Sunday, February 7, 2010

The 9 Most Influential Films of My Life: #5

 Ray Arnold: Hold onto your butts.

I was six going on seven when "Jurassic Park" hit the theaters.  For my little eyes, it was a beast of a film.

     Garrison Elementary School, home of the Garrison Gators, has a modest library for its blossoming young students.  Within my circle of friends, the one-room library could have been the size of the Guggenheim; we only ever focused our eyes on one small section of books.  The school had ordered a dozen or so picture books about dinosaurs.  Each book was about a different type.  Even though the books only offered drawings of the Reptilian-creatures (sorry Dr. Grant), these glimpses of the magical world that was once, was enough to set our imaginations on fire.

     A few years after the release of "Jurassic Park", I found a book in my brother's closet.  I cannot recall the title anymore, but the book was focused on the search for modern day dinosaurs.  Could it be?  Was it possible?  In this great big world, was it possible for just one ancient creature to have survived?  Maybe this was my destiny?  The book had one particular image of a carcuss that a fishing boat had drug up.   That image is burned in my memory.  Here was proof of a plesiosaur; right in front of my eye balls! Note: since that day I have been persuaded to believe that what that book showed was not the body of a plesiosaur, but rather a decayed basking shark. Sigh...

Why do I share this?  Why are these stories important?

     When I read about the stegosaurus, the brachiosaurus, and the igaunodon, I didn't know if I believed it.  If these creatures were so great and mighty, how could they have died off?  It didn't follow in my little brain.  They were mythic in nature.  They were on par with the epic abominations that Sinbad faced.  "Jurassic Park" took that mythic idea of monstrous animals and materialized it into something definitive.  To believe in dinosaurs no longer took faith, for here in front of me, a T-Rex just ate the blood-sucking lawyer!  The day of salvation for paleontologists worldwide had arrived!  Praise the Lord!  The need for faith in dinosaurs was no longer necessary.  Here they are.  Behold!

I trust I'm being relentlessly obtuse.  I will try to simplify.

"Jurassic Park" helped instill these attributes in my character that I carry with me to this day:

1) Curiosity as Virtue.  In cementing the reality of a dinosaur existence, I was given a proof that there is more to this life than we presently are given access to.  This birthed a great curiosity in my bosom.  It served as the catalyst that now feeds my ever expanding interest in sub-atomic physics as well as cryptozoology.  If dinosaurs truly existed, these magnificient monstrosities, what other truths are lurking behind some past door or some mathematical proof?

2) Faith and Hope as Virtue.  Dinosaurs are a mystery.  Sure we've got a myriad of theories as to how they expired, but I remain unconvinced by all of them.  They are a mystery.  There are true mysteries left to discover about this world.  The cynical life ignores these mysteries.  To live is to hope and seek to discover.  So I should remain of open-spirit and cunning intellect so as to hope to see some of these mysteries unravel in my time.

3) Bigger as Better.  The T-Rex trumps the Velociraptor every time.  I don't care if they hunt in packs, and the Rex can only spot movement.  He's higher in the food chain.  He wins.

4) Live long enough to see these things get cloned for real!  I must live, so that I may see.

Dr. Ian Malcolm: What is so great about discovery? It is a violent, penetrative act that scars what it explores. What you call discovery, I call the rape of the natural world.
Dr. Malcolm's harsh critique of discovery certainly has merit when we take a look at discovery and innovation from a historical perspective.  The pyramids were built under the backs of thousands of suffering slaves.  Columbus brought death with him to the Americas.  Apollo 1 ended before it began with the deaths of its three not-yet-astronauts.  But these tragedies do not overshadow the innate need instilled in man to struggle to discover what is yet unknown.

God has told us in His scriptures that He has made Himself known through the natural world.  We call this general revelation.  If God's character can be found in His creation, let us discover it to the utmost, for in discovering the terms of our existence, we discover aspects of God.  God has made Himself known through dinosaurs.  Hallelujah!
Can I get an amen?