In one of my classes this week, the professor brought in an issue of “Our Mutual Friend,” a novel that Charles Dickens published serially from 1864 to 1865. Usually, Dickens would release one part of the story each month, in a form more closely resembling a magazine than what we might think of as “literature.” Like magazines today, each issue of “Our Mutual Friend” would be filled with various advertisements, many of which seem absurd by today’s standards. As I was flipping through this 150-year-old issue, I noticed one ad in particular. In bold type and all capital letters, an ad for Parr’s Life Pills asserted that “FACTS ARE STRONGER THAN THEORIES.” This tag-line caught my eye for numerous reasons, but the more I thought about it, the more it resonated with Fr. Ric’s sermon from a couple weeks ago. I have two reflections on this bizarre advertisement and how it may pertain to our lives 150 years later. First, do we believe that facts are stronger than theories, and, more importantly, should we? “Fact” usually implies that something is empirically true, like gravity or 2 + 2. But, as Fr. Ric mentioned, facts (or truth of the moral, legal, etc. variety) can change—remember, for those in the 16th century, it was a fact that the Sun revolved around the Earth. More and more often, “fact” is thrown around during arguments to lend credibility to positions that rarely have anything to do with real, empirical research. I’m sure all of us have experienced the frustration of discussing a topic with someone, only to have our opinion put down by their insistence on “the facts of the matter.” In today’s society, I would venture that a large percentage of “facts” are false or manipulated to serve an agenda. With that in mind, I would suggest that perhaps facts (as a singular category) are not stronger than theories, a position in which we can take solace. Typically, especially in the scientific method, a “theory” is something that needs to be proven, usually through experimentation. So, if we set up a dichotomy between fact as certain and theory as uncertain, facts would seem to be the surer bet. Yet, more often we experience life as a theory, that is to say, as an experience full of uncertainty and ambiguity. And this is what we see in the Bible, a story full of mystery and people like us, who are searching for facts to help them navigate in a world of theory. At this point, we might wonder how or if we can find facts/truth in this world. Well, we can, but they may not look as empirical as we have been led to believe, and this leads me to my second reflection on this advertisement. As Christians, we believe that God sent Jesus down into this world, and this reality presents a third alternative to the binary set up by “FACTS ARE STRONGER THAN THEORIES.” Christian thought, especially given the doctrines of the virgin birth and the Trinity, offers a worldview that embraces both facts and theories as necessary to the human condition. On one hand, we are asked to accept Jesus and the coming of kingdom of God as the ultimate fact, but, on the other hand, Jesus embodies a theory (that God became man) that we can never “prove” in a strict empirical sense. Many of the deepest truths of this world resist easy explanation, and we can only come to them with theories or, perhaps a better word, faith. In his book My Bright Abyss, poet Christian Wiman describes faith much better than I, and it is with this that I will leave you: “Is faith then—assuming it isn’t merely a form of resignation or denial—some sort of reconciliation with the implacable fact of matter, or is it a deep, ultimate resistance to it? Both. Neither. To have faith is to acknowledge the absolute materiality of existence while acknowledging at the same time the compulsion toward transfiguring order that seems not outside of things but within them, and within you—not an idea imposed upon the world, but a vital, answering instinct” (77).