Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Of fog and warnings

Way back when, fog horns were powered by compressed air. Probably the most famous air horn was the F2T. These had a distinctive high/low, two-tone sound produced by a slotted reciprocating piston. (These were the kind you heard in old black-and-white movies set near the seashore.) These horns required plenty of machinery for compressing the air, storing it in tanks, removing the condensed water, and directing the air into the horn. The mechanisms were housed in buildings adjacent or attached to the light tower. They also required plenty of human attention.

As it worked toward automating light stations, the Coast Guard developed an electronically powered horn. Really nothing more than a heavy duty version of a stereo speaker, the “horn” is tripped when a beam of light is reflected by fog back into an electric eye. The “eye” can be set to a predetermined visibility level.

These levels, usually set by local governing bodies, tend to follow political, rather than navigational priorities. In more densely populated areas, signals are set to lower visibility levels, requiring more fog before sounding the horn, so as not to irritate the neighbors as often.

Back to the analogy of lighthouse as symbolic of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Christians feel more empowered these days to sound off about their beliefs in the political arena. But to what extent are we providing a clear idea of our beliefs amidst the fog of relativistic thinking, as opposed to just making noise that irritates those who don’t share our beliefs?

Mark D. Roberts is concluding a series in response to claims that the hidden agenda of the evangelical right is to set up a political theocracy. Mark does so with thoughtfulness and grace, which seems to be so sorely lacking in political discourse these days.

If you're up for more reading on the topic, Dead Man Blogging offers a book review of a story that attempts to look at what happens at the intersection of faith and politics.

Wind Point Light and Fog Building, Racine Wisconsin. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Hello


mickey_finn said...

I grew up on the coast of Maine and loved hearing the fog horn at night. For some odd reason, as a child, it made ME feel safe. I was too young to realize it was to help the mariners, I just thought it was for me.

Just Wandering said...

That's a beautiful pic...did you take it?

James said...

Yes, I did. Thanks!