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)

The Poison of Subjectivism

I did have some trouble getting through this article. 

Today our a lot of society and culture is based off subjectivism. I can't tell you how many times people have discarded what I have said simply because "it's not true for them". Truth is truth. Good is good. Lewis warns us that we can not and should not try to create our own values. If we all have our own little values and beliefs, then what is true? What is the right one? I feel secular people may say: "Whatever makes you happy." But that does make an absolute truth, and it never will. Happiness can change. Truth cannot. 

However it is not just a secular problem. Christians too might start using subjectivism in their own ways. We have to be careful to remember the fall of mankind. 

"To say a that thing is good is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have."

This is warning from Lewis. Good will not be judged on the basis on what good actually is, it will be based on what "we have been socially conditioned to have." There are many things that are bad about this. 1) it gives way to much control to others and our environment. Because one sees something on TV and the producers have made a bad act looked good. This has happened with premarital sex. All of TV and movies we see people having premarital sex. And the producers make it seem good. And the result is most people thinking that it is okay to have premarital sex as long as you love person. It is a good thing. Which in reality is only a good thing when it is in the context of marriage. 2) "Our feeling about [good]" It's a feeling. Feelings change all the time. To judge whether or not something is good based on feelings is not absolute. One needs to judge on facts. If one judges on feelings the judgments can change. It's just a no good circle of nothing this subjectivism.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Engaging God's World - Plantinga (Fall)

"An addict, for example, partakes of a substance or practice that he knows might kill him. For a time he does so freely. He has a choice. He freely starts a 'conversion unto death,' and for reasons he can't fully explain, he doesn't stop until until he crashes. He starts out with a choice."

A good friend of mine and I were discussing why one or one shouldn't drink alcohol. She made the statement; "Nobody thinks they're going to become an alcoholic when they take their first sip." I have always remembered that. When I read this quote I was reminded of that. We all have a choice to take a that first sip and even the second sip. But after many more sips, we don't have a choice. We are a slave to alcohol. 

"We had a choice. We now have near -compulsion - at least that what we have without the grace of God to set us free."

I have recently been struggling with the idea that I am free because I have God. How I am living the free lifestyle when I have to follow these commandments? Yet, my neighbor can do whatever they want? How am I free one? And it's times like when I read something so simple yet so deep that I realize I AM FREE. I free from sin. I have that control that an alcoholic does not. Sin cannot grasp me and lead me to the path of evil. Because of the grace of God, I still have a choice. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mere Christianity

There was a lot of hesitation in deciding if I should be honest on what I thought about this C.S. Lewis reading. . . I will be honest. I did not care for it all that much. So far many of the readings we have read have been deeply personal, and have touched me in one way or another. I came out with a sense of: "If I really apply this to my life, I will become a better person." (A better person, in simple terms, means less selfish and more focused on God) And many friends had told me how great Mere Christianity was. So, it was to my great disappointment that it is not written as tid-bits of advice, although one might find very useful advice and apply it personally. But me, all I could see was the argument Lewis was making. When I started to read I was not prepared to read an argument, but another advice piece, something that would touch and affect me. I wanted the personal connection with reader that The Weight of Glory, The Screwtape Letters, The English Syllabus, or We Have No Right to Happiness had. I just really worked it up in my head to be Lewis giving advice to Christians, and it was not. So naturally, I was disappointed. 

However! Once I get over the fact that it was not what I expected, it was good. Lewis is creating an argument for Christianity. It's very interesting. The end point is; We all have a moral law/Law of Nature (an idea that we should behave a certain way), and that moral law is directed by the maker of the universe. 

". . . when you say a man ought not to act as he does, you only mean that same as when you say that a stone is wrong shape; namely, that  what he is doing happens to be inconvenient to you."

This quote (and the paragraph it came from) really got me thinking. Because so many times when I have an argument, it is because of the simple fact we do not have the same moral law. What one person thinks is appropriate, I might think is completely inappropriate. But is its it the action that we should fight about? No. The moral law is root of issue, and once that is discussed then we can address the action. 

