I met Douglas Adams at my first MacWorld in 1997. I was manning the technology demonstration booth for Apple when he popped his head in to ask me a question. It took all of a split second to know who he was just by sight. After all, he was my favorite author. No set of books made me laugh more than The Hitchhiker’s “Trilogy,” and humor is darned hard to write.
So there I was, starstruck.
Adams and I chatted about his upcoming computer game, Starship Titanic, and how it was taking forever to debug and get perfect. Talk shifted to upcoming Apple hardware. As an Apple Master, a sort of celebrity endorser and Mac evangelista, Adams received complementary equipment from Apple. We must’ve talked for a half hour about what was coming down the pike.
I didn’t see Adams again until MacWorld 2000. At that time, I was no longer working for Apple but did high-end Mac support for NASA as a contractor. Because I gave hardware and software advice to NASA honchos, I got to go to MacWorld. In the tunnel under the street that connected exhibition halls, I ran into Adams again and went up to say hello. He recognized me right away and noted my tag said that I was now at NASA. We talked about that, then I shifted the conversation to talk of a Hitchhiker’s movie. Adams told me he had just completed what he thought would be the basis of the screenplay. I was elated, but I could tell Adams was frustrated with the progress. He told me the screenplay-writing process had really taken it out of him. He added that Starship Titanic‘s underwhelming sales had been a disappointment and that he didn’t want to see that happen with the Hitchhiker’s movie.
We talked until the surreal happened: Sinbad, the comedian, walked up and joined the conversation. The three of us, all above 6′ 3″, dominated the center of the tunnel as people streamed around us. But though I’m a raging extrovert and conversationalist, I met my match in Sinbad; I sensed that it was time for to me to bow out. I said goodbye and hustled on my way.
A little over a year later, Adams died unexpectedly of a heart attack.
As much as I thought I knew something about Adams, it somehow did not dawn on the me that the man was known as one of the world’s foremost atheists. (Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion is dedicated to Adams.) Looking back at Adams’s writings now, I wonder how I could have missed it.
In a way, my naïveté didn’t matter. Here was a man, like most men, estranged from God. Estranged at a level so deep that he had rejected the existence of all spirituality. There I am, a representative of Jesus Christ. And yet with that man mere months away from eternity, the contents of my last words to him were wood, hay, and stubble.
Today, I sit here typing and my soul grieves. It weeps because I am not serious about eternity. Next to nothing in my life manifests my belief that an eternal hell is real. When I look around, what scares me more than anything is that I’m more serious about hell than most Christians are. Yet my actions speak louder than words.
It seems to me that all Christians must deal with the truth that they themselves deserved hell before Jesus saved them. People may deal with it at different times in their Christian walk, but deal with it they must.
But what separates a real disciple of Christ from a DINO (Disciple in Name Only) is that the real disciple stares into the pit of hell and is so shaken by the view that all distractions in this life pale compared with working to get the Gospel out to the lost, no matter the personal costs.
I don’t think enough of us Christians are getting to that point. What else explains the feebleness of our outreach to the lost? We live as if there were no eternity at all.
Just like the atheists do.