Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mud and Stars

Two men looked through prison bars:
One saw mud and the other saw stars.

I recently re-encountered this couplet in a Christian article. It brings back a guilty memory, from when I furtively borrowed my sister's Trebizon boarding school stories. In the very first novel, the school headteacher encourages the heroine with this mud/star two-liner.

Apparently, it's a quote by Frederick Langbridge, although wikipedia wasn't too forthcoming with information about him. Anyway, it's the thought that counts - any situation is what we make of it. Do we see that the glass is half-full or half-empty?

As a Christian, I find that I have plenty of causes for optimism. I see the stars, twinkling gleams of glory, and anticipate a wonderful future - rejoicing in hope.
Of course, I'm not unaware of the mud. Most of the time I'm trudging through it, or perhaps assisting others. But the stars help put things in perspective.

Richard Dawkins mentioned something similar in a recent debate with John Lennox. He conceded that Christianity offers a real hope for the future, and a purpose for living in the present. Dawkins could offer neither. Unfortunately, the atheist's horizon does not extend beyond the mud.

Obviously, I believe that Christianity is more than wishful thinking. However star-gazing (literally and metaphorically) is a good pastime for citizens of heaven, as Paul reminded his friends at Philippi (Phil 3:20-21). At the same time, there should be some star-light luminosity exuding from our lives too (Phil 2:15). Perhaps we could be a means of bringing hope to other muddy people?