Thanks to Sorta Religious Rock ’n Roll (Music for Mondays)

A couple of male bloggers have to have some fun, even during Lent, right? And since the Jesuits, at least, say that the trick is to see God in everything, let’s see if you can spot God in these guys: Lenny Kravitz, Eric Clapton, J. J. Cale, Buddy Guy, and Mark Knopfler.

Gentlemen, the YIMC stage is all yours—

Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love? Hardly.  This past week, we’ve been writing about love here, here, here, and even here. Christianity—It’s a “Love Revolution”!

There’s nothing you can’t do and that’s no lie
You were designed to use your mind
To move what you can’t see so don’t be blind
’Cause there is a Love
That won’t let you down and it always holds ground
Wear your crown
This love will never leave you
This love will never let you go

Oops. That video is gone. That’s okay, we can make do with “God Gave Me Everything” instead. Roll clip,

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One of Eric Clapton’s first songs for the group Blind Faith was Presence of the Lord. Frank bets you did not know that. Have a listen.

I have finally found a place to live
Just like I never could before
And I know I don’t have much to give
But soon I’ll open any door

Everybody knows the secret
Everybody knows the score
I have finally found a place to live
In the presence of the Lord
In the presence of the Lord

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Let’s stick with Clapton and add in a little J. J. Cale, for “Call Me the Breeze.” Frank remembers the Lynyrd Skynyrd version of this tune from down south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Webster’s not really sure this is even sorta religious, but he likes it, he really likes it.

They call me the breeze, I keep blowing down the road
They call me the breeze, I keep blowing down the road
I ain’t got me nobody, I ain’t carrying me no load
Ain’t no change in the weather, ain’t no change in me
Ain’t no change in the weather, ain’t no change in me
I ain’t hidin’ from nobody, ain’t nobody hidin’ from me
I got that green light, babe, I got to keep moving on
I got that green light, babe, I got to keep moving on
I might go out to California, might go down to Georgia, might stay home

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Time to move Eric Clapton off stage. (You’ll see him watching from the wings.) Don’t need no lyrics. It’s Buddy Guy’s version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Virgin Mary? Lamb of God? Probably not.

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Finally, “Speedway at Nazareth,” a song about car racing, but at least it has Nazareth in the title and the best finger-pickin’ guitarist ever to come out of Newcastle-on-Tyne. Oh, yeah, and it’s Webster’s favorite Mark Knopfler tune. So it qualifies.

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Because Love Comes from God, Not from Me

When I was an child, I loved as child. Now that I am a man, I wish to love as a man. CS Lewis offers advice about this in his book Mere Christianity. Msgr. Luigi Giussani (left) does more than offer advice, he shows the way, in his three-volume work Is It Possible to Live This Way? The third volume, Charity, is currently the focus of Communion and Liberation’s Schools of Community worldwide.

In Book III, chapter 9 of Mere Christianity, part of our YIMC Book Club reading this week, “Jack” Lewis draws the distinction between love as a feeling and love as an act of will. His simple advice is, Don’t wait to feel love for your neighbor, and for heaven’s sake, don’t sit around trying to pump up love for your enemy. Act as if  you love your neighbor and your enemy, and eventually you will love them.

This is good advice, of course. Try smiling when you don’t feel like it. Force your face muscles into a grin and hold it for a while. You will feel better. Lewis adds one grace note to this thought at the very end of the chapter:

The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, [God’s] love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

It’s a beautiful thought. Don Giussani goes much further.

Here’s a contrast: In Mere Christianity, Lewis discusses the three theological virtues, Charity, Hope, and Faith in that order. In the famous passage from 1st Corinthians, 13, St. Paul speaks of them as Faith, Hope, and Charity, and so does Don Giussani. Better, Giussani explains why.

Over the past two years, Schools of Community have read the first two volumes of Is It Possible to Live This Way?, Faith and Hope. Faith, Giussani writes, is founded not on a leap (of faith) but quite reasonably on a fact—the fact of Christ’s presence in the world. Hope is a completely reasonable extension of this fact into the future, our own future, where our destiny lies.

