Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too True

"I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us... We need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."

Franz Kafka, in a private letter, January 1904

Monday, July 27, 2009

A recent article about the Christian publishing industry mentioned that one publishing house was discussing with a popular author the possibility of a series of vampire novels for Christians. I wish I were making this up, but I doubt if I could, even if I were drunk. The idea is that vampires sell, so since they sell, why not try to sell them to Christians, who buy a lot of entertainment? I am not speculating that money might be the motivation for this venture, the article states as much in plain language. “Twilight Lite” – necrophilia for evangelicals.

Supposedly, this novel (or series of novels) is going to tell the tale of a family of vampires who became “undead” through some process involving the blood of Judas Isacariot. I wish I were making this up for the sake of satire, but I’m not. One person interviewed for the article claims that the Christian message can fit into a vampire story since the bible speaks of the power of blood in the doctrine of the atonement. It is true that we do speak of the power of the blood, but that is a singular emphasis: the Blood of Jesus Christ. To extrapolate that unique concept out into a world of undead, occult figures pining for redemption in the midst of completely depraved circumstances is ludicrous. The only conceivable reason for doing so is that we evangelicals (or a large number of us) are now motivated by precisely the same things which motivate non-believers; lots of money, mass appeal, pop-culture icons of refined evil and mindless entertainment. Let’s have a novel about Hannibal Lechter becoming a televangelist. That way we can enjoy a ripping good yarn about a serial killer, and also have redemption thrown in as a side benefit! We’ll have our cake and everyone else’s too.

Without overstating in the slightest, this venture is evidence of the most crass, vulgar, unconscionable, greedy, depraved, money-grubbing sycophancy imaginable. For years, Christian leaders of a certain stripe have been warning their fellow believers that our habit of imitating the world was getting out of hand. Their arguments are now academic. We have passed a boundary where we apparently feel that the “Christian message” can now be crammed into any container at all. We’ve got past the point where it is correct to hypothesize about a slippery slope; we are now in a free fall toward an abyss of nearly total identification with all things opposed to goodness. Once our music, our books, our complete package is just like the world’s, why bother leaving one for the other? We no longer have anything unique to offer; all we have is what has already been popular in secular circles for months and years. A great Ho-Hum of amused boredom will greet the message of saving grace as long as we persist in this foolishness, and the only answer to the question “Why are we Christians having no impact on the world” will be a hand-held mirror. God willing, it will at least show our reflection.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Promise

Chaim Potok once wrote a novel about two young men who had grown up as best friends within the world of Hasidic Judaism in the middle of the twentieth century. Actually, one of them was Hasidic, and the other was more of a semi-observant, scholarly, believing but non-Hasidic modern Jew. Ironically, the boy who was raised as a Hasid became a psychologist; the more modern boy became a rabbi.

He told the story of their young adulthood in The Promise. I enjoyed this novel very much because (like a really good story should) it made me relate to some of the characters. One in particular had decided to keep his traditions; sabbath, passover, study of the Talmud, but in his heart he no longer believed that God exists. He was trying to construct a theology for reverent Judaism without faith in God.

In no way can I relate to his lack of belief in God, but there is a question this character posed which strikes all of us. He had made a lifetime of his Torah study, and he genuinely loved the tradition of the Torah, but his scholarly approach had made it difficult for him to continue to feel a sense of wonder, or tender reverence, for his subject matter.

"That's the problem... how can we teach others to regard the tradition critically and with love? I grew up loving it, and then learned to look at it critically. That's everyone's problem today. How to love and respect what you are being taught to dissect."

Have you ever sat through a sermon and felt a passage of scripture becoming so familiar, so well-worn, that it began to lose its impact? I have. I've preached those sermons. Familiarity and scrutiny has a tendency to quash the forcefulness of a new and bracing idea.

How important is it for us to keep ourselves fresh and innocent when we come to the scriptures? You might rather ask, how important is it for the Bible to hold sway over us, to hold the power to astound, shock, humble and amaze us?

I think it is of great importance.

Somebody once said that familiarity can breed contempt, even at the very altar of God. We have a thousand study bibles, a hundred thousand bible studies, dozens upon dozens of conferences and weekend teaching retreats.

Are we now more susceptible to the power of his Word?

I leave that question to you...

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Gospels as Literature

In the Bible there are four accounts of Christ’s life. To use the four gospels together requires a tapestry approach which takes into consideration the content of each, the order in which they place key events, their style and even their theological perspective. As readers, then, Christians will naturally get more out of the gospels as they read carefully, lovingly and faithfully.

The first three gospels are generally lumped together, since they share a great deal of material in common, both the teachings of Christ and major events. But among the synoptic gospels each of the gospels contains information which is unique.
Matthew and Luke each include birth narratives, Mark does not. Matthew and Luke provide genealogies. John gives information which could not have been offered by witnesses such as his opening statement about the Word, and therefore includes material which is not technically “narrative.”
Original material in Matthew begins at Christ’s birth and includes Joseph’s visitation, the Magi, the flight to Egypt, and Herod’s infanticide. Luke approaches Christ’s birth by focusing on Mary instead of Joseph, the shepherds instead of the Magi, and the legal obligations of Jesus’ very Jewish parents rather than the flight to Egypt.
Matthew pours on the Old Testament attributions of Christ’s Messiahship and begins the real narrative (after his baptism and temptation) with scant references to wonders and a long section dedicated to Christ’s teachings. Although the beatitudes have a parallel in Luke, Luke presents nothing like the wealth of teachings which Matthew bunches together in one spot. While Mark and Luke both include Peter’s confession of faith, only Matthew elaborates on Christ’s response, indicating that this was revealed to him from heaven and that Peter would be instrumental in building a church for Christ in the future. In Matthew and Mark’s account of the crucifixion, Jesus cries out the opening phrase of Psalm 22, and after the resurrection Matthew attributes the oldest non-miraculous explanation (that his disciples stole the body) to the chief priests and elders.
Mark presents much of the same material in an abridged format (not necessarily because Mark is an abridgment of Matthew.) No birth narrative, and only a scant mention of John’s baptism of Jesus or of his temptation in the wilderness. Mark gives us the quaint detail about Christ’s “own people” who seek to have him put away for insanity (Mk. 3:21). Mark is the gospel which adds the possibly significant detail about Christ entering the temple on the day of the triumphal entry, looking around at things, then sleeping on it overnight before going in and cleansing the moneylenders out (Mk. 11:11-15). He expands the conversation between the scribe and Christ concerning the greatest commandment, showing us Jesus’ approval of the scribe once they discuss it further (Mk. 12:28-34).
Luke is the only gospel to include any information about Christ’s childhood, a single incident from about twelve years of age (2:41-52). Luke includes numerous parables not found in any other gospel, including the most famous of them all: the prodigal son. In this book we find the good Samaritan and the rich man and Lazarus. He also includes the story of Jesus sending out the seventy, and the story of Zaccheus’ conversion. Luke (as well as John) tells us that “Satan entered Judas” (22:3) before the betrayal of Christ and also the angel comforting Christ at the garden of Gethsemane. Luke gives us the detail about Simon of Cyrene carrying Christ’s cross as well as the dying conversation between Christ and the two thieves. The road to Emmaus is perhaps the most detailed and personal post-resurrection appearance outside of John.
The fourth gospel is the most unique, beginning with the pre-incarnate Christ dwelling from eternity past with the Father. The conversations with Nicodemus and with the Samaritan woman are both unique to John and are tremendously familiar to evangelicals in America. John’s record of Christ’s teachings includes the most singular pronouncements and the most blatant references to his deity, such as the well-known “I am” statements (e.g. 8:12, 10:9, 11, 11:25) and the controversial dialogues with the Jews in 8:58-59 and 5:17-18.
While Matthew includes a massive amount of ethical teaching at the inauguration of Christ’s ministry, John includes a massive amount of intimate conversation on Christ’s final night, alone with his disciples. He washes their feet, speaks about the Holy Spirit and prays his “high priestly prayer” in this section, while at the crucifixion we are told that Jesus entrusted his mother’s care to one of his disciples.
Following the resurrection Jesus appeared very personally to Thomas and to Peter, affirming each of them singularly regarding their personal relationship with him.
Luke and John each include a short declaration regarding the purpose of the book, Luke, in order to make an orderly and full account of the Christian faith in one who already believes; John’s gospel, in order that the reader might believe that Christ is who he claimed to be.

