Editorial

Editorial… (cont)

saved?” they asked. But they were speaking to one whose life had been shaped by the confession “Jesus is Lord,” and who believed that it was through this Lord that he would be saved. Again, they tried, “Respect your age,” they said; “Swear by the genius of Caesar, repent and say ‘Away with the atheists.” The account in the book The Martyrdom of Polycarp continues: But Polycarp, with a stern countenance looked on all the crowd of lawless heathen in the stadium, and waving his hand at them, he groaned and looked up to heaven and said, ‘Away with the atheists’!” But when the Proconsul pressed him and said, “Take the oath and I will let you go; revile Christ,” Polycarp said, “Eighty and six years have I been his servant and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me? With this the officials had heard enough, and the fire was kindled. I have been reading Polycarp recently, both the account of his martyrdom and the letter to him by Ignatius. I’m not a naïve reader; I recognize the various embellishments and

stylizations in the account. Still, I have to say that I find the story of Polycarp to be very unsettling. What would it be like to be in Polycarp’s position, or that of any of the other martyrs recounted in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History or other early Christian accounts of martyrdom? One cannot imagine a line more starkly drawn: either you deny Christ, renounce your identity as a Christian, and live; or you take your stand with Christ and thus choose a course that leads—but slowly and oh so painfully—to death. Eusebius tells us that many of the martyrs, when asked by their judges to give their names, occupations, and so on, in a stunning act of subversive bravery, answered each question with the simple yet defiant reply, “I am a Christian.” I cannot begin to imagine how they were able to summon up such single-minded courage. Thankfully—or perhaps more precisely, thanks be to God—it is unlikely that any of us will find ourselves in Polycarp’s position. Of course, there are parts of the world where Polycarp’s situation even now is being reenacted many times over, those areas of Syria and Iraq where ISIS has established its bloody rule being the most well-known. But in North America at least, we confess Christ in a situation that is both less

ultimate and more ambiguous. Less ultimate, in that, with very few exceptions, our lives are not on the line for the commitments we have made. More ambiguous, in that while there are many polarizing issues in our society on which we may feel compelled to take a stand as confessing Christians, very rarely is it the case that our Christian confession is the polarizing issue itself. Indeed, on many issues that we care about, we often find that there are well-meaning Christians on the other side, and that on our side of the issue we share our convictions with many who do not name the name of Christ. Most of us can reasonably expect never to be presented with the kind of categorical and agonizing choice that was faced by fellow Christians such as Polycarp. How then should we respond to the story of Polycarp, especially as we enter once again into the experience of Holy Week? Well, first of all, I suppose, it is not inappropriate to give thanks for the degree to which our situation differs from his. We should be grateful for the freedom we have to live openly as Christians. Further, we need to be reminded of our brothers and sisters in Christ elsewhere in the world who

Important Dates:

Last day of Classes— Thursday April 2nd Exam Week—April 6th- 10th Year End BBQ—Thursday April 9th Summer Intern Orientation—Friday April 10th Art Show Opening— Friday April 10th Art Lecture—Thursday April 23rd Grades on ROSI—Friday April 24th Residence Closes—Friday April 24th after breakfast Women’s Breakfast— Saturday April 25th Summer Residence MoveIn—Friday May 1st Art Visio Divina—Saturday May 2nd CONVOCATION DAY— Monday May 11th Tower Road Closes for PanAm Games—Friday May 15th PanAm Closures start— Monday June 22nd PanAm Games Start— Friday July 10th PanAm Games End— Sunday July 26th ParaPan Games Start— Friday August 7th ParaPan Games End— Saturday August 15th