phenomenal rate of development of treatements, medications and vaccines for a disease essentially unknown 12 months ago.

When we collectively put our mind to something, there’s almost no limit to what can be achieved.

My last thought was to wonder what other things could be figured out if only we could genuinely turn our collective will and wisdom to it. World peace. Global food security. Clean energy. Heading off the looming environmental catastrophe. Calorie free chocolate that tastes amazing.

So many possibilities.

And in 60 years time, some 13 year old will say to their dad “What’s the big deal?”

It’s been a while

It’s been a while since I wrote. November 12 2015 to be precise. It was a great story, and I had nothing further to add…so I stopped.

No, that’s not entirely true…and I can’t be sure exactly why I stopped writing, other than that it’s been a very busy start to the year this year, and sometimes in the busyness my words kind of dry up.  In the torrent of organising, thinking, speaking, preparing, dadding, husbanding, riding, I somehow lose track of the time to write, to let my mind’s eye wander, to let random thoughts bubble up into out-loud kinds of pondering.  That’s not to say that all my out-loud kinds of pondering are always worth hearing (for assuredly they are not), but that if I never let writing happen, then (a) I’ll shut off something that I personally have come to value; and (b) the law of averages suggests that if I never write at all, then I’ll definitely never write anything interesting or useful.

I am feeling the tug of the keyboard again, so I’m hoping to resume some semi-occasional posts here.  For today though, I thought I’d share a couple of new media experiments I’m involved in.

Firstly, my colleagues Mardi and Lyndelle and I have dreamed up a little adventure into podcasting. If you’re new to the medium (as I am/was), a podcast is essentially an on-demand radio show. There are thousands out there. Some very professional, some very amateur, and exploring an enormous range of subject matter. Our podcast is called “Church Unchained” and in it we’re aiming to explore innovation and dangerous ideas for the church through a series of casual conversations. If you’re not a church person, I think you might still find some of the conversations interesting. Church Unchained pops out a new episode every second Tuesday (each ep runs about 20 minutes), and you can find (and listen) them over here. The first two episodes are out already and explore virtual reality (and Pokemon Go), and then homelessness. If you use a podcasting app, here’s the URL so you can subscribe.

Secondly, I’ve started writing a regular column for the Uniting Church in Queensland’s multimedia platform Journey Online. The column has a working title of “What if every church…” and explores a few ideas that are a little unusual in church circles, and wonders what might happen if we had a crack at them.  The first column came out this week and asked “What if every church…had a playground?“.  Once again, this column is supposed to be a fortnightly affair, and will continue for a while (or until I run out of ideas).

If you think there’s something we should explore in the Church Unchained podcast, or or I should write about in the column, I’d be delighted to hear from you!

To quote Peter Garrett from his new album….”I’m back!” (oh yes…he totally smashed the live show at the Tivoli a couple of weeks back….can’t wait for Midnight Oil to tour in 2017!)!

 

blogging…take 2…the ordinary wonderer

So here we go again.

I’ve just started in a new role with the Uniting Church in Queensland, our family just relocated from Tasmania and getting used to new/old places and faces, and figuring out how to survive after 6 weeks of nearly constant rain. Everything is so wet!

And it’s time to start blogging again.  This blog has been bouncing around for a while, but I’ve populated it now with some of the more interesting posts from my UCA Tasmania work blog tasmission, and will continue on from here.

It’s not – strictly speaking – a work product. Oh, I will definitely wonder aloud about the stuff I’m working on (encouraging the UCA in Queensland into deeper missional engagement) but other stuff as well.

I won’t be posting every day, maybe not even every week. But you’re welcome to stick around, comment/respond/critique/join-in if you like.

Cheers!

Scott

in the beginning

Welcome to my digital notepad. A place where I’m gathering thoughts, wondering aloud.

I’m starting this collection in July 2011. I’ve brought a bunch of posts over from my work blog tasmission, just to get started.  Those stories mostly relate to my work in the Uniting Church and so take on that flavour. From here on, I’m expecting a broader range of stories.

You are welcome here, welcome to respond, or interact, or read, or ignore.