Order of Events
The greatest deviation in the order of events exists between the synoptic and John’s gospel. John mentions the Passover three separate times while the synoptic mention it only in connection with his death. John noticeably places a temple cleansing near the very beginning of Christ’s ministry while the others put it at the very end, after the triumphal entry.[1]
John includes the wedding at Cana, “the third day” following the account of his baptism. This is odd, since the synoptic say he went “immediately” from his baptism to his temptation. This may have been a convention, as when we say a president “immediately” enacts some legislation or other when he really did so in his first week or month in office. One explanation is that after Christ’s baptism he spent a short time in Galilee, then left everyone to go by himself from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:13), fasting and being tempted on his way.

Each of the gospels has a distinctive style. Possibly Mark offers the easiest analysis, being the most streamlined gospel. Major events in the story of Christ are reduced to a few simple, easily digested phrases, such as John the Baptist’s ministry. On the other hand, Mark has a tendency to give more pinpointed personal touches, such as the discussion between Christ and the scribe asking about the greatest commandment. Mark also is most emphatic about the fear the disciples felt when Jesus calmed the storm. It was Mark who reported that Jesus’ family wanted him put away, and Mark reported that Herod kept John the Baptist alive partly because “he used to enjoy listening to him,” a sorry example of being amused but unchanged by a sermon (6:20). This style is familiar, easy to read and concise. It may remind a modern reader of a really well-made, short documentary which tells the basic outlines of a really intriguing human interest story.
Matthew relies heavily on the Old Testament to relay the urgency of Christ’s nature and ministry. In Matthew Christ is majestic, acting like the Son of David in the way he responds to people and situations. The disciples are imperfect but capable representatives – perhaps a little less fearful, a little less insipid – who are trustworthy. It is not intended to be in any way unbiased or impartial; it is more like justifiable propaganda promoting the person of Christ as worthy and superior in every way. The Messiah who will one day rule, who has dealt with evil once for all, who has a corner on all truth. It is aimed at overpowering the reader with the truth of the claims of its subject.
Luke, of course, seems fuller than Matthew, perhaps because the object of Luke was something more familiar to modern readers; an orderly and factual presentation of the Christian faith. In Luke there is a sense of sensibility to both the narrative and to the material included. Jesus is not merely someone who deserves our reverence, he’s someone who welcomes it warmly. He speaks about lost things, he tells more stories which cut more deeply into our sense of pathos. He is memorable not only for who he is and what he can do, but also for the personal impact he makes on people such as Zaccheus. He accepts the adoration of Mary and gently chides Martha for her preoccupation and her attitude towards her sister. As he appears to the two disciples on the Emmaus road, he takes time with them, discussing the prophecies about the Messiah and becoming recognized by them over the familiarity of a shared meal. Luke is the historian with heart, the researcher who is sensitive to more than just facts and figures; he is warm towards Christ himself. He represents the acme of Christian writing: tender-hearted scholarship.
John’s gospel seeks to persuade. In the course of his efforts he reaches higher than Matthew theologically and descends deeper into the personal details than Luke. Like an exemplary sermon his book begins with a proposition which strains the imagination, pummels the limits of human reason, then settles soft as a snowflake on the man, the flesh and blood figure who is enjoying a rustic wedding celebration with his friends and family. No gospel lingers more attentively on a single conversation than John does, lasering in Nicodemus’ questions and Christ’s answers, then doing the same thing with a plain Samaritan woman with an abominable lifestyle by Jewish standards. In these instances Christ doesn’t preach at the people he’s interacting with, he converses with them. They aren’t there merely to serve as a foil for Christ’s teachings, they participate in the conversation and help to guide it with their concerns and questions. When Jesus approaches the lame man at Bethesda he stoops to ask him whether the man wishes to get well. He takes time to listen to the man’s story, how he waits in vain for the water to spin without a friend to help him down. When he heals the man born blind, John spends an entire chapter relating the subsequent investigation and trial. Over and over the crowds and the Jewish leaders become incensed at his claims, and only John shows the vulnerable Christ abandoned by most of his followers, wondering whether even the final twelve will slink away and leave him alone.
It really is not any wonder that John has been a perennial favorite among believers for centuries. Who hasn’t been fascinated by the image of Christ humbly washing his friends’ feet? Most evangelicals can quote (even if they can’t find) the passage in which Christ claims to be “the Way the Truth and the Life.” Only John humanizes Pilate enough to record his smart-aleck question during the trial – “what is truth?” By the time a reader gets all the way through Luke there is little new to be amazed by; despite the original material there, much of it has been gone over by Matthew and Mark. John, though, brings us a truly fresh and invigorating picture of Christ. Here we see the infinite and the personal believably wedded. John persuades and convicts like an earnest friend.

Theological Perspective
Much of the theological perspective comes out naturally when we consider the original materials in each book. Matthew, for instance, relies most heavily on the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, and begins with a genealogy which links Christ to Abraham through David. The repeated emphasis on the kingdom tells us that this is a thoroughly Messianic book with a strong bent towards fulfilling the expectations and the hopes and dreams of the author’s fellow Jews. How do we behave in the kingdom? Check out the sermon on the mount. When will it be fulfilled? No worries, Christ gives us a lengthy end-times sermon in which Christ promises to bring an end to the death and destruction, to come back in victory. He is royalty. In Matthew he deserves our reverence.
Mark’s theology is bound to the responses of the people and the disciples. Amazement, awe, stupidity, fear, rejoicing… all of these reactions illustrate the nature of discipleship and give some warning to those who are considering Christ that discipleship is as serious as life and death, as exciting as the most terrifying storm, adventurous and rewarding and not for the timid. Christ is not merely presenting himself in Mark, he’s presenting a lifestyle based on himself. Even the original ending (16:8) presents the most joyful news on earth in an enigmatic fashion. Rather than joyful shouting and bold proclamations, the women hear the news of Christ’s resurrection and flee with “trembling and astonishment” saying nothing about the incident to anybody “for they were afraid.” What kind of gospel leaves things in such a condition? Perhaps one which wants to seriously confront the dangers, astonishments and ultimate rewards which come along with following the most powerful, hated, loved, feared and original Messiah the world has ever known.
Luke’s Christ reaches out everywhere to everyone. His parables strike perhaps more deeply across more boundaries than the parables in any other gospel. Certainly the parable of the soils, for instance, makes sense even if the details remain most tangible to farmers living in an agrarian situation. But what parent anywhere would fail to feel the distress of the father in the parable of the prodigal son? It is also evident, as one reads along, that money and the usage of money crops up over and over again. The theology of Luke not only crosses boundaries, but applies imminently to this world in which we live. Luke’s emphasis is practical. His stories and parables touch the day-to-day realities which people in his day were immersed, and continue to apply to real life. Not that the other gospels are other-worldly and impractical, but Luke’s concern is special in this regard. Here Christ is utterly tangible, and so is his context.
John’s theology is the most refined and highly developed. The deity of Christ takes forefront from the very beginning, which makes the plain humanity he shows throughout all the more appealing and surprising. More time is spent alone with his disciples here than in any other gospel, showing the relationship he shared with them at their most intimate. Peter’s confession, for example, seems less heroic in John and more of a desperate last stand. When he asks the disciples if they want to leave him Peter responds by saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” They simply don’t have any other choices; they’ve put all their eggs in this one basket. When Jesus appears to Peter after the resurrection, a painfully prolonged scene restores their relationship and makes Peter seem so frail and human that we pity him as we read.
Over and over again in this gospel Christ affirms his deity to the Jews. Over and over they reject the very idea. The sermons and parables have far more to do with who Christ is, his nature and his relationship to the Father and his salvific role, than with ethics for kingdom living. It gives us all of the lofty, infinite reasoning which lends plausibility to the ethical teachings in the other books. The person and the reality behind the kingdom. It makes possible the affirmation in 1 Corinthians that Christ himself, not a kingdom standard, is “our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). John’s theology completes the picture given to us by the first three. Christ the infinite, eternal Creator.

The four-fold picture of Christ given us by the evangelists represents something more than the pinnacle of human achievement. It has been suggested that these books were written as an intentional invention, but they reach far beyond anything human being could create on their own. The life of Christ was, and remains, the revelation of all things divine, inasmuch as we can see and understand them. The gospels are echoes of that life, echoes which go on as loudly and as authentically in every generation as they did two thousand years ago. These books are living and powerful because they draw on a life containing all the power of God, living on forever, world without end.
[1] Of course, this could represent two separate incidents rather than one. An argument can be made either way.

Monday, September 8, 2008

two streams diverged in the wood...

To the left is a wide, slow river moving ponderously but faithfully down a grade of less than ten inches every mile. It is mostly muddy and slow, but it can be treacherous at times. Let it be the movement of philosophy and ideas down through the years. It is full of thoughts and discoveries, and it is calling people to a certain standard of living; a life of joy, or courage, or sacrifice. At times it contains such a high and lofty ideal for us that we could never hope to reach it. What’s more, we often can’t even see the idea, for the water is churned up and full of sediment. For centuries men and women have been able to float about on its surface, but going deeper is too troublesome. The water is not clear enough.

To the right is a roaring mountain stream. It is as wide as the other, yet deeper. It may momentarily collect in a pool, but for most of its journey it is racing through rapids, squeezed between daunting cliffs and pouring over the edges of waterfalls. It is vibrant and dangerous and moving unstoppably. This is history. It is the motion and movement of real people in real situations, making decisions and catastrophic choices which propel the whole monster forward. The undertow is deadly. Nothing can stop its flow. Everything is caught up in it as it tumbles along. It is not changeable – rather, it changes the landscape as it moves along.

One tells us the way things should be – the other tells us the way things really are. Somewhere up ahead, the two will meet.

Now consider that some moral philosopher may speak for hours on end to try to get people to behave in a more humane manner. Like the slow moving river, he can inspire, but not enough. He can whip people into a frenzy, but not forever. Most philosophies are impenetrable to the masses, and uninteresting as well. You may swim around in them for hours and never find one compelling reason to do anything noble. It is a cerebral exercise, a tedious mystery.

History however leaves us with the opposite: not what should be, or what could be, but rather what really is, and how short it falls. How few heroes of Right and Wrong have lived up to their potential? How many monsters have had a greater impact on their world and generation than a thousand martyrs? How frustrating it is to look at the merely human endeavors there and find in them some hope for mankind. We cannot force history into a high standard for our lives, for it is simply too broken, too human.

These two streams meet at a junction which has been an expression of humanity’s creativity for thousands of years. For where our ideals meet our experience, we tell stories.

Now these stories, as has been noted, come from two streams, and there can be two results. The first is that the water from each creates a reservoir, a deep, clear lake from which we can drink, a source of sustenance. This happens when we have worthy ideals, when we recognize the faulty ones, when we understand human nature rightly, and when we apply the two together to create worlds where reality is made tangible for people.

But the other possibility is not a store of nourishing water, but a swamp; a flat, sulfurous bog of stagnant water filled with bacteria and breeding insects. This is what happens when we create literature which embraces the basest ideals (or none at all) or when people go looking only to what is and try to extract some meaning or purpose out of it, rather than imposing on the world an ennobling element from the stream of conscience and morality.

What we see in our world is that, too often, the confluence of these two streams results in a malarial bog of hopeless tripe. Either the level of artistic achievement is high and the ideals are low, or else the ideals are high and the artistry is low. We need deep waters, and clear. We require so much more than we have been given. We’ve grown accustomed to settling, so much so that we can barely recognize any longer the potential which exists for real creativity.

It may be that a renewal of true art among believers will accompany, or precede, an increase in the quality of our religion, for the highest ideas in creation deserve the very best creations we can produce.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Frodo's Failure

Some of you have read the book, others have only seen the movie, perhaps some of you are familiar with neither the blockbuster nor the classic in which Frodo the hobbit must carry a ring, permeated with evil power, up to the summit of mount doom and drop it into a crack so that it might be destroyed by the fire below. By the time you reach that point in the story, the quest for mount doom has become almost as much of a burden for the reader as for the hero, and all you want is for him to let go of that ring and be free. If you care at all, if you're invested enough in the recognizability of the tale, then you're tired of reading about his struggle and his weariness, almost as if you yourself are helping to carry the ring just by sharing his story.

