I am reading (actually listening to an audio) the book, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson and have learned so much. I am struck by the visionary leaders and the city, and to some degree, the whole country, taking on such a massive project – the 1893 World’s Fair – and seeing all that they were able to accomplish. A group of people daring to dream big, daring to actually do something larger than most people imagined possible, daring to overcome much skepticism and hurdles to achieve greatness. With much hard work, they were successful. They were willing to take a risk.
We truly cannot appreciate the value and opportunity the World’s Fair brought to the world. It was like a real-time, in person, 3-dimensional access to the internet but for a limited time only (6 months) and limited to the topics for which exhibits had been created. But from May to October of 1893, some of the most interesting and advanced ideas were on display. In fact, just having the
Fair to plan for inspired so many new ideas and creative inventions, idea sharing, and experimentation that it is fascinating to consider what was born out of this event. Here are a few:
- Writing and reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance by children across the US
- Moving Walkway
- Indoor air conditioning
- Forerunner of the zipper
- Ferris Wheel
- The first electric kitchen
- Aunt Jemima pancake mix
- Shredded wheat
- Cream of wheat
- Past Blue Ribbon Beer (named because it won a blue ribbon as the best beer at the fair!)
- First exhibition of Tesla Alternating Current (AC) electricity – and for many the first time they say lightbulbs light up the nighttime sky
- Juicy Fruit gum
- Third Rail- elevated tracks
- Vertical files
- First commemorative coin from the US Mint and first Commemorative stamp from the US Postal Service
- The first filtered and treated drinking water en mass
- Milton Hershey bought chocolate manufacturing equipment to expand his caramel making business.
Just think about all of the positive additions that came out of the goal of tackling puttingon a World’s Fair. Did it come with cost? Of course. Did it come with disagreement? Absolutely. Did it involve taking risks? Yes. Was it worth it? You bet.
It’s scary sometimes to take risks. The rational side of our brains can talk us out of just about everything that involves a risk and leave us living a very conservative and small life. And then we miss out on the beautiful discovery of air conditioning. Of the useful device called a zipper. The magical view from on top of a Ferris Wheel.
Or to make it more personal, the intoxicating but unpredictable experience of love. Failure to take risks can also limit our experience of this great big God we worship. God took a risk that creating us humanity would be a blessing for this world. God took a risk on us by sending Jesus Christ into this world. I’m not so sure we are willing to take any risks on God. Yet, faith in God is a sure bet. God will not let us down. And time and time again, when we take a risk, when we step out in faith, when we allow ourselves to trust God, when we seek the positive in our midst instead of tearing down with the negative and critical, God can create some amazing things out of nothing more than our trust and faith.
I pray that each of us as Christians can live more into our faith and trust of God. I pray that Centenary can see the big picture and take some risks that allow amazing and unexpected future advances to bubble up within our community. I pray that our country can live into a more trusting environment of one another. I pray that our world may be filled with people of faith who seek the good in all situations.
As I have said numerous times before, a girl can hope. I’ll take it one step further. I actually believe this can be so!
Grace and Peace,