Under the 8 -ball

8 Ball Water Tower

We were on the way to a funeral. We were driving the roads of rural Missouri. We saw the tower in the distance. From as far away as the tower is visible it is clearly and 8-ball. It was a grey windy day and I was not thinking about much, but getting to the service on time. Cindy insisted that I stop and take a picture. We did and then went on our way. We made it to the funeral with plenty of time to spare.

Later I was going through my photos and came across this odd tower. I wonder who decide on this paint job. When aI saws the billiard ball floating high up in the air, I thought about a pool table, but almost immediately thought of one of the other meanings of the word, “8-ball',” which is a measure of cocaine. I wonder if the person or persons who painted it knew that?

I asked Google. The town of Tipton, MO used to be the home of “Fischer Manufacturing was at one time the largest maker of pool tables. The company sold more tables than Brunswick Billiards in 1964.” The tower was built in 1968 as part of the fire suppression system. In 1977 the factory was closed and was later bought and repainted to look like a normal tower. That plant closed in 1989 and the tower was given to the town. A year later the people (Pop. 3378) lobbied the city to repaint the billiard ball which it did. One resident said that when they had been gone ways from home it was the sight of the 8-ball tower that let them know they were home. According to Wikipedia it is recognized as the larges 8-ball in the world.

It’s funny how we can all look at something and see something different. It is a game? drug? home? All are legitimate understandings. We can know that the original paint job had a meaning. It was advertising and pride in workmanship. Then when the new company took over, it was a reminder of failure and the past, so they painted over it. Truckers who passed by used it as a landmark on their journey across the state. Eventually, it was painted as a symbol of nostalgia and the love of home. Young people passing by smirk at the tower knowing that their parents probably have no idea that is has a dark and nefarious meaning.

What we intend, what we meaning, what we think is filtered by the world and what they see and what they think it means and how they think about what they see based on their own expereince. Communication is hard because there are so many layers, so many places for misunderstanding. Sometime the Bible is misunderstood because people read it through “American Eyes” when it was clearly written through “Middle Eastern Eyes.” Our job is try to understand it in the context that it was offered and then try to understand what it means today.

We have been reading through the book of Corinthians and encountering some ideas that are so bound up in the world of the first century that our modern eye turn the meaning all upside down. This is great book to consult helps and resources to try to crawl back to the first century and see it like it was meant. The first people the read the book felt like it was liberating, freeing and powerful. That is the way we need to read it again today.