Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Inner Ring

I don't think I know one person that hasn't fallen victim to the desire of being in the inner ring. As C.S. states, it's unavoidable.

Thought looking back on it, one of the lows of my life was when I picked up and left my group and my circle and my life as I knew to join another ring that, at the time, seemed more esoteric. Though truthfully, the only esoteric quality this new ring had was that we all thought of the my other ring as less. Other than that, they fell very short of satisfaction the whole way around.

But giving into this desire of being in the center ring, opens us to giving in to more desires. Like C.S. Lewis says, how many layers of an onion can we peel? Eventually, we'll have nothing left. If we join a ring for the sole purpose of wanting to be admitted we'll lose that desire and gain no satisfaction because how can we desire to be apart of something we already are apart of? If we joined for the activities the group is founded on, we may get some satisfaction of it.

I think this all points to another of C.S. Lewis' concepts. We just can't be satisfied with anything here on earth. We get glimpses. But most of the time we are more satisfied with yearning for satisfaction. An odd, circle of a thought, isn't it?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Problem of Pain

Before I start this blog, I just want to say that I have been thoroughly enjoying the class. It's so refreshing to think and talk about the foundation to which ALL Christians stand.


The Problem of Pain is C.S. Lewis' attempt at a theodicy. I say 'attempt' because we'll never be able to define God's relationship to suffering. We're playing a basketball game without any rims - some think they scored while others think they missed, but we don't know because we have nothing to measure it by.

Any way we think of God and his relationship to suffering, there is a fault.

C.S. Lewis says that without suffering, we would not need God. I believe this to be true. This is not up for debate.

The troublesome part of a theodicy is the source of suffering. We can all agree that God does allow it to happen. But does he send it himself? Is it Satan's doing? Are we responsible?

If God sends us suffering, he takes on a sort of malevolent quality. Not only that, but it makes God seem like he is holding back. God is infinitely wise...therefore it seems fitting that he knows an infinite amount of ways to transform us without having to use suffering. I find it hard to believe that God sends suffering himself.

Does Satan send suffering? He indeed distorts what is good, but then he must be allowed to do it. This makes God seem weak. He is allowing the suffering of his children to happen, and by choice.

Are we responsible? This becomes confusing. We have the god-like qualities to create but also to destroy. We are capable of perversion ourselves. Are we living in a way that allows too much death? Are we not focusing enough on medicines and laws and education? This seems like too heavy of a task for humans...so this also seems unlikely.

Whatever the source, we indeed encounter suffering.

But does God suffer?

Yes, I wholeheartedly believe he does.

I think there are two obvious biblical pointers for this:

First, God gets angry. Anger can be righteous, but it stems from some sort of suffering (usually an act of unfairness). God does not get angry for no reason.

Second, the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they were told they would become like God. They knew evil. God knows evil. Evil is a distortion of good. If God did not suffer from this, he would be much more apathetic towards his creation. Suffering drives progression.

But God is not below suffering. He is beyond it. Without his creation, suffering would not exist. No matter where it comes from, God subjects himself to this. The way I think of it is like a board game. God created this entire creation and gave us all these rules (moral law, gravitation...etc) and he abides by them. Like I've said in previous post, God operates within his own laws (that's why Jesus was the only way). If God were to not suffer, he would be operating outside of his own creation. It's like creating this board game, giving these rules but only to pertain to everyone else. It's almost like cheating. But of course, it's much more complicated to a board game, this is just a simple analogy.

My conclusion from this, and every other piece of C.S. Lewis is this: Thinking and pondering all of these thoughts of theology are good things, but they are not vital. C.S. Lewis has taught me to think in a rational way and to focus on what matters to us. In other words, things we can change and HAVE to go through.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Plantinga - Redemption

Redemption is an idea that I struggle with. Though not because I don't believe in it's biblical and human importance. But because I do not know by what size scale I'm to measure it by.

In it's smallest form, redemption can be seen as a quality. Practicing restoration with relationships and mending cruelty among friends and enemies. And in it's most grandeur form, it can be seen as a universal movement in turning earth into a state of heaven.

