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
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.)
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
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 riled...watch 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
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.