Michael Cooper-White


For many of us, it had been the hardest year of our lives. An unwinnable war that began years before waged on with no end in sight. Cities around the country erupted in the aftermath of the brutal murder of a Black man named Martin. Confidence in the government was at an all-time low. An already volatile presidential campaign became fiercer when a front-runner named Kennedy was gunned down in Los Angeles. It ended with a bitterly contested election, which left fractured families and friendships in its wake. The very nature of “truth” had become debatable, especially if those making truth claims were older than 30. The nation was so polarized that many worried whether democracy could survive.

Then came December in that tumultuous year of 1968. On Christmas Eve, three American astronauts became the first humans to circle the moon. On the penultimate of ten orbits, they took turns reading from the book of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . .” They brought back one of the most famous photos of the 20th century, “Earthrise.” It reminds us still just how beautiful and vulnerable is this little sphere leased to us by the Creator, a tiny fragile floater in the vast sea of the universe.

An Adams County resident who also lives part-time in New York City, Michael Cooper-White is President Emeritus of United Lutheran Seminary and Director of Lutheran Formation at Union Theological Seminary. The opinions expressed in these columns are his own.

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