Religion in Outer Space

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Today is the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon–a pretty momentous occasion for everyone on earth. For some, it was a religious moment–and that included Buzz Aldrin. Beliefnet reports:
moonwalk.jpg
Forty years ago, in the first moments of July 20, 1969, after Aldrin had piloted the Eagle lunar module into the dust of the moon with only seconds of fuel to spare, he asked NASA for a radio blackout. He suggested that people around the world take the opportunity to “contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way.”

Then, during the radio silence, Aldrin opened a packet of bread and a vial of wine that had been blessed a few weeks earlier at his home church near Houston, Webster Presbyterian. Aldrin unfolded a paper on which he’d copied Jesus’ words from John 15: “I am the vine, you are the branches …”

“In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup,” Aldrin wrote in a story published in 1970 in Guideposts magazine. “I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility.”

Aldrin isn’t the only one who has experienced great moments of faith in space. Check out this list of Jewish astronauts, and this roundup of Jewiness in outer space.

Posted on July 20, 2009

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