Friday, August 2, 2013

Our Car from the Future

We recently bought a Prius.  It’s from the future.  Like cars from the past, it has a gasoline engine, but it also has a mid-twenty-first century energy generator that, even if I understood, I’m legally forbidden to describe until the year 2050, when the car was built, which happens to be long after my prospective departure date.  Exactly how we bought a car from the future will be explained below.  You need to learn to be patient. 

When we mention to people that we’re averaging between 55 and 61 miles per gallon (and that seems to come up a lot) they usually say, “But you have to plug it in, right?”  I think what they’re saying is:

“You doofus!  It’s not such a bargain if you have to pay the electric company for the juice you use---plus you have the hassle of having to remember to plug in the car every night, and you have to find charging stations when you’re traveling.  Don’t call me when you’re stranded on I-95.”   

But I respond, “That’s not the way it works (in other words, I see your doofus, and raise you one).”  It’s not a plug-in car.  It generates some of its own energy.  The whole scheme is displayed in animation on a magic 3D monitor in the cockpit (apparently they no longer use written language in 2050).  The 3D image depicts energy flowing from brakes to batteries to motors and back again.  I’m sure it makes perfect sense to the young engineer who designed it, who probably won’t be born for several years. 

Of course to buy a car from the future, we had to speak to a salesperson from the future.  I imagined that he would be Schwarzenegger-ish, with some telltale wires sticking out or something blinking under his synthetic skin; but the technology in the future is evidently so advanced, he was virtually indistinguishable from present people, with the exception of the fact that he had to check with his superior before making the deal.  People in the present, as you know, never check with their superiors.  Our sales person called himself Israel.  I suppose he chose that name as I walked up because the facial recognition system built into his mechanical eyeballs mistakenly identified me as Jewish.  [That reminds me that my students at Westminster Academy™ in Ft. Lauderdale were always trying to get me to put on a yarmulke (skull cap) so they could photograph me and send the “Rabbi-Russ” picture to their friends for a laugh.  Rabbi Russ didn’t play their little game.  You have to get up pret-ty early in the morning to put one past Rusty.  Come to think of it, most of those kids got up quite early indeed; no doubt there are Rabbi-Russ photos in circulation.]
Israel introduced us to a car that he claimed was a year old, with just over 20,000 miles on it.  But of course, I reasoned, those were miles from the year 2050, and their roads are no doubt much smoother than ours, so it was as if the car only had 10,000 miles.   By buying a year old car, we could save about 25% off the cost of a new car.  As it turned out, this was fortuitous, because we will need that 25% to pay for the additional cost of credit for financing a used car instead of a new one.  Sometimes I think a class in basic finance would have done Rusty more good than those Algebra and Trigonometry classes in high school.  Or to put it in a way that my Algebra teacher, Mr. Button, would understand, R+[bf]>R+[A+T].

I was curious as to how they got our Prius here from the year 2050, and then I remembered a three-part documentary on time-travel that I watched back in the eighties.  (Apparently I was already interested in such things even as a child---in my thirties).  Hosted by Michael J. Fox, it featured a scientist who had experimented with time-travel.  As I recall, his name was Doc Something or other---maybe Severinson or Holliday.  I remember he had distinctive white hair which stood up straight as if he had just received a jolt of electricity, which was possible, because he was always fiddling with lightning.  He claimed to have visited the future, and he had video to prove it.  If you’re curious, according to the documentary, in the future there will be terrible urban blight, casinos will be ostentatious, and skate boards will hover; young people will spend an inordinate amount of time at dances and there will be a surprising number of accidents involving classic cars and manure trucks. But the point here is---this scientist time-traveled in a car.  The program revealed that the key to time-travel is to get your car going at exactly 88 miles an hour and drive it into a movie theatre as you are simultaneously struck by lightning.  This explains, no doubt, why it took us so long to find the secret of time-travel.  Many of us have driven into movie theatres before---and a few of us may have done so at 88 mph.  But apparently this Doc fellow was the first one to do it while being struck by lightning.   

Presumably then, having found a way to harness the power of lightning in the year 2050, the future people got our Prius here by zapping it with lightning while driving into a theatre at exactly 88 mph (which is a slow speed in 2050).  I only hope the lightning didn’t mess up our car’s electrical system. That could interfere with our reentry if we ever have to take it back to 2050 for maintenance.

We humans seem to have an incurable interest in the future.   Science Fiction stories and films abound here.  We’re curious about what the world will be like in 30 or 40 years, or in 300 or 400 years.  We’re also curious about our own lives.  Believers generally understand that the Lord has determined what will take place in our lives, but that truth can confuse us.  I can infer that I’m obligated to somehow discern God’s specific will for my life.  I can reason, if he has already determined where I will live, study and work, whether I will marry, and if so, who, then is it not my responsibility to somehow divine what that “perfect will of God” is for me?  If I am sufficiently sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit, will He not direct my steps to the schools, the jobs and the companions that he has prepared for me?  And on the other hand, can I get out of God’s will for my life by, for example, choosing the wrong job, home, church or spouse?  
I believe the answer is:  Of course I can violate God’s revealed will---his desire for his children as revealed in Scripture, by choosing a vocation that dishonors him---like thief or pornographer; I can unwisely buy a home that’s too expensive for me; I can worship in a church where the truth of Scripture is denied; I can marry someone who is not a believer in Christ; I can drive into a movie theatre too fast and endanger some innocent popcorn-eater.  There are innumerable ways I can violate God’s revealed (or declared) will.  But I cannot violate the sovereign, secret plan of the one who “works all things according to the counsel of His own will.” (Ephesians 1:11)  I do not know what that plan is, and God has not chosen to reveal it to us while we are on earth.  It is only evident by looking backward.  It cannot be discerned by looking forward. 

The Christian life is not a spiritual séance, in which I ask the Spirit to reveal His secret plans for me, I divine His answer through feelings, impressions, and circumstances, and then I follow what I believe to be His instructions.  On those rare occasions when God wanted to give special instructions to individuals, as recorded in Scripture, He SPOKE to them.  He’s God.  He can do that.  If He has some special instructions for you, as He did, for example, for Abraham, or for Moses, or for the Apostle Paul, He can tell you.
It is difficult enough for me to attempt to follow God’s revealed will---to love Him with all my heart and my neighbor as myself.  It was never God’s intention that I should attempt to discern some secret plan for my life. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God.  But those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)    

For more on this topic, you might like my two-part sermon series called “Finding God’s Will for Your Life.”  You can find it at   If you want to get your own car from the future, I can introduce you to a relatively human-like salesperson.

1 comment:

  1. The other day I found Pretty Boy siphoning gas out of our car. I think he's jealous of our miles per gallon and he was trying to surreptitiously (yes, it's a word, PB) reduce them. He drives monster vehicles that average -3 mpg. That is, the more gas he puts in, the fewer miles he can drive.