The journey of a nerd who loves the Lord

Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Book Review: Till We Have Faces

facesTill We Have Faces Audio Book Review
Written by C.S. Lewis Audio
Narrated by Nadia May

Description

  1. C.S. Lewis reworks the timeless myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction in this novel about the struggle between sacred and profane love. Set in the pre-Christian world of Glome on the outskirts of Greek civilization, it is a tale of two princesses: the beautiful Psyche, who is loved by the god of love himself, and Orual, Psyche’s unattractive and embittered older sister who loves Psyche with a destructive possessiveness. Her frustration and jealousy over Psyche’s fate sets Orual on the troubled path of self-discovery. Lewis’ last work of fiction, this is often considered his best by critics.

As part of my recent C.S. Lewis kick, I picked up this book, not really knowing what to expect.  I saw the note in the description mentioning that many consider this one of Lewis’ best books, and many of the user reviews agreed.

First, Lewis writes this story of self-discovery completely from the first perspective, which I have grown to enjoy the more I read.   Lewis does a great job keying into the main character, Orual, and making you feel as she feels.  Early on, Orual makes it clear she has beef with the gods, and Lewis does a great job explaining exactly why.  While some define atheists as those who do not believe in gods at all, I have seen some (in fiction) define them as those who believe that the gods are simply not worthy of faith and worship.  That’s exactly how Orual thinks, as nearly the entire book serves as her well thought out complaint against them as a whole.

Ironically, I have seen this exact same sentiment in some of my atheists friends and family.  If God does not exists, how can they be so mad at Him?  I see them shaking their fist in the air, at Him.  They argue, if He exists, He must be a cruel God because of XYZ… and therefore not worthy of worship even if they saw Him face to face.  Lewis excellently paints the argument, drawing on his own feelings and experience as an atheist for many years.  His final strokes in the tale and debate are masterfully painted.

His excellence permeates the other aspects of the story, as well.  From the supporting characters, to describing the world.  He wastes not a word.  In fact, I had to slow down my normal playing speed as He uses thick language full of color and thought.  You cannot listen to this book casually, lest you miss an important point.

Nadia May executes the narration near flawlessly, lending a different voice to each character.  I really enjoyed this entire book from beginning to end.  I highly recommend it to my friends who study theology, those looking for a good, fictional book steeped in mythology, and even my atheist friends who may find a kindred soul in the main character.   5/5 Stars.

5star

Watching the Decline

Salutations.

Speaking to your loved ones, friends or co workers about things that matter most can be hard.  Trust me, I know.  Whether you bring up a discussion about God, or go for something a bit less sensitive, such as exercise/diet, you run the risk of alienating that person…perhaps permanently.  Even when spoken in love, attempting to discuss the truth about a situation with someone can end poorly.

noreligAt first, I thought that since I often spoke about faith in God, the rejection and reactions I received was because I dared to bring up a subject somewhat taboo in our culture.  Yet, when I tried other subjects about self-improvement (or even saving oneself from an early death), I found myself facing similar walls.  Despite the fact that I would choose topics that, on paper, should appeal to democrat or republican, religious person or atheist, people often waived me off (at best) or told me to shut the heck up.

The common thread I noticed was that I was challenging others (and myself in the process), to take steps outside their comfort zones and consider other ways of living their lives.  And, while you may understand why some people do not wish to hear someone else’s religious viewpoint regardless of how true they think it may be, when it comes to something such as how our food in this country makes our children sick, one would think that people would be a bit more open to discussion.  Yet, the vast, vast majority of people I speak too have no interest, as for whatever reasons/excuses, they simply cannot take the time to consider other points of view.  In all reality, they simply do not want to give up the lifestyle they currently enjoyed.  In our culture, inconvenience of any sort is one of the most grievous of sins.

foodWe simply only have to look around us to see the results of such narrow thinking.  The interesting thing about our sugar-saturated diets is that we can see the results on the waist-lines of most people around us.  A quick look at Google pulls up reports such as this one from the Washington Post / CDC showing that the average weight of Americans has risen six pounds the last decade alone.  And, it only gets worse as time marches on.  Yet, few will sit down and have a real discussion on the subject because so few have the desire and will power to take the steps necessary to change their habits.

If we struggle this much with something such as personal diets or holding our government responsible for the quality of mainstream food…imagine how we fail, as a nation, to gather the willpower to turn around our sinking finances, or make truly ethical high-ground decisions.  Our forefathers understood that doing the right thing often came at great cost.  However, Americans today cannot even fathom changing their diet to help themselves, their family, and the society around them (through greater productivity and less reliance on medical care).  Unlike earlier generations, we cannot claim ignorance as an excuse, when we have full access to the internet.  We simply do not wish to be inconvenienced.  We do too much already.

worlddestNow, multiply this self destructive, selfishness and laziness across our entire nation…or even the world.  Can any of us sincerely say that we truly believe that somehow, as a group, we will do what we cannot bring ourselves to do as individuals…. especially given the examples of history?  Will we stop pollution, war, waste, etc., before something truly catastrophic happens?  Or, like so many individuals, will we wait until our dying breath to realize we should have made different choices?

I understand that this missive seems overly negative.  The truth often hurts.  However, until we understand just how deeply in trouble we are…how depraved we are as individuals and as a group, can we see just how much we need God in our lives.  I can face each morning, knowing the above, because of Him.  For those of us who put our faith in Him, we have a hope and a peace the defies most understanding.  We know that this world is in His hands.  And, we know that we are safe as He has paid the price for our poor decisions and deliberately selfish actions.  We now live our lives in thanks to Him!

 

Following Jesus, Literally

Salutations.

In today’s day and age, it seems so much grabs at our attention.  Television, news, commercials, etc.  I see the challenges in myself.  Jesus commanded us to not concern ourselves with the future.  Yet, I do so often.  Whether I worry about my finances, or read reviews to figure out what the next, exciting game I will purchase, I break Jesus’ commands, found in the Sermon on the Mount, in multiple ways. (more…)

Thinking Hard About The Holidays

Yesterday, I was having a discussion with my friend about Christmas celebrations.  I discussed how so many of us actually leave Christ out of Christmas.  As a result, many have a festive, family filled, giving holiday, but, somehow, regulate God to a mere footnote on the whole thing.  This should not surprise us.  After all, most of us actually leave God out of our day to day living completely.  My friend felt I might be overthinking the whole thing.  After all, is it not possible for people just to come together and have an honest, good time without sinning (or worrying about sin?)  The more I thought about it, the more I thought, “No, no it isn’t.”  Here’s why.


candel

In the Old Testament, as most people know, God gave Israelites a list of rules and regulations, summarized in the 10 commandments.  Everyone understood that to break any of these commands would result in offending God and possible punishment.  However, many Israelites came to an assumption based off of these rules.  They incorrectly assumed that following these rules, in and of themselves, made God happy and/or lead to eternal life.

Jesus quickly corrected this during his ministry.  He lashed out at the Pharisees who kept the letter of the law, but completely missed the spirit of the Law.  These men missed the entire point of loving God, and loving their fellow man.  They simply looked after their own self interests by acting as the rule keepers of the people.

Jesus took things one step further.  He constantly challenged people to think about their motives.  He showed that the thought behind something could be just as sinful as the action.  He pointed out that if we express anger at a brother, that betrays the fact that, in our soul, we have committed murder.  If we lust after a woman, we have committed adultery in our hearts.  He basically took commandments, and showed the the heart of the matter, in each case, was a matter of the heart.

One of the largest commandments tells us that we must shun idol worship.

Ex 20.3 You shall have no other gods before Me. 4″You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5″You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God

When I think of the typical American family Christmas gathering, I often see a celebration of family, giving, traditions…but very little focus on God.  We have replaced Him with things that have loose connections to Him and His Spirit, but miss the mark entirely.  In some cases, these elements completely replace Him.  In some other cases, as I mention above, we may mention God, but He is not central to the gathering.  And, yes, I feel that we sin in doing so… as an extension of Exodus 20.3.

holyWhile the commandment warns us not to worship or serve those things that we create, I wonder if the natural, logical extension of this idea is that we sin whenever we fail to give God the praise and glory He deserves in all that we do.  And, should we not take the time to discuss and think through that…especially during the Christmas season?  I believe we should.  And, by failing to do so, in our hearts and with our lips, we have missed a mark.  It is something that I, myself, need to repent of.

