Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained….This, of course, is what the Cross signifies. And it is the Cross, more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.
It is difficult to resist the conclusion that twentieth century man has decided to abolish himself. Tired of the struggle to be himself, he has created boredom out of his own affluence, impotence out of his own detromania, and vulnerability out of his own strength. He himself blows the trumpet that brings the walls of his own cities crashing down, until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, having drugged and polluted himself into stupefaction, he keels over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and becomes extinct.
I may, I suppose, regard myself as a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets: that’s fame. I can fairly easily earn enough to qualify for admission to the highest lopes of the internal revenue. That’s success. Furnished with money and even a little fame, even the elderly if they care to may partake of trendy diversions. That’s pleasure. It might happen once in a while that something I said or wrote was sufficiently headed for me to persuade myself that it represented a serious impact on our time. That’s fulfillment. Yet I say to you and beg you to believe me. Multiply these tiny triumphs by a million, add them all together, and they are nothing – less than nothing – a positive impediment measured against one draft of that Living Water Christ offers to the spiritually thirsty, irrespective of who or what they are.
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