Thursday, January 10, 2013

150 Years of Being Way Out

150 years ago, today, the London Underground opened. Having visited London from time to time, I can say that it is a great idea that works. One descends (sometimes very deep into the earth) and catches a train and then emerges elsewhere, near one's intended destination.

The initial route took one from Paddington to Farrington or the other way round. Paddington Bear followed, but not until 1958, in his blue slicker and red hat...colors borrowd from the Tube signs themselves.  I don't think there is a Farrington Bear, but who knows?

The last time we were in London, we decided to forgo the Underground to go across the city on a bus, and that was a mistake. We thought we would see more of the city that way. We did. At what seemed a snail's pace. The rest of the week we were in London, we took the Tube.

The Underground has spun off all kinds of great things, including those wonderful signs -- the roundel or target on a white enamel background, featuring a red circle, bisected by a blue rectangle.

The messages on the signs are super. I particularly like the ones that say "Way Out" which, from an American point of view, are worth a smile.

Of course, from a Christian perspective, we are in need of a Way Out, aren't we?  We are human and therefore prone to sinfulness--prone to making errors of thought and action.  Our minds play tricks on us along the lines of "no one will know" and our actions do the same "it is no body Else's business".  All through the Bible we find correctives to these misguided ways of thinking and acting.  We have a solution, which is as clear as following the signs in the Underground, that will bring us back up into the light.  The Way (or shall we say the Way Out?) is Christ. 

There is a great gulf or gap between how we conduct our lives without Christ and how we conduct our lives with Christ.  We do not have the ability to bridge that gap, and left to ourselves, we will stumble and fall and perish.  But the good news is this: Jesus does and Jesus has bridged that gap already and as we trust him, we are taken across it to safety.  Maybe you have seen the signs: "Mind the Gap" that are also part of the Underground?  Hmm. They can be a reminder of what Jesus has done for you.

There is more to celebrate about the Underground. 

In 1916, or a mere 97 years ago, Edward Johnson designed the distinctive clear, modern typeface that is an Underground trademark to this day, and copyrighted by the Underground under the name "New Johnson". You can find close approximations in the still simple and elegant looking typefaces "Gill Sans" and "Paddington". Frankly, I use "Trebuchet" typeface on the blog because it is the nearest thing available to "New Johnson".

The "modern" Tube map, which was designed 80 years ago, in 1933, by Harry Beck, is a classic in simplified, stylized graphic design, admired and studied by artists and advertising gurus for its ability to communicate much with simple lines and colors.

So here is a nod to the Tube and its still youthful contributions to daily life.  And remember to "Mind the Gap".

No comments: