A Time to Laugh

Years ago, I visited with Malcolm Muggeridge, the great curmudgeonly journalist and convert to Christianity. He was dubbed "Saint Mugg" by the Washington Post. During tea, I remarked on one of our many cultural travesties of the day. I don't remember the subject, but I was outraged. Muggeridge leaned back in his chair and started laughing uproariously. "Oh, Chuck! Don't you get all heated up over these kinds of things. This is simply human folly. What we're witnessing is human beings going through all the foolish and stupid things they do. In the end, God will have to work it all out. At my age" -- Muggeridge was then seventy-three -- "it just all looks so ludicrous, I laugh at it." I thought perhaps Muggeridge was getting a bit senile, but now that I am approaching that age myself, I appreciate what he said. Some of what goes on is so bad that you'll end up ranting and raving like a madman unless you laugh. It's nothing more than the idiocies of human beings. How utterly preposterous we are! I thought of Muggeridge when I read a recent article by Frank Rich in the New York Times titled, "Religion for Dummies." Yes, you're getting the point about what it's about. In the article, he took the Catholic church to task for its handling of the pedophilia cases and then gratuitously brought in a few others for condemnation. He cited Tom DeLay, the House majority whip, who had the audacity to say, to a church audience, no less, "Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world" -- a statement, by the way, right out of my book How Now Shall We Live? I had to laugh. What does belief in a religion mean if not a conviction that it provides the ultimate answer for how we're to respond to the realities of life? We all -- including Mr. Rich -- choose a worldview by which we order our lives. And we all believe it's the best response to reality, or we wouldn't have chosen it. Mr. DeLay's statement is no more scandalous than saying, "I get up in the morning and think I'm a human." It's stating the obvious. I suspect Mr. Rich won't see the humor in this, but it's really comical. Rich goes on to bash John Ashcroft, the attorney general and target of choice these days for angry liberal columnists. Ashcroft had the audacity to say, "We are a nation called to defend freedom -- freedom that has not been granted by any government or document, but is our endowment from God." Rich writes that "Ashcroft has therefore dispensed with the constitution, which defines our freedoms." Really? No, Mr. Rich. The Declaration of Independence says that all are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights including liberty. That was the point of the American Revolution. We fought believing that rights come from God, not from King George. And wasn't it Thomas Jefferson -- not John Ashcroft -- who said that we abide by the laws of nature and nature's God? Mr. Rich insists that John Ashcroft is "pumping up the volume of his preening sanctimony." Can it be that Mr. Rich really doesn't know American history? He needs to go back to the books. Rich's column is a farce, and Malcolm Muggeridge had it right. The world is a foolish place filled with foolish people making foolish statements. The best thing you can do sometimes is to laugh. For further information: Russell Kirk, "Malcolm Muggeridge's Scourging of Liberalism," Heritage Foundation Lecture no. 229, 21 September 1989. Frances Stead Sellers, "A Satirist in Search of Salvation," The Washington Post, 3 March 1996. Frank Rich, "Religion for Dummies," The New York Times, 27 April 2002. (Free registration required.) Prepare your son or daughter for college! The Wilberforce Forum has put together a Worldview College Survival Kit to help college students equip their minds for worldview challenges.


Chuck Colson



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