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We are moving to a new format for our monthly newsletter. Our desire is that the newsletter be not only an update on news and current events of the Study Center, but a modest educational tool as well. Consequently, I’ve been asked to write a monthly column commenting on current events and issues from a theological perspective.

The column’s title, “Right Now – Counts Forever” is designed to focus attention on the relevancy of our present lives to the eternal destinies we all face. We live in a culture that places the stress on “Right Now.” It’s called the “Pepsi Generation”—we are told to live life with “gusto” because we “only go around once.” Short range goals, pragmatic methods of problem solving, a quiet hysteria to make it happen “now,” all point to modern man’s despair regarding the future. The unspoken assumption is that it’s “now or never” because there is no ultimate future for mankind.

Our Christian assertion is that there is more to our lives than “now.” If there is not, then even the now is meaningless. But we say now counts. Why? Now counts because we are creatures who have an origin and a destiny which is rooted and grounded in God.

Did I say “rooted?” Why is that word so important? Recently we’ve experienced a cultural phenomenon of epic proportions. The televised drama, Roots has already had a shaking effect on our people. Can we explain the national reaction to Kunta Kinte and “Chicken George” merely in terms of our raw feeling of years of racial strife? I don’t think so. Neither does Alex Haley. Roots typifies a problem that transcends race. It is the problem of identity for all of modern man. Who am I?

The question of identity can never be answered merely in terms of the present.

The question of identity can never be answered merely in terms of the present. To know who I am involves a discovery of my past (my origin) and at least a glimpse of my future (my destiny). If I am a cosmic accident springing from the dust and destined for more dust then I am nothing. I am a joke… a tale told by an idiot. But if my ultimate roots are grounded in eternity and my destiny is anchored in that same eternity, then I know something of who I am. I know I am a creature of eternal significance. If that’s so then my life counts. What I do today counts forever. Now, the now means something.

Roots stirred us deeply because it provoked the hope that if we go back far enough we might find continuity and stability. Roots had its messiah figure in Chicken George. The program went through an entire episode with Chicken George never visibly present. Yet his “invisible presence” permeated every scene. I have never seen a television production where a character was so obviously present while not appearing on the screen. When George did appear he led his family in a new exodus to a new land of promise. Roots looked backward and forward in such a way as to give the present meaning.

As T.V. treated us to Roots so Hollywood has treated us to Rocky—this film has captured the public imagination in a fresh way. Perhaps it represents merely an exercise in nostalgia, a throwback to Frank Merriwell and the original happy ending. Or perhaps it represents a protest to the age of the anti-hero and the story line of chaos that characterizes modern filmdom. Whatever the motive the movie reflects not in the Cinderella motif but the portrayal of human sensitivity displayed in Rocky’s mercy as a bill collector for the loan shark and his tenderness on the ice rink.

Applaudable warmth is seen in Rocky’s “Lennie-like” love for animals and wayward teenagers and his sentiment for his manager. The fruit of discipline, endurance, and devotion to dignity are actually cast in roles of virtue. Rocky worked and fought not for a momentary prize but for a stand of valor that lasts.

Maybe Rocky is a milestone. Maybe we are beginning to see there is more to life than Pepsi-Cola. It’s not now or never, but now and forever. Right now counts. It counts… for eternity.

This article first appeared as the first Right Now Counts Forever column in the May 1977 issue of Tabletalk.

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