Two things are sly fictions; a third leads fools astray—psychoactive medications, cosmetic surgery, and consumer credit. This latter-day aphorism will never make it into the Book of Proverbs. But the writers of that underappreciated book would not go wanting for material if we brought them to America circa 2002.

In wisdom literature, fools mistake the world as it seems to be for the world as it truly is. The fool, the writers of Proverbs say over and over, "does not know." "There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death" (Prov. 14:12, NRSV). Does it seem that a quick lie will bring more pleasure than pain? "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever follows perverse ways will be found out" (Prov. 10:9). Does someone's attractive wife seem willing and available? The wise ask a different set of questions: "Can fire be carried in the bosom without burning one's clothes? Or can one walk on hot coals without scorching the feet?" (Prov. 6:27, 28).

Folly may begin with a mistake, but it ends with the refusal to accept the truth about oneself and the world. Adam and Eve saw only that "the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was to be desired to make one wise"—the ultimate wishful thinking, as if wisdom could come painlessly from a fruit. Their sons and daughters haven't quite given up that hope. Which brings us to Zoloft, facelifts, and Capital One.

Harvard University Gazette reports, in an article with the cheery title "Study Finds Harvard Students Healthier than Peers," the astonishing revelation that 34 percent of Harvard undergraduates—one of three—say they are in therapy or taking medication for depression.

Shortly after reading this article, on an ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Always in Parables
Andy Crouch
Andy Crouch is an editor at large for Christianity Today. Before working for CT, Crouch was chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine which won the Utne Reader's Alternative Press Award for spiritual coverage in 1999. He was formerly a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. Crouch and his wife, Catherine, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, have two children. His column, "Always in Parables," ran from 2001 to 2006.
Previous Always in Parables Columns:

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.