Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Problem of Pain: 6

Out of all of the readings, I think that this was my favorite, the one that I could most closely relate to. I liked talking about God as a parachute in our lives. He is ever and always present, but we only like to pull him about when we are about to crash. I have to admit that I am a victim of this too. When things are going perfect in my life I push God away, but the second that things start going wrong I call on God and ask why He could do this to me. God wants us to talk to him when things are good and when things are bad. It is so hard for us to turn our thoughts to God when things are good. We become so quick to point out what's wrong and not to stop and thank God for what's right. 

C.S Lewis used the analogy of a violin. The best brand of violin that you can buy is one that is made from wood that is grown in the most harsh conditions. But because that wood has stood up to so much the sound it lets off is beautiful. The most beautiful sounds come from the wood that grows in the most painful conditions. We need to be that piece of wood. God puts us through had things in our life so that we can be beautiful, so that we can give off His light and be the most beautiful sounding creatures. 

We have a personal relationships with God as our father. It is so easy for us to tune Him out and focus on other worldly things. God must be able to feel pain and suffering because otherwise he doesn't know what we mean when we cry out to him. When we say, "God help me, this hurts." God is able to relate to our pain because at one point or another He felt it too. 

Man or Rabbit

This reading is talking about whether or not someone can lead a good life without following Christ. Its important to know what it means to lead a "good" life. If you were to consider a good life to be one that allows you to be a friend, have a job, have a family, and abide by the laws, then yes, one can lead that kind of life without being a christian. However, I feel like if you have so many blessings in your life you have to believe. If you are considering a "good" life to be one that requires someone to live with morals and has a good soul then it is almost impossible. Having God in your life and believing in Him makes a huge difference in the way you live your life. God gives you a sense of purpose, you have the right intentions for doing things.

This past summer, when I was working with a special needs day camp, one of the boys drown during free swim. It was at this point that I really started to think about God present in our lives. I don't know how someone can go day to day and not believe. You see someone's life be taken from them and you have to wonder to yourself why this happened. Without God in your life you would be left in question about what happens next, but being a christian gives us knowledge that God has a plan for us and that when we die, it is only for a little while. So all in all I think that it is possible to live your live and not believe but it is a bland life. Following christ gives you a sense of purpose and encouragement. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Abolition of Man: Chapter 3

I thought that this chapter was easier to understand than the others. I found it to be a little scary to think that what we call, "Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over the other men with Nature as its instrument." Its very weird to think that the man's power is controlled by something/someone else. We have gotten to the point in time when we think that what we think is really ourselves thinking is not. 

In this reading Lewis talked about some of the key points that is leading to the downfall of man in the universe. Men are falling away from the standard of justice, the Tao, to a new type of man, a man that has claimed everything and almost conquered himself. Man has found ways to defy gravity, generate specific life, and conquer death, this is leading man to conquer over nature. Lewis explains this as man deceiving himself. With these scientific advances over nature becomes a "power exercised by some men over other men with nature as their instrument." This is leading to man's domination of some men over other men.  These attitudes result in a loss of values and a loss of ideals of Tao.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I really liked this piece of writing, I found that it put into perspective the difference between "falling in love/being in love" and "having a sexual relationship." I liked what Lewis' take on love and the romantic love. I that that it was a good point made at the begining when Lewis said that, "men are more prone to feeling a mere sexual appetite for a woman and then gone at later stage to 'fall in love' with her." I agree with this a lot. I have found over the past few years that men are always viewed to be visually stimulated, it is easy to understand that Lewis would describe men as first being attracted to women in a sexual way. It is a while after that they will actually take time to fall in love with the person as a whole, for who she is, and what she stands for.

I liked when Lewis talked about the sand castle being washed away. When he compared the ocean flooding toe castles to "Eros" and entering our lives one by one and overtaking the sexual lives of humans. I really like when he talks and uses metaphors because it makes things easier to understand. Especially when he talked about keeping an empty cigarette carton. I was just able to relate to the fact that no guy that is just looking for sex is going to stay and wait around to fall in love. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Plantinga Chapter 3

I remember when I was in catechism class learning about the Fall. We learned about why and when it happened, and the final out come, which were a broken live for us today. I think that learning about the Fall is something that we need to be constantly reminded of because today it is so easy to believe that everything is good on earth. We have become de-sensitized to evil in the world around us. It so important that we stop and look around us. We need to accept that we are living in a broken, sinful, and fallen world. God made it that way.

