Sunday, January 3, 2021

#3 / Amazing


This cartoon, by Pat Bagley, an editorial cartoonist for The Salt Lake City Tribune, showed up in my email inbox on November 29, 2020. The cartoon referenced a story that had run in The New York Times on November 24th. That story was titled, "A Weird Monolith Is Found in the Utah Desert." A more recent article, "Mono Mania," appeared today in The New York Times Magazine

Below is a picture of the actual object, which is triangular in shape - something not really visible from this photo. Wildlife officials discovered the monolith embedded in the rock in southeastern Utah. Authorities said they do not know how deep it goes, or how long it has been there. 

Some attribute the monolith to an art installation by the Minimalist artist John McCracken, who lived in New Mexico before his death in 2011. Others suggest that the monolith could be a sign of an extraterrestrial visit. 

The mystery only deepened when, suddenly, the monolith disappeared, a week or so after having been discovered and publicized. As I write this blog posting, nobody seems to have a convincing explanation for either how the monolith got there in the first place, or where it might have gone, and who (earthly or extraterrestrial) has been involved in either the placement or the disappearance of this mysterious object: 

The story is interesting, I'll grant, but what strikes me as most worthy of comment is the cartoon. Isn't it true that in the face of the marvel of our Natural World - and of the amazing and unexplainable fact that we are alive within in - what seems to strike us as most "amazing" is the works of our own hands?

Isaiah 2:8 does not have any good words for this behavior. And in fact, whether you take the Bible as an authority or not, the phenomenon portrayed in the cartoon has gotten us into a lot of trouble, the global warming crisis being just the latest, and perhaps the ultimately most consequential!

Pat Bagley hits it on the nose, I think. In the midst of a natural wonder, a human-made monolith is what evinces that "amazing!" reaction. 

The New Year has just begun. We do need to start taking the World of Nature more seriously than we take the human artifacts and institutions upon which we lavish most of our attention. I think it's time to take this good advice from Bob Dylan:

Gonna change my way of thinking
Make myself a different set of rules
Gonna change my way of thinking
Make myself a different set of rules
Gonna put my good foot forward
And stop being influenced by fools

Image Credits:
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(2) -


  1. If not a golden calf, please give me a monolith, to worship, as my bicameral hell is unbearable.

  2. Extraterrestrial visit is my vote, but both sides.


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