While so far we are only about 30 pages into volume 3, Charity (slow readers seem to predominate in CL!), it is clear where all this is leading. Because already Giussani is writing of charity not alone as an act of will but as a sharing in God’s gratuitous love for us. Without faith and hope, without the certainty that God exists, that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist, in his Church, and in the companionship of those who share with us in this Presence, there can be no true charity. Lewis’s act of will is worthy, but how can it be whole?

I would quote Giussani at length, but his Italian-translated-to-English is an acquired taste, and I encourage you to learn more on your own, by checking out the CL Web site. But here are a couple of small bites of Giussani on charity:

Charity . . . indicates the deepest content, discovers intimacy, discovers the heart of the Presence that faith recognizes. 

Note that charity hinges on faith. And here:

The most intimate content of the supreme reality exists in experience, because it is felt, and, when followed, it produces an effect, it changes things. 

So love or charity does begin with a feeling—or it begins with faith, which prompts a feeling. A feeling that arises from the statement “He exists.” From that certainty, everything else follows.

Which is to say that love comes from God—as Giussani writes later, from God’s “gratuitous love” for us—and not from an act of human will alone, and certainly not from me. Sorry, Jack, but I’m afraid Don Giuss has got you covered on this one. Although to give you credit, Jack, I think you really might have loved School of Community.

Because This Time the Joke’s on St. Peter

I just had to share this joke from reader Cathyf. Woke up, found it in my in-box, smiled five minutes. I may be the last Catholic on earth to have heard it. We converts are all crazy about Christ and his Church but we’re a little bit short on Catholic culture. But that’s OK, because then the joke’s on me, and I’ve already eaten some humble pie during the first full week in Lent. Take it away, Cathy!

You see, heaven is a large walled compound, with gates of pearl at the entrance, where St. Peter takes his post with his keys. When the newly departed arrive at those pearly gates, St. Peter looks them up in his book, and either lets them in, or sends them down the road.

So one day it is St. Pete’s day off, and he is wandering about, and he sees some folks that he is pretty sure he sent down the road — but there they are inside heaven. He doesn’t think too much of it, though. He’s not paying all that close attention to faces, and after all they do tend to all run together anyway. But he does spend the next days paying closer attention to exactly who is being let in and who is being sent down the road. And on his next day off, he sees 3 different people who were definitely sent along their way.

St. Pete decides to do some investigating. He marches out the pearly gates and down the road. Around the corner, down a little ways, around another corner, where he is brought up utterly dumbfounded by the sight. There is St. Joseph, and he is boosting people over the wall! St. Pete marches over to St. Joseph and starts haranguing him. He says that this is utterly against the rules, absolutely unacceptable, and that there will be consequences! St. Joseph doesn’t say anything. Finally St. Pete finishes up his harangue by telling St. Joseph that he will not mention this little incident to anyone as long as St. Joseph makes sure that it never happens again.

Thinking that he has dealt with this outrage very well, St. Pete then spins on his heel, marches back up around the two corners and down the road and through the pearly gates. He resumes his job, but is still being careful to remember faces and who got let in and who got sent down the road. On his next day off, again, there are the Wrong People in heaven!

So again St. Pete marches out in high dudgeon; again he comes around the corner; again St. Joseph is boosting people over the wall. This time Pete is utterly apoplectic. He rages on and on about how unacceptable, wrong, not be tolerated, Pete is going to report this straight to God, terrible things will happen, maybe even Joe will get thrown out of heaven. Around this time Pete needs to pause for a second to take a breath. At which point St. Joseph, shrugging, says, “Hey, I go—I take the wife and kid with me.”

For All the Saints: Teresa of Avila

On the trail of St. Joseph, because he is my patron and because his feast day is approaching (March 19), I stumbled across Teresa of Avila. And when I did, I sat down for a spell, and after I had sat in her presence, I didn’t want to leave. That’s what the saints will do for you—so convince you of the truth of the Christian claim that you want to spend the rest of your life at their feet.