I also liked what Plantinga had to say about trust. I have such a hard time trusting people. I always want answers right away and an explanation for everything. This chapter reminded me that we need to trust God. God will provide, he WILL protect us from all evil and harm that is in this fallen world. It is hard for me to take this in however. I find myself asking, If God loves us so much why did he let this happen? Why did he allow sin to become a part of us? Even though God made all this happen he STILL loves us and cares for us.  He wants us to trust Him and believe that He will care for us. Plantinga sums this up when he says, "God hates sin not because it violates law, but also because it violates trust." If we just trust God, we can have to comfort and peace that He will take care of us. 

Plantinga Chapter 5

Plantinga brought up a point that I have always struggled with, calling for God's kingdom. Plantinga says that, "When our earthly kingdoms have had a good year, we don't necessarily long for the kingdom of God to break in. We like our own set up just fine... God's kingdom has always sounded like good news for people whose lives are bad news." I can relate to this quote in many ways. When my life is going well and everything is just as I wished it would be and couldn't ever imagine anything better, I tune out the call for God's kingdom. The second that my life takes a toll, I am calling on God asking, "why me" "why now". This reading made me stop and realize that I need to be continually calling on God's kingdom.

There was a section in this reading that talked about kingdoms within kingdoms. Sometimes when we get busy and wrapped up in our lives we place our earthly kingdoms above God's kingdom. When we are here at college, we have a kingdom here... far away from home and what we are used to. From there we move onto becoming head of households, and professionals which expands our kingdom even further. When this happens and our kingdom gets so large its easy to have that be our only sacred place. Plantinga says, "thats why its so devistating to be raped, or bulldozed out of your house. People in these circumstances lose a big part of their kingdom. They feel as if they've been deposed." We need to see that living in God's world depends not only on taking responsibility for our own kingdoms we have built and learn to preserve it and honor God's kingdom too. 

Learning In-War-Time

I really liked this writing from Lewis. I was able to relate more to what he was talking about than the other readings. My favorite part of this reading was, "Thus we may have a duty to rescue a drowning man, and perhaps, if we live on a dangerous coast, to learn life-saving so as to be ready for any drowning man when he turns up.... The rescue of drowning men is, then the aduty worth dying for, but not worth living for." This summer I worked with a special needs day camp. One day when I was lifeguarding for the class a boy drown. From here on out my life changed. I really liked that Lewis said that saving someone is worth dying for, but not living for. It is not our duty to live just so that we can save a drowning many, but if it is our duty to be called to something like that then it is worth dying for.  We were not created just to save someone, or just to fight for our country.

Another part of this reading that really stuck out to me was doing things for the glory of God. Col. 3:23 has always been one of my favorite verses to refer to, it says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." God put us on this earth and whatever kind of work we are doing, we should remember that we are working for Him, and not for the glory of ourselves. Sarah brought up in class that right now we are in college, and it is our job to be in college and learn and work. We need to throw our entire being into our studies and experiences at school to glorify God. When the times comes that we become nurses, businessmen, teachers etc. we need to use the skills God has given to us and glorify Him for the ability to do all things. If we do not take this time and learn and educate ourselves then we are setting ourselves up for failure, and we are not ready to defend ourselves. It is important to be a well rounded person and educate ourselves on other peoples religions or beliefs. Everything that we do and learn must be done for the GLORY of God. 

The Poison of Subjectivism

In this article Lewis talks about our morals and how they change. One of the main fears of Lewis is that our good intentions will turn into bad decisions and lead to bad results. Subjectivism talks about the idea that the morals we hold throughout our lives will change. These morals will change because of different situations we are put in or simply because we are at a new place in our lives. Sometimes, we as humans come up with new morals and set new standards for our lives which continue to evolve. Throughout the reading Lewis argues that there is some kind of high bar that we hold our standards to, and compare our interpretations of our morals to. The question then becomes what interpretation is correct, and how do we know which standard is a health choice to follow. 

In the reading we were introduced to Lewis' main arguments. Lewis first states that we as a human race can not just invent a new moral and get people to live by it. This would be adding morals to the natural law and we have no say in what the natural law says. Lewis then talks about what would happen if we tried to create a new moral. Each time someone tries to bring in a new moral, its really just taking one moral that already exists and puts it at a higher place than the natural laws. When we do this, the human race looses it sense of diversity and become stuck on one moral which can then lead to the placement of one race over another depending on what you believe. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mere Christianity

Reading Mere Christianity made me think a lot about what kinds of morals we live by. There is such thing as a moral law, and in one way or another we all follow some unwritten rules. I liked how Lewis compared these moral laws to playing the piano. There are somethings that can be rationalized, like if you play all the notes at the same time on the piano it sounds bad, but when certain things are played at the right time with other notes it sounds good. The law of nature tells us that sometimes things are wrong, thats when the notes sound bad together. 

