At our dinner table last week, I surprised my wife, Becky, by telling her that I wanted to see Jordan Peele’s new movie, “Nope.”
“Are you really going to see that thing?” she asked.
I didn’t understand her question. She knows I’m a sucker for an alien sci-fi movie.
“Yup, I wanna see ‘Nope.’”
“What does Nope even mean anyway?” Becky asked.
“Not sure,” I said, “but online speculation says NOPE is an acronym for ‘Not of Planet Earth.’”
“Aliens?” she said.
“I hope so,” I said with widening eyes.
“For Pete’s sake!” Her trademark expression suggested a single-ticket purchase, not exactly a date-night movie.
“Don’t you believe in life on other planets? Extraterrestrials?” I asked.
“Oh brother! Now you believe in aliens?”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Well, for one, they aren’t even in the Bible.”
“It’s not a theological issue for me,” I said. “It’s one of math.”
“Oh, good grief!” she said, as she shuttled dishes to the sink.
I followed her, as I always do.
“In the billions times infinitely-more billions of planets in our universe, do you really think it’s mathematically possible for us to be alone?”
Neither one of us do math well, so I abandoned the hyperbole and admitted she was right to say that the Bible doesn’t mention aliens.
Why would it?
However, I do see a leaning in that direction.
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The opening scripture of the Bible in Genesis says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Follow this thinking through additional books of the Bible, and near the end Colossians 1:16 will give you pause. “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible….”
The Bible just doesn’t rule out the existence of life elsewhere in the universe.
Most of you are likely siding with Becky — people usually do. You’re both wondering how “little green men” have become a topic for a spirituality column.
The idea of other worlds is in stark contrast with the teaching of the 16th century church that promoted a geocentric world view.
Their theory that the entire universe literally rotated around Earth was debunked by Nicolaus Copernicus in the 1500s. Gladly, we know now that we aren’t the literal center of our physical universe.
Yet there are some ways the geocentric idea has been reincarnated in today’s political views. The recent rise in Christian nationalism promotes the troubling view that our nation is the center of God’s concern.
It’s not. John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the WORLD …” That’s the created world of the heavens and the earth.
This verse encourages us to shed our selfishness and self-importance. It forces us to abandon the thinking that places us at the center of our personal universe.
It means that when I gaze into the stars, watching for meteorites, satellites and the Northern Lights I have to suppose we aren’t alone, not on this globe or even in our universe. I see in those stars the true reach of God’s second-greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
On my return from the theater a few nights later, Becky asked what “Nope” was all about.
“It’s about a carnivorous alien, shaped like a big jellyfish, that swoops out from behind the clouds to vacuum-suck its human victims.”
As for the title, it simply means, “Nope.” The main character uses it in much the same way my father did when I asked to borrow the family car. “Nope. That ain’t happening.”
Rotten Tomatoes gives the movie a 87% approval rating, but Becky rates the movie as a double “For Pete’s sake.”
And to my readers who often root for Becky over me, I agree with her. It’s nope to “Nope” for me.
Fun space fact about Norris Burkes: He was assigned as launch chaplain for Cape Canaveral Air Station, Florida, from 1999-2001.
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