Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thoughts on 'The Inner Ring'

In C.S. Lewis' writing The Inner Ring he discusses groups that people are affiliated with and what those groups represent. He explained how these groups are everywhere; how some are small, some are big, and how some groups are within other groups. Each group has their own thing that they only know about.

People will sometimes change their actions to get into one of these groups. C.S. Lewis raises the question if anyone is ever happy with what they did to get into that group. I think these groups can be a good thing sometimes. Some groups motivate people to work hard so that they can join the group, such as military groups or academic groups.

We need to understand that these groups are not everything. When people become too consumed with what your group is doing they loose sight of what is best them as an individual.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thoughts on 'The Problem of Pain'

In the chapter that we read of The Problem of Pain, Human Pain, C.S. Lewis addresses the issue of how a purely good God that is omnipotent could allow pain to happen. Lewis explains that it is us, not God, that have created pain. He says that God did not create the whip, we did.

God created Earth in perfect harmony. Evil did not come into the world until Adam and Eve brought it here. God did create everything, so evil had to come from some place. Unless evil is not something that can be made. Evil is the absence of good, just as darkness is the absence of light.

Some people argue that it does not matter that God did not create evil, because he still allows evil to happen. God does not simply allow evil to happen though. God gave people free will; we all have the choice to follow God or not to follow God. The gift of free will is a good gift and we have abused it. We have allowed evil into our hearts. If God were to purge the world of evil he would have to split the soul of every person into two. The battle between good and evil is not simply between those who are good and those who are evil, it is a constant battle that we fight every day in the depths of our soul. It is only through the power of Christ that we can be redeemed despite the evil in our lives.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Engaging God's World, Chapter 4 Redemption

At the very beginning of the fourth chapter of Engaging God's World Cornelius Plantinga defines grace as mercy to undeserving. By this definition we all receive God's grace, because none of us deserve to go to heaven. Sometimes people get caught up in saying that it's not fair that some people have to go to hell, but it is quite the reverse. None of us deserve to go to heaven, because we have all sinned, but through God's grace we are given the opportunity to go to heaven.

Recieving this grace might sound fairly simple, but it is a constant battle. God has given us a guide to follow though. Plantinga claims that the Ten Commandments are a recipe for freedom. Even though we have ten absolute laws our lives and the Church can always be improved. We do not need to change the Ten Commandment; we need to change the way we live our lives. There is always room for improvement.

Plantinga points out that we all need a miracle. None of us can do this on our own; none of us can redeem ourselves or lead perfectly Christian lives. It is through the saving grace of Jesus Christ that we are all saved.

Thoughts on 'Man or Rabbit'

In C.S. Lewis' writing Man or Rabbit he answers the question of whether or not a person can lead a good life without being a Christian. Lewis seems to think this is a stupid question. He does not think anyone could simply want to live a good life without caring about believing anything. If a person has no set of beliefs how do they know what is right or wrong? A person has to believe in something to consider the life they have lead a good or a bad one.

Lewis raises the point that leading a good life is just going through the motions if it is not for an end goal. As Christians we believe that we are made for a better place and this life is only a means to an end. An atheist leads a life of no meaning, because according to them everyone lives for around eighty years and then their life simply comes to an end. Without God there is no purpose to any of our lives.

Lewis also points out that without God's help none of us can be moral. We are all fallen beings and without God's help we would all dwell in our sin. God helps us and brings us up since he is the ultimate good in the universe.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thoughts on 'Abolition of Man'

In Abolition of Man C.S. Lewis talks about man's rule over nature. He talks about how we should not become to consumed with the world we currently occupy. We are meant for a world beyond this one. Lots of people are too worried about material things that do not concern God. People need to realize that knowledge over this world has value, but it is second to the Lord.

God wants us to live our lives in this world, but we have to realize that there is more. For thousands of years people have been too concerned with conquering nature, when we really need to work on is improving ourselves. This does not give us permission to be selfish and only think about what we want. We need to care more than anything about God and other people. For those are things that will matter in this life and the next. Material goods of this world are finite. God is eternal.

There are so many theories and beliefs in our world that are entirely based on facts people received from finite things of this world. We need to focus on what we have learned from God and to never put too much emphasis on things of this world.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thoughts on 'The Four Loves'

In C.S. Lewis' book The Four Loves Lewis discusses eros in the third chapter of his book. He defines eros as the state of being in love. To me he makes it sound sort of like a crush. It is not lust for someone though; it is the passion of a relationship. The new found love that two newly weds feel for one another.