Teresa’s devotion to St. Joseph, and so mine to her, began in 1538, when she was 25 years old. A Carmelite nun in the throes of a complete physical breakdown that she laid to heart trouble, Teresa despaired of conventional medical treatments and “decided to seek a cure from ‘heavenly doctors,’” according to biographer Shirley du Boulay:

She had Masses said for her—strictly in accordance with the church’s teaching, for she had no patience with unorthodox ceremonies—and she commended herself to someone who was to become her favorite saint, St. Joseph. Strong-willed by temperament, yet determined to be obedient, she found she could submit to the image of one to whom Christ himself was subject on earth. She attributed her improvement—it could not be called a cure, because she was at no time completely well—entirely to him and never ceased to commend him to others. She would make requests of him every year on his festival, claiming that they were always granted, even that “if my petition is in any way ill directed, he directs it aright for my greatest good.”

From then on, Teresa would always observe Joseph’s feast day with particular devotion. In her Life, she would write of St. Joseph:

I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to this glorious saint, for I have great experience of the blessings which he can obtain from God. I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to him and render him particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for he gives very real help to souls who commend themselves to him. For some years now, I think, I have made some request of him every year on his festival and I have always had it granted. If my petition is in any way ill directed, he directs it aright for my greater good.

I only beg, for the love of God, that anyone who does not believe me will put what I say to the test, and he will see by experience what great advantages come from his commending himself to this glorious patriarch and having devotion to him. . . .

In her forties, Teresa began to experience visions, raptures, locutions—the mystic experiences for which she is perhaps best known—though she was one hard-boiled, down-to-earth mystic, who founded seventeen reformed Discalced (Barefoot) “Carmels” in her lifetime, working like a modern-day businesswoman on a fast track. St. Joseph sometimes appeared to her in visions. When in 1562, at age 47, she founded her first Carmel, she named it St. Joseph’s. She viewed her new reformed foundation as being like the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth, “a heaven, if one can be had on this earth.”

His Majesty earnestly commanded me to strive for this new monastery with all my powers, and He made great promises that it would be founded and that He would be highly servied in it. He said it should be called St. Joseph and that this saint would keep watch over us at one door, and our Lady at the other, that Christ would remain with us, and that it would be a star shining with great splendor.

From then on, no matter where she traveled through Spain in a covered wagon that maintained her enclosure from the world, St. Joseph’s would be Teresa’s home. St. Joseph himself was always at the ready, always nearby. In 1575, en route to founding one of her Carmels, according to du Boulay, Teresa’s party—

took the wrong turn, realized they were lost, and, at Teresa’s injunction, began to pray to St. Joseph. At once they heard a distant voice calling out that they must stop immediately, otherwise they would fall over a precipice. They obeyed the invisible command and discovered they were indeed in a perilous position, a chasm yawning beneath the wagon wheels, but what could they do? How could they turn round in the narrow path? The voice told them to go gently backward for a hundred turns of the wheels; they would come to no harm and would find the track again. It was just as the voice said.

In an essay on “The Historical Development of the Holy Family Devotion,” Joseph F. Chorpenning, OSFS, writes that Teresa’s devotion to St. Joseph is one of the key reasons that we honor him and, indeed, the Holy Family as such today. Chorpenning traces this devotion from the late Middle Ages, through Teresa’s time in the sixteenth century, right down to our times, when Pope John Paul II wrote Redemptoris Custos, his Apostolic Exhortation “on the person and mission of Saint Joseph in the life of Christ and in the Church.”

But I’ll leave that for another post. I’ll end simply with the last line from du Boulay’s biography of the Carmelite saint and the first female Doctor of the Church, Teresa of Avila:

To anyone asking for proof of the existence of God, anyone saying, “Is God there?” Teresa’s whole life offers a resounding “Yes.”

