Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So I Thought That Summer Reading Assignments Ended With High School....

I was wrong! Has anyone read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis? If so... let me know what you thought. I read it this summer (because I had to) while I was on a mission trip in Ecuador. I am not sure if it was because I had nothing better to do, but I really enjoyed reading it.

This is what I thought. At least, these are the answers to the questions my school asked me.

What does the “mere” in Mere Christianity mean? What does Lewis mean when he says we live in the rooms, not the hallways?

The word “mere” has many different definitions. The way that I interpreted it was as “pure”. I believe that is how C.S. Lewis wanted his readers to interpret it as well. Christianity is pure, genuine and real. And I think that is what Lewis wanted us to get out of his book. It could also be said that the “mere” in Mere Christianity could mean absolute. Lewis said, “We live in rooms, not hallways”, what he meant by this was that the hallways are the places in our lives that lead us home. The rooms are where we live and where we found Jesus Christ. We live with Jesus.

Lewis is writing an apologia (or a defense- apologetics is a defense of the faith). How does this apologia compare to others you may have read, or other apologist you have heard in a lecture, sermon, or Christian radio program?

C.S. Lewis’s way of writing is nothing like what I am used to reading. This has been one of the first books I have ever read that truly altered my views so drastically. I believe a reason for this is where I decided to read the book. For the past three years, I have been traveling to Ecuador with my church for 2 weeks of the summer. Each summer I bring a book or two with me so I have a place to escape to after a long days work of building houses and using my broken Spanish to ask for water. This summer my book of choice (assignment) was obviously Mere Christianity. Reading it in the barrio of Guasmo Sur gave me a greater sense of the book then it would have anywhere else. I took what Lewis was saying and put it into the lives of the people I was living with in Ecuador. I realize that I didn’t exactly answer the question the way I was asked to, but because that was the first apologia I can remember experiencing, I guess that is the best I can do.

What is the law of human nature and how does it point to theism?

The law of human nature is determining right from wrong, or wrong from right. However, in order to do that a person must know what wrong is so they can do right, or the person must know what right is to do wrong. What isn’t asked is this, who is there to tell the person that right is right and wrong is wrong? This points to theism because nothing is ever set in stone. A person needs to be able to have his or her own opinions, believes, and thoughts. And also be able to understand what is being taught to them.

Its been argued that you can’t prove anything and certainly the very nature of faith is that we trust in something that is “hoped for,” not for something that is a “sure thing” so what is the benefit of reading a book like this? How can it help us in our Christian walk?

One thing that really stood out to me in this book was that C.S. Lewis was once an atheist. Lewis, among with many others, couldn’t wrap around the fact that there are no facts. Luckily, there is a point in most persons lives that they are almost forced to believe. Something will come along and almost alter their way of life. This book has showed me a new way to view faith. And I truly hope it will do the same for my friends that it has done for me. After reading this I recommending it to a few of my friends who are all on the journey of finding their faith. One is an atheist, one a Buddhist, and one a Christian who is trying to become closer to God. I am not in anyway trying to control them; I am just doing all I can to help them find their way. This book can do that.

Name two theological concepts that you understand better having read this book. Explain the new understanding.

There was a chapter in the book titled “Making and Begetting”. I found this chapter extremely interesting. It talked about the differences between making and begetting. I learned that parents beget their children, but God didn’t beget us he made us. God created us in his image. Another concept is fighting temptation. Those who are good are good because they realize what bad is. However, those who are bad hardly know anything about what bad is.

How are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam similar? How are they different than pantheism? Can you think of any movies that espouse a pantheistic worldview?

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all similar because the all share a same main exponent within there believes: God. They believe that God created the Universe. And in turn, created everything in it. However, the pantheistic worldview is that God did not create the Universe; it is that the Universe is God.

Why does Lewis think it is silly to call Jesus a great human teacher?

C.S. Lewis doesn’t see Jesus as a great moral teacher. Lewis believes that it is a silly thing to call him. The author was right. I believe that those who refer to him as “a great moral teacher” should realize that Jesus is so much more. He is our savior. He came to bring back to us what we had lost and forgotten. Sure, he was a great moral teacher, but he wasn’t the only one. There always has been, and always will be one Jesus Christ.

C.S. Lewis talks about morality, but he had a different piety than many of us. He enjoyed “having a pint” in his favorite pub, smoking a pipe with his friends, and he’s not averse to using bits of coarse language to make his point. How does his piety compare with yours and what can these differences teach us about Christian faith?

First off, I do not think that C.S. Lewis was a pious man at all. I believe he was a wise and thoughtful man who found God and decided to help others to do the same. Just because a person a person drinks, smokes, or uses profane language doesn’t make them worse of a person then someone who doesn’t. They can equally share the same qualities, beliefs and virtues as the non-drinker, the non-smoker, and the non- “coarse language” user. And as far as Lewis’s differences and mine go, I am not sure that we have many. While I was reading this book I continued getting more and more into what he was saying and everything just seemed to click. I agreed with most, almost all of what he wrote. I believe that we share similar qualities and I know that I have an equally foul mouth. This shows me that you don’t need to be perfect to be a Christian because, well, no one is perfect. I know that I am not the person that this school wants me to be. But I am well one the way to being the person God has intended me to be.

This school, from the beginning, has opened its doors to students from all faith backgrounds. If you are one of those persons, how does this assignment relate to your own perspective?

I am Christian. I would love to meet someone from this school who isn’t because I think they are going to have a hard time with it. I know I have only been here for I very short time so far but I am already getting the vibe that this is going to be intense. And that, in a way, is what I am looking for. However, I am positive that if I were a non-Christian I wouldn’t come anywhere near a school like this.

EBQ#1 is a code with some of us at Roberts Wesleyan for the question: “So What?” Ask the question about your experience reading Lewis’s book. How does Lewis speak… to you personally… to your attitudes toward…to your attitudes towards education?

I feel as if C.S. Lewis wrote that book for me. He answered many of the questions that have been buried inside me for so long that I think I even forgot that I wanted to know the answers. I am aware that his book is very opinionated, but so am I. That may be why I enjoyed reading this book. The way he spoke in his writing made it simple for me to understand and it truly sunk in. This book opened a few doors for me and got me ready for what is just under the corner. Not only college, life in general. I cannot wait to continue my readings and studies about not only Christianity, all the world religions.

The immediate relevance of this book (to your major, intended profession, interests, etc.) may not readily apparent. This semester’s book, written by a literature professor, is about theology and you may be a pre-engineering major. Why should this book matter to “the rest of us?” What does this assignment tell you about liberal arts?

I am grateful that this book was chosen for this year’s summer assignment because it does relate to me. Not necessarily directly to my major, but to my future. My faith is important to me, that is why I am at this school. I am eventually going into ministry. It may take a while for me to get there but I am going to take my time. This book should matter to “the rest of us” because it is a book that it there to help people to find their own worldview. And no matter what, Christian or non-Christian, everyone has their own personal worldview.

I handed this assignment in 15 days early...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Meg: Glad to see you adjusting to college. And handing something in 15 days early? I thought that was a typo!! :)

    Anyway, you're still in my reader from journalism class so it's been interesting to keep up on your latest. I wish you all the best and know that you will do well. You have it in you. Now it's time for you to discover for yourself just how unique and talented you are.

    Good luck and keep writing.