Lewis goes through each of the four loves in four different chapters. He emphasizes that we need to have all four of these loves to have a lasting relationship with someone else. Storge is the type of love that a mother and her child share. It is the affection that two people have for each other; the caring a mother feels for her son or daughter.

Philia could be best described as friendship. Liking another person and being able to have fun with them. This is a very important component to a relationship. People can care for each other, but if two people never have fun together there relationship will not last.

The most important part of a relationship is agape. The love of God that brings to people together. This is why it is so important to be a mutually christian relationship, so both members of the relationship move closer to each other as they move closer to God.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Engaging God's World, Chapter 5 Vocation

In chapter 5 of Cornelius Plantinga Jr.'s book Engaging God's world Plantinga discusses vocation. Plantinga explains that each of us has our own life and situations that we have to keep pure and holy. We also have to help others do the same; we cannot just stay in our own little christian bubble. We all have a small kingdom of God that we need to help preserve within the kingdom of God that contains everyone everywhere.

Plantinga tells us that Jesus accomplished a lot in his time here on Earth, but he also left us a lot to do and work on. We all have so much that we can work on during our short time on Earth. Jesus has called us all to lead selfless lives. With all the problems in our self and in the world there is lot to work on in very little time.

Later Plantinga talks about what college should train us for. It should not just train us for our future career, it should prepare us for our living in God's kingdom.

Thoughts on 'Learning in War-Time'

In C.S. Lewis' essay Learning in War-Time he discusses the difficulties and advantages of being educated during a war. One of the biggest advantages that he talks about is that war helps us become more aware of death. This also makes us afraid of death, but death is not something that we should be afraid of. Death is something that we should embrace with joy for it is when we unite with God. On the other hand we should not go looking for death. We need to listen to God and follow his plan.

Lewis also discusses the basic religious benefits that we receive from education. Education helps us to see and understand God better. We do not have to just learn about God himself though. Learning about the world and the creatures God created helps us understand God himself. Education also helps us defend off intellectual attacks from Satan. If we are ignorant of the world around us and the history of the Bible we are vulnerable to temptations.

It is important to be able to learn about God during war time, because we will never live in a time of constant peace until after we are dead. We need to learn through good times and bad times, because we are always going to be under constant attack from the devil.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on 'Poison of Subjectivism'

In the Poison of Subjectivism C.S. Lewis discusses how our perception of good and evil can be skewed. We are fallen beings by nature and even though we have a knowledge of good and evil we cannot clearly define what is right and wrong.

One of man's greatest sins is pride. It is because of this sin that we believe we can classify all acts into a scale of good and evil. We all know that gossip and murder are both sins, but for some reason we have decided that murder is a more serious sin than gossip. We do not have the perspective to judge these sins. The reason that we might determin that sins like gossip are lesser sins is probably because we perform this sin more often.

All of our logic is based on facts that are not valid. There is nothing in this world that we can base any hypothesis on. We get all our information from our six senses which can never be fully trusted. Only God can judge, because he is the only one that sees everything.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Engaging God's World, Chapter 3 The Fall

Cornelius Plantinga Jr. started off his book by going over the process of creation. In this chapter Plantinga goes over the inevitable next step, the fall. Plantinga explains that God created the world as purely good, but it is because of us that there is evil in it.

Plantinga talks about the fact that the world is not just divided between good people and evil people. Evil is a part of all of us; it is in all of our souls. The battle between good and evil is more complicated than a war between angels and demons. If God were to purge the world of evil at the present being he would divide every person against himself. Each person has a battle between good and evil fighting within.

Plantinga defines evil as anything that messes with shalom. So anything that disturbs the way God wants things do be is defined as evil. Plantinga explains that there is a distinct difference between sin and evil. Sin is the human act of doing evil. Sin has to be evil, but evil does not have to be sin.

Plantinga says that evil is a parasite. It cannot live without a host. Each of us harbors sin within our souls and we have the option to destroy it. Since we are fallen being none of us has conquered this demon within us except Jesus Christ and it is through his grace that we are saved.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thoughts on 'Mere Christianity'

In the exert we read from Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis talks about human nature. He says that when most people think about the laws of nature they think of things like the laws of gravity, but what they should actually think of is the laws of right and wrong. Lewis analyzes what kind of sense of this nature we have.

He talks about how most laws we cannot choose whether we want to obey them or not such as the law of gravity, but we can choose whether or not we want to do right or wrong. These choices define who we are. Lewis says that these laws are universal such as it is wrong to murder or steal. Other people would say that certain cultures have different morals than other cultures and that is okay. Lewis would say that that is not true; cultures might have morals that vary a little, but they have the same basic laws of nature.

