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The Good Earth.
December 25, 2006 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Christmas reading from Apollo 8. This is what they saw.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (30 comments total)

 
Too bad they spoiled that profound and beautiful view with all that religious ululating.
posted by interrobang at 7:06 AM on December 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, because we all know Christmas is just about the consumerism, even in space.
posted by chuq at 7:18 AM on December 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting that, by the way, Brandon. I remember seeing that footage live (or almost live at least) when I was about six, during my I-want-to-be-an-astronaut days.
posted by chuq at 7:41 AM on December 25, 2006


I'm an (atheist-leaning) agnostic, but I think that was really stirring and beautiful... Thanks for posting it :)
posted by amyms at 8:16 AM on December 25, 2006


I can remember being so excited about this when I was a wee tot, and when they told us they could see Santa from space, I just about lost it.

Thanks for the memory, Brandon.
posted by briank at 8:49 AM on December 25, 2006


lovely, thanks! merry xmas to all.
posted by killy willy at 9:18 AM on December 25, 2006


I was about 10 when this went down and a serious space geek. Very cool. Thanks!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:37 AM on December 25, 2006


Yeah, because we all know Christmas is just about the consumerism, even in space.

*whoosh*
posted by mediareport at 10:06 AM on December 25, 2006


I was in grade school when the Apollo missions flew. I had almost forgotten the Apollo 8 orbit of the moon and that (still) amazing picture of the Earth rising. It was great to see it all again. This brought tears to my eyes, but in a good way, thanks Brandon.
posted by tommasz at 10:32 AM on December 25, 2006


You might not be wildly impressed about the astronauts reading out chunks of the bible (ineed, other atheists were inspired to a lawsuit) but I prefer to think about it as the astronauts trying to express some very deep sentiments and, lacking a great facility with language, reaching for the most powerful words they knew, namely chunks of the KJV.

I'm sure if they'd had a broader education they might have summoned up some Shakespeare or Milton, but personally I'm just grateful they didn't launch into "The Star Spangled Banner."
posted by Luddite at 10:55 AM on December 25, 2006


Oh, dude, I'm as atheist as they come, but anyone who isn't moved just about to the point of tears by the final line of that transmission isn't worth knowing.

And on that note, let me add our blessings as well - to every last one of us sharing this beautiful planet, the good Earth.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:55 AM on December 25, 2006


Adamgreenfield, couldn't agree more.
posted by disillusioned at 12:17 PM on December 25, 2006


Not to make this a jump on Luddite thread, but come on. Broader education? Also interesting is the assumption that a broader education would have taken them away from the Bible and towards Milton or Shakespeare. Are those the two that educated atheists usually reference, and if so, why?

I think that anyone educated would still be drawn to the Bible here, or at least some other religious text. Being in space is an experience that seems well suited for religious imagery.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 12:51 PM on December 25, 2006


Ah, feel free to jump on; I was trying to be vaguely supercilious about evangelical Atheists, so I have it coming. I have no idea how educated the various astronauts were in the arts, and neither Shakespeare nor Milton are exactly what you'd call atheist-fodder. But personally (as an avowed non-atheist) I'd probably have quoted something else. Just don't ask me what, exactly. Possibly Planet of the Apes.
posted by Luddite at 2:04 PM on December 25, 2006


I saw it at age 13. My old man was a subcontractor on the Apollo program (LM fuel system) and, well, there were no other viewing choices to be sure. I and my four brothers were transfixed. The only thing that YouTube link might not communicate fully is the awe we, and no doubt, others, felt at the time.
Much has changed since then.
posted by nj_subgenius at 2:19 PM on December 25, 2006


No matter your personal beliefs, there's no doubt that the KJV Bible contains some of the most poetic and moving writing in history. There would be very few readings as appropriate as what was read. God doesn't mind if you're an atheist.
posted by The Deej at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2006


Somebody should make a movie about that Lovell guy. They could get a good, all-American, award-winning, famly-friendly, much beloved comedic/dramatic actor to play him.

Somebody like Steve Martin.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:38 PM on December 25, 2006


Yes, nothing complements one of the supreme achievements of humanity like the reading of someone's creation myth. Good points, guys.
posted by interrobang at 7:22 PM on December 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


Give it a rest, Ebenezer.

Great post, Brandon. Well done.
posted by Doohickie at 7:38 PM on December 25, 2006


I think the point is that the supreme achievements of humanity pale in comparison to the achievements of Creation (whether you believe God/Nature/FSM/or whatever created it.)

Our "supreme achievement" was just a few guys in a tin can, not even causing the equivalent of a ripple in the ocean. So the reading was an appropriate reminder of this.

Oh, and it's already over with. It was done.
posted by The Deej at 8:11 PM on December 25, 2006


*whoosh*

Really. What do you do with Ebenezer Scrooge? You just shake your head and wish him a Merry Christmas anyway.
posted by chuq at 10:09 PM on December 25, 2006


Indeed. Merry Christmas! And God bless us everyone!
posted by Doohickie at 10:59 PM on December 25, 2006


I was born the next day, Christmas 1968. Makes me feel just a bit younger to know there were already men in space orbiting the moon the moment I was born.
posted by Poagao at 12:32 AM on December 26, 2006


Carl Sagan's "Reflections on a Mote of Dust" might have been a good choice, had it not been written about thirty years after this footage was shot.
posted by sindark at 12:57 AM on December 26, 2006


"I think that anyone educated would still be drawn to the Bible here, or at least some other religious text. Being in space is an experience that seems well suited for religious imagery."

Actually, it seems much better suited to rational humanist texts, as that's what put them there - not faith, not some deity, but a bunch of human beings, using logic, reason, and cooperation to achieve a goal larger than themselves.


"No matter your personal beliefs, there's no doubt that the KJV Bible contains some of the most poetic and moving writing in history. There would be very few readings as appropriate as what was read. God doesn't mind if you're an atheist."

Actually, I find the language in the KJV stilted, boring, and simplistic. Honestly, if you're not steeped in that tripe from a young age, it really doesn't do much for you, beyond seeming awkward, anachronistic, and well... silly.
posted by stenseng at 9:49 AM on December 26, 2006


Hmm, well I was never steeped in it from a young age, nor any age. When you get a chance to go into space and recite something poetic, I'm sure you will find something you find appropriate.
posted by The Deej at 9:52 AM on December 26, 2006


Aside: The KJV is basically the same English used by Shakespeare. I assume you are referring to the religious content as "tripe" and not the poetic nature of the writing. Otherwise, much of our classics would be tripe as well. Merry Christmas.
posted by The Deej at 9:56 AM on December 26, 2006


Three men in a tin can hurtling to the other side of the moon, farther from home than any man has ever been, not knowing if they can possibly return?

As far as I'm concerned, they can read from any text they want.
posted by dhartung at 12:22 PM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Amen, dhartung!

Oops!!! I mean: "I agree!"
posted by The Deej at 3:20 PM on December 26, 2006


That was a really nice post.
posted by puddinghead at 6:41 PM on December 26, 2006


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