Tag Archives: CS Lewis

The logic of change

20 Jul

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature.... Romans 1:20 (NLT)

During the summer I like to arise at 5:30.  After feeding the cats, scooping poop and making some salty hot water infused with lemon juice, I head out on an early morning walk in our Smoky Mountain cove, the cup of water in hand.  The birds herald the new morning and the occasional distant cockle-doodle-doo of roosters comforts me, a souvenir from living in the Cotswolds as a young adult.

This morning, already past mid-July, I notice the sky is still dark.  I can’t see my zucchini plant well enough to spot any growing squash.  Why just a month ago, on the Summer Solstice, we pointed out to each other the most easterly spot along our mountain ridge where the sun was setting.  Now four weeks later, the sunsets mark a new direction, toward mid-winter, on the other end of the distant ridge.

Conclusion?  Nothing in nature stays static.  I know this, but I feel surprised.

The larger meaning relates to God.  If the natural world which He formed is not immobile, then neither is He static. Yes, His character and nature are unchangeable.  His qualities and attributes remain 100 % pure.  But He is always at work, on the move, carrying out His eternal purposes planned long ago before the ‘Let there be’s’.

I boldly cheer my heart.  “Maria, don’t fret.  That impossible situation that looks immovable.  It’s not.  God IS on the move, as CS Lewis penned about Aslan.”

My thoughts turn toward seeing this as a logical syllogism, reassuring me:

Premise 1 – All of God’s creation, visible and invisible, is constantly changing.

Premise 2 – This particular situation with a loved one is part of God’s creation.

Conclusion – Change, visible and invisible, is happening in this need.

And besides praying and trusting and watching for God to work, I don’t have to DO anything.   The Bible gives me plenty of assurance that this is how our God acts.

King Jehosophat (870-849 BC) prayed for change in circumstances threatening the extinction of his kingdom.

2 Chronicles 20:12 For we are powerless ….We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

And God answered his plea as recorded in verses 15-17:

 And he (an inspired prophet) said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.  Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel.  You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

And God DID act, to wipe out the enemy.  In the face of certain disaster.

 

 

 

 

Blue-haired old ladies or reasoning from experience

5 Oct

 

mimi-with-blue-hair-and-maria-age-8  I was at my hairdresser the other day and our conversation turned to her many regulars, mostly old ladies who come weekly for a wash and a set.  I told her about Mimi, my grandmother, and her blue hair.  How she never seemed to be pleased with the color each time she came home from the beauty shop.

I then casually asked Lisa, “You probably don’t even know about blue hair for little old ladies!”  She came back right away with, “Oh, yes I do!  In fact, I regularly have blue-haired elderly clients.”

After recovering from my shock that blue-haired OLD ladies still existed, I decided to spring that news on my middle school students.  My ‘show and tell’ venture, using the above picture, brought many questions.

I think because I could produce a photo, no one boldly proclaimed, “Well, I’ve never seen a blue-haired little old lady.  I don’t believe you!”

But that is exactly how most people identify truth in our culture today.  Unless they have personal experience of something, or have heard about it from their friends and contacts, they don’t believe it.

Kind of arrogant, don’t you think?

What makes someone think that he can trust his experience and personal knowledge enough?  Does not that seem a bit presumptuous to dare to declare a universal truth, one that applies across the board?  Are you that infallible?

In logic, there are statements or premises that, if true, apply to all members of the subject of the premise.  We call that a ‘universal’. An example is:

  • All men are mortal

If this statement is true, then every member of the ‘man’ family must be mortal.

If this feature does not apply to every single unit of the subject, then at most one can say:

  • Some men are mortal

The same logic laws apply to the negative versions of these statements:

  • No men are mortal is a universal assertion
  • Some men are not mortal is a particular premise

I’ve noticed recently that a lot of us are relying on self-centered sloppy thinking in making truth claims. Consider the following types of generic statements:

  • “I’ve never heard of X.  I just can’t believe X exists.  For surely, if it did, then I would have encountered some mention of it?”
  • “No one I know of thinks that.  I don’t believe it.”

That’s as ridiculous as us saying, ‘I’ve never experienced echolocation (bees use of magnetic cues to travel), so I don’t believe in it.’

Or, ‘I’ve never seen God, so He isn’t real’.  Allegedly one of the Soviet cosmonauts boasted like that upon returning from orbit.

And just this morning I read a Tim Keller quote.  He’s pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan: “Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one.”

As our American culture polarizes more, may we be slow to proclaim these sweeping universal generalizations with a tone of authority and pursue the more humble reasoning of the particular.

I don’t want to be like the little boy in CS Lewis’ mud pie example, taken from his essay The Weight of Glory:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

 

 

Logical Gal – different ways to understand the Bible

13 May

Different churches may claim to be ‘Bible-based’, but what do they actually mean?  As an evangelical Christian, I have probably assumed ‘Bible-based’ to indicate explicitly that a church orients all its beliefs and practices to what is written in the Bible.

