YIMC Book Club, “Mere Christianity,” Week 2

It is week number two, club members, and time for some mere discussion on Mere Christianity. Unlike last week, when I posted a seemingly interminable essay on the first week’s readings, this time I will be leaving most of the discussion up to you.

But I have a few thoughts to share first.This week we read Book I, chapters 3–5, and Book II, chapter 1 and 2.

Is it just me, or have there been rumblings of dissatisfaction among loyal YIMC Book Club members regarding our current selection? Perhaps More Christianity or Christianity Pure And Simple by Dwight Longenecker, agnostic turned Anglican priest turned Roman Catholic, should have been nominated? Keep those choices in mind for the next vote after we read Hellaire Belloc’s The Great Heresies. But until then, we just have to keep slogging, people!

Keep in mind that C.S. Lewis was not a theologian (full disclosure: neither am I). Nor are his writings to be considered encyclicals by an antipope named Jack the First. He warned us in the preface that nothing controversial or authoritative would be written here. Is this why none of our commentators last week seemed to make it past the Hall mentioned there? And words like these appear prophetic given the galvanic changes that have occurred in Anglicanism in the last 15 years,

Now if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say “deepening,” the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word.

Enough of  last week. This week’s chapters builds on the idea of the Law of Nature, the Something behind the law, and why we are uneasy, since by our failure to uphold and live the law we are in opposition to the Mind behind the universe, which seems to me to be a barely concealed knock-off of an idea from Chesterton’s essay Why I Am A Catholic.

Quite honestly, we have read five chapters this week and the only thing that I found of real interest was at the end of Book 2, Chapter 2 when Mr Lewis writes the following,

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery. I know someone will ask me, “Do you really mean, at this time of day, to reintroduce our old friend the devil-hoofs and horns and all?” Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is “Yes, I do.” I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, “Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.”

After enjoying steak and potatoes, salad, and dessert with GK Chesterton for the previous nine-week session, we have seemingly fallen back to a milk-based diet. Perhaps I need a bigger bottle? Or a different perspective maybe? Perhaps I shouldn’t have read The Incarnation of Our Lord by St. Athanatius before embarking on this read? Somehow I doubt that.

So let me turn this over to the membership.  What passages struck you or resonated with you? Which ideas did you find really brilliant? Your thoughts please!

For next week, we read Book II, chapters 3–5, and Book III, chapter 1.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    I just have a minute now, but I've been wondering why y'all chose this particular book. There's a lot of Lewis that I love–particularly his fiction–but this isn't one of my favorites. Maybe it's because I'm so definitely in a room.AMDG

  • Webster Bull

    Fact is, we chose this book by democratic process, which makes me hunger for the days when YIMC was a dictatorship! We took nominations, then put the four most probable suggestions to a vote. This won, by a nose, over Belloc's "The Great Heresies."HOWEVER, I gotta say that despite initial rumblings from the Marine and others, I'm looking forward to reading on because several people who influenced me during my RCIA period swore by CSL and particularly by Mere Christianity. So let's see. . . .

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06368195895421044006 Matthew

    Frank,I am getting ready for work this morning but thought I would share my thoughts before I head out for the day. You won't hear any rumblings of dissatisfaction from me regarding our selection. I love Lewis and his writing and it seems that I love him for exactly the reasons you feel detract. Is this blog intended to be a home for advanced apologetics and theology or is your intent to share your faith in understandable ways and hopefully lead others to that faith as well? Not that either one is bad it just seems to me that this forum was more inclined towards reaching out to those who might be hungry.To use your imagery of food I worked in the missions in South America for awhile and we often encountered people who were starving. My first inclination was to buy them all the best possible foods, huge meals, exotic drinks, etc…However the priest who was guiding our mission explained to us that we should give them rice, bread, water and maybe some fish. Their stomachs were not used to the more hardy foods and so their bodies had to build up to that.In the same light, those who are hungering for a spiritual truth won't necessarily be able to handle a meal of "steak and potatoes" as it would simply be too filling, too much for them to handle in the beginning. They, like children, need to be started off on the basic foods, a "milk-based diet" as you describe. It takes time for our bodies to acclimate to more advanced and exotic foods and in the same token it takes times for our faith to advance to a place where we can appreciate and understand many of the great theologians and writers in our church.As to the book, Lewis is very upfront about his humble abilities to share the faith and he makes no claim to offer theologically weighty advice. But sometimes the simplest arguments are the best. I am reminded of when I was in debate club in high school. Lewis here lays out the most amazing development of an argument that I have seen in any introductory text. He develops the argument along logical lines so that someone who perhaps doesn't follow Christianity at all can be led to the logical conclusion of its validity. Even for those of us who do already follow Christ, this lays out an excellent approach to how we can explain to others the validity of the faith and is that not what apologetics is? Defending the faith in understandable ways to those who would challenge it?I really appreciated the quote you shared from the text as that part also jumped out at me. Another section that I found great was in book 1, Chapter 4."We want to know whether the universe simply happens to be what it is for no reason or whether there is a power behind it that makes it what it is. Since that power, if it exists, would be not one of the observed facts but a reality which makes them, no mere observation of the facts can find it. …The only way in which we could expect it to show itself would be inside ourselves as an influence or a command trying to get us to behave in a certain way." I think this does a great job of countering the scientific arguments which tend to be so common these days. Well, I have rambled on and it is time to head to work. Look forward to seeing everyone else's thoughts. God bless.Matt

