We, as Jesus’s followers, may be perceived even by those in our own families as “having lost our minds.” Why follow a Jewish carpenter who was crucified two millennia ago? Why forego a comfortable life, forsake the American dream, and choose deprivation and suffering for his cause? By the world’s standards, we’re out of our minds.
Jesus entered a house, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat. When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, “He’s out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20–22 CSB)
The Professor and the Madman
In his bestselling novel, Simon Winchester tells the harrowing tale of The Professor and the Madman. The professor, James Murray, served as the longtime editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. The “madman,” William Chester Minor, was a prolific contributor to the work. Minor, a medical doctor who had fought in the Civil War but was plagued by a severe mental illness. He had murdered an innocent man in a case of mistaken identity that led to Minor’s incarceration.
Confined to a lunatic asylum, Minor found meaning in immersing himself in linguistic research, sending copious notes to Murray. For the longest time, Murray was unaware of the background of the lexicographic prodigy. The mystery man preferred to remain in obscurity until Murray eventually tracked him down. To his amazement, he discovered that Minor was, quite literally, out of his mind. As the fascinating story of the professor and the madman illustrates, at times the line between erudition and lunacy can be fine indeed.