MOST of us will remember for quite a while. Some will think of the courage of those on board. Others will hold to the spirit of adventure they symbolized. Still others will be grateful for the vision these friends had--their gusto in tackling a new frontier. I'll remember all of this. But even more. At the end of the year when magazines publish their pictures of memorable events, that trail of smoke, veering off course, telling us something was going drastically wrong, will undoubtedly be there. Each time I see it I'll remember a special lesson I learned.
The lesson started several months before Challenger's liftoff. An acquaintance was talking about modern technology. Our discussion was a religious one, though he isn't a Christian Scientist as I am. ``We've made it a god, you know,'' he insisted. ``Technology has become today's god.'' I hadn't really thought a lot about the point he was making. I've thought a lot more about it since Challenger.
Yes, I think my friend was right. Society has all too often tended to put its trust in things material instead of things spiritual. What we come to trust, easily becomes a kind of god to us. We may profess a God who is Spirit. And yet in practice our actual day-to-day trust somehow gets transferred to something less than Spirit--to matter-based decisions, actions, things.
Does this mean I harbor antitechnol- ogy feelings? Hardly. I'm still an avid supporter of all that is represented in mankind's efforts to break out of earthbound limitations. But I'm going to think of ``the wonders of technology'' in a little different light now. I had probably begun taking our space flights for granted; probably trusting that technology and the decisions that embrace it had perfected the security for our space men and women.
I believe all of us were shocked by more than what that trail of smoke was saying about those we so cared for in the shuttle. In a way it almost seemed as if the broad range of technology we had trusted were forsaking us. I suppose, historically, people always feel shocked when their gods fail them.
I wonder if Moses ever dreamed of the possible ways God's words to him might ultimately be applied. ``Thou shalt have no other gods before me'' 1 was the clear message he received. It is a message I'll think more about because of Challenger. I'll be more likely to ponder the meaning of having one God; I'll think more about Him as the true source of safety; I'll recognize that only from Him come flawless intelligence, clarity, precision, accuracy, patience, unwavering law, and continuity of good.
From this approach to prayer I expect to shift away from the kind of trust I may have been placing in a technology-oriented view to the trust we all need to be placing in God. But I don't expect this to downgrade technology. I expect prayer to subordinate technology to the divine purpose. For those who really believe that their prayers have an effect, such an approach can lead and define technology instead of allowing it to lead and define us--and occasionally let us down with its failings. While any technical flaws or unwise decisions certainly will have to be resolved, the burden of this tragedy can be lifted to the extent that we all feel a growing trust in God. The Psalmist points the way when he says, ``Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.'' 2
The First Commandment speaks to us of the need to admit that, in truth, there really is only one power, one Mind, one Principle. Little wonder that the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, would say, ``The First Commandment is my favorite text.'' 3 As we find deepening significance in trusting and loving just one God, we'll all be more secure. And we'll realize that even now we can remember our Challenger friends as truly secure in the care of one God.
Because there truly is one God, they have the same God we have. They aren't aligned with some other god in some distant place. God is ever near, and man is His beloved child, held in His presence. This is what Christ Jesus proved so conclusively in his healing ministry. This spiritual truth--that God is always present and that man is never separated from Him--can begin moving our memories of Challenger from material doubts to spiritual assurances.
1 Exodus 20:3. 2 Psalms 20:7. 3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 340. DAILY BIBLE VERSE I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of they wings. Psalms 61:4