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Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.
Hello From Orlando
January 26, 2010
Let me give you a brief update as to what I’ve been up to the past couple of days.
On Sunday night I hopped aboard a plane and jetted down to Orlando, Florida for some meetings with the good folks at Ligonier Ministries.
Flying from Toronto to Orlando is, obviously, an international flight and, hence, all kinds of draconian new TSA-mandated rules apply to it. It used to be that a flight from Canada was little different than a domestic flight but for having to pre-clear US Customs—something that took only a few brief minutes. But over the past month things have changed.
I have to assume that the heads of the TSA sat down one day and said, “Flying is miserable, but not quite miserable enough. Let’s talk about things we can do to make it even worse.” And then they mandated those rules to countries like Canada who fly to the US. On Sunday night my time in the airport involved standing sequentially in eight(!) different lineups and having my passport and boarding pass checked eight different times (not necessarily corresponding to each of the lineups). The entire process took fully two hours, even though there were less than half a dozen flights to be screened, and left me sprinting down the concourse in a full-out run to make my plane (which, thankfully, I did).
I know that the security people are tasked with the rather thankless job of keeping us safe in the air and I am truly grateful for what they do. In fact, I always stop to thank at least one of them for keeping us safe up there. But anyone can see that the current system is woefully inefficient and unsustainable. If Sunday night, a slow time for travel, is so problematic, I cannot imagine what things must have looked like on Monday morning. This is going to make people just give up travel, figuring that it is just not worth the frustration. They are going to have to fix the system.
Once we left the ground we immediately hit pretty significant turbulence which meant that they were not able to serve drinks, though the flight attendants did walk up and down the aisle to hand out extra air sickness bags. All these factors led to two different medical emergencies with passengers lying passed out in the aisles, a call for doctors to identify themselves, and so on. It was truly a bizarre experience.
For all that it was still a good enough flight (better than I deserve, right?) that allowed me a few hours of reading, disturbed only by the giggling of the guy in the next seat who was very much enjoying some Sandra Bullock movie. We arrived in Orlando safe and sound and only thirty minutes behind schedule.
Yesterday I met up with the people of Ligonier Ministries and spent the day with them. Highlights of the day included a tour of the new St. Andrew’s Chapel which really is stunning (as I know you can tell from this grainy iPhone picture of it). They have done an amazing job of constructing a new church that maintains a classical feel. In a day when so many new churches are constructed with a utilitarian feel it was nice to see one that has been constructed with an eye to beauty.
Though the same property will soon house the offices for Ligonier Ministries and the Ligonier Academy, those buildings are still being renovated. So we headed over to the current offices just in time to see Dr. Sproul tape an interview with Dr. Stephen Myer, one of the founders of the Intelligent Design movement. It was fascinating to watch the exchange between the two of them; it was the kind of discussion that left the rest of us feeling a little bit dumb, I think. I’ll let you know when it airs on Renewing Your Mind. Here’s an ultra-grainy shot which brings my horrible photography skills into full collision with the iPhone’s low-light limitations.
I love to get little behind-the-scenes glimpses at different ministries and it was a real joy to meet many of the godly men and women who serve at Ligonier. I’m looking forward to spending another day with them today.
Here’s one last thing I just had to grab a shot of. As we were driving from one place to another we went pass a bear-crossing sign. I had no idea that bears were a problem in Florida. So here is evidence of that fact. Sadly, there were no bears crossing yesterday.
For those wondering, A La Carte may make an appearance this week. But when I travel I find it very difficult to spend the time necessary to collect and assess the links. So I’ll do what I can, but make no promises.