Because Parish Life Isn’t Easy

Guest post by Allison 
My husband and I, both cradle Catholics, grew up in households where one of our parents was not. Consequently, going to Mass was more or less the only way our families expressed their Catholicism; they didn’t pray family rosaries, or read the Bible together or talk about their faith journeys. And they didn’t involve themselves in the life of their parish, other than my dad, who sang in the choir from time to time.

In contrast, Greg and I have immersed ourselves in our parish life. My husband serves on the parish council, where he oversees parish communications, and he is a lector. I sing in the choir and the Chant Club and I also co-founded and coordinate a youth group. Our eldest son is an altar server and also sings in the Chant Club. Because our parish is tiny, we know our parish priest well. He is a family friend who has shared books and meals with us on many occasions.

This all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, sometimes it isn’t.

Being involved intimately in a small parish means we are witness to everyone’s foibles and failings and they get first-row seats  to ours.

Good writing means offering your readers good detail, painting a picture so they can see what you are talking about. But I’m unwilling  to provide specifics, because anyone with even a passing knowledge of the families and staff at our parish would recognize the people I am describing.

Suffice it to say that the whole human condition is on display at our parish—people who have trouble holding their tongues, people who fail to speak up even when it would be in their best interest to,  people who gossip, and people who hold grudges. I will confess here that sometimes I have fit every one of those descriptions.

And sometimes, the whole enterprise is discouraging. If we adults can’t behave ourselves in a parish,  of all places, where can we?

Recently, another thought has occurred to me: parish life is hard because life is hard. You don’t get to pick your parents and you don’t get to pick who sits next to you in a pew.

What continues to draw me to the Catholic Church is not always my fellow travelers. It is always the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Because of His presence, we don’t need a telegenic pastor or the loveliest of voices singing in the choir.  We don’t need our lectors to sound like voice-over artists or for all our parishioners to be saintly and charitable at all times.

I like the metaphor that a church is like Noah’s Ark transformed into the boat, or Barque of Peter. Yves Congar, the late French Dominican cardinal and theologian, described it this way:

We are pilgrims and passengers and members of the crew beckoned onward by what the Church calls “the universal call to holiness.” Which is to say, beckoned on by Christ and the promise of the Kingdom. What is expected of us is to respond to the call where we are, and in doing so to allow ourselves to be carried where we are to be.

I am Catholic because parish life isn’t easy. It isn’t supposed to be. We are imperfect travelers—sometimes scared, sometimes grumpy, sometimes just bone tired. We journey together on a boat, through a storm. We are holding on for our lives and praying we make it to our destination safely.

Dateline Beverly: Blogger Issues Mea Culpa!

It’s sometimes your most clever posts that get you in trouble. First there was Popeye, which has had more comments than any post yet—including several justified complaints. (OK, Popeye isn’t really Catholic, and Bluto isn’t Protestant.) But now I‘m in trouble with my priest, Father Barnes! Sheeeesh. I’m not sure the offense is confessable. You be the judge.

In my most recent post, I asked a simple question: Let’s say you could be a priest. What order would you enlist in? I had some fun with the post: I mentioned a couple of orders I was once quite interested in (Franciscans, Carthusians) and gave what I thought were amusing, off-center reasons for joining them, or not. Then I said I saw myself as a Dominican because (pushing my tongue further into my cheek) I look good in white. I read the post to Katie at dinner. She smiled and, more tellingly, did not grimace.

Then before our CL School of Community last night, I told Father Barnes about the post and the poll alongside. He asked for the list of choices in the poll, and after I had reeled it off he asked, “What, no dicocesan priest?”

My heart sank, but my mind, which can prove any point, right or wrong, had a quick answer: “It’s not an order, Father!”

He shrugged, smiled slyly, and said, “I’m just saying . . . ”

And he’s right, of course. I should have given the option to vote diocesan, but then, it’s too late now. Which leaves me uttering a meek and mild mea culpa. I tried to pick a sheepish-looking photo, but I’m not sure I do sheepish well.