The Bible starts off with everything good, but then it falls. The lion sleeps next to the lamb, then proceeds to eat it. Are we responsible for the restoration of the food chain? How much restoration are we accounted for? How much restoration are we capable of?

Plantinga mentions a Calvinist trying to redeem a corrupt economic system. But how? Write a letter? Organize a petition? Vandalize the central computers?

Are we to restore because we are bringing heaven to earth or because it's a quality we should practice on a grand scale so that we may unconsciously exercise it on a smaller one?

My conclusion is this: No matter what degree of restoration we are aiming for, we know how to exhibit it. It's result is in God's hands. We have the Bible, we know what to do.

With humility and discernment of course.

Man or Rabbit

I have taken to this particular piece.

My group of friends I have been with are educated, intelligent, and nearly all atheist.

My one friend never fails to give us his philosophy, "I am the universe. I am human. I am here to experience all it has to offer."

Which to me, combining this statement with his actions has leads me to believe that this is his candy coated way of saying, "I'm going to do whatever makes me happy."

This is very frustrating as well as intimidating because he is one of the most intelligent people I know. Frustrating because he is lost in his own world, not open to any sort of deist ideas. Intimidating because it makes me wonder how someone of such high intellect can be so wrong. Or is it us that are so wrong?

I like C.S. Lewis' comment on humans need for discovery. Either we are indulging in one of the largest hoax's of history, and technically no harm is done. Or we are exploring and doing exactly as God intended us to do...to search for him to ultimately find rest.

But this is not the main point of Lewis' essay. He is really discussing the danger of thinking, "Will I be happier as a Christian?" I completely understand his predicament here. My friends will often ask if I've found the formula for happiness in Christianity. One part of me wishes to say yes, but not here. The other part of me is red in the face because I know they have no actual drive to KNOW truth and how things are supposed to be...they just want to be happy.

I often meet the phrase, "Whatever makes you happy. What's true to you is true to you."

I posted my response to Mere Christianity on my face book (Yes, I unfortunately do have one.) and this was the response of my intellectual friend:

For once, I honestly have no criticism, constructive or otherwise. All that I have is respect, I'm really glad that you chose to lay it all out for everyone to see. This is basically the basis for everything that I believe about life or anything else.

Life is just as this: You live it, you feel it, you draw your own conclusions, you live by them and die by them. That's it, everything else is irrelevant. For me, it's all about the universal communion of one. I seek nothing more than to experience the universe that I am and that I exist within. If you experience this through the Christian faith then I have nothing more than the utmost respect for you as a man and as a friend.

Someday I will cross the abyss, behold my lady, Babalon. My blood will be spilled into her Graal and I will be one with the universe, a dweller within The City of the Pyramids.

The universe is nothing more than a question, for me, the answer is as simple as "Do what thou wilt."

The word 'absolute' is one rarely heard from this friend. Everything we as humans do we do out of desire. It's all about finding what makes us feel right. It's difficult to argue with someone who has come to this conclusion. It's also hard to see if they will progress their philosophies any further?

I have no problem with friends that are honestly searching the world for truth. I have nothing to worry about here, for I know truth. I know they won't stop until they find rest, which is only possible in God. It's difficult to try and talk to a friend who has stopped his journey for happiness and settled for simply indulging in whatever gives him 'positive feelings.'

I can empathize with those who search for truth. Like C.S. Lewis says (I'm hesitant to quote him TOO often) if they rest elsewhere, it is an honest mistake. But one cannot pretend to make an honest mistake. "to leave an open letter from the bank unread, frightened as to what it might say."

We're either this way or that. There is no sympathy for those who pretend not to hear or see. We are meant to search and discover. Fixing our restlessness comes later.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Love makes you do crazy things.

And indeed it does. But how crazy can we go before things actually become too crazy?

C.S. Lewis comments on love as enveloping it's victims in a circle of religion. They feel this need to obey the power of Love (and by love I'm referring to the way one feels towards a significant other -Eros, not Venus). They will go to great lengths to try and get this persons attention or fix a broken relationship. And none of these things are bad, it's the caliber of our actions that are independent. We get these ideas and feelings that to obey this love is not a sin...when really, if we are putting Eros in front of God, it is.