Bible

That’s a dangerous assumption! Imprecise, vague terms often allow misconceptions and illusions to grow.  I was helped the other day listening to a well-spoken scholar consider the Supreme Court’s April 2015 oral arguments in the case for same-sex marriage. He pointed out the peril of assuming that a term means the same to the other person as it does to you.  The prompt for Al Mohler was a New York Times editorial written by a Yale Law School professor. Transcript of discussion

The professor asserted and partially argued that America has already shifted her beliefs toward supporting same-sex marriage. He rested his case in part on the nature of the ‘amicus briefs’ submitted by major players in America, to include prominent Jewish and Christian denominations.

Mohler quoted from the law professor’s piece in the NY Times where he claimed that even major ‘Bible-based’ denominations support the federal legalization of same-sex marriage.  At this point, Mohler took the time to look at the phrase ‘Bible-based’.  He modeled what all thinking and reasoning people SHOULD do.  And that is to ask the simple but crucial clarifying question, “What do you mean by ‘Bible-based’?

Here is where I was helped.  Mohler pointed out that there are several ways of being ‘Bible-based’.  He explained that liberal Christians can still claim to base their churches on the Bible because they mean:

  • the Bible to be a useful and interesting collection of stories, myths, fables, explanations
  • the Bible to be a repository of traditions

Evangelical Christians, on the other hand, believe:

  • the Bible to be the true and intentional Word of God.  And as such we, His people, do not have the option of discounting God’s Word or explaining it away. Yes, the Bible contains stories and explanations and describes traditions.  But the stories are what CS Lewis calls ‘true myths’.  They are myths because they contain powerful symbols, but they are also true.  For a short explanation, click here

What’s the bottom line regarding this distinction?

One – we must always be alert to ask questions when we listen to someone (stopping to interact with the person talking to us, or pausing to consider ourselves – ‘what might he mean by XYZ?  What are the possibilities?’)

Two – Christians who believe the Bible to be the very words, beliefs, views, counsel of God MUST use what God says as our measure of everything else.  If God defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman, then it is so.  He IS the author of the Book, hence His authority trumps ours.

Logical Gal asks You, the readers, what You want

19 Jun

June 2013

About a year ago I started to blog around questions that could use some CLEAR THINKING.  These topics ranged from controversies in every day contemporary American life to deeper more lasting philosophical and religious issues.   My theme was ‘Surprised by Logic’ – a take off of CS Lewis’ book  Surprised by Joy.

I had been truly amazed at how helpful a tool both informal and formal logic turned out to be.  Hired to impart the basics of civics, US history, government and logic, I had to teach myself the latter my first year in a classical Christian school.  At first it seemed ‘impossible’, but gradually my mind was reshaped and conditioned to…surprise!….think more logically. I discovered first hand how useful mastering a few principles of logic could be to understanding an issue before forming my own view.

After 6 years both teaching and learning in that exceptional hub of education Here’s the link to the school, we moved to Western North Carolina where I am back to imparting ‘just’ French to students.  Not content to drop logic and its practical and empowering application to life, I started to blog.

Now as I approach the 1 year anniversary, I want to canvass you, the reader.  Can you help me and the direction of this blog by answering some of the questions below via the comment section?

Readers' Response

 

  1. What has been the most useful aspect of logic that you have picked up here or had reenforced by this blog?
  2. What questions or kinds of problems in your every day life do you see logic possibly helping?
  3. With whom do you share any of what you read here?
  4. What would you like to see addressed in future posts?
  5. What else should I know?
  6. Who are you? (categories….)

-an adult who once studied logic?

-an adult who never had logic?

-a teen?

-a teacher/guide of any sort responsible for the influence of others’ minds?

 

I thank you in advance for taking the time to add a comment, kind reader!

reader - child with glasses

 

 

Logical gal and the joy of new thoughts

5 May

New thought

I think the reason I love to learn is that I’m convinced of the power of a new thought to change my life.  So I read and listen to podcasts, radar alert to something I didn’t know.  The thought can be something that was totally unfamiliar to me or a concept presented in a novel way.

Recently I was reading a devotional with excerpts from sermons by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  He was a British pastor in the mid 20th century who taught straight Bible truth.

Martyn L-J

His nugget of  insight concerned how Christians are  “to worship in spirit and truth.”  I’ve often chewed on that phrase, wondering what it meant.  Frankly I can’t remember how he explained that concept.  But that wasn’t what struck me.  As an aside, he mentioned that the reason the 3rd person of the Triune God is called the HOLY Spirit is to distinguish Him from other spirits, all of whom are evil.

Pow!  That thought dropped right into a ready mind, already fertilized because I was seeking answers to some questions.  I’ve often wondered why He’s not just called the Spirit, capital S.