My sister and I fight quite often. And most the time it is because we are not seeing eye to eye. I think she has all these feelings, which don't matter to me. I know it sounds bloody awful to say. Well, I care a little bit, but she has so many feelings on so many different things, and most of the feelings are illogical. (Well, coming from me, illogical!) She shouldn't have the feelings, and she needs to get rid of them because we can talk or discuss anything because her feelings get hurt. So instead of discussing the real issue we end up talking about feelings. Our moral laws are different. For me, when discussing something, feelings are not too important, the event that took place is. And for her, the event that took place is not that important but how she felt about it. It can be very exhausting. . . 

Sorry back to Lewis!

"When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object."

I had a friend that once asked me; "Annie, am I a Christian?" and knowing this person for many years, I smiled a little and said; "No." And he said "I am a Christian". I raised my eyebrows and said "Oh, really?" in a mocking tone. I spent my whole summer with my friend AJ. We were sweetmates in Yellowstone, we worked together for 8 hours everyday and went on hikes together,  I knew him very well. And when he asked me the question, I judged. I regret it, that in that pivotal moment, I judged him. He eventually went on to tell me that he was just kidding, but that he was very curious how I could say was a Christian was and was not. I thought of that moment as I read this quote. And then I read this quote:

"We do not see into men's hearts. We cannot judge, and are indeed forbidden to judge. It would be wicked arrogance for us to say that any man is, or is not, a Christian in this refined sense."

I love this, perhaps because judging others is one of biggest downfalls. I can always use a good kick in the rear end. I admit I have judged many on whether they were Christian or not. Or even more if they were good Christians. What is a good Christian anyway? I can not know, only God can. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Show and Tell

Everybody want's to be loved and to be known. 
"Pain that keeps me in own private jail."

"Maybe we've been living with our eyes half open."
(mud pies)

I was originally going to show and tell this song, but changed my mind last minute. 

"We want more than the world's got to offer"
(the yearning) 

The Screwtape Letters

Reading The Screwtape Letters is such a reminder of the spiritual battle that is happening in the unseen world. I seem to forget that there is unseen world. In living my day to day life I have forgotten that there is something evil constantly trying and urging me to be distance from God. 

I couldn't help but think of this verse while reading:
"Since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth." - Revelation 3:16

Screwtape is not giving advice to make the patient 'cold' towards God, but lukewarm. The patient will think that he is okay going to church and making new friends, although his spiritual state hasn't changed in six weeks. It seems so clear and evident to us (the readers) yet many many people fall into this trap. I would even day to say that many Calvin students fall into this trap. I feel I have even during class. 

We are talking about God so much and really learning a lot of really good wisdom to help me live a christian lifestyle. But then as I was falling asleep last night, I thought; "When was the last time I prayed?" It certainly had been a while. I feel into the trap that my demon set for me. I got distracted feeling so close and learning so much about God, that I forgot the relationship with Him. I'll tell ya, it's such a good thing that God is graceful and merciful. 

Reading Screwtapes really helped to notice that. 

"Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turning, without milestones, without signposts."

As Christians, we all need to walk on a tip toes, constantly being on the look out for gradually getting away from God. The small sins count just as much as the big ones. This is one reason fellowship and community are so important in a Christian's life. When you have good, honest, 'not afraid to tell you the hard truth' kind of friends in your life, it's hard to slowly stray away from God. We need that honest accountability in our lives. 

I think I would like to read more of The Screwtape Letters. I don't know what more can be said, so much was in this one letter. I would be interested to Lewis' creativity. 

Spiritual Warfare is real.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Engaging God's World - Plantinga (Creation)

I found this chapter a little bit repetitive of what I have learned so far at Calvin. That being that God created the wonderful and beautiful earth, he made all miraculous creatures, and lastly he made humans. He rested on the seventh day, which means that if God needs rest most certainly we do too. 