Another good point Lewis brings up is that we don't see our addiction to Eros like we do appetites. We don't say, "Ok, this is the last girl I'll try and start a relationship with. If this does not work, I'm done." Rather, it's more like our passion for intellectual stimulation. Every time we meet it we get this idea that 'this could be it.'

So how often are we putting Eros in front of God? Are we in love with someone that is dishonorable to our Father? Do we listen to Eros or to God? Both Eros and Agape can coincide, but that's up to us, not them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning in War Time

Upon reading Learning in War Time, I began to disagree with one of C.S. Lewis' statements. That, unless for the glory of God, every action we do is a sin. I understand that the smallest decisions are impacting and that everything in this world is sacred, but I find it difficult to see every action not associated with God being a sin. There are many truths about life spoken by non-Christians that are adapted by the church.

Charles Darwin (some churches)
Albert Einstein, agnostic
Abraham Lincoln
Ernest Hemingway
Benjamin Franklin

Was Charles Darwin's breakthrough on evolution a sin? I understand that it is not for the glory of God, but I see it as a lukewarm action. God is truth. I don't see a non-Christians discovery of truth to be a sin. Sins are a detriment not only to the person doing it but everyone around them.

I may just be looking at it wrong, but that's my feelings.

Screwtape Letters

I was never a huge fan of Screwtape letters. Not because I thought it wasn't worth reading, but because I tend to avoid any persuasive device that uses hell as it's reinforcement.

Being a bit older, I've decided it's a healthy read. It reminds us to be mindful of everything that we do.

It's really easy to see C.S. Lewis' world view through out his writings. This idea that every choice we make is either turning us into a hellish or heavenly creature comes up quite often.

I don't have a lot to comment on this piece. It seems pretty straightforward with it's message of being mindful and thinking about our actions on a much smaller scale. An interesting read of course, as it's from a devilish perspective.

A fun read.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nothing to do with class

The post below was written as a response to Mere Christianity. This post has nothing to do with class but rather my own thoughts and feelings. I've been wrestling with a few things, hopefully someone may help bring clarity to my mind.

I have lately been struggling with the idea of a devil. A complete opposite of God. This sounds foolish at first, but let me start off with what I think God is like.

To me, God chooses to operate under the rules he established in his created world. It's as if he created this sort of video game.

He knows the cheats.

He knows what's coming.

He knows how it works.

But he also knows who to get the most out of it. He knows that defying the rules of the game (universe) will not bring happiness and enjoyment (or whatever correlates with life - not a video game). This is why Jesus was so necessary. We are tainted with sin. Everything we touch or use, in some way, becomes tainted. So in order to repay the universe for our sins, we needed a being who was completely sinless. You can't replace a broken motor with another broken motors or even a million broken motors. We broke the world, Jesus took it's place.

If God did not operate within his own rules, and is indeed infinitely wise, he would have done things differently (or at least, this is what it seems to me. But who am I to place myself in the Almighty's shoes? (If he even wears shoes?))

So to me, God operates on his own rules.

Perhaps you are beginning to see why the Devil is such a hard concept for me to grasp onto. Obviously I've been tempted and misguided, but is it the result of the Devil's work or my sinful self trying to achieve 'positive feelings.'

Lucifer was an angel who fell. This is my first beef. If angels are above us and more holy and closer to God, are all angels still to be trusted? Could perhaps, Micheal decide to deceive or make a mistake regarding our fates? This is a lesser argument as the spiritual world transcends this one, but one that remains on my mind.

My next struggle lies within Satan's purpose. Was it his choice to tempt or is it a position deemed by God? Are they truly at odds with one another? If Satan was previously an angel - and angels are above humans - it seems appropriate to assume that they know the world better than we. If this were so, how could anyone or anything possibly defy all the laws by which things operate? How could he resist God and attempt to over throw him? It's nonsense. It's like attempting to jump and jump and jump until finally being able to fly. It's utterly ridiculous.

