Welcome Valley Media                                                                                                                                                                      


Nuclear Peanuts and Tin Can Jets

When I was about seven, I tried to set off a nuclear reaction. I didn't understand the magnitude of what I attempted, but I did try.

It happened like this. A children's book said that if someone could split the atoms in a peanut, he or she would generate enough power to push a train half-way across the United States. Now, I no longer have that book and am not sure whether the author meant if one could split the atoms in a peanut or if he referred to a peanut-sized chunk of uranium. Either way, my understanding was that breaking down the smallest part of a peanut would release one big blast of energy. I went for the blast.

Figuring that smashing a peanut would break at least some of the atoms it was made of, I begged some peanuts from my mother and grabbed a hammer. I laid a roasted, shelled peanut on the sidewalk and whammed it with the hammer. I think I influenced my sister, and she also started pounding peanuts.

We didn't have a train to push and had no idea what an explosion that big would mean. Our expectation didn't go much beyond a modest rush of air. Fortunately, for the village of Manderson, South Dakota, all we got were some greasy lumps that had been peanuts. For that matter, fortunately for two small children, all we got were smashed peanuts. Nuclear power released all at once produces horrified headlines.

My father came home for lunch either during or shortly after this scientific experiment. I don't remember all the details, but he wouldn't have been my father had he been really pleased with us pounding his good hammer against the concrete. What I do remember is his explanation that no one could split an atom that way. Atomic theory was still way over my head. My effort to experience great power only resulted in a lesson I didn't really understand.

But peanut-size reactors weren't the only potential power sources. My father told me about the power of live steam. Those old-fashioned storybook locomotives--choo choo trains--had been propelled by steam. Stories about a very fast antique car, the Stanley Steamer, also caught my attention. Daddy explained that boiling water created steam. While smashed peanuts didn't get trains so far, steam had pushed many trains much further than half way across the United States. Steam, while long obsolete, was very powerful stuff.

So began another attempt at releasing nature's power. I designed a steam jet that would push my toy camper. I somehow managed to talk my mother into boiling a pan of water. Then, insisting her little family stay back a safe distance, she poured some of that boiling water into the empty tin can I'd set on top the little Tonka truck. Steam often rose from pans on the stove. The steam coming off the top of my toy might push it along the floor.

Of course, the tin-can steam jet failed. Daddy explained that what I saw wasn't really steam, only water vapor. Steam to work had to be enclosed and under pressure. Again, I'd sought great power and failed. At least this time the science was a bit more easily understood than nuclear physics

A few years ago, I took an on-line class on spiritual formation from a Christian college. “Spiritual formation” is a term used in some circles to describe practices believed to bring spiritual power into one's life. An assignment in the course involved the discipline of meditation. Thinking about God and His Word is good, but this assignment was more complex. It involved specific techniques. I almost balked when I realized that some of the things I was learning resembled the meditation being advocated by non-Christian spiritual teachers. Still, sitting in a comfortable chair and remembering the blessings God had brought into my life seemed safe enough. I went ahead with the project. It was a nice, relaxing time that left me feeling good. But as far as any deep experience of God or growth in spiritual power were concerned, not too much happened.

I'm also privy to conversations about experiencing God in worship. Some people remember the days when excited Christians marched around the church waving white handkerchiefs. Others seem to think certain styles of music and maybe even the right choreography among worship leaders will bring us into the presence of God. Others claim that this book or that will revolutionize a reader's Christian life. Some people think God will come in when they take communion or submit to baptism. But for all the efforts--meditation, worship, and sacraments--I wait to see exceptional spiritual power in my part of the world. I don't see it among Christians. I don't see it among those who follow non-Christian spiritual practices. We apply our techniques, but we neither change much ourselves nor greatly impact our world.

People within and without the Christian church are very interested in spiritual power. They seek methods that will excite their spirits and put them in touch with God. Some don't even get so far as thinking about God, speaking only of the universe. Neither group are triggering widespread spiritual revival. We sell books, collecting silver and gold, but few handicapped people stand and walk when we speak in Jesus' name. There aren't many spiritual mushroom clouds over Western culture, only more techniques by which we hope to fill what we miss through God's limited involvement in our lives.

Our problem is that we aren't seeking the God of power on His terms. He says that we must come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. We grow in our fellowship with Him through surrendering our wills and lives to His full control. Anything less than turning from one's sin and trusting in Jesus Christ is only a misinformed attempt to create nuclear fission with a hammer and a peanut. Once we have God in our lives, trying to impress Him with psychological manipulation rather than humble obedience is but water cooling in a tin can. There is no spiritual power apart from the Spirit of Christ. He gives that power only through a healthy relationship with Himself, and that relationship is entered by simple faith. Are you experiencing God's power through Jesus Christ or are you on a spiritual peanut smashing venture?

This work is in the pubic domain and may be copied and distributed freely.


How to Have a Relationship with God

Home    Bible Studies    Easy English    Essays    Grown-Up Bible Stories   Multimedia    Stories from the Book Itself

About this Site    Copyright Release    Links    Contact: mail@welcomevalley.com