Names and naming have always intrigued me. The name of the Mars Rover – Spirit- really got my imagination to work over-time as I contemplated all the possible theological implications. Imagine the caption when the rover was launched and reached its destination: Spirit has Landed. This sounds like a one liner out of some Christian text. Certainly in some Christian communities, the faithful are desperate for Spirit to land in their midst.

Of course, the Spirit that landed on Mars is never idle. It is always on the move roving about its business of gathering information for the curious earthlings. Life, however, on Mars (as it can be in some Christian communities) is not without hitches. Hence, a more recent report noted that Spirit had stalled at some point of its roving and had to be repaired – even given a boost. Boost us on O Spirit of restlessness! This sounds like a story out of some church life – where after prayer and invoking the Spirit, we operate as functional atheists with business as usual – very much in need of a boost.

A more recent article in New Scientist (Feb 7, 2009) noted that besides “a slight forgetfulness” Spirit, the Mars rover, is back in good health. Thank the Divine! The problem, we are told by the earthling technocrats, is that Spirit was “failing to act on instructions” and had refused to move. What else should we expect from Spirit? Imagine, trying to domesticate Holy Spirit in Christian life! Now, there are those who would say that this precisely what some of us try to do and that this is why Spirit has either departed from many Churches and shores and is keeping a low profile. Some even suggest that Spirit has a chronic housing problem in our society.

You would be pleased to know that on 27 January, the team of earthling technocrats told the rover to orientate itself by finding the sun and after some difficulty, Spirit tracked down the sun, but then found itself in an unexpected location. This sounds very much like what Spirit is all about: unruly, unpredictable and quite chaotic.While the technocrats wrestle with the mystery as to why Spirit briefly lost its memory, the best they could come up with as an explanation thus far is this: it may just be a sign of age. What a thought for us Christians!

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