Jesus the Man Who Lives, And the Credulity of Our Age

by Malcolm Muggeridge

The coming of Jesus into the world is the most stupendous event in human history.

Is our [modern] skepticism one more manifestation of our having–in Bonhoeffer’s unhappy phrase–come of age? It would be difficult to support such a proposition in the light of the almost inconceivable credulity of today’s brain-washed public, who so readily believe absurdities in advertisements and in statistical and sociological prognostications before which an African witch-doctor would recoil in derision.

With Pascal it was the other way around; while accepting, with the same certainty as he did the coming of the seasons, the New Testament account of Jesus’ birth, he had already seen through and scornfully rejected the pretensions of science. Now, three centuries later, his intuition has been amply fulfilled.

The dogmatism of science has become a new orthodoxy, disseminated by the Media and a State educational system with a thoroughness and subtlety far exceeding anything of the kind achieved by the Inquisition; to the point that to believe today in a miraculous happening like the Virgin Birth is to appear a kind of imbecile, whereas to disbelieve in an unproven and unprovable scientific proposition like the Theory of Evolution, and still more to question some quasi-scientific shibboleth like the Population Explosion, is to stand condemned as an obscurantist, and enemy of progress and enlightenment…

It is in point of fact extremely improbable, under existing conditions, that Jesus would have been permitted to be born at all. Mary’s pregnancy, in poor circumstances, and with the father unknown, would have been an obvious case for an abortion; and her talk of having conceived as a result of the intervention of the Holy Ghost would have pointed to the need for psychiatric treatment, and made the case for terminating her pregnancy even stronger.

Thus our generation, needing a Savior more, perhaps, than any that has ever existed, would be too humane to allow one to be born; too enlightened to permit the Light of the World to shine in a darkness that grows ever more oppressive.”

—from Jesus, the Man Who Lives by Malcolm Muggeridge.

Muggeridge on the True Crisis of Our Time

“We look back on history, and what do we see? Empires rising and falling; revolutions and counter-revolutions succeeding one another; wealth accumulating and wealth dispersed; one nation dominant and then another. Shakespeare speaks of “the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon.”

In one lifetime I’ve seen my fellow countrymen ruling over a quarter of the world, and the great majority of them convinced – in the words of what is still a favorite song – that “God who’s made the mighty will make them mightier yet.” I’ve heard a crazed, cracked Austrian proclaim to the world the establishment of a German Reich that was to last for a thousand years; an Italian clown announce that he would restart the calendar to begin with his own assumption of power; a murderous Georgian brigand in the Kremlin acclaimed by the intellectual elite of the Western world as wiser than Solomon, more enlightened than Ashoka, more humane than Marcus Aurelius. I’ve seen America wealthier than all the rest of the world put together; and with the superiority of weaponry that would have enabled Americans, had they so wished, to outdo an Alexander or a Julius Caesar in the range and scale of conquest.

All in one little lifetime – gone with the wind.

England now part of an island off the coast of Europe, threatened with further dismemberment and bankruptcy. Hitler and Mussolini dead and remembered only in infamy. Stalin a sinister name in the regime he helped to found and dominated totally for three decades. Americans haunted by fears of running out of the precious fluid that keeps their motorways roaring and the smog settling, with troubled memories of a disastrous military campaign in Vietnam, and the great victory of the Don Quixotes of the media when they charged the windmills of Watergate.

Can this really be what life is about, as the media insist? This worldwide soap opera going on from century to century, from era to era, as old discarded sets and props litter the earth? Surely not. I can’t believe it. If this were all, then the cynics, the hedonists, and the suicides are right: the most we can hope for from life is amusement, gratification of our senses, and death. But it is not all.

Thanks to the great mercy and marvel of the Incarnation, the cosmic scene is resolved into a human drama. God reaches down to become a Man and Man reaches up to relate himself to God. Time looks into eternity and eternity into time, making now always, and always now. Everything is transformed by the sublime dream of the Incarnation – God’s special parable for fallen man and a fallen world.