I will admit (even after reading the chapter), I am still a little bit confused about why God created us. I understand that it was not "a necessity nor an accident", but there are so many other options. Did God want to create us? Yes, but he didn't need to. Why did God want create us? I feel that this book does not give a very good explanation. 

I have always believed and told people that God made us for the same reason a couple will have kids. God knew that it was going to take a lot of work and selfless acts once we were made, in same way that a couple knows that it's a lot of work and takes selfless acts to raise a child. So why does a couple want to have a child? Well, assuming that it was not a mistake, the best reason I can think of is to love it and be loved in returned. In the same way, God made us to love us and be loved in returned. 

I've always thought the idea of God creating everything a bit confusing. And when I say God creating everything I mean in it a sense of everything, even things man created, they were God's idea first. This means cities, televisions, water bottles, ipods, birthday cakes, hiking socks and even post-it notes. But what about the items that were made just for evil? Perhaps an AK-47 or abortion utensils? Where these God's idea too? I don't know what I think on this subject, it is something that I need more wisdom to really stand my ground and say yes or no. 

"According to God's intelligence, the way to thrive is to help other thrive; the way to flourish is to cause others to flourish; the way to fulfill yourself is to spend yourself."

I love the idea putting all the energy I have into other people. And even more I love the idea of gaining so much from it. It's like a secret that not many practice, but the ones that do practice this divine secret have found something so holy and joyful, and most importantly pleasing to God.

The Weight of Glory

I loved reading this sermon that C.S. Lewis gave at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford. I don't even know where I should begin. There was just so many quotes that I liked! Here are my favorite: 

"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 at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

This quote really resonated with me. This is not the first time I have seen the quote, but I always seem to get something new out of each time I re-read it. I love it so much because it is just so true that we are far too easily pleased. I feel like another good analogy is that we are walking around with bad eyesight, and we are in need of glasses. But do we get glasses? No, because all we have ever known is blurry objects, we don't know the wonders of the world because we have never experienced them. We all need to get out of the mud and open our eyes to the Lord and see the infinite joy he trying to offer us. 

"And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness..." 

The words strongest spell really stood out. This is because I know that in order to get out of the rut of living in a worldly mindset and into in an eternal mindset is not easy. I would need a very strong spell. And acknowledging that I need that "spell" is the first step to christianity. 

"Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it is related to how He thinks of us."

I love this one also. So many people try to define what and who God is. I personally have gotten wrapped up in conversations of what or who God is. But that is not what is most important. What is important is how God thinks of us. More importantly is He pleased with us? Because once I die on earth it won't matter who I thought God was. He will not change based on my thoughts, but my eternity will be based on what he thinks of me.

C.S. Lewis put's it so well that we will one day be judged, and that judgement is either going to be very harsh or very wonderful. And it order to achieve the wonderful judgement we have to bring glory to God. Lewis goes into great detail about what this means. What it comes down to is "being 'noticed' by God".  And to be noticed by Him, one needs to love Him; take delight in Him, worship Him, notice Him.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our English Syllabus

"The proper question for a freshman is not 'What will  do me the most good?' but 'What do I most want to know?'"

Context: C.S. Lewis is giving a lecture to the English Society at Oxford. It was a lecture about the education system (more specifically the english department at Oxford) and how college needs to focus more on actually learning.

This quote really resinated with me today in class. I am a transfer student and when picking my college, it was a really tough decision. I was between going to Michigan State and Calvin College. My parents are not helping with my college tuition, so the price of college is a big deal. And planing on not staying in Michigan when I graduate I knew that the name of the college was important too. Michigan State is both cheaper and a far more recognizable school than Calvin is. So, why did I choose Calvin? Well, just look at this article. I choose Calvin because I believe that I was going to actually learn here, instead of just getting an education or degree. So many people now a days go to college just to get a degree, so they can get a job and earn money. I, however, desire so much more than just a degree. I desire knowledge. More specifically I chose Calvin because I wanted and needed to learn more about God and how to live a christian life day to day. After reading this article I am much more confident in my decision. 

