Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Day I Prayed for Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury
smiled at me, and "amen-ed" my prayer.

As one who grew up reading and relishing Bradbury's books about space travel ("The Martian Chronicles" etc), I had to smile back at him and bask in the moment.

The junior high boy I was would've loved the be the man I was now:

all grown up; now a pastor; and one who had been asked to give the invocation at a "Friends of the Library" program in Delano, California that Bradbury was to speak at.

How could I say no?

Someone had obviously talked Bradbury into making the long trip by the passenger seat.. from his Southern California home. This I know because:

Ray Bradbury,writer of all kinds of glorious books about the glories of space travel, does not drive.

Turns out that years ago, he had witnessed a terrible car accident that spooked him out of ever driving again.

Or flying, if I am not mistaken.

The author of "R is For Rocket" won't even get in a plane.

Now that "will preach," as they say.It makes a number of points about life, faith, tragedy and risk...irony preaches.

But I don't want to belittle Bradbury,or call him a wimp. Had I seen what he did, I might have made the same choice.

He gave a delightful talk on (here's a video of a library talk he gave a decade later that looks like it should've started with a prayer!) the place of imagination in life and faith.

Bradbury does not lack imagination.

And if we can travel there,maybe half the battle has been won.

As the great theologians SpongeBob and Patrick demonstrate superbly and prophetically here.

I fear the church...that includes afraid of imagination, more than any literal travel it might be called to.

" Left to their own imagination,people will devise all sorts of crazy stuff about God, " Bono once preached. Elsewhere he prescribes: "for all this: imagination!..To tell our stories, to paint pictures…but above all to glimpse another way of being. Because as much as we need to describe the world we live in, we need to dream up the kind of world we want to live in."

And if like C.S. Lewis, we shudder to think of a church without imagination; how about this reminder from Bradbury that we may not live in fantasy enough!!:
First of all, I don't write science fiction. I've only done one science fiction book and that's Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it's fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see? That's the reason it's going to be around a long time—because it's a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.[4]
So Ray Bradbury, who was partly responsible for me wanting to be an astronaut when I was young, got in the passenger seat of the car, and went home.

He probably did something bold and blatantly Christian : imagined and fantasized all the way home.

A freer man than me.

I probably walked across the street to my nice safe pastor's office.



In the "invocation" an hour before, I had surely thanked God for the wonderful gift of literature, fantasy, and imagination.

I should have gotten in the car with one of my favorite and fearless theologians.

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