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    That is a great point, Matt.AMDG

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Now we're getting somewhere! Excellent comment Matt! Perhaps I am engaged in "close air support" and suffer from "target fixation" as I fly down really low to the ground while CSL is cruising and viewing things from 40,000 feet. And nope, this isn't a blog for the super apologists either. Those battles are fought elseware and with more vigor than I find necessary. I can't help but wonder though, what CSL would think of Anglicanism today.I did like the way CSL used as his proof of these thoughts the example of "mankind" and our quest for a purpose.Also, the section I quoted definitely appeals to my inner "resistance" fighter. I am looking forward to see where CSL takes this in the following chapter.Bring me some more gems people!

  • EPG

    Webster wrote (in part): "Fact is, we chose this book by democratic process, which makes me hunger for the days when YIMC was a dictatorship!"Yeah, I kind of miss the dictatorship days, too! More seriously, I wonder if it might not be better if you and Frank take nominations/suggestions, but make the selection on your own criteria. I've read Lewis, including "Mere Christianity," many times, and, while I like his work (and this particular book) very much, I was rooting for (and voted for) Belloc. "Mere Christianity" has many virtues, but answering the question "YIM Catholic" (or why one should be, or might want to be) is beyond its scope (and intention).I'll take up Frank's invitation for comments a bit later. I'm on a plane this evening, and I should be raring to go once I land.

  • Warren Jewell

    Okay, here's a gem from the Gem – an old school nickname, of course – with 'Pearl' close behind.With all due respect to pabulum needs, it is hardly high and profound theology to give Jesus Christ early, quick, frequent and firm place in such a book named, after all, 'Mere CHRISTianity'. And, He did indeed have ground-level support almost as a fixation, Corporal Weathers. Go pull a few stitches and remove a chevron. More, from my notes:First, I am pleased to report health problems abate at good pace. And, with the Gem trying to find his setting, onward, soldiers of Christ, and upward, ye saints. C. S. Lewis – keep your head down in that foxhole. In chapter 4 of Book 1, CSL makes the claim that “scientists don’t usually make . . . the statement that there is any such thing” as ‘Something Behind’ the material and observations that are the bread-n-butter of science, and that “there is no such thing”. It didn’t get me wondering about British academic ‘Kool-aid’. What it got me to wondering is if academics generally need to get out more, really get around to reading anything about what is usually happening in this broad, out-n-about world. Virtually since Darwin, the great bulk of scientists have so wished God gone that they have tolerated scientism, which body of ‘work’ largely is the stretch of science to be so rid of God. And, for long, except under strong pressure, they have permitted alleged scientists – once-were, not-anymore, eugenics a good example – to be policy activists as if (heard this lately?) “The science is settled”. But, real science means that the science is never “settled’, but simply what is but currently observed about thus-n-so. Perhaps, CSL, truth seeker that he was, still and all had so adapted to ivory-tower ways that he worried about and avoided getting out more to encounter more of how truth is being led to be handled in our lay plebian fleshpots. Just wondering . . . What he does call the “modern Western materialist” – that secularism we perceive to be so prevalent – has lingered heavily and darkly over science since before Jack was born. Oops – gotta snip . . . .

