Mark 9:24

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Chesterton and Lewis show a crossroad

In Pursue Truth on January 31, 2012 at 4:19 am

In reading more and more of Chesterton, and having finished my first time through the bare-bones central corpus of Lewis some time ago, I sometimes come to places where I see apparently inherent contradictions between them. Shallow skeptics of YouTube comment threads would delight in this if they noticed. Alas, it’s left for us to contemplate two truths and their contradiction.

It is not the goal of Christianity to stand for a moment. Rather, our goal to stand forever.

For example, Chesterton wrote:

There are an infinity of angles at which one falls; only one at which one stands.

… while Lewis wrote:

How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been; how gloriously different are the saints.

These men aren’t at all opposed, of course, but if we approach the two men as the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible approaches Holy Writ we will gleefully gape at their nakedness though in fact they are perfectly clothed. After all, our former quote is central to Chesterton’s best, most popular apologetic, titled Orthodoxy, just as our latter quote is central to Lewis’ best, most popular apologetic. In fact, Mere Christianity is probably the most popular apologetic among any works we’d recognize as strictly apologetic. How do we reconcile these giants?

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Duck impressions

In Armchair Apologetics on January 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Suppose you want to prepare to come into the house of a man you’ve adored from afar, a man who all your life you’ve believed to enjoy bird hunting and collecting postage stamps.

Because you know you will meet him someday, you want to know as much about what he likes. These are his defining characteristics, after all — from what could you better discern truths about his character?

St. Francis preached for birds, because nobody else was around.

Even better, with effort and a fair amount of luck, you find the perfect gift — a sheet of rare 9-cent stamps showing mid-Atlantic waterfowl migration. Having deduced something about his sense of humor, you think he’d especially appreciate the printer’s error. How else would he see the Canadian Goose fly north for the winter?

Here’s the trouble: You flavor who he is based on baggage you don’t realize you have. You miss the otherwise obvious clues that show he is instead a fan of the NES game Duck Hunt and rubber line date stamps.

When you meet and this folly is revealed, our gracious host accepts your present and loves you all the more for your effort, but it’s still a major missed opportunity. Knowing you as he does, his relationship with you could not be better; your relationship with him must basically start from scratch. His use of Forever postage snaps into focus, and it dawns on you when an orange gun makes sense.

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With trembling hands, bear the sacred

In Lay Meditations on January 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

Fascinating exchanges have taken up the bulk of my writing lately, and I think it’s well worth at least my time to debrief. This first point involves the question of the two sorts of theist-atheist arguments — first, there’s the popular one which posits shiny Evangelical treacle of mammon against slick Freedom from Religion Foundation trickle of mammon, where the War on Christmas rages on and the causalities are always far fewer than reported.

It is no boastfulness to talk of men as swine, for we must always approach our fellow men as fellow sinners.

Darrow vs. Bryan, reads yesterday’s banner; Dawkins vs. Craig, reads tomorrow’s; and boy, in my twisted imagination do the atheists always get the top billing, because man, they do not always win.

I am utterly uninterested in this hysteria. Clearer arguments come from surprising corners, which is to say between that endangered creature, the real atheist who yet is polite, and we the backwards relics of the Dark Ages, we lockstep sheep and papist throwbacks. We are not utterly opposed: We both, for example, submit to actual science on the question of evolution. Leah of Unequally Yoked, admirably, takes the tack of our latter route, but, dissenting, here writes an atheist with the earnest name of Heartfout, a reader over at a much better blog than mine. Read the rest of this entry »