Okay enough about me back to the article:

I was a little bit lost by Lewis' lecture. Because on one hand he is saying that we shouldn't have composite schools (modern day liberal arts schools) saying that "you would be getting selections of reality selected by your elders - something cooked, expurgated, filtered and generally toned down for you edification". But then on the other hand he is saying "a perfect study of anything requires knowledge of everything." So, naturally at first it sounds like he is implying that composite schools are awful things because you will not get the absolute beautiful knowledge that every subject holds. And then he implies that is absolutely necessary because we can't have complete knowledge of one study unless we know everything. I am a little bit lost on what he would think a good school would look like. 

I feel like C.S. Lewis' perfect school would be undoubtedly impossible. It would have highly motivated students who were always yearning to learn. Professors would be necessary but class would not. The professors would make themselves available and the students would ask questions left and right. There would be rooms and rooms of books. The other rooms would be set up based on the subject they were made for. The students would go about their day which ever way they wanted to learn. Everyday go to school walk around from room to room and just learn. Fill there head with whatever they choose. No syllabus'. No tests. No homework. Just learning.

But that is not possible, no college student is that motivated. It would certainly be really neat. But I just don't believe that it's possible. And we are left with the decision liberal arts college or vocational training?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Meditation in a Toolshed

This is article is about whether experiences are true or not. What is considered to be 'in love', when a physiologist would tell you that is just a 'biological stimulus' causing the feeling of be 'in love'.  

I have struggled with the idea of everything I do has a neurological reason. It reminds me of a TIME magazine article I once read about how we all have a gene/dna/(some really technical word) that forces/yearns for something bigger than ourselves or God. So naturally I have questioned; do I only believe in God because my genes want me to? Do I really have a decision or choice in my everyday options? Ooo! (an idea just popped in my head) Maybe our gene/dna is really God's way of predestination? (Oh geez, I'm not going to go there)

I also thought of depression when I read this article. Now, I know there is some depression that is caused by outside sources, but sometimes depression is caused by a chemical imbalance. Now this raises the question of why would God allow a chemical imbalance in some people, but not with others? Depression is horrible suffering, to be sad and lonely with no explanation. It makes me wonder if it's an along the beam kind of thing, or at the beam kinda thing. Because if you are looking at the beam you will see the chemical imbalance, but if you look along you will see a sad person.  

I also think of comparison between a "thinker" and a "feeler". I recently got into an argument with my sister. I am a thinker, and she is a feeler.  She was upset because of something I had said. I did not mean to hurt her in what I said, in fact it wasn't hurtful (well, I still don't think so). But she twisted and turned it in head into something that was not meant by what I said. She couldn't see that what I saying, she could only see what she wanted to see. Instead of looking at the truth, and the motivation behind the statement she just looked at her feelings. I feel as though the thinker looks beyond what is just felt. Of course, me being the thinker I have to look at her and know that her feelings were genuinely hurt and really describe by what was meant by it and (suck it up) and apologize. She was looking along the beam when she needed to look at it.

Engaging God's World - Plantinga (Longing and Hope)

This chapter was okay. 
It fits very well with the C.S. Lewis readings we have been reading recently. I really like quote that author uses to describes yearning; "break out crying from stabs of hopeless joy" I really feel like this fits very well into a lot of what a lot of people do, and the author really points out how pointless nostalgia can be. 

This hit it a little bit personal for me. This summer I worked in Yellowstone National Park. I made great friends from all over the world. We had plenty of really good times together. I find myself 'yearning' to go back. I day dream about it constantly. It wasn't until I read this chapter that I realized how pointless my day dreams are. What good will get me? I can never go back. I am only hit with a desperate desire that I can never fulfill. 

I have always loved the quote by Augustine: "O Lord you have made us for yourself, and heart is restless until it rests in you".  It really speaks for itself. 

"Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover, or a landscape or a home, but only through them" I like this a lot too because it once again reminds me of Yellowstone. I saw so many beautiful things out there. And I was constantly reminded that this is only a mere glimpse of what heaven/God is like. 

Plantinga writes that one of the ingredients of hope is imagination. If I were to write out the ingredients of hope, it would not include imagination, but after thinking about it for a while, I came to the conclusion that it HAS to include imagination. How can we hope for something if we already know it? If we already know it, then we already have it.  We can't and shouldn't hope for something we already have. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech fits very well into this. 

I have never heard of Shalom before this article, but I really like the sound and idea of it. There is something about "a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitful employed, all under the arch of God's love" that sounds so wonderful, and virtuous. There is something that rings truth in Shalom. And I like it.

Have 'No Right to Happiness'

This article is about having no right to happiness. Lewis begins the article with a story of a man who leaves his wife for another woman. Clare exclaims that this is okay for him to do because he has right to happiness.  Lewis goes on to say that we do not have a right to happiness the same way we don't have a right to be 6 foot tall or the right to born to a millionaire. He then gives a standard for what Clare meant by the right of happiness; we have the right to happiness as long as it falls within the State Law and Natural Law. But what did the writers of the declaration mean when they wrote the "the right to pursue happiness"? They certainly didn't mean by ANY means to pursue happiness, like rape or murder. "No society could be built on such a basis." They meant to pursue happiness by lawful means. 

I really enjoyed this article a lot. I love paragraph about how foolish love can be. Being young and foolish I got wrapped up in the vicious cycle of 'strong erotic passion'. I really did think that I had found lifelong happiness in another being. All truly was at stake. If I missed my chanced I really thought  I would've lived life in vain. And when everything fell apart I sunk into the 'fathomless depths of self-pity'.  But like Adriana said on the second day class about when a man says you are worthless, you can either curl up or you can expand. I chose to expand, and stand tall. And I am such a better person for it. 

(I chose to expand)

I love love love this quote: "When two people achieve lasting happiness, this is not solely because they are great lovers but because they are also - I must put it crudely - good people; controlled, loyal, fair-minded, mutually adaptable people." I like it because it's so true. The people that are the happiest are the one that are good people and controlled. I also really like the part about how women look at men's personalities whereas men look at women's beauty which will fade after a couple of years. 

Lewis closes the article writing about how once we start acting on every impulse (not only sexual, but every impulse that will make us happy) is when "our civilization will have died at heart."

P.S. What is Carte Blanche?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

God in the Dock: Bulverism

     Bulverism is C.S. Lewis' term for one of philosophy's fallacies; Ad hominem. Bulverism is the attack of a person when in argument instead of attacking the issue that is being addressed.  For example; Drew says "homosexuality is morally wrong." Phil says "Of course you would say that, you're a priest." (Ad hominem) Drew replies "What about the argument I gave you to support my decision?" Phil replies "Those don't matter because you are a priest, so you have say homosexuality is wrong.  I can't believe anything you say". So, instead of Phil attacking the issue of homosexuality being morally right or not he attacks Drew. A lot of politicians do this against their opponent in debates. 

The issue then comes up of how to get rid of Bulverism. There is still truth and reason to Bulverism, but "until Bulverism is crushed, reason can play no effective part in human affairs." Each side uses reason improperly for Bulverism. And until it is completely gone we will always have bad arguments. 

I really like the quote: "A theory cannot be accepted if it does not allow our thinking to be a genuine insight, nor if the fact of our knowledge is not explicable in terms of that theory." I think many people accept theories that they do not think out, or apply their own knowledge. This is evident when I am talking to a friend about current issues and they only facts they know about a certain subject are ones somebody else told them. They did not research on their own. It's very frustrating.  So, I really like that C.S. Lewis makes the statement that a theory cannot be accepted if we don't genuinely think about it or apply knowledge.