Sometimes, I find myself accused of possibly overthinking things.  I get it.  Look, I know it can be challenging to ponder through this stuff.  And, in doing so, one has to wonder if people like me must have too much time on their hands.  I get it.  The pot calling things black needs to be careful.  No one lives a perfect life.  I certainly do not.  But, I believe that we must pursue the truth so that we can better serve the One who gave His life for us.  Only when we truly know and understand truth can we take the first steps towards pursuing Him.  If we stick our heads in the sand, not willing to pursue truth in fear that it may add to the guilt we already carry, we have missed the point.

For the point of doing exercises like this is not to find the magic step that leads us to immediate holy living and qualifies us for heaven. No… we have all sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.  Our fates, sealed, led to hell.  However, Jesus died for us on the cross so that we might experience true forgiveness, through no righteous act of our own, and experience eternity with Him.  For that I am, and will always be, eternally grateful.  And, it is with this heart of love for the one who love me first…that I give everything I possibly can…including dedication of my mind and spirit, to follow and pursue His glory.  I do not discuss this stuff and look for areas of my life that need repentance in order to earn my way into heaven… I do this because I want to as thanks for what He has given to me.

Deep Thinking

Salutations.

After listening to a couple of books from C.S. Lewis, I moved onto another Christian author.  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich provides yet another look into a sharp mind from our rich, Christian heritage.  To my friends who believe that Christians, as a whole, simple accept the tenants of Christian faith, and most other aspects of life on simple faith, well, I encourage you to read about these two men.  Just like atheists, Mormons, Muslims, and others faiths, you can find plenty of people who simple accept what they hear, and a few who have thought over their viewpoints (as well as the opposing points) very thoroughly.

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Brothers Removed by Time

Salutations.

As I continue to plug away at college studies, increased job workload and the constant stream of house chores and errands, I find that my time for creative work eroded away to nothingness.  However, I do continue to find ways to consume entertainment.  Whether I sneak in an hours of game before bed, or I listen to an audio book on the way to work, I find new ways to take my mind off the monotony of the day to day grind.

Image result for mere christianityI mention in my October summary post that I had listened to C.S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters.  Since then, I have listened to another of his books, Mere Christianity.  I also listened to The Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life by Armond Nicholi, which did a great job summarizing many of the contrasting viewpoints of these two great minds.

I cannot recommend these books enough.  The more I listen to C.S. Lewis, the more I’m convinced that we are two brothers, separated by time.  I find his approach to theology, using clear thought, logic and reason, absolutely refreshing in a world so based on emotional reasoning.  Make no mistake, C.S. Lewis’ passion dictates his direction, at times, but he always seeks to get to his conclusions through logic.  I honestly wished I started reading his work earlier.  If he were alive today, I would love to spend time just talking things out with him.

I believe many of my friends would enjoy the last book mentioned above, The Question of God.  The author does a great job of providing two contrasting viewpoints of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud.  For those who do not know, C.S. Lewis started life raised in a religious home, but declared that he believed in no God rather young in life.  Years later, after much thought and reflection, Lewis decided to follow Jesus and became a Christian.  S. Freud, on the other hand, refused to believe in a benign creator his entire life.  The resulting ways that these men thought on important topics provides some very fascinating perspectives on topics that most of try to avoid or ignore.  Yet, we would do well to take the necessary time to find the truth on such matters as they can have such a profound impact on ourselves, and those around us, as seen in this book.

How about you?  Have you read any books lately that make you feel so connected to the author, that you feel you are siblings removed by time?  Have you read any of these books?  Share your thoughts below!  I would love to hear from you.

 

We Are Not Home Yet

“Where is the hope? I meet millions who feel despair by all of the decay around us. Where is the hope? The hope that each of us have, is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that’s where our hope is in this country. And that’s where our hope is in this life.” – Chuck Colson

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