So then I come to a conclusion that Satan and God always were and they share this world. They are not at odds but rather God understands Satan's role and vice verse. Perhaps, Satan even being appointed by God. But then this says that God indeed gives in to suffering and even creates it himself. Those who believe we grow through suffering may be rest assured, but those who believe suffering comes from ourselves are left confused. My beef here (beef is an odd term) is that to me, God creates and operates on a level that causes no harm. I don't think God would procedurally harm something for the sake of the end result. Everything God created is good, it is us that force it harmful or healthy.

My only other option (hopefully this is where someone points out something I left out completely and I can rest assured knowing that clarity is still possible) is that perhaps the devil does not exist. This is also backed up by the idea of bringing heaven to earth.

If we are to restore all things in the direction of God, are we then too capable of destroying things in the direction of hell? We reform the world around us in hopes of bringing Heaven and earth closer together. Heaven on earth is a common phrase, but hell on earth is just as prevalent if not more so. My point here is that we are capable of bringing hell to earth as well.

We are the ones who do this.

Not Satan.

Not God.


Though they may be ABLE to do this, they chose not to. It's up to us, we're the objects of this ongoing spiritual warfare.

It all just seems to contradictory to me. I know that as humans we are not able to comprehend things even of this world. For example:

Infinity exists. But not just one infinity, but an infinite amount of infinities. Just in the distance between my seat and you (the teachers) there is an infinite amount of distance. There is an infinite amount of space between 1 inch and 2 inches. 1.1 inch, 1.01 inch, 1.001 inch, 1.00000000000000001 inch...and so on. The Bible claims we have free will but are also dictated by predestination. It doesn't make any sense. I believe this too is like infinities, we just won't get it.

Perhaps this is just as cluttered as my previous post, but I hope my idea is coming across ok? Comment and questions, hopefully I may answer them.

My Christianity

In the light of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, I decided to dedicate this post to My Christianity. So here it is.


Let me tell you about my life.

I grew up in a Christian home, attended a Christian school, and was enveloped in the Christian bubble that resides within a little piece of Grandville, Michigan.

Obviously as a kid I blindly followed the Christian faith. I had no abstract thoughts, no one back then did. But everything was good. Adulthood was something completely dis attached with our reality. We took joy in knowing there was truth in the mystery and that someday it was ours to explore. But in the meantime, let's build a fort out of blankets using chairs and an old pool table.

Middle school was much of the same with a different setting. Instead of forts it was girls and funny enough, swearing. It was cool, or we thought. Though I think we still unconsciously carried it with us into high school.

High school is really where everything started to happen. I became preoccupied with becoming popular. And let's all face it; we all want to be popular. It's how we attain popularity that defines us as healthy or harmful. For me, it was whatever got me there. Drinking, smoking, partying, youth group, intellect...whatever it took for that connection with others. I admit that within the mist that is high school I wove back and fourth from my faith. Some days I got it, some days I didn't.

Lately I've been probing and dissecting my faith. What is it? Where did it come from?

Up until recently it felt anything but my own.

Many people and especially my peers will say that Christianity arose out of a cause, not reason. A cause of fear and humanity's desire for purpose and explanation. I will admit, that I too used to fear what would become of me. But now I'm less concerned with me and more with what will become of everything else.

I wrote this piece to give out the reasons and philosophy behind my faith. There are no causes here. If you wish to debate with me, please do so with reason and not cause. It is extremely frustrating to hold a conversation with material as fragile as this and have your opponent reply with, "Well I think people believe because there this way and that." I'd rather discuss scientific aspects and logic, not prejudice or why you think hell is there just to torment people into faith. With that said, here it is.

I think C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine capture the essence of my faith best with these two quotes:

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun is risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." - C.S. Lewis

"Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand." St. Augustine

I often have late nights pondering in my bed; thinking about life. Everyone at one point or another has gone deep into thought when the rest of the world is asleep. I have recently been tracing my thoughts and they all keep coming back to a God. Not necessarily Jesus or the Christian God, but a God in all aspects.

The universe exists on certain rules and principles. If I jump, I come back down. If I jump on another planet on the other side of the universe, I come back down (that is unless the atmosphere is not oxygen-based and interacts with some part of our body and lifts us off the ground. Or a lack of gravity). But either way, there are rules which the universe follows. There is nothing that just steps outside the boundaries of the universe and defies it's rules 'just because'. Math, for example, always comes out with the same answer. 2+2 always equals 4, no matter where you are in the universe. Or music is another good example. We as humans did not decide that the 4-5-1 chord progression sounds good in a major key. We can of course come up with progressions and toy around with it, but it's ultimately not human conception. It just simply is.

