At 7895 East Acoma Drive in Scottsdale, Arizona, the greatest hitter in baseball history lives. Well, Ted Williams’ body hangs cryogenically frozen, awaiting that moment in the future when science will allow for those who have been preserved indefinitely to be reanimated.
Another innovator, Walt Disney was rumored to be cryogenically frozen (he was actually cremated a month before the first person was ever cryogenically frozen), but his involvement here is really over the creation of the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT), originally intended to be an organized city aimed at optimism and positive futuristic developments. Disney’s understanding of the future was one aimed at utopia, or a perfect community. Isn’t it ironic that the land he purchased to build such a community is now “just” a theme park?
Both men believed that the world they lived in wasn’t the best that there was. They longed for a future. Ironically, Williams hoped to have his life preserved until it could be reanimated, although he spent most of his life hating his parents, separated from his children, and wishing he was a better person. [What about that screams, “I want to do this longer?”] Disney, on the other hand, was less concerned with what was, and hoped for what could be? Disney believed in better. He wanted to inspire people to look up, to wonder, to recognize the good that could be, rather than be stuck in the now that included orphans, bankruptcy, and other kinds of suffering.
In Genesis 3, in the archetypal story of the fall of humanity from the right relationship with God, humanity achieves ‘knowledge,’ specifically the recognition of good versus evil. Before that, they had lived in bliss, in a utopia so to speak of God’s infinite love and grace. But now, as God recognized, humanity ” has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22). So, God removed humanity from the Garden of Eden, and prevented them from living forever. Forever in pain, violence, sickness, shame, and sin. God didn’t kick humanity out of the garden because God was threatened but because God knew humanity would suffer, indefinitely. God believed that there could be something better. [And ultimately, he sent his Son to die on the cross to show us just how much better that could be.]
Cryogenics seems like a bad idea. I happen to believe our souls and our bodies aren’t necessarily one and the same, although they’re all part of the whole. I also don’t want to live forever like this, because I believe there’s something better. I believe there’s a time in the future where the kingdom of God will come upon the Earth, when all of that stuff we wrestle with will be no more. Because I believe God is going to make all things new.
Now, does that mean we can’t get better, that technology, that Tomorrowland can’t be a reality? That the future can’t hold technological and scientific advances that can make our lives better? No, I think the future can be good, because I believe God continues to move and create, even in a broken world, and we can be part of that.
So, I think between Disney and Williams, I’ll choose Disney. And maybe even give ole George (Clooney) a shot this weekend. Why might Brad Bird’s vision of Tomorrowland look like? What can we learn? How can we grow? How might the future shows us brighter glimpses of the kingdom of God?
Just be careful what you put your hope and faith in today, and tomorrow.