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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vacation Apologetics - Desolate Places and Desperate People

When I started sharing my vacation as a way to teach and learn about our faith, I wondered if I would wither get repetitive or not have anything to write about. But, there are teachable moments everywhere, even in the most desolate places.  We left Cedar City, Utah and took Highway 56 west to Nevada.  At the 93 junction, we decided to save some time and drive toward Carson City via the 375.  This highway has a warning sign stating that there are no services for 150 miles-and they were absolutely right.  There was nothing but desert and a few cattle as far as the eye could see for over two hours of driving. (To see the area, click here.)  Such trips make one a little leery – suppose we break down?  Without cell services how would we call for help and how long would it take to arrive? But we did prepare for the long ride ahead of time - we have food, liquids, and plenty of in-car entertainment for the kids.

On the other side of the long desert stands a lone town, Tonopah Nevada. We pull in for gas and I find myself standing in line behind Dennis Avner, who is considered to have one of the most extreme body modifications ever.  He's had tattoos, various silicone implants, teeth modifications, and whisker implants among other things as he tries to make himself look as much like a tiger as possible.  I had previously seen a documentary that highlighted Avner in one segment, so I recognized him immediately (who couldn't?)  Later, I found out that Tonopah is his hometown.

In the article linked above, Avner states that his desire to be tiger-like is the dominant driving force of his life.When asked about any relationships, he responds "I'm seeing a couple of women at the moment. They understand that being a tiger is more important to me than humanity, which is difficult for many women to cope with." Being a cat is more important than humanity?  Avner is clearly confused in his priorities. He IS human.  He says he has an office job, so he conforms to some societal standards when they suit his needs.  (He also obviouly doesn't shun medical procedures!) Changing one's physical appearance and wanting to feel like you are another animal are as shallow as the racist who also assigns value based on appearances or skin color. I cannot judge all of what drives Avner to his mania, but I do know that there is a desperation for God in every human heart - a God-shaped vacuum, Pascal called it.  We can either recognize it, search for other things to try and fill it, or simply try to numb it so we can't feel it anymore.

The town of Tonopah is an oasis of humanity surrounded by hundreds of miles of lonely desert.  Even there, no one can hide from their need for God.  Avner can try to be a cat, but in reality he's a human bing who has to conform to some human societal precepts in order to live.  He's seeking something in his appearance that will never be totally fulfilling. That's why we need to share the Gospel.  Because no matter how big the oasis, people are still desperate for God.

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