The way opens before us that was charted in the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s a glorious record – not just of the past, but continuing now. The books are open, not closed.

If the Christian Revelation is true, then it must be true for all times and in all circumstances. Whatever may happen, however seemingly inimical to it may be the way the world is going and those who preside over its affairs, its truth remains intact and inviolate.

“Heaven and Earth shall pass way,” Our Lord said, “but my words shall not pass away.” Our Western Civilization, like others before it, is subject to decay, and must sometime or other decompose and disappear. The world’s way of responding to intimations of decay is to engage equally in idiot hopes and idiot despair. On the one hand, some new policy or discovery is confidently expected to put everything to rights: a new fuel, a new drug, détente, world government, North Sea oil, revolution, or counter-revolution. On the other, some disaster is confidently expected to prove our undoing: capitalism will break down; communism won’t work; fuel will run out; plutonium will lay us low; atomic waste will kill us off; overpopulation will suffocate us all or alternatively a declining birth rate will put us at the mercy of our enemies.

In Christian terms such hopes and fears are equally beside the point. As Christians, we know that here we have no continuing city. The crowns roll in the dust and every earthly kingdom must sometime flounder.

Whereas we acknowledge a King men did not crown and cannot dethrone, as we are citizens of a City men did not build and cannot destroy. It was in the breakdown of Rome that Christendom was born. And now, in the breakdown of Christendom, there are the same requirements and the same possibilities to eschew the fantasy of a disintegrating world and seek the reality of what is not seen and is eternal – the reality of Christ.

In this reality of Christ we may see our only hope, our only prospect, in a darkening world.

What other hope is there which could possibly compare with such a hope as this? What victory or defeat, what revolution or counter-revolution, what putting down of the mighty from their seats and exalting the humble and meek who then of course become mighty in their turn and fit to be put down, what going to the moon or exploration of the universe? A hope that transcends all human hoping, and yet is open to all humans; based on the absolute of love, rather than on the relativities of justice; on the universality of brotherhood, rather than the peculiarity of equality; on the perfect freedom which is service, rather than the perfect service purporting to be freedom.

It is precisely when every recourse this world offers has been explored and found wanting, when every possibility of help from earthly sources has been sought and is not forthcoming, when in the shivering cold the last fagot’s been thrown on the fire, and in the gathering darkness every glimpse of light has finally flickered out – it is then that Christ’s hand reaches out sure and firm, that His words bring their inexpressible comfort, that His light shines brightest abolishing the darkness forever. So, finding in everything only deception and nothingness, the soul is constrained to have recourse to God Himself and to rest content.” — from Malcolm Muggeridge’s “The True Crisis of Our Times”

Malcom Muggeridge on the Self-Destruction of 20th Century Western Man

Educating ourselves into imbecility

 [It] has become abundantly clear in the second half of the twentieth century that Western Man has decided to abolish himself.

Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, his own vulnerability out of his own strength; himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his own city tumbling down, and, in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies; until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary, battered old brontosaurus and becomes extinct.

Malcolm Muggeridge, Seeing Through the Eye: Malcolm Muggeridge on Faith

Fiat Lux! Having seen this other light, I turn to it, striving and growing towards it as plants do towards the sun.

“The light of love, abolishing the darkness of hate; the light of peace, abolishing the darkness of strife and confusion; the light of life, abolishing the darkness of death; the light of creativity, abolishing the darkness of destruction.

“Though, in terms of history, the darkness falls, blacking out us and our world, You have overcome history.  You came as light into the world, that whoever believed in You should not remain in darkness.

“The promise stands forever.  Your light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  Nor ever will.” — From Jesus Rediscovered by M.M.

Malcolm Muggeridge quotes Archbishop Fulton J Sheen saying: Christendom is over, but not Christ”:

— Memories of Malcolm Muggeridge

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