But if you persevere that far you will experience something like a shocking surprise. This hardy little hobbit has braved all the dangers of middle earth and all the deprivations one could reasonably expect only to reach the very end of his journey... and fail.

He failed, no question about it. His role was to take the ring to the mountain and destroy it. Instead, he tried to claim it and keep it. He'd carried it around his neck for too long; it had seeped into his flesh and bones, and it had become a part of him. As he slips it on his finger the reader realizes that even the strongest and the bravest cannot endure the mounting pressure of evil forever. Everyone crumbles beneath it at some point.

It is just then, when Frodo disappears into a world of shadow and darkness, and his good friend can no longer even see him, when the creature who has dogged his footsteps for nearly the entire trip reaches out to take the ring for himself. He finds Frodo's finger and bites it off, taking his prize with a cannibalistic violence. Then this creature, Gollum, falls, ring and all, into the fire - and Frodo is left staring into the abyss.

Here Frodo becomes free, but not for anything he himself did. He tried to get rid of his burden, but he could not. In the end he embraced it, and at that point, when it had become a part of himself, it could only be taken from him at the price of disfigurement. A small piece of himself fell into the flames as well. He may have been set free from the power of the ring, but he would never be completely whole again.

There is something deeply disturbing about the suggestion that the kindest, bravest, hardiest character in an epic is insufficiently strong to resist evil all alone - that even the best of us is ultimately corruptible. The idea that a vulnerability to darkness may linger inside of us, and can only be torn away in a violent act of mercy which hurts more deeply the more it is needed. The flesh is weak indeed. As Frodo runs from the scene of his own failure, dripping blood and exhausted, he may indeed have felt as though he were dying; yet he can hardly have regretted it. Can such a survivor ever regret what he's lost, or left behind, the pieces of his heart or his soul that have been destroyed in the course of things? So long as the curse is lifted, nothing else matters. It is enough.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"No one on earth has any other way left but upward." ~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I first encountered Alexander Solzhenitsyn intentionally, as part of a personal effort to taste the Russian authors. I began with his book, One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, a novel of fact and personal experience which follows one prisoner through an ordinary day in a work camp in Communist Siberia.

I will be frank with you; I chose that book because it was much shorter than War and Peace. I figured that, since I didn’t know whether I would like they style of a Russian author, I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew. I would only allow myself to become emotionally invested in a smaller sample. Smaller it is, but glorious.

Solzhenitsyn was sentenced to eight years in a labor camp, beginning in 1945. Eventually, as a result of his writings, he had his citizenship revoked by the USSR and was exiled, eventually ending up in the United States. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970.

In 1978 he was invited by Harvard university to address the student body. But that speech was marked by a grave disrespect shown by nearly everybody in attendance, including the faculty, as he began to unburden himself in a fearless and transparent critique of Western culture.

Who better to critique the west? Solzhenitsyn was no proponent of communism, having suffered so much under it. He hated the low estate which the atheistic government of his home land had produced among the Russian people. Adopted by the richest, most “successful” nation on earth, he enjoyed full freedom to commend his ideas and observations to people. He was free to write, and being a newcomer, he could view circumstances objectively, with the fresh perspective of someone who has not been desensitized by immersion. But he was apparently not free to confront those educators and their progeny with truths about the moral condition of our society, for they would not listen.

Consider what he said about that which our culture cannot satisfy: “[T]he human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music.” Could it be that a man who had to learn to be by himself with God in a vicious, brutal gulag learned how to be satisfied without the gadgets and the distractions which we use as a substitute for contentment?

He was heckled and booed during his speech that day. He confronted young, power-hungry humanists with the idea that God was the only satisfactory answer for the problems of society and the yearnings of life, and in return he was mocked and ignored – the sound of Nero’s fiddle in the halls of higher learning.

He supposedly said later that the reception to his speech was the saddest moment of his life. It should be an occasion of sadness for all of us, as well. Look at this man who, by virtue of his honesty in the face of mass indifference, stands in the company of the prophets before him. He learned how to face the demands of truth while shuddering under a threadbare jacket, a thin rag wrapped around his face, toiling under the blast of arctic winds in a camp at the end of the world. His haunted legacy haunts us as well, if only we knew it.