I suggest that those who want to express their solidarity with Father Barnes and make a certain blogger look even more foolish than he already does could check off “Other” in the poll.

A Question of Order

TGIF! Time for us laymen and women to indulge in fantasy! Let’s say you were going to be a priest. (It’s OK, ladies, you can play along here, no foul.) Let’s say further that you were going to “enlist” in an order. Which one would you choose? Augustinian, Franciscan, Dominican, Jesuit? Benedictine, Carmelite, Cistercian? Or would you opt for what Frank calls “hard corps”—the Carthusians?

I’ll put my two cents in the offering plate and then leave it to readers to vote (poll at right) and comment (below).

In the days when I used to walk down Haight Street (or the local equivalent) humming Donovan’s “Brother Sun, Sister Moon,” there would have been no hesitation: Franciscan! What young hippie idealist wouldn’t want to wander around in sackcloth, kissing lepers and sleeping on rocks?

Not now, not at my age!

There was a time I thought I might like to be a serious monastic, and what’s more serious than the Carthusians? But then I read An Infinity of Little Hours and thought about wearing a hair shirt all day, all night, til death do us part. As Frank would say, Sheeeeeesh!

Today, while I must admit a certain admiration for the Jesuits, despite their reputation for “extreme” liberalism, I lean heavily toward the Dominicans. They are smart, and they are eloquent. I’d make a good preacher, I think, and I look great in white.

What do you say, YIMC Community?

For Your Lenten Friday Night at the Movies II

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your co-pilot once again. We have now descended to 31,000 ft. It’s way before dinner, but seeing how you have been so patient on this flight, your pilot Webster and I thought we would give you a sneak preview of our after dinner entertainment for this evening. By the way, smoked talapia is on the menu tonight, so hold your appetites until then!

This scene is the final one from tonight’s selection, Chariots of Fire, which won the Academy Award for best picture in 1981. This scene includes a rousing rendition of William Blake’s Jerusalem and features Eric Lidell winning the 400-meter sprint, against all odds.

So again, sit back and enjoy the ride and thank you for flying YIM Catholic Airlines!

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Because of His Cross

Guest post by Warren Jewell
I don’t know about you, but if a bunch of thugs nailed me to a wooden display after having beat me up, my Italian side would not be very nice in talking to them. In fact, I can’t think of any side of me that would be nice. I would avoid saying anything terrible about their moms, but all else would get free rein. However, the High Priest Himself not merely said nice things to his death squad, He pleaded for them with His Father to forgive them for their ignorance. Even Frank’s best ‘Sheesh!’ can’t cover that act of love.

What a great Guy we have in Jesus! You can hope for the same magnanimous, magnificent mercy without even asking, right? Right? Wrong! They were ignorant—we are not. His love for us is as infinite as ever, but, “they know not what they do” has no place for us. We know that we torture and destroy God made man, our own Savior, Priest of priests, Innocent of innocents, King of kings, God from God—need I go on?—as surely as we know anything.

There’s no easy way out anywhere for me. Mother Mary would cast an eye on us, me among the embarrassed group, and tell Saint John, “Keep an eye on this bunch. They need a lot of work.”

I have been blessed with open ears, and have listened; blessed with open eyes, I have seen. So, I know better about what it is I do, Who it is I am doing it to. “But – I had to do it – really!” It sounds rather empty, standing under that Cross; Mary Magdalene looking at me with a “How could you?!” look. The good thief, traditionally named Saint Dismas, would shockingly realize what he was witnessing: “You mean, Lord, that he is from among Your followers?!” Indeed, surrounded by His most beloved, and with Jesus the Christ hanging, dying, right over our heads, just where could I look?

Of wonderful mercy, I cannot have been party to the actual Crucifixion. However, every time I sin, I do stand beneath that Cross without an excuse or reason or cause. I am not ignorant. I am shamefully aware that I am guilty of sin. And His Blood flows not only as His perfect sacrifice because of my sin, but as His purifying waters to wash away my sin.

