Two Kinds of People

“There are two kinds of people,” Mr. Merrill Lynch announced at lunch in the Harvard Club on my last day as a Harvard University Merrill Fellow in 1990, “Those who went to Harvard and those who did not.”
At these words, I nearly choked on my overpriced, overdone filet mignon (that many ordinary Hollsopple beef farmer eat every other day!) and wiped my mouth with my embroidered, starched white linen napkin. I was certainly glad to hear that–especially since I was wearing my best suit–and my worse suit–both at the same time. By mistake I had put on the jacket from one and the pants from another. They looked good to me in the pre-dawn morning. But by lunch the crystal chandeliers in the Harvard Faculty Club painfully accentuated my error! Everything about this place reeked of pretention and I was glad to get my crimson crows feet and to fly home!

Ari Goldman, a New York Times journalist wrote a book called Searching for God at Harvard. What becomes abundantly clear, after reading the book, is that he obviously did not find what he was looking for. One professor, the great Christian writer Fred Buechner resigned from Harvard Divinity School because he felt embarrassed to mention God in his classes. “The mere mention of God–an omniscient God, God as a transcendent being–when I was there . . . would be guaranteed to produce snickers,” Ari Goldman wrote (Atlantic Monthly, Dec., 1990).

It is not he purpose of this newsletter article to bash my old alma mater. No, I thank God that I went to Harvard. I had no trouble finding God there–and I found my wife Karen to boot! But I knew where to look. The problem with Goldman, and with Lynch, and with many of us is that we do not look in the right places. Or, in other words, we do not read our Bible and pray often enough.

The Catholic scholar Sean Caufield says, “I’ve come to know that God is not a ‘thing’. He is not of the things and bits of his own creation, one more objecting thing out there, something amongst other things. he is not even th e supreme thing, the first or best or greatest in a series. He is not relative to anything. He is the altogether Other., the Mystery that cannot be contained or boxed in by any symbol or concept.” I have found that mystery. We must reach beyond ourselves and our troubles and find a God who is in control.

Many of us don’t pray and mean it until we are in anguish. We don’t pray until we are driven to our knees by the circumstances of life. Fair enough. But reach that point soon.

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