The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Theory of Everything - Movie about Stephen Hawking - Black Hole Theorist with Motor Neuron Disease

From The Theory of Everything,
about Stephen Hawking.
Here is a typical sophomoric review.


In 1982, when I received a PhD at the University of Notre Dame, Stephen Hawking was given an honorary doctorate. The entire stadium became silent as his nurse lifted up his head from the wheelchair--the neck entirely limp-- to allow the doctoral stole to be put on.

We paid special attention to that moment, because our daughters Bethany and Erin Joy both suffered from a similar motor neuron disorder. Like Hawking, their intelligence was unaffected, but they slowly weakened, passing on to eternal life in 1980 and 1987. Hawking is still alive and working at age 70.

Here is the book, Angel Joy,  about our daughters -

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5009355/9317339angel_joy_sep2010.pdf

The movie originated with the book his first wife wrote about him, so it is faithful in telling his life and quite romantic as well. They fell in love just as his disorder was making itself known. Some call it ALS (Lou Gerig's Disease) in the movie, and others say it is similar to ALS. Jane Hawking persisted in marrying him and taking care of his needs for 30 years. They have three children and grandchildren as well.

I recall the global gasp as he divorced Jane to marry his foxy nurse, who apparently abused him. He divorced that nurse and is on good terms with Jane again.

Bethany loved the camera, and had the best smiles for each picture.
O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road

And hear the angels sing.

Motor neuron diseases can affect thinking, but Hawking was spared that difficulty, just as our daughters were. We learned to communicate with their facial expressions as we asked them about important issues, like, "Which dress do you want to wear?"

Erin could not always respond immediately, so I missed one cue. I asked her again, "Erin, do you want to go to the gift shop?" She threw her entire body into the reaction and off we went, pushing her wheelchair. She loved to hear debates about going to the money machine in the hospital. LI insisted on calling it the Nummy Machine. We got increasingly loud about it and took off to the place where it was located. I put in my card and out came money. "It's a money machine, not a nummy machine!" Erin Joy laughed and laughed the whole time.

What did our daughters have? No one came up with an answer and the Cleveland Clinic threw away all their records. Various world experts were consulted.  Everyone was very smart about our daughters, and knew better than we did - that is - until they got to know them.

Many clergy avoided our daughters altogether and ran from opportunities to get to know them - their loss. LCA leaders were hopeless and WELS leaders were criminally stupid, using Erin Joy's death to cover up their crimes.

Erin Joy loved her swing.



Hawking's Life
Stephen Hawking began at Oxford at the age of 17, coasted through a honors physics degree, and enrolled at Cambridge for doctoral studies. He met his future wife Jane at Oxford, and soon learned he had only two years to live (sic). Although her domestic chores are featured in the movie, Jane certainly was a major factor in Hawking's brilliant career, allowing the physicist to progress through his doctorate and establish himself as an international expert.

Hawking's A Brief History of Time has sold 10 million copies.

The movie develops a theme seldom addressed much in the popular literature about Hawking. Jane is a practicing Christian and always challenged her husband about his theories and God. She seems to have moved him toward acknowledging God over the course of their work together.

As I told my wife after the movie, "God's existence does not depend on Hawking's theories, but I'm glad they addressed the issue in the movie."

One can find a similar debate in the life of Charles Darwin, whose wife challenged him about evolution.

Martin held each sister, by having them lying on a blanket.


Communication
We have seen the letter board used when they first communicated with Hawking. He graduated to a primitive computer interface, one like the kind used by a church member with ALS (in Columbus). Hawking was able to write his popular book, one letter at a time. How he dealt with complicated formulae is left to the imagination. He had more help from graduate students as his disorder progressed.

We talked to our daughters and watched their facial and body reactions. Their emotions matured as they grew older, and they understood more. All of us talked to them, and nurses learned that they could ask questions and get answers the same way we did.

Bethany and Erin Joy loved pranks. Bethany deliberately spit food back into her favorite nurse's face. They both laughed about that, again and again. Children never tire of funny stories. Erin Joy liked falls and spills, including her own, as long as no one was hurt. Once a nurse dropped a large tub of yogurt on the floor. Disney-like, the food bounced back all over the nurse. Gales of laughter followed from Erin. How could anyone be upset about yogurt mess with so much laughter?

At the nurses' station, a large file opened up and all the papers spilled across the floor. Loud cussing followed, but from Erin's room - a burst of laughter. That became the funniest story of the month.

Erin liked to get her Mom in trouble,
but she really loved hearing
"Dingy Daddy, you broke the camera."

Another World Opens Up
Wise people will not run from those who have special health problems. Those are the very ones who teach us the most about what is important in life. Hawking was blessed to have a spouse who did so much for him when she could have run away from his disorder. His colleagues helped out in many ways, too, recognizing his genius.

Medical crises are not very pretty. Anyone can see the effects on Hawking's body from his disorder. Nurses and doctors are used the very things that make us gag, close our eyes, or quickly leave the area. Are the medical staff sad and beaten down by their experiences? The emergency room is pretty upbeat when I am there. They enjoy patching people up and sending them out the same doors where they came in.

The sad and beaten down people are the ones whose white carpet just got ruined, RUINED, by some spill. Or they neglected to buy Ford at $1 a share.

God delights in doing things His way, working through weakness rather than through man's earthly glory.

Bethany held up her own head at four months, but not later.
This photo diagnosed her disorder as neurological degeneration.


2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Erin Joy had a terrible time doing things deliberately,
but she liked to be contrary for fun.
After many failed poses we ordered her,
"Do not hold that bear!"
She grabbed it and grinned. She knew the drill.