So now that we understand that there are aspects of the universe that simply 'are', we can explore other realms. Let's take a look into morals:

A lot of people will say that morals are the result of millions or years of evolution. That they came about by generations of helping each other which in turn "up-ed" survival. But let's go deeper then that. What are morals? What are feelings? Everything in life that we do is reinforced by either 'good' or 'bad' feelings. Even a narcissist, does what he/she does for the sake of a 'good' feeling. So there is this constant battle of positive and negative feelings, this I think in undeniable. Once we know this, we know that there are not people out there who implore bad feelings. No on searches for bad feelings. Someone who murders someone is not doing so for a bad feeling, they are doing it for the rush or whatever pleasure it satisfies. A 'rush' or 'satisfaction' is not a bad thing, it's the means that get you this that can be determined as good or bad. So any feeling or attitude is compared to this universal rule of good or bad. It has to be compared to something.

So where are we? We know that everyone strives for these good feelings over bad feelings. So there is this constant battle of good vs. bad that transcends the universe. I think the most obvious example of this is humans.

Animals are dumb. They serve only to feed and reproduce. But we cannot look at the house to learn about the builder, we have to look at the builder himself. When the Bible says we are created in his image, I believe that this struggle of good vs. bad is most obviously the part of this transcendental being that lies within ourselves. We don't see a dog or cow struggle with giving up his food for another or laying down his life for the rest of their species.

It's difficult for me to articulate this idea of a being that transcends our universe. I would suggest reading the first few chapters of Mere Christianity to anyone that is intrigued by this idea. I assure you, there is reason and C.S. Lewis is a much better writer then I.

So after acknowledging that there is some being, not necessarily God...how did I come to believe in Christianity. One aspect that troubled me and is most frequently brought up by non-Christians is the concept of Jesus. Why in the world does one man, especially if he is God, have to die to save everyone? It sounds like some fairy-tale or barbaric movie.

Well let's go back to how the universe operates. God built everything to work in such a way according to the principles he decided on. So, sin (bad feelings) are a apart of the universe. In order to make money in stocks, we have to put money in. In order to fix a broken object, we have to put something else in it's place. Jesus was not of sin - not of this world. So in order to repay the universe and ultimately himself, he had to die for all of us. Now why Jesus? Because we can't replace a broken windshield with another broken windshield. It had to be perfect and unbroken...clean.

But a lot of people will say, "well that's no big deal! It's Jesus!" He can do anything. Well, this is a pointless statement. That's like saying it's easier for someone on the boat to throw the life support then someone in the water.

I hope this isn't too scattered and cluttered. I'm writing this just because today felt like a good day to write.


There is also something that I want to add, to clarify my point on good vs. evil (or however you wish to define it). There are no BAD or strictly evil things of this world. God was perfect so how could he create something of horror? Well he didn't. It's us humans that create evil. We all strive for positive feelings, it's how we get there that define them as good or evil. Hitler didn't start the holocaust because he wanted to be depressed and dehumanized, but rather to achieve his sense of pride and accomplishment. Pride and accomplishment are not always attached to some evil.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weight of Glory

The weight of glory is a very full sermon. Lewis takes bits and pieces from all his works and puts it into a nine page lecture. There is a lot in here.

Lewis speaks most prominently in his analogies. The idea of a school boy not fulling enjoying Greek literature only because he has not worked to that level is perfect. One cannot jump into Christianity and know and enjoy all that it has to offer, it takes time. A life time, one could say.

One of my favorite quotes from The Weight of Glory is when Lewis speaks of beauty not coming from books and poetry, but through them. He later goes on to say that we are not fully satisfied to only see these beauties, but we desire to be apart of them, to bathe in them. And this, Lewis says, can only be done in heaven where God offers us the sun so the speak.

