Ted Olsen is editor of The Behemoth, a new magazine that aims to help people behold the glory of God all around them, in the worlds of science, history, theology, medicine, sociology, Bible, and personal narrative. True to the vision of the magazine, Ted has spent many hours throughout his life viewing God's beautiful creation in the zoo, and explains more of his passion for doing this:
Do you have a favorite animal?
The lion. Lions will just come up and stare at you. I mean, it completely scares you. There's something visceral and primal ignited in you when you're getting stared at by a lion.
Do you feel like you see a different side of God when you're staring into the face of a lion?
Mostly I'm just scared of being killed by the lion.
But Job is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Job asks, "Why is all this bad stuff happening to me?"
His friends say, "Well you must have sinned."
But God's answer is, "Look at all these cool wild animals. The animals I made are awesome."
It's a terrible answer if you're Job, trying to figure out why all these bad things are happening to you, but still, it's God showing off, saying, "Look how cool these things are, not for what they do, but what they are." It helps you marvel. And the ability to marvel is a prerequisite for the ability to worship.
Have you always loved the zoo?
I remember going to zoos many times as a kid, but I didn't become obsessed until college. I used to have this little stool, and I'd sit next to the giraffes at the Brookfield Zoo or in the reef exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium and just read … or just stare. Animals de-stress like crazy. If you're going to be around a bunch of giraffes who are just eating leaves and hanging out and are happy about it, you're going to be de-stressed.
Do you have a favorite zoo?
I have favorites in categories. I have a favorite free zoo, a favorite big zoo …
The world wants to hear your categories:
Chicago has two of the best: Brookfield Zoo and Lincoln Park are two of the most amazing zoos in the world. Even Cosley—I go there once every two weeks or so. St. Louis has a great free zoo. But the surprise awesome zoo is the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha: the largest zoo in the country per footage in animals. Henry Doorly Zoo is the nation's unsung zoo treasure.
I love aquariums too, and nature museums. Especially the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. They have whale sharks. They're the largest fish in the sea—larger than school buses. It's totally awesome. Sometimes I have this running at my desk if I'm reading.
Do you go with your kids?
It depends. Generally I go with my kids now because I don't like being away from them. I probably went to the zoo more before I had kids than I do now.
A good time to go is in October, which is "Boo at the Zoo." The kids are dressed up in costumes, so you get to see cute kids dressed up in costumes and cool animals.
But the best time to go is in the winter time when there's nobody there.
It's just you and the hardcore fans.
No, there's no hardcore fans. Just me and the zookeepers.
Read more about The Behemoth magazine.