The LOL of Winning

The LOL of Winning April 15, 2021

Phillip E. Johnson once called from his office at UC Berkley to me in Mongolia and said: “We will advance the Ring so far toward Mount Doom that only a miracle will save us.” 

He said this, because he knew a miracle would save us. Oddly enough, a miracle has saved Christians, again and again. Why? The good, truth, beauty is greater than our weaknesses.

This is the story of Christendom, broken, full of vice, but also containing heroes that pushed us toward victory. Fear is never the main motive of a Christian, because God is in His Heaven, so victory is certain.

Why was this Berkley law professor talking to me in Middle Earth “code?”

Phil talked this way, because at that time my phone was (probably) being tapped by remnant of the Soviet security apparatus. He was, as always puckish, and I joined the fun. I could pick up the receiver in the Genghis Khan Hotel, hear the dial tone, and say: “In America, this broken air conditioner would be fixed by now” and suddenly a man would come and fix the air conditioner. I could, I think, hear the secondary click and whine of the recording devices from the atheist regime. This “spying” was nothing compared to the joy of helping friends in Mongolia find freedom.

Phil sent me to do what could be done.

I argued against the Soviet tyrants,  Marxism, defended Platonism at the University, taught a few English tongue twisters, and learned more than I taught about the limits of “winning.” Victory over the Soviets, vile monsters though they were, did not produce Utopia. The new governing class thought “freedom” meant “stealing.” This was not good! There was not, as Tolkien demonstrated, no final victory against evil in this age. That is not a cause for despair, but an argument to change the grounding of our hope. We hope in God and not in any regime or temporary wins.

We laugh, out loud, in Christ and not even in Constantine! That Emperor, left to rule with no precedents on what ruling as a Christian meant, got some big things right and many other things wrong. That was enough for sainthood and joy, but not for perfection. Victory always is imperfect until the Last Day.

Victory, Phillip Johnson thought, was certain, but the shape of that victory was unclear. He laughed more than he worried and that struck me as best: rejoice, again Phil said, rejoice. Don’t panic, be prudent, put hope in God.

The triumph of God may not be the victory we expect, but will be a victory of perfect justice, truth, goodness, and beauty.

We will come, I suspect, to the end of our lives and see God and LOL. Our laughing out loud will be because the ancient truths will be truth, but be truer, more beautiful, applied more magnificently than we can imagine. The RMS Titanic was a great ship, but when the iceberg scraped her side, she was doomed. Men had to decide what to do.

Prudence does not panic nor stay on a sinking ship foolishly when the time has come to go. Prudence acts until there there is no more action to take, and then puts hope in God and eternity.

We can live by love and not fear, because God wins.


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