Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Inner Ring

In this essay Lewis talks about the temptations to be in the "inner ring". This is the need for people to be included and accepted by their peers. He says that this need can lead a person to become a very bad person. Peer pressure and acceptance are very hard things to avoid. But Lewis also says that is good to have an inner ring of friends, as long as they are the right ones. Everyone struggles with this at one time in their life, but they just need to learn to avoid it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Problem of Pain Ch.6

This reading was interesting because it brought to mind the concept of God and Evil. I say God and Evil instead of Good and Evil because God is the essence of good and evil is merely a twisting of it. Because this is the case Evil has never been in control because if it overcame good it would not exist. This reminds us that God is always in control. Even when bad things happen, painful things, we can assure ourselves that it is not God but Satan. In class we discussed whether or not God suffers. I think he does. After all, God can do anything, so can't he make himself suffer? And he did by sending Jesus Christ who is the incarnation of God and dieing on the cross. And this just shows how great God is, he is a God that is willing to put himself through human pain to save us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Redemption Plantinga ch.4

Overall I found this reading to straightforward and cliche. I mean, half of this stuff I've grown up with and know alot about already, but I guess its good to be reminded from time to time.
The one thing that seemed to stick out to me, as I've been thinking about it lately, is the universal redemption/reformation aspect. To easily we can forget about this and become to comfortable with our own lives. We're saved and we leave it at that, we only care about the redemption of us and those close to us. To often we forget the big picture and it was good to be reminded of this again.

Man or Rabbit?

This reading came at the right time. Before I read this, a friend and I had a conversation with a another friend of mine about the exact same thing. He said that he just wants to live for the moment, live a good life and help others. He said that its not whether or not he believes in God or Jesus or the afterlife, its just that he doesn't care to. We then went on to say to him that he does care, otherwise he would not be talking about it with us. My friend wanted to be a Rabbit, but towards the end of the debate he seemed to come to closure with the fact that maybe he should take the responsibility of being Man. Afterward, I read Lewis' essay and became clear on the topic. Some of the things I said in the conversation I felt may not have been right, but once I read the essay my stance was confirmed. It's a good feeling knowing that more people share your ideas and beliefs.

Abolition of Man

Lewis talks about how men have become power hungry. We have started to reject our natural law in order to gain more power. The question has become "who has more power?" instead of "who is right or wrong?".
I agree with everything said in this reading. There is nothing to really say. It was interesting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Eros is interesting. Lewis describes it as the romanticism of lovers. With it some the pleasure of sex, but sex is not the root of it. Eros is the love of being with one another, the desire for your loved one and not the pleasures they can give you. Lewis uses the example of Cigarette's. When you're done with the cigarettes (pleasure) you toss the package they came in (lover). With Eros this shouldn't be the case. Eros makes love and sex mean something. You not only want the pleasure but you want more than that. I think that sex, when used in an Eros context, will be much more meaningful. Personally, I can't wait to get into a relationship where this is the case.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning in War-Time and Plantinga ch.5

At first when I read these two assigned readings I got kind of discouraged. We're supposed to do everything for God? As a media production major I right away thought about the films I want to direct. Does this mean I have to insinuate christian beliefs in everything I make? Then in class this was clarified. Instead of everything outwardly being for God its more so just a mindset. As long as you realize that God is the one who has given you these gifts and you thank him for them your set. Part of that is walking the walk, which of course in my case would mean that I would not direct anything that goes against my beliefs, and in this way I am honoring God. This lines up with the vocation that Plantinga talks about.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Poison of Subjectivism

C.S. Lewis talks about how humans should not rely on themselves and there own judgment.
This would lead to an anarchist approach to life. Basically, if one person thinks one thing, and another person thinks something else, we would see this as being perfectly fine. For example, one person thinks that rape is normal, and another does not. The person who does not think rape is right would not try and stop the other person from raping someone because he would think that he does not have the right, seeing as everyone thinks for themselves, what puts him in the position to stop him? This would tear apart society. Thus, we need a basis, some form of already constructed knowledge that we can all follow and try to obey. This is the "Moral Law" that Lewis describes in Mere Christianity.