  • Warren Jewell

    . . . . I just want to call out to CSL: “Yo, Jack! We’re in the hall of beginner Christianity, a state that a Catholic on the other side of that Catholic room door might call ‘pre-catechumen’. I think that we know full well the implications of natural law, or moral law, the Torah, the Pentateuch, the Ten Commandments – call it what you will. We know of and acknowledge sin, more, our sinfulness. If we were so totally unaware as you treat us, we probably wouldn’t be even here in this entry hall, now. I just have to think that we came in here to hear and know more about Jesus Christ. We pretty much have strong ideas about ‘what’ – we want to know how Christ is ‘the Who Who is the Why’. Why, WHY, WHY, Jack?”CSL did respond: “I am not yet within a hundred miles of the God of Christian theology.”[Begin dripping sarcasm] “No kidding, friend.” [End sarcasm] “Well, get on with closing that long distance, please.” In this early going in Book 2, CSL does seem to be getting on toward Jesus Christ, Who we have come here to hear about. We want to know how He is All the Why to What is good and true. But, after chapter 2, I know more about His and our adversary, Beelzebub, than I do about our God, our King, Who CSL does finally mention came in human-form disguise. And as a Catholic I know that He, Lord and Master Jesus Christ, continues to come to us under ritually daily and commonly day-to-day appearances of His Body in the Bread and His Blood in the Wine. And, of what I gratefully know and even eagerly seek as a Catholic, the Eucharist of Jesus Christ; as CSL lacks access to the Sacrificial Banquet, maybe he can’t see the importance of getting to Jesus Christ ‘early, quickly, frequently and firmly’. Aaaahhhh!Oh, Jack – you rightly mention ‘Christian’ and ‘Christianity’ regularly. Why not tell us at each mention just what that means about Jesus of Nazareth, our Christ, Who has the very Name from which the ‘Christian’ comes? Gospel references are hardly Augustinian or Thomist commentary. I am SO frustrated. I can’t remember if CSL got to such clarity of “Jesus Christ is and is in Christianity” in MC. Reading on will tell.I need a prayerful fix of Jesus Christ – I’m going to read the Gospel of Saint John for a while. Maybe, too, I’ll re-read the brief first chapter, titled ‘The Only Person Ever Pre-announced’ in ‘Life of Christ’ by Fulton J. Sheen. Those five pages alone make this Sheen book worth reading. In fact, read both first chapters, of Saint John and Bishop Sheen, and see if you are not led to lay face down on the floor before God and hierarch as does a new and enthusiastic and humbled and, oh, so grateful ordinand. “Lord, I am not worthy . . .”No, Jack, don’t put your head up just yet. I may be less physically pained, but I am frustrated. Lord, keep my aim high – in lots of ways.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Warren, that Sheen's "Life of Christ" is a great book all the way through. and those 5 pages rock!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    EPG: El Presidente didn't run the selection past the other members of the Junta (Me, Myself, nor I) prior to slapping it on the ballot. Makes for keeping things interesting around here, I suppose. ;^)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    I think maybe we are faulting Lewis for not addressing an audience that he had no intention of addressing. The first of these talks was titled, "The Case for Christianity." Then the second talks about Christian behaviour. He was, primarily, addressing people who are not even in the hall. He was talking to people who were living in cities that were being bombed–who were watching life as they knew it being destroyed–and it was destroyed. They were people who had lost faith in almost everything and he was trying to lay an intellectual groundwork for conversion. The faith that they had lost would have probably been a sort of institutional Anglicanism–not really faith at all. I don't know how much any of you know about Lewis, so please pardon me if you already know what I am about to say. I think some background might be helpful. Lewis was an atheist whose conversion process spanned his late 20's and early 30's. He was an Ulster Irishman. His mother's brother was a very anti-Catholic minister, and so he grew up in that climate. It's rather remarkable that he was open enough to have Catholic friends–Tolkien being the most notable of these. The more I get to know his writing, the more obvious it is that he had a sort of blind spot wrt Catholicism and I frequently want to shake him, but I don't think it was purposeful. I'm not sure that he even knew it was there.And at that, his writings have been instrumental in the conversion of probably thousands of people to the Catholic faith: Peter Kreeft and Thomas Howard, for instance, who are both wonderful apologists for the Catholic Church. I can't tell you how many conversion stories I've heard that mention Mere Christianity or Lewis's own conversion story, Surprised by Joy. So, it might help to approach the book with that in mind. There is something there that has ignited a the search for Christ and His Church in the hearts of many people. If it's not helpful for us at this point in our lives, it might help us to help someone else.I have to say that I just noticed today that The Reed of God was in contention for the book club. That is one fantastic book, and if you are looking for depth, you won't find it lacking there. Belloc is fun and interesting. Houselander is numinous.AMDG

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Janet: Good background info. You guys are really putting out this week! And I just learned a new word of the day which I'll never see on Anu Garg's website: numinous. Thanks!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06368195895421044006 Matthew

    Janet,Thanks for the info on Lewis and I think you are spot on regarding his intentions in writing this book. Perhaps some of us are advanced beyond the stage he discusses in these first chapters but as you so clearly point out, we also have a responsibility to spread that faith and this is an excellent guide to help us share a logical approach with those who may have no reference point of Christ at all.

