“Is flying really a miracle?” Mike Cosper asks his dad in this issue’s lead article. “Not really. Planes have to fly,” his dad answers. “It’s natural. It’s necessary. Planes fly because that’s just how the world works.”
As with many articles in The Behemoth, Mike’s piece on peregrine falcons sparked a number of wonderings and wanderings as I was editing. I found myself engrossed in the autobiography of Lyman Beecher, the revivalist Presbyterian minister and leading social reformer of the early 1800s. In it, he tells of Betty, a Christian Montaukett woman he knew, who saw a flock of geese fly overhead.
“Oh,” said she, “that the Lord would give me one of those brand to keep Thanksgiving day!” And immediately a duck-hawk [peregrine falcon] darted from a tree on the rising ground and flew into the flock, and struck one of the brand dead. It is a kind of hawk that kills by the stroke, knocking the breath out of the body. The bird fell not far distant, and she went and picked it up, fully believing that God sent it [to] her for a Thanksgiving dinner.
A miracle? Not really, Beecher suggests. That’s what those falcons do. They knock prey birds out of the sky. But yes, a miracle too.
Another Thanksgiving, Betty was gathering offal, liver, and other castoffs near Colonel Gardiner’s barn as Gardiner slaughtered animals for the feast. Beecher wrote:
“Come here, Betty,” says Colonel Gardiner, and packed her basket full of good solid meat, and handed it to her. . . . At last she lifted up her hands and said, “Thank the Lord for giving me this meat! Thank you too, Colonel Gardiner!”
“She understood the doctrine of second causes,” Beecher wrote. “That was as orthodox as a minister could have said.”
It’s that beautiful orthodoxy we strive for in The Behemoth as well, seeing God at work, the people at work in his world, and “how the world works,” all in the same actions.
This issue marks our first anniversary. Happy birthday to us. Thank the Lord for giving us this year. And thank you too, subscriber, for being part of it!
A red-tailed hawk just flew by my window as I typed these words. Time to wonder and wander some more. On to year two!
—Ted Olsen, co-editor
The Behemoth is a small magazine about a big God and his big world. From the editors of Christianity Today, these articles aim to help people behold the glory of God all around them, in the worlds of science, history, theology, medicine, sociology, Bible, and personal narrative.
Get full access to The Behemoth archives on any device when you subscribe to Christianity Today.
- Finding Flight with the Falcons
Considering the peregrine, who are we to think we belong in the air? /
- ‘God Blew, and They Were Scattered’
God may or may not have played a role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. What mattered is that everyone at the time thought he did. /
- Perhaps This Mid-May
28 cycles of waiting. Then a final message. /
- Width, Length, Height, Depth
‘I can look nowhere / but up the sheer red walls’ /
- Wonder on the Web
Issue 27: Links to amazing stuff /
Unlock This Article for a Friend
To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.