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America's race into space is now riding on a superhighway. The latest Elon Musk Space-X launch of four astronauts looked more like a downtown shuttle bus than it did a risky rocket ride. I could imagine the music from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey as the slow-motion docking scene played out. We're a long way away from a cramped Mercury capsule holding one man in a tight squeeze. When the astronaut's capsule docked with the International Space Station last week, no human pilot was used. A computer did all the work. NASA has come a long way after doing all the initial heavy lifting. Now the involvement of America's private sector, with its investment capital, creative genius, unfettered ideas, and profit motive, has accelerated progress much faster.

In just this month, first Pfizer, then Moderna, have announced covid-19 vaccines that are testing at 90% and 94.5% effective rates in stopping the deadly 2020 pandemic. The vaccines are using a new RNA process to give the human body rapid immunity. This process has never been used before. A lot of scary rumors have been spread about the vaccine such as altering our DNA, Bill Gates inserting tracking particles, etc. But they are false. When the vaccine is released, I will be taking it without any fear. Both vaccines appear to be very safe and successful. Of the small number who did catch the virus afterwards, none of them had the life-threatening version. Here is another example of how the government spurred extremely rapid development. The progress brought the brilliance of America's private sector into play, boosted by government stimulus funds, but advanced by large corporations making the heroic effort work. Relief for the population at risk and for all the weary medical professionals in our hospitals may be only a few months away. By sometime next year this viral nightmare from the Twilight Zone will be over.

Government agencies are not the only ones providing stimulus in areas of high-tech commerce. This month the Northwest Arkansas Council began offering a $10,000 reward to anyone moving into Washington or Benton counties. The prize is for anyone who has vocational skills and employable talent in the areas of science, technology, engineering, or math. Nelson Peacock, President of the Council, says that our region has thousands of job openings. The plan envisions that those who move here from out of state can work from home to supply the area's need in these areas. They are even awarding new mountain bikes to all successful applicants.

Innovation, investment, and creativity abound in the examples I've cited above. Rigid adherence to past approaches that used to be productive (but no longer are) requires candid evaluation. We all need to become pragmatic realists rather than ideologues. Willingness to look at problems head-on, then assess possible solutions or take calculated risks, are now required. New practical ways of doing things are needed in many areas, not just science or work.

In the religious world, the old format of the way we do church must be adjusted. I suggest that even when we can safely gather again as congregants in a worship facility, that we continue to utilize the new technology that has become common, such as ZOOM meetings, whereby we may efficiently spread information, knowledge, and coaching so that the entirety of the church's members can become involved in ministry. It is no longer sufficient for the bulk of the ministry to be performed by the preacher on Sunday. Instead, pastor, be like a football coach who calls players off the bench and puts them into play.

-- Ron Wood is a retired pastor and author. Contact him at [email protected] or visit www.touchedbygrace.org or follow him on Facebook @touchedbygracenwa. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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