We must act when the desire bears upon us, for if we wait, by delaying then the moment is lost; the impulse is gone, the potency is lost. Thus, I feel a desire to expatiate on St. John’s College.
I recall my first impressions; they were confounded by ignorance and simplicity. In order to reach Santa Fe, I had to traverse an ancient sea, deceitful to my discerning eye by its sparse punctuation of shrubbery here and there. It is this sea of antiquity that fills the stretch of emptiness that separates Santa Fe from the corpulent unending, unrecognizable sprawling vomit that is Albuquerque; I suspect the condition of this monstrosity is a result of bad city planning, though I suspect that to juxtapose city planning and Albuquerque in the same sentence exceeds the bounds of deference owed by propriety.
The shuttle that was to take me from the Albuquerque airport, christened the Sunport, an airport that I would dismiss as quaint, gyrated in what seemed to be an endless continuation of circles; how omenous. As we approached our destination, though at the time I did not know it for I was, as I said earlier, ignorant, I spotted what seemed to be the destination. I saw a sign that said St. John’s and next to it was what I would describe as the house of God. And as we approached the building, I realized that indeed, it was a church. I quietly accepted the idea that St. John’s had a chapel and that bastion of secular learning in the desert wastelands of the Southwest where I was to revel in the classics instantly became chromed in religion. I acquiesced to my putative future.
I began to suspect that everyone had conspired against me. I had been deceived; instead of being allowed to fornicate with the genius of man, i.e., the vast works of knowledge that constitute Western thought, I was to be married off to the Church. I imagined my mother praying to her crucified God, swallowing the bitterness of realizing that I was not to be Catholic like so many of my ancestors. How many people had died so that I could profess the true Faith? and how easily I turned away from God, disdaining to even open my heart to Him. A Catholic could, in all honesty, have a sense of admiration for the obstinacy of and infidel, but a Catholic could only feel contempt and disgust for the heretic. I might as well have converted over to the heretical cause of Protestanism! Perhaps there was comfort in the idea that I could nominally be Catholic, after all, that formidable society and fountainhead of scholarly learning, the Society of Jesus, is Catholic, albeit, nominally.
Oh how my friends must be laughing, for now in my eyes they were prevaricators whose perfidy was now unravelling before my eyes. The positive spirit had fallen victim to deception. I had no option but to accept my cruel faith. I had no way of escaping Santa Fe; I was to be a martyr and I acquiesced.
And then, Fortuna smiled upon me. The shuttle turned right. Oh how foolish! That St. John’s was a church! With what celerity I tossed aside my gloom! I pressed my copy of the Iliad against my chest – that work that embodies the sickening religious fanaticism of man and the godly genius of his intellect. Man has yet to succeed in separating one from the other. As in the Platonic system, which postulates the body as the incarceration of the soul, so is religion the prison of man’s potential. And as the Iliad describes the epic struggle between two factions of men, assisted by the passionate and fickle gods in their self-destruction, I too was to enter a war zone. But my war was to be far nobler, for I was not to fight for temporal gain but for something far more edifying and divine: Knowledge.