20 August 2007

The Shocking Alternative

I have a confession to make. I read, Story of a Soul, the autobiographical account of St. Therese, and was simultaneously reading, Surprised by Joy, the autobiographical account of C.S. Lewis' conversion. I made it through Story of a Soul, but ran out of steam (interest?) on Surprised by Joy. I probably stopped at the best part, when he converts, but just couldn't bring myself to read another page. I had read Screwtape Letters, so figured I had to give Lewis another chance. This time I am reading his Mere Christianity. Ah, much better.

The problem I have, maybe from always having read to find the nuggets I was going to be tested on instead of reading for pleasure, is that things that aren't technical just don't stick in my brain. I read people like Chesterton and Lewis, and while I find them very insightful, enjoyable and often times profound, once I set the book down, I couldn't really tell you what I had just read. I really dislike this. I think I have a malformed brain (which is at least saying something...that I have a brain at all!).

Below is a quote from Mere Christianity. Maybe by placing it here, I will retain some of it. I'm only half way done with the book, but there are many great quotes. I'm sure people must've written on why Lewis converted to Christianity but not to Catholicism. Personally, IMHO having only read a very little of Lewis' writings, I think he was a proud Brit and his culture, heritage and nationality stopped him from getting both feet on this side of the Tiber. Just my opinion, not dogma.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either the man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.


Ma Beck said...

One of my most fave parts of MC, which is one of my fave books.
In fact, I just paraphrased it on (I think) Fr. Ray Blake's blog recently.

swissmiss said...

There are many things that are great in MC, just as there are many great things in so much of Chesterton. I wish I could think and write like these guys. Since I had kids, my brain is complete mush...as is most of the rest of me now, too!

Serviam! said...

"I think he was a proud Brit and his culture, heritage and nationality stopped him from getting both feet on this side of the Tiber"

I couldn't agree more. MC is one of those books that just, ... well ..., makes so much sense. Also one of my favorites.

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.”

Now, how do those who refuse to believe slither their way out of the "Liar, Lunatic, or Lord" argument? They form a little group with the like-minded, call themselves the "Jesus Seminar", throw around some $10 words, stress the difference between the “Jesus of History” and the “Jesus of Faith”, and then spend all their time claiming to be trying to reconstruct the “Jesus of History”, while doing everything possible to assert that Jesus really didn't say anything that’s written in the bible. So what was recorded wasn’t said, and what was said wasn’t recorded.


Hidden One said...

I love Lewis's iteration of the 'liar, lunatic, or Lord' dilemma.

(Oh, and incidentally, apparently women actually grow brain cells during pregnancy or some such thing.)

tara said...

After reading C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters--I loved the book--it's my favorite C.S. Lewis book. Since Screwtape was so great, I went out and bought about five more C.S. Lewis books--they were very disapointing. Maybe if I had read some of his other's first I would not of had such high expectations.

swissmiss said...

Ah, you guys are light years ahead of me. Guess I'm coming late to the party! Seems the consensus is that MC is a great book, but other Lewis books may be hit-or-miss. I haven't found Chesterton to be this way, but can't really remember much of his stuff either ;}

HO: I don't know if women grow more brain cells during pregnancy. My empirical, but very small sample size evidence that pregnancy turns your mind to mush is that I (used to) love to watch Jeopardy. I watched nearly every day when I was pregnant with my first. Even the $100 questions like, "Who was the first President" were impossible to answer. I knew I knew the answer, but just couldn't pull it out of my brain. Still can't. Very frustrating. VERY. I can't spell as well, nothing. Worst part is that no one warned me!!! After this horrible malady occurred, that's when other ladies told me the same thing happened to them. AHHHHH.

Ma Beck said...

Y'all try "The Great Divorce."
It's very short, and a great Lewis story.