When was the last time you loved an idea?
Not enjoyed it, not found it pleasant, not thought it nice. Loved it in the most nakedly powerful way possible with the kind of fierceness that defies explanation. When was the last time truth gave you the tingly chills you felt during your first kiss? How often do you let an idea crawl into bed and snuggle with you until you fall asleep in each other’s arms?
And has an idea ever given you a stomachache? What was the last idea that caused you real, physical, visceral pain? When did you last allow a belief to devastate you, to crawl underneath your fingernails, take hold, and pull?
More often than not, we live lives devoid of the intensity that our beliefs really demand. We engage our world with an uninspired complacency that takes extraordinary ideas with extraordinary implications and renders them commonplace. We lose sight of the fact that the powerful beliefs we choose to steer our existence aren’t just abstract assertions of some far-off truths, but charged, gritty, taxing expressions of the most fundamental forces that should drive everything we do.
Indeed, ordinary people who believe extraordinary truths – which is to say, the vast majority of the world’s 2.1 billion Christians – are called to similarly extraordinary lives. If we truly believe in the empty tomb, a moment that defies all sense of earthly order, then our lives must be radically re-shaped by the truth of the wandering God-man who swallows death whole.
This issue, we tackle Pontius Pilate’s famous question, “What is Truth?” We begin with students from Christian journals across New England defending the central truth of Christian faith. Managing Editor Cameron Kirk- Giannini ’11 critically examines a theology about the last days that has gained ground over the past few decades among conservative American evangelicals. Seminarian Carson Weitnauer attempts to reframe a traditional vision of “truth” as more vibrant, relational, and communal to show that propositional truth isn’t dead after all. And Joseph Porter ’12 attempts to address one of the most challenging truths of all, examining a philosophical argument for the existence of God that deserves further consideration.
We also pay special tribute this issue to a champion of the idea that some things are true and some things are not, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the journal First Things. Ichthus founder Jordan Hylden ’06 remembers Neuhaus from his time as a First Things junior fellow. Neuhaus was an interesting thinker whose journal, says Ichthus Books & Arts Editor Anne Goetz, “with its energetic attention to the implications of orthodoxy and its bracing grasp of life’s irony, played a significant role in forming how I think.” Those sentiments are shared widely, within these pages and beyond.
If we are to take seriously God’s desire – indeed, His command – for us to “love truth,” then we must commit to an honest and open search for it. We hope in this issue to help you lay the groundwork for your own search.
Samir Paul, Editor-in-Chief
Samir Paul ’10 is Editor-in-Chief of The Harvard Ichthus. He is a junior Computer Science concentrator in Mather House