Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Problem of Pain

"Pain is umasked, unmistakable evil;"

It's kind of interesting that I chose to write this blog today instead of yesterday or the day before. I just got home from a very surprising lunch with my roommate's parents. It's was a very stressful lunch, and I was very hurt by somethings that were said. On the way home, I was trying hard not to cry, but the pain was unmasked. I could not hide the pain I was feeling. As much as tried to hide in the backseat of my roommate's car and not cry, I sure enough cried anyways. And they noticed. My pain was very evident, and obvious. 

"I remind myself that all these toys never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only issue is Christ."

This quote goes along really well with the one in The Weight of Glory. "Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday by the sea. We are far too easily pleased." 

It's really good to have this constant reminder. 

I really thought the problem of pain was a very well written book of explaining pain and how it relates to God and christianity. I have never heard it before the way Lewis described it. He is so vivid and precise. Lewis really does have a way of explaining things in a way that brings unthought thoughts and feelings into words. It's wonderful to discover so much about myself while reading his works. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Abolition of Man

Abolition of Man was a bit of a difficult read, but once we discussed it in class I think I got a bit of a knowledge from it. It is something I would like to read. I might take Adriana's suggestion a read one or two paragraphs a night so I can fully understand it.  Especially since I am becoming a teacher. 

We have come to a world of using words that do not speak the truth or facts but emotions, or how we feel. We are being taught in school how to use our good emotions and get rid of our bad emotions, so once we are adults we won't have to count on reason in our pursuit of goodness or truth. 

In class Professor Paulo showed us a list of words that have changed over time. These words have changed because if people use the original word it might hurt them. The original word was too strong and forceful. Here are the ones that stuck out to me:
Unborn baby = fetus
Abortion = pro-choice
It's almost a political correctness way of going about things. Actually, the Abolition of Man really seems like it could be an essay about political correctness. Politically Correct is the term used to describe a word that has been changed so it doesn't hurt anybodies feelings. For example a janitor is now called a custodian. Or a handicapped person is now called physically challenged. I think there is some reason for changing words, but it's really get out of hand these days. We are so careful not to offend anybody we don't speak the truth. 

Also, man thinks that they are gaining more and more power of nature, which in reality, they are gaining more power over each other. It's very interesting when put into that perspective, it's kind of dwindles down the importance of gaining power. 

Engaging God's World - Plantinga (Redemption)

I found nothing new in this chapter (as in 'i've heard all before' ::sigh::) but it was much needed. It's funny how we can we hear something over and over and not let it really touch our souls. 

“We are free to lean on God with all our weight, giving ourselves over to a prayerful and joyful life marked by a quiet conscience and fullness of faith."

I try so many times to rely on myself. And I always end up an emotional and spiritual deprived mess at the end of the week. And I say; "I don't get it, I didn't do anything wrong." But in reality I did, I relied on my strengths. 

Paulo reminded me of this verse this morning

:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 6 think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths

-Proverbs 3: 5-6

My mom sent me this verse while I was in Yellowstone after my boyfriend and I broke up. It really helped me a lot because there were so many questions in my mind of "what do I do?" I listened to everybody's opinion but God's. And I got this verse and it was so refreshing. I like it because it is strait forward. "Think about Him in all your ways." 

And then Plantinga said to have a quiet conscience. I liked this too, he puts it so gently to say a life marked by a quiet conscience. In every situation we know what is right and wrong, and our conscience tells us what to do. But we should already know what is right or wrong, and if we don't then we need to pray to God for guidance. We need to quiet our conscience and do what is right. 

Man or Rabbit?

Man or Rabbit is a C.S. Lewis essay which answers the question; Can you lead a good life without believing in Christianity?

An interesting question. Lewis, to put it simply, says no. "The idea of reaching 'a good life' without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in a setting up a 'a good life' as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence." 

I am not too sure I agree 100% percent with Lewis' conclusion. #1) We have to consider the point of view of the person that is asking the question. Lewis' view of the good life is obviously different than the view of the asker. At the beginning of the article Lewis should write what the definition of  'good life' is. #2) Lewis doesn't address the issue more than he addresses the issue of how the asker avoids Christianity, and why he or she avoid the question. 

Although, I did like this essay a lot. The words Lewis uses to describe how a person avoids Christianity is very vivid and truthful.  "He is deliberately trying not to know whether Christianity is true or false, because he foresees endless trouble if it should turn out to be true." This is so true of our American culture. Many people shrug off Christianity, not because they have many reasons of believing it to be false, but because of the "endless trouble" if it is true. People can be so lazy, not taking the time to ask the real questions, or even worse not getting answers to them. It is a disease.

I also really like the idea of whoever is asking this question is acknowledging that Christianity is a good life. I feel as though, they are asking; are there any other options for me to live a good life if I am not a Christian? Then the answer is more simple; no. 

Lewis makes it a complex idea simple. Put simply a good life doesn't matter to Christians. A good life is one that doesn't care if they are leading a good life. 

