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“In outer space, no one can hear you scream.” So read the foreboding advertisement for the 1979 sci-fi thriller, Alien. Sometimes fictional space creatures don’t provide the biggest scare. Having recently watched the box office hit, Gravity several weeks ago, I can say that I came away more uneasy from that than from watching yesteryear’s Alien. Here’s why:

1) The beauty of outer space is seductive. Watching the earth rotate in the background was breathtaking (don’t settle for less than an IMAX viewing!). One really marvels at the beauty of the earth as it passes beneath the characters struggling in their dilemma far above its safe environment. We are drawn to the unknown to explore it, to understand it, to master it, true to our Genesis heritage. But just as sure as what the serpent promised Adam and Eve was outside their capacity to possess – to become divine – so what outer space promises is outside our capacity to live. Once that becomes clear when life support systems are compromised, the beauty of outer space becomes something that threatens our existence and so, becomes frightening.

2) The plight of alone-ness. God’s assessment, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” rings true when Sandra Bullock’s character faces that reality. When she contemplates her death all alone in outer space, it is a sad thought. But then she says words to the effect, “I wish someone could pray for me. No one taught me how to pray.” In a post-Christian world, that sentence will be spoken by more than a fictional character or two. The implications of those words affected me the most. The Christian knows he or she is never apart from the Creator and Redeemer and can derive comfort from that truth even in the worst situation. How can we communicate that to a world that searches for the divine within themselves and will discover, too late, that their “inner” space is devoid of it?

The age of rail travel coined this ditty: “Never sleep in an upper berth ‘cause gravity pulls you down to earth.” Space-age Gravity is filled with enough gravitas to engage people to talk about some important down-to-earth fears.