Friday, July 20, 2018

Ocean Vocation

I was able to visit the ocean last week! In my opinion, there is no more inspirational natural beauty. The post below features a book about Jacques Cousteau. We ocean-lovers, not to mention oceanographers and those who are worried about the state of today’s oceans, owe a great deal to this man and the work that is still being done in his name. Praise be to those who find their passion (aka vocation) early in life and their work benefits the entire world! 
Picture Book: The Fantastic Undersea Life                                                              of Jacques Cousteau
Author & Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
Summary: Jacques Cousteau was a sickly French boy whose doctor suggested he swim to build strength. He also loved gadgets, cameras especially. These early experiences would guide his life's work.
His desire to view under the sea and his disdain for the limits of diving suits of his day compelled him to explore with other contraptions. Eventually he invented the Aqua-Lung which allowed divers to breath underwater while swimming. 
Cousteau's strong desire to better see what was under the surface led to inventing a waterproof camera and underwater lights. The mystery of the silent ocean was now much more accessible. The first of his Calypso ships, still widely known internationally, was purchased. 
Meanwhile, a team was recruited for filming their many global explorations . 
The Silent World was Cousteau's first widely-released film. It's audiences were amazed by the ocean's creatures. It was "the first full-length, full-color underwater film." Many TV shows were to follow. This French oceanographer would become a world celebrity.
Even Antarctic oceans were not too far, too deep, or too cold for this team!
The team's next invention was the Diving Saucer, capable of carrying 2 people into the deep ocean. 
Cousteau's great hope was finding a way to live under the sea so they invented underwater labs where scientists would stay for weeks. Alas, our bodies need for sunlight could not be overcome so Cousteau's permanent undersea dwellings were not possible. 
Eventually, return trips to particular oceans showed evidence of death and destruction from pollution. The world's foremost ocean explorer became the world's ocean ambassador, documenting their deterioration and passionately declaring a need for change. His was an early prophetic voice of doom if humanity did not protect its oceans and the treasures and necessities they held.
Hanna’s Comments: Now and then I run across a picture book biography that connects strongly to a biblical figure. Do you see the connections to Jeremiah whose life was spent warning the people of Jerusalem of the doom and destruction that was to come? There are many possibilities here to talk about God-ordained vocations, particularly as they relate to ecology and justice since deteriorating oceans are negatively affecting humans in numerous ways. Another approach for this book in ministry is simply to do a lesson on God's glory in the oceans. What amazing evidence of God's creative spirit! Help your audience imagine earlier generations with no way of knowing there were such creatures as tiger fish or even otters and dolphins and then seeing those creatures on screen in full color in their homes. According to Wikipedia, Cousteau in last book, The Human, The Orchid, and the Octopus, wrote “The glory of nature provides evidence that God exists.” In the back of the book, you’ll find a time line of important events in Cousteau’s life as well as a list of other resources. Can’t find this book? Check out Manfish by Berne & Puybaret or Who Was Jacques Cousteau by Medina and Putra.
Original Publisher & Date: Knopf, 2009
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: Digital
Scripture Connections: Various verses from the book of Jeremiah; I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide… (John 15:16); Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned and to which God has called. (1 Corinthians 7:17); Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to inspire art or science activities about the oceans with children in your faith community or a vocational retreat for older teens looking to connect their spiritual passions with ecological or justice work.