From the Earth to the Moon

This blogpost is in response to the assigned task to watch Episode 10, “Galileo Was Right” of From the Earth to the Moon. This is a reflection on the themes present in this particular episode.

It’s not just flying to the moon.

            This episode deals with educating astronauts ahead of the Apollo 15 mission. Since their mission is more than just “fly to the moon and take some pictures,” these astronauts need to be educated on more than just how their spacecraft flies. They will be collecting samples of rocks and need to know what to look for. More than this, they need to have an actual appreciation for what they are looking for and what it means. They need to learn to see the story in their surroundings and interpret it.

It’s not just academic.

            As part of their education, at first the astronauts were stuck in a classroom with professor just speaking information. He seems to have been a more boring version of Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The poor astronauts were incredibly bored. Even worse, they were not engaged with the material that they needed to know in order to be effective in their mission. They would have finished the course of instruction without understanding what they needed to be successful.

Inspiration is key.

            When the right professors were found, they not only understood the information that they needed to provide, but they engaged the astronauts in the learning. Dr. Silver took the astronauts out of the classroom and into the desert where they explored. He helped them to see the beauty in the rocks that they were looking at and describe the formations. They learned to ask the question of “how did this get here?” Instead of being taught just answers, they were taught to search for the nugget that stood out. They also learned to describe what they saw with sufficient detail that someone listening could sketch it out. These men were not just taught facts; they were taught to observe.

What can we learn from this?

            Perhaps we have often seen the pastor’s job as simply giving out information about what’s in the Bible. There can be a genuine temptation to stand in the pulpit and spout information that people halfheartedly listen to and decide to apply sporadically. This, however, does not form people spiritually, and it does not make disciples. What it does is set people up to land somewhere without knowing what they’re looking for. It sets them up for mission failure. Our job as spiritual leaders is to give people an appreciation of the overall story of scripture and show them where we are in its narrative. We need to teach them to observe, to appreciate, and to notice the nuggets. People cannot adequately love and worship God if they do not know how to see and interpret His work. So, we must prepare them for that!