Are we there yet?

Abba Anthony said that the time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will rise up against him, saying that you are mad, because you are not like them.

Apophthegmata Patrum. Anthony, saying 25. My translation.


  1. Haven’t we always been there? Gosh, history is full of those examples, French Revolution and the Terror notwithstanding. Or the Salem Witch Trials. It just gets better and better, eh?

    1. Yes, Steve, but it seems consistent now. In this case, St Anthony is directly speaking to a Christian, not just to a sane person. While persecution of Christians was spotty from the fourth through the nineteenth centuries, wholesale slaughter of Christians, particularly on the part of atheists (who thought and think us insane), took place in the twentieth century. But I find it more appropriate now for the uninformed dismissal of authentic Christianity (for there is such, just as much as there is inauthentic Christianity) on the part of the “enlightened,” who are anything but. Things are done, believed, and said these days that are simply insane by any older order of reference, yet it is the lack of willingness on the part of Christians in particular (why only us out of all traditionalist movements?) to take part in them which raises an irrational scorn. Consider the insane and foolish lies touted for Christianity: Christ’s resurrection was a fraud, it was all done to make money, the bishops assured their power by kicking out books and women and whatever else out of the Church, blah blah blah. All of these tall tales are baloney. But the majority believe them. When confronted with the reality of the history of the Church, they’ll twist and turn every which way to maintain their false worldview. Adaptation to reality is one of the key indicators of sanity. Refusing to adapt is certainly a mental disorder, not just an option of opinion or belief. There is great danger in it.

      Regardless of whether one takes St Anthony’s saying as a prophecy, or as an astute observation of human psychology, or both, it’s certainly applicable to our own days.

  2. I’ve always found this saying to seem particularly appropriate to our time, and I wonder if the Christians of bygone eras received it as similarly applying ‘particularly’ to their times or as a warning of the future, or perhaps both. I shudder to think that we still have a long way to go, perhaps, to see this saying borne out more comprehensively than it already seems it is.
    Staying with my grandmother recently (who is 85 years old and no Christian, mind you) we were watching something on prime-time TV when a particularly obnoxious advertisement came on. I asked her ‘What do you think of this?’ and she answered, “I think they are crazy, and they are trying to drive us crazy as well!” I thought, ‘Well, she’s right!’ ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings…’ as we say!

  3. It immediately struck me as perfectly appropriate to our own age when I first read it, in the Sr Benedicta Ward translation Sayings of the Desert Fathers. In the only ten years since then, it seems even more appropriate!

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