'St. Mugg' and the Wrestling Prophets
Lurking in the shadows of the headlines we examine in our "Behind the News" newsletter is a common and spiritually deadly virus—something we might call "photonegative syndrome." It is best described in the words of author and professor David Wells:
"Worldliness is what any particular culture does to make sin look normal and righteousness look strange."
Black is white; white is black.
Reading a little book by the British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge over the past few days, I have been reminded that at certain points of history, gifted "sinner-saints" have emerged to expose with stunning clarity the details of this syndrome of worldliness. Often adult converts, almost always people who have wrestled mightily in their own lives with their day's socially dominant forms of sin—I call them "wrestling prophets."
In a comfortable Western church that sometimes seems all but obscured by "cultural camouflage," making hardly a ripple in the comfortable world it inhabits, we need to hear these prophetic voices again.
Muggeridge himself was a wrestling prophet, all too familiar with the perversions of the world. Through the first part of his long life, this chain-smoking satirical journalist was famed more for his alcoholic binges and philanderings than for anything approaching sanctity.
But in the sixties, Muggeridge met Mother Teresa of Calcutta and wrote the book that made hers a household name—Something Beautiful for God. The encounter and the writing of the book worked a change in the hardbitten libertine. As the Daily Catholic later reported it, "The more he researched the more he realized she was for real and something greater was motivating her to sacrifice her all for others. The more time he spent with her, the more he realized the ...