In some ways, it’s not hard at all to find God at Harvard. You can find him down by the river, where our houses are named after the old Puritans—Mather, Dunster, and Winthrop. He’s in the Yard, too—the old University motto, “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae,” is emblazoned right on top of Johnston Gate, reminding us that whether we like it or not, our college is dedicated to “Truth for Christ and the Church.” Matthews Hall is covered with crosses, and Memorial Hall is built like an old Gothic cathedral. And, of course, there’s a church sitting right in the middle of it all, complete with clergy, morning prayers, and Sunday services. God, it seems, was here long before any of us were, and has no intention of leaving anytime soon.
But although the old man upstairs may have built himself into our campus architecture, it’s often difficult to see how he matters in our everyday lives. While some students here seem to have him all figured out, for most of us the question is much more difficult. If you grew up in a devoutly Christian home, you might have gotten the impression that knowing God has something to do with not drinking, not smoking, not swearing, not having sex, and generally NOT doing a lot of things. If you grew up in a less religious home, you probably weren’t really sure what knowing God meant—if it meant anything at all, it meant taking care of poor people and living a good life, but then, since lots of atheists and agnostics did that as well, it was hard to tell what difference it made. And of course, if you grew up in a religious tradition outside of Christianity, you received a completely different set of preconceived notions about God, and have your own struggles about how best to know and serve him (or her). One of the largest problems we face is that God means different things to different people. It’s hard to know just who God is, and even harder to know how he matters to us, or why we matter to him.
The way we live doesn’t help, either. Most of us worked our tails off in high school in order to get into Harvard, and now that we’re here, we’re still working our tails off in order to get into the best law school, med school, or i-bank. No matter how we were brought up, there just isn’t a lot of time to think about God—it’s all we can do to keep up with our homework, our extracurriculars, and to try to have a little fun once in a while too. And so, given all the difficulties involved, many of us simply give up. It’s simply so much easier to stop asking these sorts of questions, and to either believe, by default, what we were brought up believing, or to conclude that there are too many problems with religion to have faith in anything, choosing instead to float along in a sort of comfortable agnosticism. After all, there’s a problem set due tomorrow, and a party tomorrow night, and why does any of this matter in the first place…?
The Harvard Ichthus exists to change that attitude. We believe that religion is something entirely serious, requiring the complete energy of one’s mind, and that the choice of and devotion to a religion is the most important choice any of us will ever make. Religion is nothing less than the framework by which we live our lives, whether we choose to follow Jesus, Adonai, Allah, someone or something else, or nothing at all. We at the Ichthus are Christians—we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; that He died on Good Friday and rose again on Easter Sunday, and that He is the answer to the problems of our broken world. We believe this so strongly that we are not willing to put our faith upon a shelf or take it for granted—we want to think about it critically, and talk about it with whomever will listen. The Ichthus is a journal of Christian thought, written by people who endeavor to apply that faith to every aspect of their lives—to think Christianly about biology, psychology, mathematics, physics, history, philosophy, economics, political science, art, music, poetry, literature, film, relationships, marriage, careers, beauty, truth, and love. We are not interested in proselytizing; we are interested in discussing, and we hope that people of all faiths, and of none, will join with us in the discussion. We are interested in searching for Veritas—Truth—and in putting that Truth into practice in our everyday lives. We might be right, and we might be wrong, but we are searching for something that we can hold on to. We are a journal for searchers, and we invite you to join us in our search.
Jordan Hylden ‘06, Editor-in-Chief, is a Government concentrator in Currier House.