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Neat! Way Cool! Awesome!

Artists like to have their work admired. That is why we worship.
1997This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

To liven up a children's sermon, my pastor brought in Ralphie, a pet crayfish. "What do you think about Ralphie?" he asked, as the crayfish waved his claws menacingly. The kids responded with gusto: Cool! Neat! Way cool! Awesome!

Next the pastor read us words used to describe crayfish in the dictionary—decapod crustacean, invertebrate—and drew a contrast between science and worship. Each has its place, he said. But artists like to have their work admired. If you show your parents artwork, you don't want to hear, "This appears to be a crayon drawing on pulp-wood paper," but something more like, Beautiful! I love it! That is why we worship.

John Calvin urges us "not to pass over, with ungrateful inattention or oblivion, those glorious perfections which God manifests in his creatures." After several trips "down under," I came away with a new reverence for "those glorious perfections."

On my first visit, I went whale-watching off the coast of New Zealand. Bobbing about in a rubber dinghy, we felt very small next to a sperm whale, whose tongue weighs as much as an elephant. The whale would rest on the surface for a while, then spout spectacularly a few times before plunging a mile deep to feed on squid.

Between whale sightings the guide, a Maori biologist, described other sea life. When a royal albatross soared by, he rhapsodized about these "kings of the air." Their wings, spanning 11 feet, are so well-designed that an albatross can cover 600 miles with less flapping of its wings than a sparrow needs to cross a street. An albatross can sleep on the wing, flying on autopilot thanks to a small windspeed recorder in its bill that sends data to the brain, allowing it to make wing adjustments as the wind shifts. Also, an ...

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Philip Yancey
Philip Yancey is editor at large of Christianity Today and cochair of the editorial board for Books and Culture. Yancey's most recent book is What Good Is God?: In Search of a Faith That Matters. His other books include Prayer (2006), Rumors of Another World (2003), Reaching for the Invisible God (2000), The Bible Jesus Read (1999), What's So Amazing About Grace? (1998), The Jesus I Never Knew (1995), Where is God When It Hurts (1990), and many others. His Christianity Today column ran from 1985 to 2009.
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