If somehow I could take away my sin, and you your sin, we would not have put Him on the Cross. We all know better: that we sin and even the best of us is putting the Lord Jesus Christ up on His Cross just too regularly. Once again, we must stand beneath Him, explain to His Mother why “my sin was more important to do” than not crucifying her Son. Looking at His tortured frame yet again is not ever going to make any of us do less than cringe all the way to the confessional.

His gift to His executioners was mercy in the face of ignorance. His gift to us and through His Church and His Word are that we need not, and more importantly cannot, be ignorant.

Faith and reason, as two essential gifts to all of us who submit our wills to believe, ride to our rescue, if we just permit God to care for and cherish us through them. We lost ignorance long ago, my friends. We gained the beloved Presence of the Lord to make the best of us, and have no doubts about that.

Now, just take a moment and bow before a crucifix and know that He is God and loves you all that much.

YIMC Book Club, “Mere Christianity,” Week 6

This week we finished up Book III, Chapters 9-12.

I’ve really been enjoying what CS Lewis has been writing thus far. Oh sure, in the early going, the book was pretty weak tea. But since week #2, Jack has been hitting on all cylinders. As a recent convert to Catholicism from the nondenominational Protestant side of the house, I’m enjoying everything he is writing here. For the most part, none of it is controversial to me. Jack hasn’t swerved on the icy roads of the opinions of the modern age. His doctrinal traction-control is in the “on” position.

Some of you reading along with us are probably in the same camp with me. Others may have dropped by the wayside with Jack because what he is writing may be painful to read. Instead of wincing, keep in mind these words St. Paul writes to his young protegé Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-4),

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.

For as Jack wrote earlier, we are living behind enemy lines. Which is why being a Christian is hard. Recently my pastor was welcoming the current class of Catechumens and Candidates, and as he and the congregation welcomed them he also warned them that as Catholic Christians, they had chosen a hard way. Jack expounds on that tough road this week as he writes about the theological virtues of Charity, Hope, and Faith. Just some quickie thoughts from me and quotes from Jack this week and then on to the discussion in the comments box. And Chapter 1 of Book 4 will be discussed next week. How does that sound?

Chapter 9, Charity

Jack quickly lets us know that this word means love, and not the modern idea of alms giving. St. Paul reminds us that the greatest of the virtues is charity. Because without love, everything else is naught. See St. Paul again in his letter to the Corinthians. Jack reminds us that love in the Christian sense isn’t a sentimental emotion. Do not confuse eros or romantic love with caritas or brotherly love. And remember that sticky wicket of loving our neighbor? Yeah, that slam-dunk of easy Christian living? Jack reminds us,

Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.

Stop theorizing about it. Need help? I know I do, and later Jack shows us where to find the strength. For now he shows a few examples of charity, that resonated with me. First this,

The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he “likes” them: the Christian, trying to treat every one kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on-including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning.

You know, this has been my experience since I have become a Catholic. It has been an amazing grace to me actually. Think of the unlikely pairing of Webster Bull, lapsed peacenick, and myself, the uber-Marine. Who would have thought it possible? Even St. Paul was losing friends because of the faith, but he gained them as well. See his letter to Timothy again for an example,

Try to join me soon,for Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia,and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is helpful to me in the ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. You too be on guard against him, for he has strongly resisted our preaching. At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them!

So much for Easy Street. But note how St. Paul still hopes that those who deserted him will be saved. That is Christian love for you. Next, my inner finance guy enjoyed this quote,

Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.

Well said, Jack! On to the next chapter.

Chapter 10, Hope

A good discussion of how Christians are called to serve in the world today. Naysayers may suggest that Christians are shallow thinkers who leave it all to God. Jack attempts to enlighten them, but the same ridiculous ideas are always in play and, frankly, always have been. Jack notes,

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.

