Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Caricatures No More-1

One of the sources of comfort for me during my wilderness years was the view that most Christians were idiots. I distinctly remember making fun of them generally, and held a special contempt for their lack of intellectual honesty and curiosity. The Pat Robertsons of the world were a source of glee for me, because I could use them as a template for all believers, and thereby dismiss all issues of faith.

Then I met and started dating the woman who would become my wife. When I first met her, she was finishing her master degree in English Literature. She did not have much interest in arguing matters of faith with me, but she knew Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, and much of literature far better than I did and do. Her life was largely one of intellectual honesty and curiosity. My precious caricature started to wilt just abit.

As I write this, my wife is in the midst of her doctoral dissertation, all while raising the greatest blessing of our lives, our 5 year old daughter.

At about the same time I started dating this woman, I met her father. His educational pedigree was something most would aspire to, but that was the beginning and the more formal part of his commitment to intellectual honesty and curiosity. In his spare time, I learned that he read extensively about philosophy, military strategy, and was a savant about the American Civil War. My caricature took another hit, a hit compounded by what I was learning about the man's daughter.

As I write this, my father-in-law is in the first year of a 10-year reading program involving the Great Works of the Western world. He is 80 years old.

For me, the erosion of this caricature of Christians took some time. By the time I married my wife, the caricature was like an ice sculpture at a wedding reception, at the hour of midnight, its broad features still recognizable, its narrow base precarious, standing in a puddle of water, with little sparkle left.

I was beginning to feel uneasy about this.