Screwtape Letters

It was definitely interesting to read from the Devil's perspective. After reading this I realized that I have the exact problem that the reading is talking about. I am a very indecisive person and therefore am uncertain. This shows in my faith life. Since being at Calvin I have not put forth the effort to attend church, however I have prayed every night. I still believe in God and Jesus but I now realize that I am slowly, unknowingly, slipping away. This is what this excerpt from the screwtape letters describes. It's always a slow decline, making it nearly unnoticeable. And uncertainty, shown in the diagram in the presentation, leads to hell eventually also. Hopefully this new awareness after this reading will help me to watch my faith life more closely.

The Fall (Plantinga Ch.3)

Everyone, Christians and non Christians alike, knows that there is something wrong with life. Everyone, regardless of their background, knows that when children starve it is a bad thing. We are all aware of this virus called sin that infects everything in this life. This is part of why we all know there must be something more. Because of sin we feel the need to hope.

What struck me most about this reading was the section on corruption. Personally I have a problem with this. Once I have done something that I should not have done I try and justify it. And once I justify this wrong I feel that there is no reason not to do it again. Once corrupted in this way I find more wrong things, which I like to believe are okay, to do. This comes from the corrupted people around me, but I realize that it is mainly my fault. I choose to sin.

Another thing I found interesting was the whole concept of sin being a twisting of the good. I have always viewed sin as a seperate thing from good. I knew God did not create sin, but still the two things we call good and evil were always seperate in my mind. Now I agree with what Plantinga has written. An example he uses is that the Nazi's gifted minds were a good thing, a gift from God. But the problem was that they used their gift for evil. Therefore, sin is a twisted good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mere Christianity

This is my favorite assigned reading so far. He describes humans as having instinct but also along with that an overpowering Moral Law that everyone follows, or knows they should follow. This is not because of our upbringing, or the laws the government gives to us, it is a law that we did not invent, a law that is above us. An example Lewis uses is a piano: there are no right or wrong keys, every note is right at one time or wrong at one time to make the right tune.
Lewis comes up with so many fascinating insights, one of which I find particularly interesting. He says that an outside observer would have no knowledge of our "Moral Law". The observer would see only our actions, what we did do, and would not know that we have something telling us what we ought to do. And therefore since we are humans, we are the only ones aware of this above all moral code. In the same way, us, when observing nature, have no way to tell whether or not there is something behind or above the observed facts because we are studying from the outside. Lewis then uses this to point to a greater power, a creator. He says that we would not expect a creator to show up in creation because then we would not understand it. Instead, the being shows itself inside of us through the Moral Law that we only understand because it is within us. This is fascinating to me because it seems so logical. Lewis uses what humans can understand and then deductively proves it with in a logical way, making it understandable and believable.
This is why I enjoy Lewis. He does not bother, most of the time, with theological debate. He uses worldly, everyday knowledge to prove his point. I'm not saying that theology is bad, I am just saying that in the long run of things it does not prove anything except that people need faith. Most of the time this is not what people on the outside of belief need. I think Lewis understands this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Weight of Glory

I, along with everyone else, need people, and more so, a companion. Why? For the simple fact that I don't want to be alone in this world. Sure, the physical aspects of a relationship are a plus, something anybody wants to experience. But aside from that is this deep fear of getting a career but not being able to share it with anyone. Of having experiences but being unable experience them with anyone. Not being able to go back to my apartment and have someone waiting for me to vent my frustration or excitement about my day. Yes, I more than likely will have friends, and I may or may not be able to share these things with them. But there is something about having someone there all the time that is the basis of human need, someone who you love, and you hope, loves you just as much in return if not more. Someone you can lean on and who can lean on you also. In this way we also need God. Once we meet him, all the emptiness, all the fear of being alone will be gone. C.S. Lewis talks about this in this essay. The Beatles said "All you need is love". And maybe since God is described in the Bible as being "Love", this is not far from the truth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our English Syllabus

In this essay Lewis compares education and vocational training. Educations makes a good man and citizen where as vocational training just makes a good citizen. A good man is a well rounded interesting individual, vocational training is not able to achieve this because they don't focus on making a good person but instead on making a person good at something. If you pursue and learn because you want to learn, you become both a good person and a good worker. I agree with everything Lewis says in this essay. I find that I learn best when I am taking a subject I enjoy. I do the homework without hesitation because I like learning about that subject. I take initiative and don't just do it because I have to. In this way I actually learn the material. In my opinion, there are people that learn in order to live a good life, people that learn to learn, and people who could not care less about learning. The best of these three is the first. This will prepare you for life beyond school, and most likely you will continue to learn, which in turn makes you a better person.