Lewis also talked about the impulses in our lives. We all live our lives with impulses or instincts. Our impulses may at sometimes be right but its how we act upon those impulses  and determine the moral code of it. In class the example was brought up of a father wanting to kill someone who hurt his son, but acting upon that feeling is not the right answer. We need to leave things up to God to kill that person or not. If we find ourself with two instincts that are in conflict, it is up to us and God to decide between the weaker one, a lot of the time we feel like it is our duty to act and make the right decision but we need to remember to let God in.

Back to the metaphor of the piano, you can't just pick up on one feeling or instinct, just like you can't just listen to a song only by hearing one note. You need to look at the bigger picture in the whole situation, just like you need to listen to the whole piece of music in order for it to sound good. So many of us just focus on the differences between religion practices, Mere Christianity reminds us that we need to look at the whole picture and recognize our similarities as a whole christian family.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Show and Tell

Team Hoyt 

This clip made me think of our longing and hope for God when we feel like we can't do it on our own. This father carried his son through an IronMan triathlon, just like God carries us through our hardest times too. We long for His comfort and support.  

Screwtape Letters (XII)

 The Screwtape Letters made me think a lot about the way I have viewed the devil growing up. I have never thought of what the devil is doing when I sin. In this reading we were able to begin to understand how the devil sees sin. All my life I have given into little temptations that I thought were not a big deal, I rationalized my sins because I know that God will always forgive me. What I failed to realize is that the devil is taking joy in this same temptation that I am giving into that Wormwood fed to patients.

The devil knows where my weaknesses lay. He knows us better that we choose to assume that he does. If we do not have God as a part of our lives, we can not stand up to the devil and resist what he tempts us with. We have become wrapped up in our own lives that it is so easy for the devil to get us on his side. Without God we are nothing and we need to stop being caught up in our own lives and focus on what is important. 

Finally, I realized reading this that we have come to the point where we rationalize and justify our sins. I know that there have been many times where I know what I am doing is wrong but I think to myself,  "its okay, God won't stop loving me, I will still be a christian, I just wont ever do this again."  Reading the screwtape letters I realized that this is the devil working in me. Each time that I allow myself to give into the devil is just making it easier for me the next time. If I continue on this path, I will lead myself away from my faith and this is a dangerous road. It is at this point when we being to ask where God is when we need him. We need to stop listening to the devil and start following God. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eleanor Rigby

I think that this song relates a lot to the church today. The song talks about lonely people. There are so many people today in the church who attend as a part of a routine. The church has lost its sense of purpose. People within the church and the church itself have not done a good job of reaching out and bringing God to people in their lives. We need to be able to find the church and glory in the smallest things that we do. People are constantly keeping on keeping on and have lost the magic of events and lost the feeling of God in their lives. We are the church, and we are the people who need to be bringing God back into the community and creating community within our lives and others around us. 

Plantinga Chapter 2

Reading this chapter about creation felt very repetitive from prelude. The way that the writing talked about God being perfect and creating everything perfect rose an interesting point. We started talking about how God could have created the devil if everything He created. Some people think that things are born evil because they have no presence of God in their lives. Other people say that things can really be born with evil in them. C.S Lewis said that, "Evil is like a parasite, it is there only because there is good for it to spoil and confuse." The only cure for this evil is the blood of the lamb. This quote is vital for us to remember because a lot of the time we forget that God has done everything for a purpose and we need Him in our life to pull out the evil. 

I really liked the the quote from Hopkins. The quotes says that its just not through prayer but through the work that we do that brings glory to God. I think that we need to to live each day doing things that give Him the glory and not just for our benefit. We have become so wrapped up in our own lives and we have forgotten that God is the one who created it all. I think that we need to put God back into our lives and remember during each activity we partake in each and every day, we are able to do it through and because of Him. 

The Weight of Glory

Reading the Weight of Glory, I was able to relate to what he was talking about. There have been so many instances where I have found myself asking what God can do for me, and how He can make himself more present in my life. I learned that what I fail to realize is that I can not always be waiting around for God to become present in my life, instead I need to seek God and give Him the glory. When you ask God to become present in your life and for Him to teach you, He WILL aid you. 

