We are all — every last one of us — obsessed with giving good impressions. We like to be thought of as smart, attractive, funny, virtuous, and strong; we want everyone to believe that we have it “all together.” The staff of The Ichthus is certainly no exception. It is our secret hope that you will be enamored with our thoughts, our ideas, our layout, with the firstfruits of our labor — in short, that you will be enamored with us. If this is not our desire (and how could it not be?), it is at least our temptation.
I know, at any rate, that it is my desire. Were I left to my own devices, I surely would never rise above this pathetic ostentation and vainglory, the idolatry of self that is the sin of modern man. I wish I could tell you that I am a good and kindhearted person. But the truth is that I am a sinful wretch: proud, conceited, and judgmental, prone to anger and to deceit. I am a slave to the flesh, a poor wayfaring stranger.
The bad news is that, if anything even remotely resembling Christianity is true, you are, too — “for all fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even our righteous acts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). And it is obvious that we know this; the gulf between our public and private personae give us away. And so we are comedians playing to an audience too afraid to laugh — adulterous brides who have spurned our grooms and reveled in our infidelity. We are a contradiction, a fusion of the divine and the demonic, at constant war with ourselves. We are a race of Fyodor Karamazovs, blithering clowns hiding behind masks because we are terrified, absolutely terrified that someone might see the truth beneath the disguise.
The good news is that God’s grace is for adulteresses and clowns — in short, for the world. God has forgiven us and intertwined His Spirit with the Sodom in our hearts. We are sinners in the hands of an angry God — and we can be redeemed. Try as we may, we can never vanquish Beauty, only wound it; despite all our transgressions, we still can sing, write, dance, and laugh.
The Ichthus, then, like any publication, is a journal devoted to the victories — the stories, essays, and ideas — of its staff. But it also is a journal devoted to the weaknesses of its staff, a journal created in recognition of the fact that we Christians are nothing without Christ. We acknowledge that we need to be saved — and we acknowledge that we have been saved.
We need no façade. Rather, we boast in our weaknesses: God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). We rejoice in our mortality: Death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). And we remember that our triumphs come not from our brilliance or wisdom, but from the goodness, grace, and majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ.
J. Joseph Porter ‘12, a Philosophy concentrator living in Quincy House, is the Features Editor of The Ichthus.