Tag Archives: C.S. Lewis

My Addiction – Pride

Don’t run with scissors. Play nice. Don’t throw rocks. Eat your vegetables.  Don’t talk back! Sin was simple back in kindergarten, and so was expiation of that sin. Break a rule, you get a whoopin’. Very simple.

By my teenage years we added Don’t Do Drugs. Of course back then, in the Sixties, only the hippies and un-American types did drugs . . .or so I was told.

Becoming a “Church People”

I ran across many kinds of church people as I grew older. Many had an enhanced list of things that were bad — and things that were also bad.  This was not ALL church people, but a lot of church people.  I remember when I first learned that dancing was a no-no and that things as playing cards, gambling, movies, rock music, and beer greatly displeased God. This was all very disconcerting because at age 18 I liked all that stuff – a lot!

After graduating from college I was swooped up by the grace and mercy of God. I decided that I needed to become one of those church people. In the process, I started to try to differentiate between church offenses, cultural taboos, morals, preferences, bad habits, social gaffs, and what God actually views as SIN. It can get confusing.

I read my Bible daily. I studied the Scriptures and prayed for insight. Mostly, I devoured the words of Jesus Christ. The beauty of God’s love and the antidote for sin was simple. A theme emerges in Scripture, Christ died for our sins, and arose from the dead for that we might have life – FREEDOM.

Meanwhile I sat in Sunday School classes, listened to sermons and at first grew my own long list of what I call church people sins. Continue reading My Addiction – Pride

The Hunger Games meets Screwtape

Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear… looks ahead.”  Screwtape

The Hunger Games and Screwtape

Max McLean as C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape"

Recently I saw an amazing performance of the classic C.S. Lewis novel, The Screwtape Letters. The play, brilliantly performed by award winning actor Max McLean, follows the schemes and thinking of a demon named Screwtape. The story is based on a view of spiritual warfare from a Hell’s point of view as told to a Junior Devil.

So, a few days later as I sat in the movie theater watching The Hunger Games, I was thinking of the psychology of evil. More particularly, the lies and temptations wrought by the Evil One.  I couldn’t help but view President Snow as the Devil himself, a schemer.

The strategy of Screwtape and the artfully manipulative plans of President Snow seemed eerily similar. Much as Screwtape offered careful advice to his protégé, Wormwood, so too we see President Snow mentoring his henchman, Seneca. In a scene that was particularly “Screwtape-ish” we hear the genius of evil:

“…why do we have a winner?” President Snow asks Seneca.  Then Snow answers his own question, “Hope.”

Hope?” Seneca replies slightly bewildered.

Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous,” Snow declares.

Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it,” Snow warns.

I wanted to stand up during the movie and yell, “Did you hear that!”

I wanted to stop the movie and talk about hope and fear. Moreover, I wanted to yell at the Devil and say, “You can’t contain it!  You tried. You scattered the followers of Jesus Christ and watched them hide in fear on that dark Friday. You laughed when they brutally executed Him and put Him in a tomb. Ha! You thought you had contained Hope. You lose!” Continue reading The Hunger Games meets Screwtape

Stories Written in Blood

by Josh Bottomly

Not long ago my wife, Amy, posted a picture of my night stand on her blog.

It was a picture of the books propped up on my stand.

From left to right.

Tim Keller’s The Reason for God.

Abraham Heschel’s God in Search of Man.

C.S. Lewis’s Quotables.

Eugene Petersons translation of the Bible, The Message.

And, N.T. Wright’s Matthew for Everyone.

An anonymous blogger saw this picture and posed this question directly to me (and indirectly to all Christians):

Why do so many Christians just read Christian books?

My first mental response was of course immature, arrogant, condescending, and reactionary:

How dare you try and pigeonhole!  I peruse the Fiction and Literature section at Barnes and Noble more frequently than I do the Spiritual Devotion section.

I have a undergraduate and graduate degree in English literature.

You name a classic or contemporary author, and I’ll bet I have studied him or her.  Shakespeare.  Check.  O’ Connor.  Check.  Camus.  Check.  Kerouac.  Check.

But later, after I had calmed down, I sat down to think a bit about that anonymous person’s question.  It’s an appropriate question, really.  And it was probably not meant to stir up conflict. But conversation.

So after some reflection, this is how I responded to this blogger.

Simply put: I’m interested in reading any story that is written in blood.

Take East of Eden by John Steinbeck, for example. Now that’s a book written in blood. Who of us hasn’t felt an acute sense of displacement? It’s not that we are living in the wrong place; just the wrong way. Or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.  I’ve got a son now and the thought of dying for Silas – not a iota of fear. But the thought of Silas having to live beyond my dying love – nothing but fear.

Any story then that struggles with what it means to be human, what it means to walk upright in a bent world, what it means to live within tensions and questions and doubts – that’s a story I want to read and participate in because it is written in the author’s blood. Whether it is written by a Christian. Or agnostic. Or atheist. Or Buddhist. Or Muslim.  Because all truth is God’s truth.  And part of the theology of common grace includes the animating belief that when we tell the truth about our experience of being human, regardless of our “worldview” or religious belief system, somehow, in some mysterious way, a “gleam of the evengelium”, as J.R.R. Tolkien argued, shines through.

J.R.R. Tolkein, smoking his famous pipe.

So I pose this contagion of questions for you to ponder – Christian or not:

What books have you read that are written in blood?

What stories have spoken and resonated with your deepest humanity?

What narratives have shaped the way you understand the narrative we live in?

No doubt, I’m always looking for a good read. And by good, I mean a story where the author simply has the courage as Fredrick Buechner puts it,  to “open a vein.”