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.

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