AS WISE AS PIGEONS: Lessons Never Learned

By Anthony Esolen

Why must the children of light always be ten revolutions and a hundred years behind the children of darkness?  If we cannot always defeat our enemies on the battlefield, can’t we at least learn to recognize their tactics so that we won’t be fooled the next time?  Never mind that.  Can’t we learn to recognize, from the bullets whistling past our ears and our comrades lying beside us shot through the heart, that they are our enemies?

Several days ago I was at a tent meeting with some of the oddest of the children of light.  These Christians preach Christ, and Him crucified.  Indeed, they preach so doggedly about Christ’s atonement for our sins and our complete helplessness to save ourselves, that they never get around to talking our new life in Christ.  Every day is Good Friday, and what happened on Easter merely confirms the power of Christ’s blood and so redirects our attention to the Cross.

None of this is wrong, as far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go far.  I have a soft spot in my heart for underdogs, especially when they preach about the Lord to a people stultified by bad schools, television, and the unutterable banality of vice.  I wish my friends well, though I suspect they believe I’m not “saved,” because I haven’t been struck blind on the road to Damascus.  My conversion was slower and more embarrassing, but that’s another story.

After the meeting I enjoyed refreshments with the members of the group, including several young people, three lads and a lass, between seventeen and twenty four years old.  We got to talking about school.  I’m an American, but we spend our summers in Canada, in Cape Breton.  And since I always ask my freshmen at Providence College what they’ve studied in high schools public and parochial, and, more to the point, what they have not studied, what they haven’t ever heard of, I asked the same questions to these pleasant Canadians.


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