Thursday, November 30, 2006

Recently Kent and I watched the Lou Gehrig Story
starring Gary Cooper. It is certainly a very
heartrending film. We both were teary-eyed at the
end when Lou and his wife were trying to be brave for
each other.

But after the movie was over I felt cheated, let down...
and empty. The feeling haunted me some and finally I
was able to pin down the reason for it. With no reference
to the Creator and Sustainer of life, all you had was a
movie about a "nice" guy. And after it was all said and
done, all you had at the end was a "nice" guy who had died.

Chrysalis has a wonderful post on what it takes to make
literature great and worth our time to read. Quoting
Kathleen Nielson Chrysalis says that there are three parts
to great literature (and I think great movies as well.)
They are:
1. We create words (and movies) because we are created
in God's image.
2. In great books (and movies) we encounter the depth
of the fall.
3. The best books (and movies) reflect a redemptive
worldview. This is I think crucial. She says
I’m not talking about a happy ending, but about
a sense of the restoration of something lost,
even if that sense is only a haunting one.

All of this brings me finally, to the true reason I am writing
this post...a book review of Ambassador to the Penguins: A
Naturalist's Year Aboard a Yankee Whaleship by Eleanor Mathews.

What an interesting twist this biography has. Robert Murphy, a
naturalist and museum curator is given the opportunity to travel
on a whaleship to the far south for the purpose of studying
wildlife, with a special concentration on penguins. However he
is engaged to be married and so turns the opportunity down.
Grace, his financee, insists on him grasping the chance he has
been offered. They marry ahead of time and he leaves within a
few months of the wedding for a year long trip on an old time
Yankee Ship.

Murphy's actual diary was published many years ago, as was a book
of photos he took, but in this book, his grand-daughter has taken
the two previous books and combined them into a nice narrative.

Murphy is never tired of watching, catching and preserving the
teeming wildlife, especially the birds, by which he is surrounded.
His time on the ship give a good picture of what life was like on
an whaling operation. The skipper is quite the typical taciturn
sailor, but he has an interesting personality facet. He will not
allow any cursing by the men on the boat, but when he, himself,
gets out!

Mostly the book is a love story between Murphy and his beloved
and greatly missed bride. It is filled with snippets from their
letters to each other and from the posts in his diary. It is a
lovely book.

And yet, I can't help but wish he could have turned his thoughts
as the Psalmist did in Psalm 104:24-31 toward the Creator.

O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions--
This great and wide sea,
In which are innumerable teeming things,
Living things both small and great.
There the ships sail about;
There is that Leviathan
Which You have made to play there.
These all wait for You,
That You may give them their good in due season.
What You give them they gather in;
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.
You hide Your face, they are troubled;
You take away their breath,
They die and return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
May the Lord rejoice in His works.


e-Mom said...

Wow. What an excellent review! I will have to get this book... and let my daughter read it first. :~)This is EXACTLY the sort of story she loves. (She's a skilled sailor and oceanographer, with bacteria reasearch in the Galapagos last spring. And she's very pretty to boot!)

I couldn't imagine sending my new husband off on a long ocean voyage like the naturalist in this story, could you? And yet, that's exactly what our daughter and her long-term boyfriend are doing too. (He's the voyager--with the NOAA Corps.) My husband and I scratch our heads, but their relationshiop seems to be working, thanks to regular e-mail, phone calls, and snail mail.

Thanks for taking the time to write this. I agree with you-- stories which lack a redemptive Christian world view fall flat in the end. We thrive on hope and Truth, don't we?

And thanks for the link! Have a wonderful weekend, Laurie. Big hugs!

Laurie said...

e-mom, I was wondering what kind of scientist she was. How exciting!

Tammy said...

What a wonderful post!

I remember seeing "PRide of the Yankees" for the first time as a young teen and crying my eyes out.
But your right... there is a sense of incompleteness in that story.

The book you reviews sounds intriguing and I will keep my eye out for it!