Lewis helps people realize that even though small laws like traffic violations might vary from nation to nation. We all have a certain sense of morality imprinted in us. It is what we choose to act on that matters.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thoughts on 'Skrewtape Letters'

In Skrewtape Letters C.S. Lewis writes fictional letters from a head demon to a lower demon that is trying to tempt a Christian. In the letter we read Wormwood's patient has become a Christian. Skrewtape explains that this is not a bad thing, because then he falls into routine. The routine of going to church every weekend and praying before bed.

Skrewtape explains that all you have to do is keep him distracted from God. He tells Wormwood that originally it might have taken a good book to distract him from his faith, but less and less interesting things will be able to distract him such as a newspaper advertisement. We have to realize this. It is important to stay focused on what matter and to not get distracted by other people and their own problems.

Skrewtape tells Wormwood that the path to Hell does not matter. He says that the best path to Hell is a gradual one. He tells him that it is not better to get souls into Hell faster, because a dramatic temptation gone wrong could make the patient more aware. We have to take warning from this. The Devil is slowly boiling us; he is not going to just through us into the fire, because we will jump right back out. Sin is a slippery slope that we all are on. We do not just have to be wary of 'big' sins like murder. We have to stay away from every kind of sin no matter how big or small.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Engaging God's World, Chapter 2 Creation

In the second chapter of Engaging God's World Cornelius Plantinga Jr. goes over the creation of the Earth. Plantinga talks about the fact that even though Jesus Christ only came to Earth about 2000 years ago the Earth was created for him because he is eternal.

Later Dallas Willard points out that God is the most joyous being. We buy all sorts of material things to make us happy, but God already owns everything anyone could ever want even though he does not desire material goods.

Plantinga seems to think that the purpose of God creating everything that is not human is to give us something to ponder. Learning about God's creations can help us learn about God. Other creatures on Earth also give us some responsibility. God wants to see if we are responsible caretakers.

He also goes on to explain that we need to take time to be able to meet with God in our hearts. For if we cannot meet God in our hearts how are we going to meet him in the business of our daily lives. Prayer is a good way to communicate with God. Prayer gives God glory and helps in our spiritual life.

Thoughts on 'Weight of Glory'

In this writing C.S. Lewis addresses the idea that people only want to get into heaven because of the reward that waits for us there. He gives the example that money is not the natural reward for love so if someone recieved money for loving somone else they would be considered a mercenary, but if someone gets married because they love someone the reward is considered acceptable.

I am sure that there a people that are motivated to be a Christian because of the promise of eternal life. There also probably people who are Christians because of the fear of being forever damned, but these rewards and punishments are fitting.

Lewis explains that if we have a reward waiting for us in heaven we do not know that we have that reward waiting for us. We can never know if we are going to heaven or hell, so the fact that there is a reward is irelevent. A good Christian will lead his whole life following the teachings of the Bible not knowing if they are going to heaven or hell. Only at the end of our life can we truly know what awaits for us in the after life.

Lewis goes on to say that the fact that humans desire a paradise after death means that there probably is one. He uses the example of hunger. If a person feels hunger it does not nesicarily mean their hunger will be satisfied, but it does mean that they probably come from a race of beings that reapairs their bodies with food. In the same way many people desire paradise. This does not mean that everyone will make it to paradise, but it probably means that it is possible to obtain paradise.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts on 'Our English Syllabus'

C.S. Lewis speaks strongly to the idea that we need to learn and not just be educated. Education is a word that has come to have connotations such as obligation. Learning is something that we do because we want to while going to school and being educated is something we do because we have to.

Some see education as a means to be equipped with what you need to do your job. Others see education as an opportunity to learn what they're interested in and what they want to know. Lots of people do not study what they love in school because they do not consider it to be practical. People realize that they have to earn a living on whatever job they pursue so they are persuaded to choose a career that has money in it not a career they are particularly interested in.

Lewis also believes that schooling should not only prepare us for our career, but for life in general. It should teach us how to live and develop us into a good person. A well rounded education is the best way to do this. If focus is only given to the area you plan on working in you will not have a good foundation for life. God wants people to become part of his kingdom not part of a certain working class.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thoughts on 'No Right to Happiness'

C.S. Lewis tells a story about two people getting divorces so they could marry each other. He was discussing the situation with a woman named Clare, who said that they should have a right to happiness. Lewis disagreed and examined her statement, wondering if anyone really has the right to happiness.