Two videos of what a materialist would say the good life is:

The Good Life - Kanye West

Weezer - Beverly Hills

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Four Loves: Eros

Eros is the state of being in love, not to be confused with sexual attraction. 

"Very often what comes first is simply a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved -  a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality. A man in this state really hasn't leisure to think of sex. The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself." 

I loved this quote. I actually liked a lot of C.S. Lewis said in this chapter. There is something so romantic about a man who delighted with a woman, not because she is a woman, but because of her, because of her mind and her soul. We are in age where many women are think and are treated like the only they are good for are sex. Oh, how these women need love and acceptance of the truth. There are women who think the only way to receive a man's love is to sexually attract him. While this will get his attention, it certainly will not get his respect or what she really longs for, his eros. That is why I like this quote so much, it really takes the sex part out of it completely and focuses on what is most important: the woman herself. 

"Eros, king of pleasures."

I thought it was interesting that C.S. Lewis calls Eros the king of pleasures. I have thought about it, and I agree with him. But we cannot limit Eros just to a relationship between man and woman, but also to man and God. But to be in a state of eros is so exciting, but also must be used properly. I have fallen into the schemes of a man where eros was present between us. I was not careful or cautious. I did not guard my heart, and eternally will regret it. But I do believe that when used properly, eros can be the 'king of pleasures'. 

"The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize eros himself."

"We must do the work of Eros, when Eros is not present."

I really really loved this quote. I think it is something that will remain in me forever (I hope). It is a gently reminder that Eros will not always be there to give us happy feelings about the other person. And when it's not there, what are we to do? We should do the work of Eros. He should buy flowers, she should cook him breakfast. Loving acts of kindness are needed. 

Today in class I was reminded of how precious I am. And that I should keep my standards high for the man I marry, if I marry. I have been badly wounded by my past relationship. And I got a little choked when I read the part about the cigarette box. I have felt like the cigarette carton that has been thrown out.  And being an empty carton, I felt like I had nothing. But I stand tall today because God's grace is good. And I know now that I do not deserve that, and that there are men that will love me not for the sake of Venus but for me, as a woman (which won't even matter that I am a woman). That is the love and eros I desire. 

Engaging God's World - Plantinga (Vocation in the Kingdom of God)

I found this chapter very encouraging. It really goes through why it is so important to have an education, and not only any education but a Christian education. 

It made me really realize how fortunate I am to be attending Calvin College. Once again I will say it was a hard decision, and this chapter really put it into perspective what I probably would be doing some place else. I did not come to Calvin just for knowledge, but for wisdom as well. 

It's very encouraging to be told why it's important to take core. Well, I've always known, but it's really good to be reminded. The book also says it a lot better than I have ever heard from any Calvin professor. I also liked the part where it talks about foreign language, saying "learning a second language not only equips a person to pursue business or art in new venues; it also respects strangers and opens the way for hospitality to them."

I guess I liked this chapter so much because it really opened my eyes to the huge impact my education will not only make on myself, but others as well. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning in a Time of War

In this sermon, Lewis preached about "How can [one] be so frivolous and so selfish as thinking about anything about the salvation of human souls?" I have always asked a similar question: "What is the point of learning if loving God is all that matters?"

Many people think that once they become a Christian, their lives and activities should and will change. While their lives should and will change, the normal day to day activities probably will not (as long as they are not based in sin). While the actual activity should not change the motivation and purpose for the activity should change. Once a Christian, one should not live for themselves not longer (die to yourself) but to God. And every activity that one does should be done for God, to glorify God. 

We talked a little bit in class about whether or not an activity not done for God is a sin or not. Is it really so black and white? Lewis says there is no middle ground. Corrie Poelman says there is. I was thinking about it in discussion. It is something I have never thought about. . . 
Romans 14:23 says that anything that is not from faith is sin. Can something be not of faith yet not be a sin? According to this verse, I do not think so. For example, the choice between a chocolate cookie and a sugar cookie; could the wrong choice be sin? No, but the motivation behind the choice can be a sin or it can be out of faith. Another way to word this is; the choice between being selfish or glorifying God. If the choice in not for God, then it must it a selfish choice. 

"...worth dying for, but not worth living for"

I liked the part about the danger of learning irresistible. Once that happens "the time for plucking the right eye has arrived." There is a huge danger in becoming so consumed with studies that we forget our motivation in the first place. We start out studying for God's glory, but it can quickly become selfish and irresistible. I like C.S. Lewis' warning. It is a good reminder. 

"All schemes of happiness that centered in this world, were always doomed to a final frustration."

"Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who take his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment 'as to the Lord.' It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received."

Lewis says it so well here. We cannot constantly be looking to the future for our happiness. We need to appreciate and be thankful for what we have now. I feel as though most Americans live like this: We are born, we look forward to kindergarden --> kindergarden, we look forward to grade school --> grade school, we look forward to high school --> high school, we look forward to college --> college, we look forward to a career --> career, we look forward to retirement. And that is when they will be happy. But it doesn't have to be this way, we can find enjoyment in the Lord and the things we have now. 

"Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires." 
Psalm 37:4

(One of my favorite verses)