Another idea that stuck out at me, though it is difficult to fully embrace, is the idea that we have never met a mere mortal. We ourselves are either striving for eternal glory or eternal damnation. We do not become everlasting once we die for we already are everlasting. Death is only a door to the choice we have to make here on heaven. Once this door is closed, it is locked.

C.S. Lewis is definitely thought-provoking. Anytime I find myself reading his descriptions or imagery of heaven, I do exactly as Lewis suggests in his sermon. I am temporarily engulfed in my own imagery - sometimes so abstract it's difficult to recapture - to the point where I don't want to come out of it. I'm day dreaming, full blown day dreaming. Stepping back in to reality is never a good thing. Maybe that is why I enjoy sleep so much. I'm allowed to let my dreams off their leash until my feet hit the floor, where such fantasies are deemed adolescence to society.

I feel as though I reclaim a part of my innocence after reading his sermon. All of the superficial pleasures offered by our world become nothing but an evolved state of hype. It was fun the first time but it's losing it's "umph", so it has become re-hyped in a larger and more grandeur state. Lewis makes me want to read poetry and see movies with the purpose of more then just a laugh. I guess Lewis is subliminally handing down a part of himself in where I want nothing more then to uncover truth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I want to start this one off by building on the discussion of good vs. evil that we had today in class (Tuesday)

I believe that everything in the world is good. All humans have this struggle of positive vs. negative feelings (good vs. evil if you will). A serial killer does not kill someone because they want that guilt and depression put on them, but rather for the rush and pleasure that it brings. Are all rushes and pleasures inherently evil? No, none of them are. It's how we get there that defines it as good or evil. God did not create Hitlers rampage in Europe, that was a human conception.

Creation has become repetitious to me but remains important nonetheless. To me, the story of creation is this; it's not so much how we got here that matters. It doesn't matter if there were an actual Adam and Eve and tree of knowledge. What matters is that it tells us of a beginning - and that beginning was through God. We should be less concerned with how we got here and more with why we're here.

The creation story does tell us of the cultural mandate which to reformed theology is extremely important - a cornerstone. Subdue the earth and everything in it. It's ours to reform and restore. It started good, and it's up to us as stewards to give it back better then before.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our English Syllabus

Let me start off by saying that I have a lot to say about this, so I apologize for the length.

I have always hated math. I've never been very good at it. I went through all if my education asking the question, "Why would I ever need to learn this? When am I ever going to use the quadratic formula?" To me it was belligerently pointless. My sophomore year of high school, my geometry teacher told me this, "You really don't need to know any of this stuff to be successful." So I ask him, "Then why take it?" He stared at me for a little while, almost confused. After a few seconds pause he replies, "Well to teach you how to learn of course."

At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was more excited my math teacher admitted to the formulas being useless unless I'm going to be anything that deals directly with solving the area of an octagon.

I was not the most studious student through out high school. In middle school I had such a hard time worrying about grades and all the pressures my teachers and society were laying on me that by the time I reached high school I became apathetic. It was terrible at the time, but now that I look back I would have it no other way. I began to learn on my own terms. If something intrigued me, I looked into it. I eventually began to become a student, but not because I wanted better grades, but because I was beginning to see how math was teaching me how to learn.

I chose Calvin College because it is a liberal arts college. Let me pause here and insert one complaint I have about Calvin college: If I were to have it my way, I would inherit a multi-million dollar franchise and be set financially for life, but continue to go to Calvin College until there were no more degrees or fields of study left for me to explore. I understand the importance of a liberal arts degree (I'll go into this later), but it is becoming increasingly difficult to learn for the sake of learning. I have to pay $26,000 a year - give or take $2,000 - just to learn. This is a huge problem. I go into debt as soon as I walk of campus as an alumni. This forces me to become specialized and focus on a specific job so that I can pay off the loan I had to borrow so that I could learn for the sake of learning! It's very frustrating. Anyways, back on topic.

I chose Calvin college because it is a liberal arts college. Like any other senior in high school I wrestled with where I wanted to go and what I wanted to be when I was older. I spent many nights restless, pondering and probing all the advice given to me to help me decide on where to go. There was one specific night where my geometry teacher entered my mind, "To teach you how to learn of course." I began to think about God and the universe he had created and how it follows a certain set of rules. Let me explain.