Plantinga Ch.2 - Creation

To see my response to the first chapter of "Engaging God's World" read my response for "No right to Happiness".

In the second chapter Plantinga explains creation and what it means for Christians. Most of what he says comes from other authors and is backed up with well known biblical text, so there aren't really any profoundly original deep insights. It was all pretty straight forward, but what stuck out to me was a quote that he pulled from G.K. Chesterton: "The whole difference between construction and creation is...that a thing constructed can only be loved after it has been made; but a thing created is loved before it exists." He then goes on to explain how God is not limited by his medium, he created the world out of NOTHING. To me this just slams humanity back into their place. We can only construct that which God has already created. We can't create, we can only construct from things of this world. This shows how far out of grasp God is to our own minds. Humanity is so enslaved by time and space and this planet that we are limited by it.
This just goes to show why no one has ever come up with a solid image of what heaven will be like. The closest we can get is that "the streets will be paved with gold". Is this correct? Maybe, but unlikely. That is just what humans have used to describe something we can not comprehend. It is not of this world, there fore we can't even dream or imagine it. There will be colors we've never seen, beings we've never encountered, feelings we have yet to experience. God creates, he needs no former knowledge of things.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

No right to worldly happiness...

Humans always need to be happy. They receive it through love, relationships, desires, possessions, and anything else you can think of. But once they receive happiness they just want more. In Lewis' "Have No 'Right to Happiness'" this is the case with Mr. A. When he divorced with Mrs. A to marry Mrs. B he said it was because he had a "right to happiness". This is worldly happiness, the kind of happiness that will never be fulfilled. This happiness we should not indulge in, there needs to be an end to it.
In class we discussed that happiness was a choice. To make a marriage work you need to make the choice to be happy and to love the person, otherwise the pursuit for happiness will never end.

This goes along with the first chapter in Plantinga's book "Engaging God's World". This chapter talked about how humans have a longing, and with this longing comes the need of hope. People who are unaware of Jesus always feel the need for something more, and they feel that they need to satisfy this need. Thus, they indulge themselves in the many pleasures of this world, trying to fill the emptiness inside of them. For Christians its the hope of Jesus Christ. And we justify this hope by examination of the Bible.

After reading Lewis I found this reading kind of dull. Most of his points were taken from other authors and scholars, where as Lewis would come up with these amazing original ideas.
However, I did find the fact that Hope comes from the sin of this world interesting. Without the evil in this world we wouldn't need hope. This points to the possibility that the bad things that happen in this world all work out for the good. They point for our need of something more, which is hope.


I don't know if it was me or my lack of sleep, but several times in this reading I got lost. However, I do think that I got the overall point of it.

Lewis created his own word "Bulverism" for the common way that people at his time, and still today, argue against other people's points. He says that everyone assumes that the other person is wrong before addressing the why. In other words, the person is fighting for a victory, and not for the real truth. But in reality what we need to do is first show that they are indeed wrong, and then start to explain why. In this way we will be no longer be blinded by our fast need to win, and we can work together towards a real truth.

I think, and it was also discussed in class, that this points to humility. Humans need to be humble in order to realize that they might be wrong, this way people will not assume, and will not Bulverize.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Meditation in a Tool Shed

Lewis has this way of taking anything and making it incredibly profound. This excerpt "Meditation in a Tool Shed" is no exception. Somehow he took an ordinary experience (a beam of light coming through a crack in a tool shed), that most people would take for granted, and blew my mind. And he writes with simplicity in such a matter of fact way that it's near impossible to disagree.

Lewis says that people look at or along things. When people look "along" things it is their emotional response, which everyone experiences differently. When we look "at" things, we take a scientists point of view and try and make logical sense of something that we may or may not have experienced, which is futile because we can't feel exactly what they are feeling.

And then Lewis totally flips the idea on it's head saying that the person who is looking "at" is actually looking "along" another experience because in order to look "at" you have to use your senses, which another person looking "at" your angle, would explain it away as looking "along".
So in order to be rid of this judgmental approach to things you must look "at" and "along" them.

But what stunned me most when I was done with this reading was how incredible of a thinker Lewis is. He examined a beam of light that he encountered, probably taking the mower out of the shed, and spun an extremely profound four page essay out of it.

Overall I really enjoyed this reading, and look forward to the ones that will follow.