While recently in Tucson, I left my hotel room one evening to find the entire courtyard filled with folks dressed as though they had just walked out of a recent Sherlock Holmes movie. Men were wearing top hats with crazy goggles, or bowler hats and vests festooned with gadgets and watch fobs, women were corseted and bustled in turn- of- the century Victorian Era garb. Curious, and feeling woefully underdressed, I ventured further out on the second floor veranda to see what on earth was going on. I had stumbled into a Steampunk Convention sponsored by the Old Tucson Studios.
Steampunk, to the uninitiated, is defined by Wikipedia as a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy- also in recent years a fashion and lifestyle movement that deals with societies dominated by historical or imagined steam- powered technology. Steampunk is the celebration then of the excitement and unbridled possibilities of that era of the Industrial Revolution. Think of Jules Verne or H.G. Wells Time Machine sort of imaginings. I grew up watching Wild Wild West on TV back in the day and this is very derivative of the sort of stuff that Artemus Gordon used to come up with week after week to fight Post Civil War crime as he motored around the countryside with Jim West on their state of the art, steam engine train.
I leaned over the balustrade as darkness fell and the main event began. A large gizmo about 6 feet in height and looked something like a giant pepper mill was set up in the courtyard. A man in period dress addressed the audience and began to tell us about the genius of inventor Nikola Tesla and the Tesla Coil invention. After a few false starts and stops to work out the kinks in the system the presentation of the Coil proceeded. The Steampunk crowd cheered him on.
Nikola Tesla and his partner George Westinghouse won the contract to illuminate the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair.
After turning the fair into a “City of Light” with his fluorescent bulbs, Tesla amazed the millions of attendee’s with his Coil. In the courtyard of the Doubletree Hotel I was seeing, on a somewhat smaller scale a similar show. The central, tall coil was engaged and began to shoot big bolts of what looked like lightening from the flattened metallic top piece. Whenever the man pointed his metallic- tipped stick the static would arc and jump dramatically to him as he performed for the delighted, cheering audience. The show continued with audience volunteers asked to stand in a circle some 20 feet from the coil and hold up long tube lights ( not attached to anything except their hands) The Tesla Coil lit all these lights up brightly just from the association of their being in it’s proximity. The demonstrator next climbed up a ladder and stood atop the coil. There in the dark, static lightning lit up the tiny lights adorning his hat, flocks of little lightning bolts shot from his fingers and his shoes Over a hundred years since it’s invention in 1891 the Tesla Coil was still an amazing feat and awe-inspiring in its demonstration.
I don’t pretend to really understand the science. It does just so happen that I was in the process of reading a book about Tesla so I wasn’t totally clueless about the uncontested genius of the Father of Radio. Albert Einstein was once famously queried about how it felt to be the smartest man in the world. He responded, ” I don’t know, you will have to ask Tesla!”
Tesla, a Serbian immigrant and college drop- out, was a brilliant man and invented many things that changed the way we live in the world today. He was a man that was way, way ahead of his time. Unfortunately, he had no head for business and was a terrible judge of character. Today we are all joyfully riding on the Tesla coat-tails on his Wireless bandwagon Our files are stored in a cloud somewhere and we can talk on phones, email, watch movies and commonly work on our computers with this technology. Back in the day, however, while gifted with a brilliant mind he didn’t really seem to understand that at the turn of the century, “wireless” electricity from a singular source was something that men such as Thomas Edison and JP Morgan, Westinghouse and the Astor’s couldn’t effectively make money from. Tesla’s profits from his numerous patents seemed to always get into the pockets of his investors and never into his own.
His focus and excitement were on the joy of developing inventions to change the world and he never seemed to catch on to the business side of modern science. To others, his investors and competitors, inventions were something to be horded, create a monopoly with and rack up extraordinary profits. Edison learned to play the game well, often at Tesla’s expense. Edison reaped the rewards on lesser technology and won his secure place in history. Tesla, who had a roller-coaster career, lived and worked, undaunted into his 80’s but died alone, largely forgotten and virtually penniless in his New York hotel room. For more information on Nikola Tesla I recommend a little E Book which I downloaded for free entitled: Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the man that invented the 20th Century by Sean Patrick.
According to Patrick, as a young man, Tesla, was watching the sunset in a Budapest park one evening and had an actual full-blown vision of the complete workings of a motor that used a rotating magnetic field to produce an electric current that alternated its direction many times per second.
He grabbed a stick and immediately drew the whole thing out in the dirt there at the park, to get it firmly ensconced in his mind. Without boring you with the details, after building on that original vision, Tesla saw this ultra-high frequency energy as an inexhaustible source of free energy and a way to attach machinery “to the very wheelwork of nature”.
While I don’t have more than a basic understanding of electro-magnetic energy it is part and parcel of the God given building blocks of nature. We see it in the Northern Lights and feel it if we walk across a rug and touch someone or something and receive a little jolt of a shock. The Steampunker’s demonstration of the Tesla Coil coming, while I happened to be reading this book made me realize that this is really a fine picture of the Holy Spirit. We are to stand on the Love and Promises of Christ Jesus. He is the Coil. It is his High Frequency Power source, the Holy Spirit that he left us that Lights us up. Just by being in His Presence – in proximity to the Coil- It is his power that arcs and jumps through that conduit of Love from one to another, charging us up, changing lives and lighting up our sphere of influence.
When Jesus was on earth during His ministry he taught that the Kingdom was at hand and he healed people. Constrained by his humanity He meandered around the countryside and taught his message. Whether he engaged people one on one as he did with the woman at the well or he dealt with the crowds that came bringing with them the afflicted and sick, it was still His show requiring His presence. He also performed miracles en masse such as feeding the 5000 and he did occasionally perform a long distance miracle. Still he was confined by the humanity that he willing took on for us. This, then, is why he told the disciples in John 16:7 that he HAD to go so that the Holy Spirit could come. It was an exchange program. Jesus had to be the Perfect, in- the- flesh, Passover Sacrifice. He wanted his team, and us, to not be sad that He, Jesus, had to go back to the Father. He wanted them to know that something awesome was going to be released once that confining cloak of humanity had been laid down and He stepped back into the Supernatural. The Holy Spirit- was and is -Jesus 2.0: the Spirit version. Now, with the power of the Holy Spirit released at Pentecost, He can be everywhere all the time. His Power can arc through us and be used to do amazing things in His name. With His authority, I can not only light my lamps, cast out demons, heal the sick and spread the Good News…I can arc and spark it over to you and spread that anointing power. All this can happen and should happen at the same time that you and thousands of other Believers are doing the same thing possibly on the other side of the world. Totally Amazing!
As far as I know, the Steampunk movement is in no way associated with Christianity. We can and perhaps should take a page from the Steampunk love affair with new invention and never lose our fascination for to the Power Source of His Reinvention within us. As New Creatures in Christ we ought never believe that we don’t need to maintain that elemental electrical connection to The source. We must never lose that thrumming magnetic attraction for the deep direction, wisdom and voice of Holy Spirit to teach and lead us. Nor should we lose our awe at demonstrations of His Power. 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that each of us is now the Temple of the Holy Spirit. No longer is there only one High Priest to go in once a year to the Holy of Holies. Jesus paid the price for Love. Because of Jesus’ incredible love, 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we, believers, are Chosen: called as Priests and his Heirs. Now, we are eachcalled to be small but powerful reciprocating generators of alternating Holy Spirit Current. He is in us for ourselves and the Holy Spirit is on us for others, so that they can see that arcing, sparking, amazing Love of the One True God.