Here’s mud in your eye… a toast to our pilot project participants. But why a toast?
The last few weeks I’ve been writing about our pilot project in picture-drawing. This is the final time I’ll mention it publicly, as we’re going silent for the next three years. So I thought we’d toast this group as, together, we’re setting out to recover the enchanted background.
This is not original with us. The Inklings (C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, etc.) said their great hope was “to reenchant the world through the Christian faith and pagan beauty.” That’s our great hope as well. Inklings routinely hoisted a beer (or two), so we toast our group as well.
A toast is a way of wishing success or happiness—shalom—to someone, like a bride and groom at a wedding. A friend toasts the happy couple with, Here’s mud in your eye, a blessing that many believe comes from John 9, where Jesus rubs mud in a man’s eyes.
The story goes like this. The disciples see a man born blind. They ask: “Jesus, who sinned: this man or his parents, making him blind?” Jesus says they’re asking the wrong question. Then he walks over to the blind man, spits in the dirt, makes mud, and rubs the mud in the man’s eyes. Jesus then instructs him to wash it off. The man sees. Miraculous.
But not miraculous for many. Some relatives are excited. Others cannot imagine this man, now seeing, could be their blind relative. The man who now sees simply recounts what happened. Religious leaders accuse him of being an impertinent heretic… crazy.
Well, the “crazy” man comes to faith in Christ. This is what Jesus said that he set out to do, “to bring everything into the light of day, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretence of seeing will be exposed as blind.”
Uh, the Pharisees reply, you talking about us? You calling us blind? Well, Jesus replies, “if you were really blind, you’d be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.” They’re willfully blind.
It’s opposite of accidental blindness. The blind man was accidentally blind. No one was to blame. The religious leaders are willfully blind, protective of how they imagined the gospel, their “take” on the faith. Our pilot project is not for Christians who are willfully blind.
It’s more for people like me. I readily admit I’ve been accidentally blind over the years to some aspects of the gospel. Our pilot project participants readily admit they’ve been accidentally blind. In fact, this admission reveals a certain widening of the imagination, a phenomenon I see happening in the western faith community.
Like James K. A. Smith recently admitting to being blind about trying to change the world by thinking Christianly (please read his article). We raise a glass to Jamie and toast him.
Chuck DeGroat read Smith’s article and was moved. He too admits to accidental blindness, and how Iain McGilchrist’s “The Master and His Emissary” opened his eyes (I urge you to read his post as well). Let’s raise a glass to Chuck and toast him: Here’s mud in your eye.
If you read DeGroat’s post, you’ll learn of a touching story regarding one of my mentors, Dallas Willard, and how, as he lay dying, admitted to having been accidentally blind. Dallas, while you are today enjoying the finest wine ever, we raise a glass to you and toast you.
As we do Tim Keller. Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He recently learned he has pancreatic cancer. Keller has written a moving story about facing his death, including admitting to being accidentally blind about some things. Please read his article. We raise a glass to Tim and toast him: Here’s mud in your eye.
And please find suitable drink to raise a glass to the participants worldwide in our pilot project. Each was selected because they admit to often being accidentally blind about some aspects of the gospel, of being blinded by the Enlightenment’s dis-enchanted background.
They’re like Neo in “The Matrix.” Neo means new, or renewed. We believe those selected for our pilot project can be new mustard seeds. They see Neo’s eyes widen as Morpheus tells him a hard truth: You were born blind… blind to the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. That world is the Enlightenment.
And so, let’s raise a glass to toast our project’s women and men: Here’s mud in your eye.
Our hope is that, three years from now, we introduce them to you.
 Philip Zaleski & Carol Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015), 5.