Every time I jump, I come back down. There has never been an incident where someone took a leap and never made it back down (unless they got caught in a tree but I think the point is clear).
Math is just apart of the universe as gravity. It's not a human conception. It's part of the equation God has used to define the universe. Once this is understood - that everything operates on specific principles - it is easy to see the importance of math. Everything that happens can be related in some way to a math equation. C.S. Lewis goes over this in Mere Christianity in a much more simple and articulate manner. He starts off the book by pointing out this moral code that the universe follows.

So, by taking all of these classes whether we like them or not, we are able to see kernels of truth scattered across all sorts of academia such as math, science, history, physics, philosophy...etc. We are not taking these courses because we think that some day down the line our job might require some sort of biology, but because once we have seen every perspective of the universe we are able to bridge and connect fundamental truths about God's world. One could almost say God is found in math.

Another peeve I hold against education is grades. There was an experiment in psychology where a group of kids were told they would be rewarded if they colored with these markers. So they colored and they were rewarded. They were then left in the room with more markers and paper but they did not color. Meanwhile, in another room, a group of kids were promised no rewards but were just told to play. They also had markers and paper, so they colored. My point here is that when we are held to a standard where our play becomes work (or our need for learning becomes apart of the monotonous routine of society) we no longer desire it. I can of course see the need for grades, for without them there would be chaos and no way to assure that the school's mission is upheld. But a thought I don't think we should so easily push aside. Perhaps school has some reforming of it's own left to do.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Sermon and the Lunch

I can't help but notice that nearly every piece I read of C.S. Lewis' I see his idea of us not being complete here on earth. He is one of the strongest advocates for restoration and redeeming the earth around us.

The Sermon and the Lunch is in interesting piece - an experience that we have all been through at one point or another. I'm not so sure it's about what home really is as much as I think it's about living up to ones morals (basically not smoking what your selling.) The preacher gives his congregation a sermon on the goodness of home and how it's supposed to be...when really, his is anything but.

We've all seen someone preach a sermon, take a stance, or criticize others only to find out they too live short of their own ideals. About as contradictory as it can be. Also known as hypocrisy.

We have a tendency to glorify objects, situations, and places because we bought into it's promise of goodness and fulfillment. "This car is truly awesome." and it may be something truly awesome, but we all know boredom is just around the corner. We live in a fallen world, even at home. Again, I see C.S. Lewis pronouncing the need to reform and redeem the earth around us.

Longing and Hope

In high school, I chose to do my final College Writing essay on the topic of searching; our natural intuition to keep on moving, to keep searching, to progress.

Before I wrote this essay, my English teacher showed me a song called, "That's what the lonely is for." It talks about being lonely and how it pushes us to fix this loneliness by redeeming and reforming the way we're living.

Another song that is relevant to this idea of longing and searching is, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" by U2. The song deals with our humanistic impulse to satisfy this craving that we all feel. The writer talks about how he has jumped boundaries for love only to be fooled by it's promise to satisfy, or how he held hands with the devil only to be left feeling empty, or even how he gave his life to the Lord but still has this sense of emptiness. But his voice isn't of sorrow, it's of joy.

All these feelings of longing and emptiness are not something we should be scared of. Though they are negative feelings, they point to a much larger picture. We are not made to be satisfied here on earth. We just can't do it. We ultimately have three choices to fighting this sense of emptiness: 1. We give in to temptation and continually pleasure ourselves until we are left with nothing but a perverse sense of happiness 2. We accept that we will never be happy and we content ourselves with what we have or 3. We become aware of this idea that we are not finished.

So whenever I feel down or blue or lonely or scared or empty...it's not because I'm not filling this void in my life, but because I'm not yet done with my purpose of life. I have to keep on searching and reforming and redeeming all that is around me until we reach "shalom", or how God intended things to be. Of course, this takes a great deal of discernment and self-control. We are naturally born on a hill facing downwards. To redeem everything the way God intends, we have to turn around and scale the mountain the hard way. Hopefully, finding that it was really just a gentle slope all along.

Friday, January 9, 2009

No Right to Happiness

Absolute happiness.

