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“Merry Christmas to All, all of you on the Good Earth.”

December 23, 2008
Earthrise from Apollo 8

That’s the way I remember it, anyway. I think it’s pretty close to what Jim Lovell said on his Christmas Eve transmission from the Moon on December 24, 1968.

I remember sitting in our family room watching TV, and being surprised when he, Frank Borman and Bill Anders read from the Book of Genesis while showing us the Earth from space. It was a brilliant idea and deeply moving. At the time, it was the most-watched TV broadcast in history. I can imagine that they might have caught a little flak from the NASA administration when they got home. Anyway, it was forty years ago, and it was the first time anyone sent a human being’s live radio message from the Moon. It may have had more impact on me than Apollo 11’s landing did seven months later.

I know Jim Lovell is still somewhat active, and Bill Anders and Frank Borman are both still alive as well. Bill Anders apparently gave up religion after his flight to the Moon and the Biblical reading.

Some of our astronauts have had an uneasy relationship with religion. Dr. Ed Mitchell, last man to walk on the Moon, believes in alien visitation and has taken the US government to task for not telling the public. Charlie Duke, another moonwalker, became a devout Christian after his return and believes there can be no life anywhere else in the universe because it is not revealed in Scripture. James Irwin was also involved in Christian pursuits until his death in 1991. What about Neil Armstrong? No word. Armstrong is absolutely the most reclusive of the astronauts, almost never appearing in public or granting interviews.

It’s safe to say that walking on another world changes you. We’ll need a much larger statistical sample before we really know what it will be like for people to live somewhere other than on “the Good Earth.” I sure would like to see that statistical sample on the Moon and Mars in my lifetime, but I’m not holding my breath.

Until then, Merry Christmas to All, all of you on the Good Earth. I hope the celebration of the birth of the Son of God brings peace, love, and hope into your lives, as it has in mine.

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