God’s Love Causes Goodness

Another great quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain:

But God’s love, far from being caused by the goodness in an object, causes all the goodness an object has, loving it first into existence and then into real, though derivative, loveability. God is Goodness. He can give good, but cannot need or get it.

“I have the right to doubt, am I using it?”

20140328-095300.jpgI listen to old-time radio all night, specifically 20th Century Radio. This morning, after my wife’s alarm unintentionally went off (doh!) and my youngest daughter (not considering it is two hours earlier here, doh!) texted, “Happy Thanksgiving,” Night Beat’s “Target for a Day” episode was playing. The main character, reporter Randy Stone, had been falsely accused by a competing paper’s gossip columnist of committing a murder that a another man was, midnight that day, to be executed for. The death row inmate’s wife completely believed the article and was going to kill Stone the very moment her husband’s life was ended. There is more to the plot, but given the recent Ferguson, Missouri situation (and the Trayvon Martin one before it), Stone’s monologue at the end seemed especially apropos and sage:

But by the same token, would you past the test? How good are you at telling the lie from the truth? Does the truth vary according to your personal convenience? Black one day, white the next?

The next time you read anything, ask yourself, “I have the right to doubt, am I using it?” Because it is too dangerous living in a world of misinformed people. There is a reason why the lie is the tyrant’s favorite death weapon. It’s killed more people since the world began than all the armies and automobiles put together.

The Bible, a much more reliable source of wisdom than a radio drama (or leaders, politicians, and the media with agendas), states this much more succinctly:

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24, English Standard Version).

Pray for the families and friends of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, but also pray that your judgment of those two young men…and those who ended their lives…is not “according to your personal convenience.” For…

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:2).

“We must play.”

The right way to be merry…

We must play. But our merriment must be that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.1 — C.S. Lewis


1Lewis, C. S. (2001). The weight of glory: And other addresses. New York: HarperCollins. Page 46.

Heaven

Why does God not make certain things clearer?

Heaven is, by definition, outside our experience, but all intelligible descriptions must be of things within our experience.

C.S. Lewis from Weight of Glory (page 33 in my HarperOne edition).

Choose Your Train (You Must)

Recently I heard the track “Dark Passenger” by the group Fozzy. It starts off with:

Jesus is my co-pilot
Or that’s just what they say
But it’s not the Savior
Who guides me every day

Although the lyrics are a bit ambiguous, and it almost sounds like the anti-hero of the song wants to repent, you know it is the Devil who is guiding the tune’s subject every day.

Fozzy’s song brought another train one to mind (for some reason, when I hear the word “passenger” I think of trains…I give credit to my train-loving 6 year-old :-)). Curtis Mayfield wrote this classic (“People Get Ready”), which begins with:

People get ready, there’s a train a comin’
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin’
on’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

And…as my mind continued it’s odd way of traveling down the tracks…”Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne was next in line. It’s initial verses are:

Crazy, but that’s how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe it’s not too late
To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

Mental wounds not healing
Life’s a bitter shame
I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train
I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train

So…based on how they all start…which train would you like to ride?

But my brain didn’t stop there. It seemed to me that those three songs, in a slightly different order, also mimicked the choices C.S. Lewis wrote about who Jesus is in Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Jesus is either part of the Crazy Train, is a Dark Passenger, or He is Lord. What say you?

And…as Lewis says…”You must make your choice.”

(Not choosing is a choice against “Lord”…)

Now, in case you are interested (and understanding that YouTube links don’t always remain working), here are the three songs that inspired this post in the order they were mentioned: [Read more…]

God Gives Us What We Want

I’ve heard this C.S. Lewis quote before…but was glad to run into it in page 72 of my The Great Divorce:

There are two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.

It should be noted that these are the words of a fictional inhabitant of heaven, not theological apologetics by One of my favorite writers.

Did C.S. Lewis Really Say That?!

My present “below 10,000 feet” book is The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. Without spoiling the story, it is a fictional way of discussing all the different excuses people have for rejecting the truth.

In one of the interesting dialogues, the saved friend is trying to convince a to-smart-for-his-own-britches former (before he died) intellectual minister.

“Listen!” said the White Spirit. “Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you found them. Become that child again: even now.”

“Ah, but when I became a man I put away childish things.”

“You have gone far wrong. Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth. What you now call the free play of inquiry has neither more nor less to do with the ends for which intelligence was given you than masturbation has to do with marriage.”

Now, there is an analogy I never expected out of the mouth of C.S. Lewis. 🙂

But, so true…

The Blood of Martyrs Is the Seed of the Church?

Martyr being led to be burnt at the stakeIf you are a Christian, there is a decent chance you've heard Tertullian1 quoted as saying, "The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church." I could not find that exact quote in my Logos library, but perhaps this is its basis:

Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, avail you; it is rather a temptation to us. The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.2

The more succinct (oft-quoted) version is inspirational…and on the surface seems logical.

Or does it? [Read more…]

“It has every available quality except that of being useful.”

Although some might argue that this means I am not a Christian (in that I do not hold all the "common doctrines of Christianity"), I think C.S. Lewis (from Mere Christianity) has the definition of "Christian" right:

Far deeper objections may be felt—and have been expressed—against my use of the word Christian to mean one who accepts the common doctrines of Christianity. People ask: 'Who are you, to lay down who is, and who is not a Christian?' or 'May not many a man who cannot believe these doctrines be far more truly a Christian, far closer to the spirit of Christ, than some who do?' Now this objection is in one sense very right, very charitable, very spiritual, very sensitive. It has every available quality except that of being useful. We simply cannot, without disaster, use language as these objectors want us to use it.

“Too often we underestimate…”

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

–Leo Buscaglia, Born for Love (as quoted by Barbara Oakley in Cold-Blooded Kindness).