We have become content with our own lives, we have learned to settle with what we are given. We fail to realize that there is something so much greater just waiting for us. Lewis described in this writing how we see heaven and how we think heaven is going to be. Heaven is always thought of as jewels, gold, and riches. We learn that heaven is going to be something more than we can even imagine. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our English Syllabus

Reading 'Our English Syllabus' was very interesting to me.  I talked about this topic in high school in my English class. I feel like today, schools have prepared students for a standardized test and not life. Education has come to the point where it has lost its purpose. Going to school has become routine, each day we are spoon fed information so that we can pass the test, get the job, and make the grade. I feel like we have gotten to the point where we are going to school because we have to, not because we want to learn. We are going to school so that we can get the specific education to get the job we want. 

The topic of liberal arts schools was brought up in class and the point was made that these schools try to encourage students to have a more broad education. I think that this statement is in many ways true. I think that it is important to know more than just everything about a specific topic.  Calvin college provides opportunities to explore and forces you to learn, it is necessary evil. I think that its really important to broaden your horizons of information. Like Adriena said, "If you are an art major and you have to take a biology class, you shouldn't drag through the class, you should stop and look at the art of the biology. If you are an engineer major, you should look at the way systems work and find interest in that." We shouldn't be the dumb animals that only work to work, and go to school to learn one subject. We should be the people that are able to find a balance, we should find that place for leisure and to see the beauty in things that we learn. 

We are still being spoon fed information and trying to be pulled into certain areas of education. We are still being told what to learn and what classed to take.  In preschool and elementary school you are free to explore and learn, you learn and experience new things by playing. When we get to middle school and college we are dragged along, told what classed to take, are put under so much pressure to make the grade. It is at this point you are just doing things to get things done, and you don't necessarily want to engage in the learning. However, in grad school you really start to learn along side your teacher and really being to love learning. We need to start to love learning for what its worth and not for the job we hope to obtain. 

The Logical Song

I think that this song reflected very well on the way most of us live today. The beginning talked about when the writer was growing up and things were so easy and life seemed wonderful. I can relate to this in so many ways. When I was in elementary school it was so easy to go day to day. No matter what you were friends with everyone, there was no gossip or drama, you only fought when someone took your toy or didn't sit by you on the bus. Life in this time was 'joyful and playful' just like the writer states.

The next lines say, "Then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, responsible, practical. And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable, clinical, intellectual, cynical." I think that at one time or another everyone experiences this feeling. Parents send us off to college in hopes of their children finding a career and obtaining a solid education. To learn how to grow into responsible people. I don't think that this is completely intentional, but parents do subtly want their children to be sent off to come back wiser and smarter.

The next stanza talks about the loss of individualism appearing throughout society. We are in a constant struggle to find out who we are, and the things we have learned. It is so easy for us to go day to day and simply run through the motions and do things that we have been taught to do. Like someone mentioned in class, its like C.S Lewis' quote when he talks about us being too easily pleased. We have come to the point where we settle for little, and we let things go by and accept what everyone else is.

When the writer says, "Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal" they are relating to what we learned in 'Bulverism'. We are stuck in a constant struggle to speak what we feel and not be judged. Talking to others with different opinions leads us to always debating who is right and who is wrong, trying to get the other to take our side. We stop thinking for ourselves and start thinking and believing what others do.

I think that this song was an eye opener and slap in the face to what we are all facing today. We are lost in a constant struggle for finding who we are but can not ever find our true self due to our peers influencing us. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

We Have No 'Right to Happiness'

Believe it or not, but this piece of writing plays a large role in the world today. So many people walk around with their head held high thinking that they have a right to happiness. I have to admit that I too have this attitude. It is important to stop and think about how far this 'right' is to be taken. We have the right to moral rights, and legal rights, but a fine line must be drawn between the two. We need to be able to set boundaries when we are using our right to happiness. Lewis talks about the difference between the two. Just because we have a right to be happy doesn't mean we have the right to commit suicide, or lead someone to commit suicide. 

Our happiness is NOT about us. We are not able to control our circumstances, its God's will. We have the opportunity to decide where and how we are going to apply God to our life situations, but we need to remember that our purpose is to praise him, not to be happy. God has let us be happy through His grace. In order use this gift of happiness we must remember to not let others influence the way we feel, when we let others influence us our happiness is beyond our control.

In class we talked about happiness and marriage. The right of happiness plays a large role in how a marriage will work, happiness in a marriage is our choice. If we do not get up each and every day and make the decision to to happy and stay happy and in love, then we wont. Love leads to a marriage and you continue to love your spouse because you are married and happiness follows. However, we need to be careful about entering into an unfaithful marriage. An unfaithful marriage can lead to unfaithfulness in other areas of our lives such as work, friends, and school. We need to use our 'right to happiness' with caution. 

