It was the spring of 1968, Steve Duncan and I had just been to see the sci-fi movie, “2001 — A Space Odyssey.” I was 17 and Steve would turn 17 in June. We were both finishing up our junior year at Kingsport, Tennessee’s Dobyns-Bennett High School. We were discussing the unusual film.
Eventually, we turned to speculation about what 2001 would really look like. Would we be into the vast regions of space? Would robots have life and death power over humans? After all, at that time, man had not yet walked on the moon. That would be another year yet. We concluded that it really didn’t matter. After all, in 2001 we would be nearly dead. We would be 50! Unimaginable to two 17-year-old teens.
A few days ago I was skimming through a movie channel searching for something to watch. I viewed a trailer of “Back to the Future, Part II.” That’s where Marty McFly snags a hoverboard, a type of skateboard without wheels that defies gravity.
There are flying cars, cars that are fueled by garbage and not fossil fuels, and a host of futuristic doo-dads and innovations. Those who have seen the “Back to the Future” trilogy will recall that Marty’s “real life” is set in 1985. In the first movie he travels back in time to 1955 before returning home. In the second movie, Marty and crew travel all the way to … 2015. Yep, six years ago. Where’s my hoverboard?
Sci-fi writers do seem to be able to glean what the future might hold. Although Dick Tracy was not a sci-fi cartoon character, he did have a two-ay wrist radio and today we have watches that double as cell phones and even have other uses. Star Trek had those wonderful doors that automatically opened as one approached. Today, those are so commonplace, we might even walk into the door if it fails to open on time.
Sometimes sci-fi visionaries, and even folks steeped in science, get it wrong. At least they get the timing wrong. Most people back in the late 1960s and early 1970s thought that, by now, we’d have colonies on the moon and probably even on Mars. While we have sent unmanned probes beyond the solar system, we still have no evidence that life exists anywhere else in the universe, whatever the speculation may be. So, for now, we need not fret about the Klingons, the Borg, or that our Independence Day this year may spell the doom of humanity.
Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed. I really would like to see those Star Trek vaccinations and medications given through the cloth by our own Dr. McCoy with a device that uses no needles and inflicts no pain. And, as much as I appreciated all the modern medical gadgets that aid in both treatments and diagnosis, I long for a tricorder that the physician can just wave over me like a security wand and instantly know whether I am healthy or have the plague.
And what about transportation? Where are those flying cars and buses? Life would be so much easier if I could just demolecularize my body and have it transported and reassembled at my destination. Just “Beam me up, Scotty.” Gas prices are the highest they’ve been in seven years, yet I have plenty of garbage that just, pardon the pun, goes to waste.
It’s probably a good thing we don’t have hover boards. Way back in junior high, I took a ride on a new device — a skateboard which was about half the width of skateboards today — and it didn’t end well. Maybe I should not have tried to ride down a hill paved with asphalt the first time I stepped on it. I never tried again and it took a month to heal.
I suppose people will always speculate about the future, even if they seldom get it right. We didn’t live in the sci-fi world of 2001 nor of 2015. On the other hand, we don’t live in the world of “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” a post-apocalyptic film released in 1985 and set all the way into 1999.
Jesus said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34 KJV). After all, this is the only day we really have. We should live it fully and the future will arrive soon enough.
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). The church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life). He may be contacted at email@example.com.]