‘Cogito ergo sum’

René Descartes  "I think, therefore I am."

René Descartes
“I think, therefore I am.”

I ran into Chandler the other day at the Koffee Klatch — the local coffee hangout in town where I often go to write. Only this wasn’t our Chandler; it was another Chandler; actually the only other Chandler I’ve met since we named our son fifteen years ago. I’ve always been surprised at that. Being that Chandler was one of the friends of the very popular TV show by the same name, I thought there would be a rash of Chandlers. But that hasn’t been the case.

This Chandler is a college student at Biola College headed for graduate work at Loyola Marymount University. Meeting this Chandler was like uncovering a time capsule.

First, he’s studying philosophy. Who does that anymore? Not only that, but he’s studying continental philosophy, more particularly, existentialism. Existential philosophers like Descartes, Kant, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were the major influencers when I was in college in the ‘60s. I didn’t think anybody even cared what existentialism was anymore.

I think of philosophy as thinking for the purpose of thinking. Who does that anymore? Who has the time? Here was a twenty-something wanting to get a graduate degree in thinking, and ultimately teach, as a Christian in a secular university — a poster boy for the Catch if I ever found one! I practically got down on my knees in front of this guy, like the professor in my favorite Doonesbury cartoon, who, upon finding a student who was actually asking intelligent questions relevant to the topic, knelt down in front of this kid’s desk and said, “A response! I finally got a thinking response from one of you, and I thought you were all stenographers! A student! A student lives! Who are you lad? Where did you come from? Don’t be frightened.”

I swear I must have overwhelmed this kid. He wanted to know if I’d ever heard of Os Guinness. Ha! I turned him on to Francis Schaeffer. Told him the whole premise behind Escape From Reason in five minutes and watched his eyes light up. I found my Catch from a year and a half ago about the new president of Loyola Marymount being a Presbyterian and how unusual that was at a Catholic university, and yet how in keeping with the Jesuit tradition he was (being open-minded, celebrating truth wherever you find it, caring for the poor). I talked about the hippies of the ‘60s and early ‘70s and how so many were seeking existential reality and truth.

Suddenly I had new hope for the future. Could this guy be a trend? Are people wanting to think again — even Christians? Oh my gosh. Call up the colleges; I’m ready to go! (Actually, wait until you hear what we are planning along these lines and how this plays right into an exciting new venture we are forming.)

At any rate, greet Chandler, our latest new member of the Catch. I’m sure we will hear from him in the future.

As we will from our other Chandler — our own — who told us just yesterday that he wants to contribute to the “family business,” being the Catch. He wanted to know if we had anything for the kids. Funny you should ask …

Dreams do come true.

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15 Responses to ‘Cogito ergo sum’

  1. bobenearSeattle says:

    Greetings, Chandler and WELCOME!!!! 🙂

  2. Wonderful uplifting news! I am so happy for you and looking forward to hearing about the Catch future plans. I am thinking also that your Chandler’s question was also one of those moments every parent longs to be in.
    Praise the LORD!
    Cynthia

  3. TimC says:

    Chandler, welcome, but one warning: most of us are not perfect. Most of us are on a journey that isn’t always easy and provides lots of struggles. Some of us have more questions than answers. But we are learning to walk by faith and not by sight. And we are learning to give grace to others.

  4. Mark Seguin says:

    Welcome to the Catch family Chandler! I too was excited to learn about you and your major – as you maybe aware of back in the ‘old day’s’ most mathematics / science / physics major’s were also philosophy majors. (I’m talking about the times of Issac Newton) and it’s very funny ’cause just last night PBS aired a Nova program called the “Mysteries of Math,” which I just-so-happen to be emailing my old Calculus III professor and he even mentioned, or suggested how these centuries ago mathematicians were noted philosophers. After watching these show…
    PS it’s also kind of funny Pastor John you mentioning Doonesbury cartoon, ’cause that what this Cal. III did once mention about me – I told him and the class – I learned a long time ago, the dumbest question is the one that’s never asked. And I too luv OS Guinness!

  5. Robert says:

    I don’t remember where I read it, but I read somewhere (maybe from William Lane Craig?) that there are more Christians in the field of Philosophy in higher education than just about any other field.

  6. Chandler is at least as excited to meet you, John! He thrives on great minds, deep thinking, and conversations of significance. I’m not so sure of the origin of this lineage….but grateful we are for this blessing who is our son. I’m certain God has big plans for your Chandler and ours; it is exciting to ponder the possibilities of this journey. Thank you for reaching out and connecting with him!

  7. Carole in Midland says:

    Welcome to BOTH Chandlers!! John, it sounds like the Lord is throwing open doors AND windows for us all! Just reading about your good fortune in meeting Chandler 2 make me almost giddy – as if I were 25 again and among the more ‘rebellious’ students – those of us who frustrated our Bible College professors into apoplectic fits by having the audacity to “question.” And who DOESN’T love Kierkegaard? And while not exactly a philosopher, I am partial to the writings of Bonhoeffer – especially at this time of year when we remember the Holocaust.

  8. Lois Taylor says:

    As a Christian and an educator, I know how you felt, John. It is heartwarming to find young people who think. Sadly, most schools are teaching information and not critical thinking. Blessedly, I have three homeschoolers who are intelligent thinkers. Praise the Lord!

  9. Pingback: The price of free thinking | John Fischer The Catch

  10. TOM says:

    Back in the 70’s I got caught up in the whole Christian Subculture. Things became so cut and dry. We had all the answers and we were no longer seekers. I got away from the fellowship of true believers while attending a community college. I took an intro to philosophy class. It changed me. My mind was opened. Seven years later, I’m in recovery for substance abuse. My knowledge of Christianity was still in tact. It sat on a shelf with other beliefs and philosophies. Struggling to stay clean and being told that I need to reach out to a power greater than myself I am at a loss of what I believe in. I mentioned my history to another addict who told me to check out John Fischer’s writings. I did. 28 years later I have a Relationship with God – I have a Gospel according to Me. This particular Catch reminds me of the second John Fischer book I read – True Believers Ask Questions.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Tom: that’s so cool – I luv reading your story! God’s speed & many blessings to you & yours…

    • jwfisch says:

      Wow, Tom. What a story. So are you still seeking? still knocking? still asking? It’s amazing how the same truths just keep getting deeper, isn’t it? Thanks so much for putting us in touch with your story.

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