Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In The Bet by Anton Chekhov, a lawyer made a bet with a banker that he could stay in solitary confinement for fifteen years. If he did the banker would pay him two million dollars. During the imprisonment the lawyer read an extraordinary number of books, on a wide variety of subjects. At the end of the fifteen years, the lawyer escaped five minutes before the time was up, thus losing the bet. The night before, he had written a note that read, in part,
"And I despise your books, despite all worldly blessings and wisdom. Everything is
void, frail, visionary and delusive as a mirage. Though you be proud and wise and
beautiful, yet will death wipe you from the face of the earth like the mice underground;
and your posterity, your history, and the immortality of your men of genius will be
as frozen slag, burnt down together with the terrestrial globe.

You are mad, and gone the wrong way. You take lie for truth and ugliness for beauty.
You would marvel if by certain conditions frogs and lizards should suddenly grow
on apple and orange trees, instead of fruit, and if roses should begin to breathe the odor of
a sweating horse. So do I marvel at you, who have bartered heaven for earth. I do not
want to understand you."

An argument could be made that the lawyer's note shows the emptiness of man's wisdom and learning without Jesus Christ. On the other hand, think about it from a different angle. What if the words in the note were written to the church? What if the church today is built on man's wisdom and pride, and is frail and delusive as a mirage? What if we are mad and have gone the wrong way, taking lies for truth? What if the church has bartered heaven for earth?

I think I'm going to have to think about this for awhile.


Anonymous said...

Ahh...The Bet sounds so interesting and good! Thank you for posting this. Indeed, it sounds like the Lawyer's words could not only relate to how the world functions without Jesus, but, as you mentioned, the institutional church and everything wrapped up in Religiosity.

Very thought-provoking!

~Amy :)

co_heir said...

Thanks for your comment. I think it's thought provoking enough to keep me busy for some time.

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