Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Time And Chance

This summer, I watched the video version flying back from Vietnam. This is from April 5, 2012.
I finished. After a month or so of reading, last night I completed Stephen King's mammoth historical novel, 11/22/63. I know I have mentioned this several times, but my undertaking the book is due to two Daves; my brother, Dave, who was reading it over the holidays and our minister, Dave Yasko, who graciously loaned me his copy. From the first page, I was fascinated both by the concept and King's writing style. Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in Maine, is shown a portal to the past by a dying man who begs Jake to go back and stop the Kennedy assassination with the belief that the present would be a much better world. The portal or rabbit hole, an Alice in Wonderland reference, always is entered at the same place/date in 1958. After several trial runs and supplied with money and volumes of notes about assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, Epping, who changes his name to George Amberson, embarks on a five year effort to save the US from the shooting of John Kennedy in Dallas on the date stamped on the book cover. (DISCLAIMER: King makes frequent use of profanity and there are several sexual situations portrayed.) He finds unexpected obstacles in his quest, mainly that he falls in love and he comes to the conclusion that the past is obdurate, or extremely stubborn, about being changed. He also finds when he returns to the present after preventing Oswald from shooting President Kennedy at the very last moment, that allowing Kennedy to live somehow turned the world into a much more sinister place due to the butterfly effect. I hope I didn't ruin it for anyone but if you're a history buff and you don't mind investing some time with Stephen King, it will be worth your hours. I was left wishing for another hundred pages.

As I looked online about 11/22/63, I learned that King had his original concept for the book way back in 1971, only eight years after the assassination. What a difference it would have made if it had been penned when the national wound was barely healed if healed at all. I'm no believer in time travel but I became engrossed with King's hammering on the fact that every decision, every action has consequences, which seems amazingly like one of the laws of physics. I do know that my showing up at a softball game changed the direction of a friend's life, enabling him to attain a new set of friends who led him to move to a new city which I doubt was conceivable without that chance encounter. But throwing out the what ifs, we still make choices each day that affect the destinies of others, even the unborn. Yesterday, within an hour of each other, I saw two women, both who appeared to be about seven months pregnant. The first was in the parking lot of a nearby Auto Zone, watching a guy change a flat tire, smoking a cigarette. A short while later, I witnessed a young Asian mother-to-be doing yoga and breathing exercises by herself while I lifted weights. Without judging, most of us would say that the child of the second lady has a better chance in life simply because of conscious actions his/her mother is making in the present. Do you know what's odd? The only reason I saw the first lady was because I was stopped at a red light several blocks away but it would take another paragraph to explain. If the light had been green, I would have no illustration tonight. We all can cite similar examples.

I also know this: the most conscious choice ever made changed the fabric of history down to the tiniest thread. Jesus willingly chose the cross over the human coronation some were willing to give Him. During the crucifixion, the  temple curtain was ripped in two, a sign of the magnitude of the moment. Stephen King did not write his book for religious reasons but what he put on paper has challenged my perspective on my own life and its relation to time and God and to every other person on earth. John Donne's no man is an island sentiment is far-fetched to some but it at least has some cosmic harmony with King's analogies. Repeatedly, King alludes to the harmony between the past and the present. Well, how's this for harmony? Last week, my brother, Dave, took his seventh grade history class on a long distance field trip to ........the Texas School Book Depository, Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination perch on that November day in Dallas. And guess what Dave told me is being sold in the Kennedy museum there? Stephen King's 11/22/63! WOW! I can only think of one thing that could tie this up perfectly. Do you think they could start selling the book I wrote along side King's? That would be a great return on my one month investment. I don't think the past or the present would object.

Applicable quote of the day:
"When all of us are forgotten, people will still be remembering Stephen King.''
Leslie Fiedler 

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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