Pastor’s viewpoint: June 30, 2018

Published 2:10 pm Saturday, June 30, 2018

Lonnie George was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama; his dad was a World War II veteran and his mom was a nurse’s aide. From the beginning, he was curious about his surroundings and it was at times rather destructive. He took his sister’s doll apart to see why the eyes opened and closed. He tried making rocket fuel and almost burned his house down. He took the lawnmower apart and built a go-kart using scraps from the junkyard. Then he found his path and won the science fair at Williamson High School and in 1968, went to the state science fair … the only black student there. He’d built “Linex,” a compressed-air powered robot … and won the blue ribbon!
He went on to Tuskegee University with a math scholarship and earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a master’s of science in nuclear engineering. After college, he joined the U. S. Air Force where he worked on the stealth bomber project and went on to NASA where he worked on developing a nuclear power source for the Galileo mission to Jupiter. (
He finally moved to and settled into the Auburn neighborhood in Atlanta where he created two companies, Excellatron Solid State and Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems to develop more affordable “green” energy. His “thermo-electrochemical converter” was listed by Popular Mechanics as one of the top 10 inventions of 2009. But there is always someone who creates conflict and trouble in any situation … Lonnie George found his in an unusual toy and a lawsuit; Moses found his in a rival Levite who wanted his job.
“[3] They assembled before Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! All the members of the community belong to the LORD, and the LORD is with all of us. Why, then, Moses, do you set yourself above the LORD’s community?”
[4] When Moses heard this, he threw himself on the ground and prayed. [5-6] Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show us who belongs to him; he will let the one who belongs to him, that is, the one he has chosen, approach him at the altar.” (Numbers 16)
Maybe you don’t know much about the “thermo-chemical converter,” but you might have heard of Lonnie George Johnson’s “Super Soaker.” It was the top-selling toy in 1991, and again in 1992, generating over $200 million in sales according to Hasbro … the total now is close to $1 billion in sales! Then he replaced the water with a “nerf” projectile and gave birth to all those little “nerf” projectiles in our house after our grandsons go home.
At some point, Lonnie George discovered that Hasbro had underpaid his royalties and the resulting lawsuit and arbitration awarded him $73 million! And Moses? The earth swallowed up all his rivals and their families and all their possessions!

Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley, a retired United Methodist pastor and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.