Desolation in the heart
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2020 - 12:00am

NASA has launched its Mars 2020 Spacecraft to explore Mars and to determine if there is life in that planet. Curiously this reminds me of an episode I watched on Netflix and my feelings are aptly described by the writer of this article entitled: “Rescue from Desolation.”

“I’ve never heard such a load of pretentious self-piteous nonsense,” bellowed His Royal Highness. “What you lot need to do is to get off your backsides, get out into the world, and bloody well do something!”

It was 1969, and Prince Philip had been invited to support the founding of St. George’s House.

Apollo 11 had just landed on the moon, and the Prince couldn’t understand why these people were wasting their time talking, thinking, and looking inwards, when there was so much to achieve and to conquer. Many of us have been exposed to the drama of these events thanks to Netflix’s hit series The Crown.

The parallels with our 2020 world are telling. In a post-truth world, we are conditioned and encouraged to put our feelings first. Feelings before truth. Feelings before reality. Feelings before sacrifice. Feelings before others.

On that cloudy London morning, Prince Philip was in a post-truth state of mind. The reality of human self-centeredness transcends nations, ethnicities, cultures, and millennia. We want financial security, pleasure, fame, wealth, convenience, Instagram likes, and the list goes on. These are the crowns that we seek – crowns that make us monarchs over our own lives.

In the week that followed Prince Philip’s first appearance at St. George’s House, he was dealt a cruel blow to his confidence in the glory of human achievement. It was punctuated by an underwhelming meeting with the astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission. “I didn’t know what I was thinking. But I expected them to be giants, gods. In reality they were just three little men. Pale faced with colds,” said the Prince to the Queen.

Many of us have been dealt a similar blow. The things we put our hopes in have proven themselves far from infallible giants and more like pale faced idols with colds – or rather, with viruses. Our merry march of self-fulfilling kingdom-building has imploded. The onset of COVID-19 has seen stability replaced with panic, and predictability replaced with anxiety.

“On the cross, Jesus paid the price for our brokenness. He brought together love, justice, and mercy in one historical moment. He conquered our desolation.”

In her Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead, Marilynne Robinson famously wrote of the two realities of creation we cannot escape: the world’s insufficiency to us and our insufficiency to the world. No matter how well we do and how much we achieve, there is something about us and our world that is not quite right. At a time of viral uncertainty, this truth is even more obvious: we don’t just need more effort, more achievement, or more conquest. We need rescue.

We have looked for the answers within ourselves, and all we find are more questions. We continue to conquer the realms of technology, finance, medicine, education, engineering, and outer space. But when it comes to addressing our need for rescue, all we have found—in the words of Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon—has been “magnificent desolation.”

Ascending to the heights of human achievement has not worked. Perhaps it’s time to look to the one who ascended to a cross two thousand years ago on that dark Jerusalem afternoon. On the first Good Friday, Jesus Christ tore down the barrier of human imperfection that separates us from God. On the cross, Jesus showed us that truth is more important than feelings, that love is more important than achievement, and that justice need not give way to mercy. On the cross, Jesus paid the price for our brokenness. He brought together love, justice, and mercy in one historical moment. He conquered our desolation.

One week after his contemptuous outburst, Prince Philip returned to St. George’s House, a transformed man. “Without faith, what is there?” he asked. “The loneliness and emptiness and anti-climax of going all that way to the moon to find nothing, but haunting desolation... as opposed to finding wonder, ecstasy, the miracle of divine creation, God’s design and purpose.”

And then the writer continues “Apollo 11 - that “giant leap for mankind” – showed us the magnificent desolation of the moon. But how do we deal with the magnificent desolation in our hearts? The answers lie, as it always has, at the Cross of Jesus Christ: one giant act of God, one giant rescue for humankind.”1 Max Jeganathan wrote this article and he is from Ravi Zacharias International Ministry.

Good piece and something for all of us to ponder on. And by the way, “The Crown,” the series from Netflix - it’s good stuff!

(Connect with Francis Kong at Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)


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