Happy Days was one of the most popular shows on television when I was in high school. The sitcom idealized American life in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s. Ron Howard (“Richie Cunningham”) was the star; Erin Moran played his kid sister, “Joanie.” Now the actress has made headlines once again, but for a tragic reason: she was found dead last Saturday at the age of fifty-six. Moran had reportedly been living in a Holiday Inn Express after struggling with homelessness.
The death of a Happy Days star feels like a sign of the times, but there’s more to the story.
While Erin Moran’s life came to a tragic end, Ron Howard has become a very successful movie director and actor. Henry Winkler (“Fonzie”) is a multi-millionaire with regular television appearances and multiple credits as a director, producer, and author. Tom Bosley (“Mr. Cunningham”) frequently appeared on television; Marion Ross (“Mrs. Cunningham”) has been nominated for several Emmys and continues to act at the age of eighty-six.
How we choose to see the world is usually how we see the world. Consider three examples in today’s news.
One: The French elections
The New York Times calls Sunday’s vote a “full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties.” Since the country moved to a direct popular vote in 1965, the French presidency has been won each time by a candidate representing either the major center-right or the major center-left parties. For the first time, neither party survived to the second round of voting. The outcome would seem to presage more political turbulence for the global economy.
However, US stock futures rose sharply after the results came in. Centrist Emmanuel Macron is widely expected to defeat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the May 7 runoff. According to one analyst, yesterday’s outcome is “a solid vote in favor of a more solidly integrated Europe.”
Two: American politics
President Trump’s approval rating stands at 42 percent, a historic low. However, 96 percent of those who voted for him say they would do so again; 94 percent of them approve of the job he has done so far.
Three: NASA’s Cassini spacecraft
After twenty years in space and thirteen years in Saturn’s system, the craft’s mission is coming to an end. It will dive through Saturn’s rings and plummet into the planet on September 15. However, the spacecraft has been a spectacular success, providing information for more than 3,000 scientific reports and amassing 1.2 million Twitter followers.
And Cassini has been a daily reminder of the greatness of our God.
The craft traveled some 870 million miles to its current location. However, our sun’s gravitational forces reach out past Saturn to a distance of two light years. That’s 11,757,250,746,267.2 miles. The distance from Earth to the edge of the observable universe is estimated to be 2.7 x 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles.
And God measures all of that with the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).
If you’re a Christian, the most pivotal decision you’ll make today is whether to view your faith through the prism of your world or your world through the prism of your faith. The former limits divine omnipotence to human finitude; the latter says boldly to God, “I know that you can do all things” (Job 42:2).
There is no third option. Choose wisely today.