Holy Spirit

Knowing not only that , but how He is distinct from all other spirits helps me appreciate Him all the more!  If you read these blog posts, then you know how useful I find distinctions to be!  They help me understand concepts so much more easily.  Thank you Father (and Martyn L-J, for this new thought).

**

The second interesting new idea came from Greg Koukl in his recent Tuesday broadcast – You can find his live webcast show here.

Greg posed a question to a caller that went something like this:

  • Have you ever considered that the angels who fell are not afforded an opportunity to repent?  There is no rescue planned for them.  They blew it when they rebelled against God.  It’s the Lake of Fire for them!

All of a sudden into my mind sprung the image of Jesus on the Cross praying to His Father to be merciful to those putting Him to death:

Father, forgive them

We humans get a break!  We are given a second chance after our rebellion.  God sympathizes with us!  

That boggled me and caused me to feel loved by God.

There are different categories of material and immaterial created beings – the angels and us.  And for the first time, I’m thankful to be human and not an angel, all those powers notwithstanding!  God really does love us humans, as pathetic as we often are! If you’ve ever read or dipped into CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters you’ll recognize that line of thinking in senior demon Screwtape’s letters to his nephew and junior tempter Wormwood.  These demons, aka evil spirits, aka fallen angels cannot fathom God’s focus on the human race.

Screwtape & Wormwood

So there you have it:  2 ideas new to me.  I’ll chew on them for a while and be thankful to God for both His Spirit and His Love.

Question:  What new ideas cause you to thank God?

 

Logical Gal ponders Screwtape…..

18 Nov

As we approach Friday’s interesting anniversary of the deaths of 3 important men (50 years since CS Lewis, JFK and Aldous Huxley departed this life), I have, as a Christian who loves to think, enjoyed a renewed interest in CS Lewis and his many literary and theological works.

His portrayal of devils actively scheming to abort God’s plan to convert humans came to mind this morning in church.  I was in a funk, consumed with unnamed, murky worries of all that I have to do in the next few weeks.  The funny thing is, as I stood OUTSIDE of myself doing some self-chiding for not giving over these worries to God in the form of prayer, my overwhelming feeling was one of laziness.  I just didn’t want to make the effort to actually THINK through what I wanted, necessary work to formulate a measurable prayer!

I was being a LAZY EMOTER!  Just like the people I critique who don’t take the time to formulate REASONS for what they believe.

Rather, I wallow in feelings when I’m too lazy to put them into words.

I don’t respect people on EITHER side of the political or faith spectrum who just assert, badger and resort to fallacies.  That’s pure laziness!

But here I was, this morning, doing the very same thing – to myself!!

Maybe there IS a conspiracy, a plan by Satan and his worker-bee evil spirits (aka – fallen angels) to induce Christians and pre-Christians, NOT to think.

Prayer did get me out of that funk and I wrote about it here at this link:  (My other blog, about God and the Christian life)

My point?  Clear thinking is useful in every domain and should not be limited to just ‘intellectual’ pursuits.  We’re to love God with our minds, too!

Maybe those who emote and resort to name calling and verbal boxing could use some prayer.  And maybe our prayer life could use some thinking!

Logical Gal goes metaphysical

8 Nov

Today is the anniversary of my Grandmother’s birth in 1885.   So I’ve been thinking about icons who have died.  Two weeks from now, many will commemorate the 50th anniversary of CS Lewis’ death.  Much has been written about him in the previous 10 months as we approach 22 November.  And yesterday, I read an essay that discussed……

…Lewis’ commitment to reason among other communicative tools.

But what was intriguing  in the article was CS Lewis’ conviction that meaning precedes reason.  And imagination is necessary to produce meaning.

Access to article

Imagination….meaning…….metaphors…….metanymy:  these serve to make TERMS comprehensive.  And establishing clarity when we use our terms is the first step in logical reasoning.

Metanymy uses a symbol to represent or substitute for a broader concept.  My husband and I used to pick at our youngest son when he would say – “Let’s go get ‘Burger King’!”

He didn’t really mean Burger King food;  he often used BK to indicate fast food.

And you know what a metaphor is.  That’s when you describe something in borrowed language that communicates more vividly the true meaning.   God is our Rock.   That image conveys the idea of strength..immovability…permanence…protection.

Back to CS Lewis:  I think he chose fiction as a way to create mind pictures and understanding of  such concepts as God, eternity, divine love,  human pettiness and the limited vision of men BEFORE he attempted to argue a case.

Maybe we, as well, should spend more time painting a vivid picture of reality before we attempt to persuade someone with sound reasoning. After all, few would disagree that as humans, we are imaginative folk.  From an early age, we seem to long for the heroic amidst challenging life situations.  The enduring need to both create and consume literature, film, and art testifies to our make up.

So, taking our cue from CS Lewis, let us not put the cart before the horse.  Let’s spend enough time communicating well our terms and ideas.