I believe this is a common struggle with the people of the western civilization. Our divorce rates are high as well as depression and anxiety. We give ourselves freedoms and less restrictions which in turn make us think that we have a deeper obligation in remaining authentic to ourselves. Thus if we grow out of a relationship we engaged in when we were younger, it would not be authentic to stay true to a promise we no longer feel.

C.S. Lewis picks at the minds of those who support absolute right to happiness. Where are the boundaries to achieving this happiness? Happiness, also meaning 'sexual happiness' within the essay.

I'm not entirely sure if I agree with C.S. Lewis catering to our sexual desires. I do believe that he is right in saying that we mustn't place our desire so high to the point where we are stepping over other moral boundaries. Stealing is stealing, no matter what you steal and for what reason. But giving in to sexual impulses is not harmful, it's how we do this that can prove a detriment.

Sleeping with many different people is not how one goes about being sexual in a positive manner. Rather, speaking and opening up to others and connecting on a social level can prove to be just as sexual if not more so. One can be completely celibate yet still be more sexual then someone who sleeps with a few people a week.

C.S. Lewis does bring up a good point in which some actions that we do see as immoral become glorified when the cause is sex. But it is not because we are so ruthless, but because of what sex promises in the moment. We are continually lured into it's promise of happiness and continually finding it to be illusory.

But the point is that we cannot see our right to happiness as unlimited. It will only bring us to step over more and more boundaries to achieve such happiness which in the end help us dissolve altogether.


Bulverism is a very fitting piece for me.

I grew up with the same friends my whole life. We all started at a Christian elementary school with a Christian family and a Church-going Sunday. But it didn't always work this way. As we grew older we began to take on different perspectives until eventually we were a group of Christians, agnostics, and atheists. We often find ourselves engaging in friendly conversations and debates about each other's views and always seem to rest on the conclusion that neither one is more correct then the other and we'll never be able to change the other's mind.

C.S. Lewis, to me, is at the forefront of the struggle between Christianity and Agnosticism. He is the best persuader of those who half believe. He can make just as much sense as someone who is completely against Christianity. But I also believe him to be at the forefront on the defense against Atheism. I say defense because Atheist are not dumb, but often stubborn against Christianity. The friends of mine that are more agnostic are not opposed to the idea of Christianity, but are just unsure of what is true. Those of my friends that are atheist think of it more as a fairy tale - the result of generations of people being frightened of death.

But this is where Bulverism takes a step in. My friends believe that Christianity is a result of our fear of death. They're proclaiming that Christianity did not come about by reason but is caused by our fear. And of course, those of us that are Christian give our reasons to believe as well as why they are caused not to believe. We circle and circle with causes but hardly any reasons. "You just won't humble yourself to the idea of God beCAUSE it offends your current lifestyle." or "Christians believe in God beCAUSE they need a reason to submit and try to give meaning to life."

Of course, again, Bulverism is not an answer to the battle against offending perspectives, but certainly is serves as a guideline.

Meditation in a Toolshed

My favorite characteristic about C.S. Lewis' writing is that he always uses examples that are found in nature rather then some human conception. He doesn't compare a part of Christianity to language, which can either be verb+noun or noun+verb, but to something that simply is. His use of the beam of light peaking through a tool shed is the perfect metaphor against relativistic thinking.

He gives us a few ways in which we can observe this beam of light; we can look at it, embody it, or look beyond it. He really only mentions looking at and along the beam, but I think C.S. Lewis also drops hints and points to a more grandeur idea throughout his writings (not just this particular piece, but all of his pieces.) For instance, C.S. Lewis explains that a physiologist will look at thinking as neurons and tiny physical movements. But then he also goes on to say that another physiologist will say the same thing of the first physiologist's thoughts. Mr. Lewis continually takes steps backwards. He never stops at the first conclusion but always tries to work his way to the source - and if he can't, it's false. "Where is the rot to end?" is C.S. Lewis' remark on the circle of analyzing the physiologists do.

Most will think that C.S. Lewis isn't giving us an answer to which is the best way to live out life...I wholeheartedly disagree. Life isn't about one perspective. It's not about just looking along or just looking at, but taking as many perspectives as you can until you do stumble upon truth.