Engaging God's World Chapter 1

Chapter one of Plantinga's book talks about longing and hope. These two things are topics that I would have never related to one another. However, just like bread goes with butter, longing goes with hope.  We as humans, have a hard time staying content in our present lives. We are always longing for things to go back to the way that things used to be, or a specific place, or even a certain season. There are cases where we are longing for the past, when we want to return to a point in our lives where things were happy, and we were content, but we can not change what has happened in the past nor can we return and relive our past. Plantinga points out that we need to stop yearning for things that are unreachable and events that have taken place. We must have a heart of that like a child, and yearn for the future, and not the past. An example was given in class that our lives are like plowing a field, you NEED to look ahead and not behind you or your lines will not be straight. The devil loves to show us our sins and keep us dwelling in the past, but what we really need is for God to step into our lives and refocus our attention on the present and future. 

Plantinga also talk about nostalgia. This has become a problem. We start to remember and dwell upon the best part of our lives. It keeps us from living in the present because we are too busy longing for the past and to be living in a time where things were so good. It is always the past that keeps us from living in the future. Instead of living like this we need to live with shalom. Shalom should be the center of our lives, we should being hoping for peace within our lives instead of hoping for other worldly things. We need to question what is wrong in our longings that is keeping us from finding shalom. 

Finally, a point that really struck me was when we talked about longing for death. The devil loves this. We really need to stop and think about why we long for death. When a person really wants to die, it is the point where all the longing of the past, present, and future come together and gather into a huge ball. When our lives become this tangled it is then that God really wants us. It is at this point in our live that God wants to help us, where he can really use us. We need to stop longing for death and start understanding that God wants us for him. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009


In the article 'bulverism' C.S Lewis teaches us about why we need to search for the real truth. I noticed that Lewis talked a lot about how we as humans assume that the person we are arguing with is automatically wrong. We try and prove that we are right and the other is wrong. Bulverism is apparent all over the world today, and is near impossible to get rid of. If we want to find the real truth we must stop trying to be right all the time. Lewis says in this passage that Bulverism eliminates true reason. Because people have become biased which takes away from our humility. It takes a lot of humility to accept that we may be wrong, and once we finally accept that we have the potential to find truth. It is within our human nature to think that we are right and others are wrong, however we need to become humble enough to know and accept that higher educated people many know more than we do and we need to accept that we are not always right. 

Just like we have flexors and extensor muscle in our bodies, we also have people who play those roles in our lives. It is easier to flex than extend, it is a natural instinct to curl or flex our bodies into a fetal position when we are hurt. Flexors are those people who make us feel good about about ourselves. However, if we need to stand up to people in our lives and stand straight we need to have extensors as a part of our lives. Extensors will help us to accept the blow and criticism. Things that hurt us only make us stronger and teach us to stand a little straighter, but we need to learn to accept humility before we can face our extensors. 

After the class discussion on bulverism I began to think about my life and people around me. Being judgmental has become more and more apparent today. When we begin to judge someone we are really using the theory o bulverism, we automatically assume that the person we are judging is wrong, or not good enough. Not all of this judging is spoken but even a simple glance at someone and thinking negative things about them, we are using bulverism and beginning to assume that we are right and superior to our peers. 

Meditation In A Toolshed

In this piece of writing, C.S Lewis compares the way we look at events and objects that appear within our everyday life to a beam of light. While standing in a dark toolshed, he looks at the crack and sees a beam of light coming in the room. We learn from this that there is more than one way to see things, you can either look along the beam of light, or you can look at the beam of light. Looking at the beam of light is an objective and psychological way of seeing things, Lewis explains this was seeing the light from the outside and its shape and brightness. However, when we look along the beam of light, we are looking at things in a more experimental ways.  Lewis explains this perspective as things standing in the way of the beam, like a tree along the beam.

Seeing this beam of light, and meditating on it Lewis says that we have to see things from many different angles before we are able to understand that which we are observing or feeling. Lewis uses the example of being in love. Looking "along" the beam, you must have been in love at one point in order to really understand what it feels like. When you are in love you can feel the love and the pain and love entails. When you are looking "at" the beam of light in love, you see the psychological happenings, such as the neurons and hormones.  In order to fully understand the things that people are feeling you must look "along" their issue instead of just looking "at" the issue and try to figure out what the person in feeling or experiencing. 

Lewis also touches on how we need to stop brow-beating. When we engage in this activity we think that we are right just based upon our experiences. It is hard to understand what a person is feeling just by looking at them. Some people continually attempt to go back and understand what things mean or question why someone is feeling the way that they are. We need to understand that there are other ways to see things, and we need to take both into account.