There was a short time when Christians did sort of throw up their hands and leave it all to God. We’ll see the effects of that in our next YIMC Book Club selection, The Great Heresies by Hillaire Belloc. Jack really hammers on this later, in Chapter 12. Suffice it to say now that much good has come from Christians working in the world while being faithful as well.

Jack then gives us an idea of the three ways to make sense of the world,

1. The Fool’s Way
2. The Disillusioned Sensible Man
3. The Christian Man—The Christian says, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

This brings to mind the behind enemy lines analogy and the characterization of the life of a Christian as The Sojourner—our existence as aliens, scattered among unbelievers, far from our true country.

Jack counsels a very British stiff upper lip regarding our reputation in this world,

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of “Heaven” ridiculous by saying they do not want “to spend eternity playing harps.” The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.

Imagine if you will, present-day skeptic celebrity Bill Maher attempting to have a match on these points with Jack Lewis. Jack by a knock-out. Which is why Bill Maher didn’t interview anyone with any real substance in his anti-religion movie Religulous. Let’s move on to the back-to-back chapters on faith that close out this week’s readings.

Chapter 11, Faith

In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. Yeah, we’re humans Jack, not Vulcans. Sheesh! Jack talks about two kinds of faith and how faith as a bedrock foundation is rational but still difficult. Which reminds me of the idea that often we focus on the noise while ignoring the signal which I wrote about here. He goes on to remind us of this,

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes…Consequently one must train the habit of Faith…That is why daily prayers and religious reading and church going are necessary parts of the Christian life.

Sounds like as good a reason as any to consider your spiritual reading and prayer routines. Sort of like Marines and the daily seven, which may have morphed into the daily dozen nowadays. Routine physical exercises that can be done daily in 15 minutes or so, you know, to keep the body in shape. Which takes a measure of willpower to practice. And then this,

You may remember I said that the first step towards humility was to realise that one is proud. I want to add now that the next step is to make some serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues. A week is not enough. No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.

Jack than crashes fantasyland by proclaiming that in the history of mankind, Christ was the the only complete realist. As we come to realize that this road is tough, we also realize that we owe everything, absolutely everything to God.

If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already…When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins. The man is awake now. We can now go on to talk of Faith in the second sense.

Chapter 12, Faith

I get the impression that Jack considered this second chapter on faith as optional. Because unless you’ve walked this path for a while, you may not understand the descriptions of this chapter’s account on the higher sense of faith. I’ll let Jack explain through these passages,

I said that the question of Faith in this sense arises after a man has tried his level best to practise the Christian virtues, and found that he fails, and seen that even if he could he would only be giving back to God what was already God’s own. In other words, he discovers his bankruptcy… When I say “discovered,” I mean really discovered: not simply said it parrot-fashion.

All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, “You must do this. I can’t.” It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.

I know the words “leave it to God” can be misunderstood, but they must stay for the moment. The sense in which a Christian leaves it to God is that he puts all his trust in Christ: trusts that Christ will somehow share with him the perfect human obedience which He carried out from His birth to His crucifixion: that Christ will make the man more like Himself and, in a sense, make good his deficiencies. In Christian language, He will share His “sonship” with us, will make us, like Himself, “Sons of God”: in Book IV I shall attempt to analyse the meaning of those words a little further. If you like to put it that way, Christ offers something for nothing: He even offers everything for nothing. In a sense, the whole Christian life consists in accepting that very remarkable offer.

To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says… But trying in a new way, a less worried way…Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.

This idea is one that many who criticize Christianity yesterday, today, and most likely tomorrow fail to understand. That Christians behave out of love for God instead of just out of fear of damnation does not seem to have been considered by them. I have several friends who think this way. Perhaps they haven’t checked their moral balance sheets as closely as Jack and I have. And this is a conundrum,

I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Every one there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes.

And that’s all I have. I’ll meet you at the banquet table and the comment box for discussion on how this week’s chapters spoke to you. I think I’ll have some chardonnay, too.

Next week we’ll begin Book 4 with chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. I know I said we would read chapter 1 this week, but I changed my mind!


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