Maybe you know Kafka’s story in which a man picks his solitary way past rubble and scorched earth until he encounters a huge deserted apartment building. He enters a door, hesitates, then climbs a cement staircase high up into the building. And up there somewhere he stumbles upon a long corridor down which he begins to poke his way wonderingly. A chance premonition makes him turn off into a room, a little bathroom. And there, lo and behold! a fellow sitting on the sink, hunched over a pole, fishing in the bathtub filled with water. The visitor looks the situation over carefully and finally dares to say, “You’re not going to catch any fish in there.” And the other fellow says back, “I know it”—and continues his fishing.

Kafka’s story of the defiant bathtub fisherman is a keen analysis, it seems to me, of contemporary education without Jesus Christ. A difference between Kafka’s postwar European university and the secular twentieth-century American college may well be that the Americans are still expecting to catch fish, but the story holds.

Facing The Real Issues

And now a question. What is a Christian to do about it? Shake one’s head, smile, and wander off out to where there is some fundamentally fresh air and flowers? Or, like a liberal hail-fellow-well-met, pull out one’s fishing tackle and sit down beside the man, letting one’s own line dangle dialectically in his tub, too? What is a Christian college? A separate, specially built bathtub stocked beforehand with approved edible fishes—so that Christian education becomes one big sanctified fish fry?

We Christians, I think, would be much less timid about what we are doing educationally if we had a clearly ...

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