  • http://www.livingaliturgy.blogspot.com Michelle

    During this section of MC, I found myself watching the movie "The Invention of Lying." Despite being somewhat crass and quite sacrilegious, it brought up many of the same arguments Lewis does (though more in the intent of mockery than anything else). It IS hard to read such a simple start to a book one would perceive to be about the faith. It's not a bad thing we all want more meat :) But I will point out that Scott Hahn goes through a similar logical approach in his book "Reasons To Believe" – I was just looking for him to tell me (to no surprise) why I should be Catholic."I can't help but wonder though, what CSL would think of Anglicanism today." I forget who made this comment, was it Warren? Over the last few months I have pondered this question myself. I personally don't think he would be Anglican still. But that's just my opinion.Janet makes a good point, that the audience to which Lewis is addressing is not even in the hall. We have to look through this lens, otherwise we DO miss Lewis' intent and purpose. It's not fair on our part to be irritated with the man simply because his agenda isn't fitting ours. :)But that aside, it is probably my least favorite Lewis book I've ever read, despite coming straight from the Evangelical/Baptist world that reveres him to an odd level, I think. You'd think "The Great Divorce" would be enough to deter them. Ha!Specifically, I thought his analysis on science was interesting, but lacking. It does seem to me that many scientists use their scientific findings to make a claim about God. Perhaps at that point it ceases to be "science" by it's own definition, but it does happen under the guise of "science". The creation/evolution debate is enough to discredit what Lewis said, I think. There are plenty of Christian "scientists"? "theologians"? out there who loudly tout that if you don't believe in the literal 7 day creation, you're not a Christian. And there are plenty of secular scientists who ignore legit findings that *could* point to a young earth. All that to say, at least in the current times, Lewis' statement appears to be false. I'm curious to read on and learn what he thinks is "merely" or "truly" (because that is what he means by the word "mere", not "small") Christian. Being in the hall myself and having just moved to a very liberal city, I've been in a place of thinking through what the most important things regarding my faith are. I'm still struck with his hall analogy, mostly because the description fit me so well. I even wrote a poem about it. Maybe I'll share it. Maybe not. Didn't want to ignite the hall discussion again since we have moved on!

  • Webster Bull

    There are so many things to comment on, both in CSL and in the comments above. I'm going to spend begin with Three Things to Remember–tada!1. Lewis began as an atheist and an academic. We need to give him credit for finding his way into the hall in the first place. Some of us (I won't name names here) seem so secure behind our Catholic doors that we are outraged at anyone calling himself "Christian" using such elementary arguments. Which leads to point #2. Matthew's first comment is right on: This blog is not for advanced apologists. They will be found counting angels on pinheads in plenty of other blogospaces. It is for "the hungry," Matthew's term. When I started YIMC, I thought of it that way. I said to myself, I want someone coming to Christianity or Catholicism for the first time to read this blog and, no, not be convinced of my "rightness" or Catholicism's, but simply to think, hmm, this Webster guy sounds like a pretty normal guy and he seems to be pretty happy as a Catholic. I'd like to be happy too. Maybe there's something in this. . . . 3. Finally, we should remember that this book was written for radio. CSL read one of these installments a week, probably, right? Which means CSL had to develop his thought slowly, methodically, and repeat himself, reconnect with his audience each week. So we need to give him time here, folks. We got a comment today from an atheist, not on this post but on a movie, "A Serious Man," about which I posted some time ago. I counter-commented, inviting him to join the discussion of Mere Christianity. Because he may be hungry,and you never know. He might find some happy people here. . . . So if "meherenow" joins the YIMC Book Club, let's make him feel welcome, shall we?

