Several years ago, Cussler surprised a professor at the University of Oregon by accepting her longshot invitation to come and speak to here fiction writing class. In the process, he talked about how he his family came to America, how he was raised, his early career, and eventually, how he got into writing.
As part of the discussion, he discussed his love for books. As he did, he shared the following story, paraphrased here in my words...
A Hollywood producer loved books, and loved to discourse on them at any and every point. So much so that he soon turned virtually every conversation to the subject, and often bored people by belaboring the point.
A couple of associates decided to pull one over on him by employing a young aspiring actor to pose as an individual who inadvertently runs into the producer and strikes up a conversation over lunch. Soon enough, the topic turned to books.
After the producer had pontificated about the subject for some time, the young man told him he had just thrown away an old Bible that he found in a dusty, old box. He happened to mention that it was in German.
“Really? Do you remember who printed it?” asked the producer.
“Let me see… G… Guu… Guten-somebody-or-other had printed it.” said the actor.
"Not Gutenberg?" Gasped the collector.
"Yes, that was it! Gutenberg." Came the response.
"Why, you idiot! You've thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy recently sold at an auction for half a million dollars!"
"Oh, I don't think this book would have been worth anything close to that much," replied the man. "It was scribbled all over in the margins by some guy named Martin Luther..."
I have determined that there are essentially two types of people in the world - those who love books; and those who do not. While I am not a Hollywood producer, I do tend to fall into the former category. I read as often as I can; and listen to an average one audiobook per week to boot.
Sadly, for me, Clive Cussler died a little over a year ago, having lived to the ripe old age of 88. His scores of thriller books were centered mostly on ships and shipwrecks, archaeological pursuits, treasures both lost and found, globe-trotting travel, ancient history, and the like, all usually woven into intricate plots designed both to entertain and to educate.
But there is something more that is commendable about this man. All throughout his life, he did more than just write adventurous stories. He lived them out. He became an Eagle Scout at age 14. He served in the Unites States Air Force. He got married, had a family, earned a doctorate, wrote scores of books, travelled the world, and engaged in archaeology and discovery.
The latter he did by founding NUMA, the National Underwater and Marine Agency, the real-life counterpart organization to the one in his novels. Through this organization, he discovered and/or salvaged some 60 plus historical shipwrecks, including such world famous ships as the Confederate Submarine Hunley, the RMS Carpathia, the World War Two troop carrier Leopoldville, and numerous others.
Now I grant that not everyone cares for such things as history, archaeology, travel, treasure hunting, and adventure. Either you like such things, as I do, or you do not. But it seems to me that this is not the point here. What is the point here is that Clive Cussler loved such things, not just enough to celebrate them solely on the written page, but so much so that he also found a way to live them out!
The preacher in me recognizes an important principle here right away. How many of us claim to love certain things, but do not actually live them out? Specifically, how many of us purport to celebrate the principles found on the pages of God’s Word, but do not really love them enough to find ways to put them into practice, to live them out?!
To his credit, Clive Cussler lived out his passions. They consumed him. And thus, he investigated them, discussed them, wrote about them, and then pursued them. And in terms of both the knowledge he left behind and the inspiration he gave to whole generation of adventurers, archaeologists, salvors, and would-be authors, the world is now much better off because he did.
How much better off might the world also be if Christians did the same with their purported passions! There is little doubt that the Apostle James had similar thoughts in mind when he was moved to admonish us as believers to “prove ourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers.”
We are clearly meant to practice what we know and preach to be the truth. A head full of Bible knowledge has little meaning if it is not lived out passionately in one’s life!
In summary, in every generation, the best approach to life will surely be to follow one’s heart and live out one’s life in accordance with one’s true passions. And the same holds true for one’s spiritual life as well!
CUSSLER’S LECTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aZCAlFVxIQ&t=2325s.
NOTE: Be advised - Cussler is often quite free with his expressions. But his stories are truly powerful.
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: https://biblehub.com/james/1-22.htm.