October 9, 2006

Poor Pluto!
By Pastor George Van Alstine

In 1930 astronomers discovered a ninth planet in our solar system. Since the other planets (except Earth) are named after Greek and Roman gods, many god-names were considered before “Plutoâ€? was finally selected. The new planet orbited so far from the sun that it was perpetually dark and only about 45 degrees above absolute zero, so Pluto, the god of the dark, cold Underworld, seemed to be the planet’s appropriate mythological portrayal.

Pluto has been our most mysterious planet since its discovery. It is so far away that, unlike all the other planets of the solar system, it has not yet been explorable by human space programs. However, recent scientific conversations, based on information gathered by modern powerful telescopes and mathematical calculations, have recently resulted in the demotion of Pluto from planet status. Now it is referred to as a “dwarf planet.â€?

Fascinating internet blog conversations have included vehement protests by some Pluto purists who consider the new designation an insult. How can a planet lose its status after seventy years as one of the Elite Nine? What did poor Pluto do to deserve this? You get the feeling that some of the protesters take this very personally, as though they themselves are being diminished and devalued.

People who identify with Pluto may have another of the name’s manifestations in mind—Mickey Mouse’s faithful dog. The canine Pluto gets no respect! Another dog emerged in the Disney world during the same period—the early 1930’s. He was so dumb he was given the name “Goofy.â€? But as stupid as Goofy was, he was blessed by Disney with something Pluto didn’t have: He could talk! All Pluto could come up with was a growl or a bark. Have you considered how unjust that is?

Prejudice against Pluto began in Greek mythology. The physical world was divided by lot between three brothers: Zeus received the inhabited lands, Poseidon gained control over the seas, Pluto drew the short straw and became lord of the Underworld, the realm of the dead. Since then, all Plutos, whether gods or dwarf planets or cartoon dogs, have been nothing but losers.

So, I have a word of encouragement for all those who identify with Pluto. Do you feel you have no voice? Like a dwarf among giants? Is your “kingdomâ€? what’s left over after everyone else gets the good stuff? Is that what’s bothering you, Pluto?

Well, hear the Good News from the Lord of all kingdoms and planets, the Voice of the voiceless:

“Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ â€? (1 Corinthians 26-31)

You may not be respected in this world, but you’re just the kind of nobody God wants to use.