Happy New Year. If you’re a regular reader you may remember that in my view the new year really begins in September, when the academic year, and the football season, kick off.
But here we are in January, and it looks quite as drab outside as it normally does at this time of the year.
For me, the beginning of not only my year but also of my life really began In 1989, when I happened to attend a talk by John Stott, a towering intellect, on the importance of meaning. His talk, unlike the weather, wasn’t drab. I was rooted to my seat in London’s All Souls – just by the BBC building near Oxford Circus – as he weaved his argument (click for recording – you may have to register, but do it – it’s worthwhile). John Stott died in the middle of last year.
In the sermon I heard he took the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament as his text and borrowed from Viktor Frankl the thought that meaning is vital to to the human mind, and that life without the acknowledgement of God is meaningless. Frankl had spent much of WW2 in Auschwitz concentration camp, survived it, and became Professor of philosophy at Vienna University.
Stott argued that we should “set ourselves with implacable antagonism against secularism” because life without meaning is a void, and that the search for meaning – a natural human instinct – inevitably leads one to God.