July 2008 - Vol. 21

The Joke's 
On You

by James Munk


In my experience, the truly unnerving thing about leaving university is the realization of precisely how little one knows. Robed in the garb of graduation and accepting the congratulations of peers and betters, it is quite easy to think one’s self as rather clever.

However, during the following months, numerous run-ins with “the real world” plant in the mind the sinking feeling that you’re somewhat inadequate and generally under-prepared. This opens the door to not a little self-doubt and the creeping feeling that you would much rather be back in class.

For many graduates, the world can often feel like an uninviting and hostile place in general – a “dog eat dog” society with not a few salivating K-9s waiting for the new litter to appear on the menu. This predicament seems to be worsened by trying to live as a disciple of Christ. 

Christian graduates no longer produce grades that prove their intellectual prowess; further, they begin to live a life that doesn’t make a great case for sanity. Classmates head off to prestigious grad schools; the Christian leaves for a Gap year. Colleagues begin to invest in the stock market while the disciple invests in Christian community. Sprinkle in a health dose of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and the pie in the face begins to stick. 

It’s natural to want to be esteemed by your fellow man, to want the world to respect you. But as a Christian, it’s sometimes difficult to shake the feeling that you’re the butt of a terrible joke and the intellectual and successful community seems to be having a good laugh at your expense. The Gospels seems to confirm this sense: warning Christians that they can expect not only opposition but persecution as well – especially if they attempt to stand up for their faith and follow Christ’s teaching. 

This anxiety is by no means monopolized by the recent graduate. A short time ago I read a Christian review of the book There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. The author of this article – for whom I felt immediate empathy – eloquently sang the praises of Antony Flew, the book’s author. This intellectual giant had long been in the camp that makes recent Christian graduates feel so inadequate.  Flew had vigorously attacked the primitive religion of the Nazarene propagandist and those with the intellectual impairment of belief. However, the book is Flew’s confession that he was wrong and that believers were right. The reviewer’s article reads like one deliciously satisfying “In your face, world”: the intellectual case for Christianity is undeniable and inexorable. 

Then, in one of the closing paragraphs, the writer mentions that Flew is explicitly clear that he is a deist – by no means a follower of Jesus. Flew believes in a god… but definitely not the Christian God. There’s that feeling again. It may be intellectually respectable to believe in a supreme being – but let’s not get carried away.

The reviewer ends his article stating that the “book is a hand grenade tossed into the foul nest of the duplicitous, conniving, unscientific, irrational contemporary atheists.” I’m not so convinced. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him – the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t think Flew’s book heralds a new age where the intellectual community endorses religion over skepticism – I don’t think the grenade’s loaded.

But considering Flew’s arguments, I’m not sure his is the weaponry we should be investing in. Flew proposes a god from the argument of design: the complexity of DNA and the massive improbability of the natural order occurring by mere chance. In a nut shell, the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Well, my laughable book could have told him that.

Though I’ve found my intellect wanting over the last year, I have learned at least this: the important thing is not for others to recognize and respect us, but for us to recognize and respond to the truth – God’s truth.  Regardless of the world’s opinion, God’s judgment is what should occupy our minds. As long as this is in order, we don’t need to sweat any other deficiencies of the head.
James Munk graduated from the University of Michigan School of Architectural Design in May, 2007. This fall he begins working as a mission leader for Kairos North America and is presently an affiliate in the Servants of the Word in Ann Arbor, Michgan, USA. 

(c) copyright 2008  Living Bulwark
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom
email: living.bulwark@yahoo.com