One of the first things he talks about is in the Declaration of Independence when it is stated that everyone has the right to pursue happiness. Lewis concludes that they clearly did not mean that the right of happiness comes before laws such as it is illegal to murder or steal. He began to wonder when it would be okay to pursue happiness. Lewis decided that people should remain within the laws of their country when pursuing happiness. Meaning it is not okay to murder someone just because it would make you happy.

Although Lewis does not discuss this too much it is implied that if you should follow the laws of your country before considering your own happiness you should also follow the laws of your religion. So a Christian should follow the teaching of Jesus and the Ten Commandments before considering his own happiness.

One should also consider the happiness of others. If you have a right to happiness everyone else should also have the same right and if everyone has the right to happiness is it your duty at all to worry about other people’s happiness or just your own? If so then Mr. A and Mrs. B should consider the happiness of their ex-spouses.

Lewis raises some interesting questions about whether or not being happy should be one of our goals. Personally I believe that if we follow the teaching of the Bible we will ultimately end up happy even though it might not be how our society defines happiness.

Engaging God's World, Chapter 1 Longing and Hope

In the first chapter of Engaging God's Word Cornelius Plantinga Jr. talks about longing and hope. He talks about the sort of things that we long for and what we should long for. In a quote by C.S. Lewis, Lewis talks about how most humans are too short sited; we long for things that will bring us temporary happiness such as alcohol or sex. Those are two pretty extreme examples, but any material items we long for lead us astray. We should not want things.

Jesus told us that the two most important commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Doing these two things will bring lasting happiness. If we give and show love it will be given back to us.

In desiring the wrong things that only bring temporary happiness we make ourselves into a sinful person. There are two people we can be, the person we want to be and the person God wants us to be. The person we want to be is fallen and sinful. We go after shallow things that will never really make us happy. Most people chose to be this person, but God wants us to long and hope for good things like helping others. The person God wants us to be is ultimately a better and happier person.

We should all long for shalom. Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Plantinga says that shalom is basically the way things are supposed to be. God wants us all to live in this peace with him. Shalom can only be grasped by longing for good and pure things.

Thoughts on 'Bulverism'

In this writing C. S. Lewis explains that he believes that most people's opinions are made of almost no facts and that most of there beliefs are made for no rational reason. He thinks that you must prove someone's beliefs wrong before you can start to discuss it with them. In other words Lewis thinks it is impossible to have a rational conversation about a person's beliefs with that person.

In class we talked about how this is a fairly common concept, but it is not a very common word. Bulverism happens a lot. People are so set in there beliefs that they do not even want to talk about it unless you can prove them wrong. I know that I am this way on some subjects such as politics. I am pretty set in my political beliefs and unless someone has absolute proof that I am wrong I do not want to hear about it. Often times I will hear something against a candidate I like and just chose to believe that they do not have there facts straight since there are so many lies and exaggerations circling politics. On the other hand I get really frustrated when someone will not listen to me about what I have to say about politics even though I do not like to listen to what people of opposing views have to say to me.

Over the years I have learned that everything is not black and white. It is always good to listen to both sides of an argument rationally. Criticism can be good. Sometimes it is healthy to hear what we can change and improve on. We must destroy Bulverism before reasoning can ever truly happen.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thoughts on ‘Meditation in a Toolshed’

In C.S. Lewis' 'Meditation in a Toolshed' he writes on the subject of different perspectives on situations. He talks about the difference between experiencing something and observing it. The first example he gives of this is a beam of light coming into a pitch black toolshed through a crack in a wall. At first the person in the toolshed observes this from a distance. He sees the beam of light going across the room with dust floating around in it. After he observes the beam of light from a distance he moves over and looks through the crack and discovers the source of the beam, the sun. It is made clear that Lewis does not think that one view is superior to the other he just believes that both offer something unique and you cannot have a complete understanding of the beam without having seen it from both angles.

An example that was presented in class was that a person can never truly understand the nature of the church unless they have been outside of the church and inside of it. The people who go to church regularly and are practicing Christians are too consumed by the church that they cannot get a clear picture of what it actually is. Meanwhile the people who observe church from the outside cannot fully judge it because they do not have a close enough look to be able to completely understand it.

This point shows that learning comes from two distinct places, science and experience. I can learn about children by reading about them and what others have to say about children or I can learn about them by having children and gaining experience by raising them.

Both of these methods have something to offer, but they are very different. If you use both methods to learn about a subject you will acquire wisdom, but wisdom can only come after humility. It must be realized that one method of learning is no better than the other. Lewis understood this and tried to express this point in the ‘Meditation in a Toolshed writing.