  • El Bollio Tejano

    Admittedly, CS Lewis' Mere Christianity is a lighter read than anything Chesterton ever wrote, as it was taken from a series of radio shows in England put on by Lewis as a DEFENSE of Christianity. This was all at a time when England was becoming less and less Christian. The one beautiful part of this book is one of the ESSENTIAL proofs of a God: Natural Law. Why do people all view certain things to be "wrong"? Why are these written into our PSYCHE? Certain things happen to a person in Chicago, London or Japan, and they are perceived IN OUR NATURE, as wrong or right. Why do we have this programming? Natural Law. We were created by God with a knowledge of right and wrong, says Lewis. Breaking Natural Law is the law that the German War Criminals were Charged with, while there defense was that they broke no "German" laws. The Nuremburg Court found that Natural Law trumps "Sovereign" Law when it comes to "Good" and "Evil".So, enjoy the light read of CS Lewis, and remember the man was converted to Christianity by reading Everlasting Man, by… G. K. Chesterton.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    "So if "meherenow" joins the YIMC Book Club, let's make him feel welcome, shall we?"The "welcome" mat is definitely out and the door is wide open! Here is a story from the Desert Fathers that seems appropriate:Abba Antony said, "Our life and our death are with our neighbour. If we gainour brother, we have gained our God; but if we scandalize our brother, we havesinned against Christ."Come in and make your self at home.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    EBT, nicely put, and thanks for joining the discussion. And yes, we must remember the wartime background for sure. Natural Law was mainly covered in last weeks readings and of course are the foundation for Lewis' discussion in these chapters as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    Well, maybe I shouldn't say this, Lewis was converted to Christianity during a long process, the climax of which was a walk that he took with Tolkien and a man named Hugo Dyson, who told him that when he encountered the story of the dying and resurrected god in one of the myths that he loved, he, well, loved it, but didn't accept it in Christianity. I'm saying this badly, but it's the main gist of the story.AMDG

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    Sorry, that was a half-formed thought interrupted by dinner. I meant to say that I wasn't saying that he didn't read Chesterton, because he did. My favorite thing about his "moment" of conversion is that it was so simple and prosaic. He was riding the side car of his brother's (Warren, btw) motorcycle on the way to visit the Whipsnade Zoo and one moment he didn't believe Christ was God and the next moment he did. This has such a ring of truth about it to me. We look, as we were discussing the other day, for some bolt of lightning, and then the Lord slips in unawares.AMDG

  • EPG

    This is one week in which I regret my work schedule and all the travelling I'm up to. Too much fun stuff going on here. A couple of things: Several people were quite correct to point out that Lewis's aim here, especially in the first few chapters of the book, is not to offer "high" or "deep" theology, but essentially a primer on Christianity for those who don't know much about it. And, in order to draw them into the conversation, he starts out with some propositions that (he hopes) many can agree with, even if they have never heard of, or are generally hostile to, Christianity.So he lays out the problem: There seems to be a moral authority of which we are aware, but to which we do not adhere. We have this sense that we ought to be better than we are. Only after he establishes this proposition does he then advance the argument that Christianity accurately describes both the problem and the solution. Which is why, Warren, he doesn't lead off with Christ — he first is attempting to get people to understand what they need, and then introduces He who fills that need. Frank mentioned Lewis's analogy of Christians as the resistance movement — which I also like very much. Here's another thing — Lewis seems to be trying to dispel any sentimental notions about Christianity. Hence this: "Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort, it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay." That, I think, is a pretty cool statement.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    EPG: That is a cool statement, and a true statement. Here I said,"This isn't the newfangled prosperity gospel that has become popular of late. This is the hard road, the Sermon on the Mount.And check out John 15:17-27>. Pretty scary stuff for new and old Christians alike.

  • EPG

    Lewis is a complex figure, but he was most definitely not sentimental — capable of great affection and feeling, but _not_ a sentimentalist at all.As we will see in the next few chapters, which include a pretty good description of the pain inherent in repentance . . . Happy reading.

  • Sandy

    I'll be honest, as someone who has spent a lot of time reading Zen and Buddhist and Taoist books, I found it difficult slogging, except when I got to his discussion of dualism. Then, I would be heard in my home saying, "Yes! Yes!" Taoism especially writes of Dualism enclosed within a greater whole, the Tao.. and it is this view of the universe and the Creation I find myself returning to over and over again. A lot of his arguments about Nature or Human Nature can also go into this area, the area Anne Rice calls "the place I can let God have the answers; I don't need to know them all!"I don't find the book the milquetoast some others do, mostly because I see he's trying to get to the points all Christians can agree upon… but I find it a challenge because I simply disagree with a good deal of his logic prior in chapters 3 through 5 of Book 1.I may post more later, these are just my initial thoughts after letting it sit with me for a few days.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Ok gang, let me share this with you because, hey…I understand from my wife that this is what book clubs do. Share stuff. Take a look,The Confused & Indifferent

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    I don't know if you noticed that on your link, right above that item, it said, "Dr. Ralph McInerny, Resquiat in Pace." He's a great loss to the Catholic world.AMDG

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Janet: Our condolences to his family for they bear the brunt of this loss. From what little I know of him(I'm a newbie remember), he was a fine man. He has left the Church Militant and is now in the Church Expectant, or even the Church Triumphant.

