No Stranger

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Some tenth-grade English classes were struggling to understand the motivations of the main character of mid-twentieth century existentialist Albert Camus' novel, "The Stranger". The character, Meursault, showed no grief at his mother's funeral, accepted a marriage proposal from his girlfriend with a why-not attitude, and later emptied a loaded gun into a man and blamed it on the sun. The class guessed that his mother must have been mean to young Meursault, or perhaps he was angry because his father abandoned him, or maybe Meursault was suffering from mental illness.

You may recall from your high school days that existentialism, in its most basic, popular definition, is the philosophy that concludes that all we humans really know or can know is that we exist. And since there is no objective (outside of us) source of knowledge, then truth is merely a human invention. The tenth graders were not existentialists because they had seen enough television dramas and talk shows to believe that evil has societal or systemic origins, i.e. the reason people are mean is because their basic physical or emotional needs have not been met. Give everyone a "decent" income, housing, food, sexual gratification, and perhaps access to an ample supply of recreational drugs, and they will be fulfilled and thus cooperate within an orderly, civil society.

The students enjoyed the idea of living in an existentialist society. If there is no objective source of truth, then each human is free to create a reality of his own. And if the school cannot point to truth from an objective God, then why should they keep quiet in class or obey rules that are mere human constructions of reality? And would not the teacher's gradebook be a mere collection of arbitrary judgments?

But do we live in an existentialist society? We do live in a society that denies there is a God, but whose wealthy elites have chosen particular humans (with likewise definitions of "scholarship") who have the authority to impose their ideas of truth on everyone, and if you students openly reject what the chosen ones believe, you will be denied particular documents that declare you to be educated, disabling your ability to make a living, and thus become dependent on and a political servant of the state.

Jesus' own disciples once asked Him who of them was the greatest and the mother of two of those eyewitnesses asked Jesus if they could sit next to Him in His heavenly kingdom. (Luke 22:24 and Matthew 20:21-23) Jesus replied that only the Servant can please His Master, and the meek servant of Christ will be with Him. No, evil does not come from a system, but an evil system comes from self-serving humans who deny our Creator and Savior. Freedom can begin by studying how ten of those same twelve disciples gave their lives for Christ. And they did so because they loved Him because He first loved them. The existentialists are right about one thing: we humans cannot know truth on our own, but they are eternally wrong when they say we cannot know. God is no stranger. He is Jesus the Christ, the Servant of your heavenly Father, who reveals Himself though His Word, yes, revolutionary documents that declare you and me free for all eternity. Gloria Deo--Glory to God

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