  • Sandy

    I remember hearing of McInerny, may his rest be peaceful.This article was very interesting to me. I've read a lot of Ratzinger's work on moral relativism. I've even been known to quote him in debates. Far as the topic…I am not sure if we can ever truthfully know everything, though I certainly like to putter along trying to find out. I cannot say that any of the other religions are wrong. That is not my place to say. I also cannot in good faith look at the spiritual lives of Buddhist monks in particular and say they do not know God.In fact, to look for the greater truth, and to sit and listen to someone such as the Dalai Lama speak about troubles in life or his journey through persecution, let's examine those questions again. Who am I to say his journey has no validity? Why does A have to be true at the expense of B?And if, in fact, I have to denounce his experience and his journey as wrong, I am even less comfortable than declaring One True Path.Your mileage may vary.

  • Webster Bull

    It's exciting to see the participation in this second week of reading Lewis–despite initial grumblings about the selection and subsequent scowlings toward El Presidente by the leader (and sole member)of the Junta! So far we've heard from Janet, Matthew, EPG, Warren, Michelle, EBT, and Sandy, as well as Frank and me. @Sandy: Among those books about Zen, et al, I'll bet you read a gem called "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind." Though it has been ages since I read it, I remember the idea: the way to "practice" (Zen, Catholicism, archery) is to begin again each day, and I think we can all take Lewis in this light. To come back to the fundamental thoughts and promptings that kindled our faith, and still fuel it; to remember every day that being Catholic is a choice we make, and to choose it each day willingly; and definitely to remember that we know nothing, we are all beginners in this Zendo.

  • EPG

    Frank — many thanks for the link. As I think I've written elsewhere in this blog about how Ratzinger's "Truth and Tolerance" influenced me, and how, literally within weeks after I finished it, he had been elected Pope. That, as much as anything is YIM (very interested in the Catholic Church but not yet) Catholic.Sandy — I do hope you've discerned that Lewis specifically rejects dualism. As he points out, once you identify one side of the duality as good, and one as evil, you are referencing somthing higher with which one side of the duality is in accord, and against which the other side is in rebellion — that something higher is God.Thus (and this is not original with me, but I think is from Lewis, and maybe even from this book) Satan is not the co-equal of Christ, but of the archangel Michael. He is a rebel, and not the other side of a duality.Also, Lewis specifically states that acceptance of Christianity as the Truth does not mean that all other religions are utterly useless. But is does mean that they don't have as good a picture of the Truth as Christians (an echo of St. Paul's sermon to the Athenians on their acknowledgment of the "unknown god.").

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01037555111680888247 Janet

    Sandy, I'm a bit curious. When you say that you do not agree with his logic, do you mean that his logic is faulty, or that you just don't like it.AMDG

  • http://www.livingaliturgy.blogspot.com Michelle

    The article on the blending of Eastern religions and Christianity was certainly interesting, although I don't think I grasped all of it. I'm one of those who likes yoga and eastern theories on health and healing…but I "mix" them in such a way that being a better Christian is still my first priority. For example, while doing yoga I would sometimes pray the Lord's prayer, or pray the Jesus Prayer with every inhale and exhale, instead of "emptying my mind" I'd fill it with Christ. There is truth to be found in other religions, so in that sense we can't say they are all necessarily wrong in and of themselves. All truth that exists is God's truth. And I've gotten in arguments with people over that statement. But we can't go saying other religions have truth at the expense of Christianity… In some ways I do believe in a kind of inclusivism, as does the Catholic Church. Somewhere in the catechism it does say that people outside of the Church, even outside of Christianity can be saved. Paul says that the rocks and creation give evidence of God. So, while I can't say that all people will be saved, I will say that I do think some people who had no way to know about Christ, but served God as they knew best will be saved. The last two posts on JD Salinger and David Foster Wallace show how the lives of unbelievers can impact a believer, for good. Somehow, God even uses things we wouldn't expect to draw us closer to Him. I've had times where secular songs brought me closer to God than any hymn. I don't think this comment really has a specific direction…or any relation at all to MC…just random thoughts along the way while reading these other comments!


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