I had an image in my mind Of somewhere good and pure and clear, A scent of Eden, hope enshrined In heaven’s glow. I begged for strength and will to journey there. But God said, “No.” So I retreated, searched the stars, And settled a more modest aim— A place where wounds might bloom to scars— Nor small nor great. At last the hour for leaving shyly came. But God said, “Wait.” Then down through maelstrom I must gasp, And scrape each tortured crag and fell, Where sneering sinners bray and rasp And curses bless. “Will home,” I asked, “now prove a butcher’s hell?” But God said, “Yes.” Sometimes the Lord with happiness delights; Sometimes He sends despair and endless nights. Sometimes the Lord a killer will condemn; Sometimes, like Abram, killer He makes him. Sometimes with gold His children He adorns, Sometimes with simple gown, Or crown of thorns.
Believers and unbelievers alike ought to recall from Scripture how often it is true that the Lord works through nature rather than against it. (CS Lewis makes this point in his book Miracles.) Without wishing to be flippant, it’s almost as if the Lord surfs nature rather than slicing it or else making no contact with it.
Lewis points out that even in the feedings of the five- and four-thousand—in some ways the greatest miracles in history—the miracle was not to countermand nature so much as to accelerate it. Jesus didn’t pluck fish from the air; he received ordinary fish, passed hand-to-hand, that had been caught with a line and hook and bait from a mucky lake, and simply increased its mass. Somebody made—skillfully or not, burning or undercooking or baking just right—the loaves he multiplied. Jesus did not wave his arms in a magical gesture that caused purple light to shoot across the crowd, into their gaping mouths, filling their stomachs with magical sustenance. He took what was already present in nature and expanded it more rapidly than it otherwise might have. People chewed the miraculous fish with ordinary, sometimes broken, sometimes aching teeth. Those caught fish, had they been allowed to keep on swimming, might have multiplied into thousands of fish, sufficient to feed the crowd, in a few more generations; but that would have taken years. The wheat for the bread and the women’s labor to grind, mix, knead, and bake it could have fed the crowd in a few more years of harvests and long baking days. Jesus did in seconds what the natural process might have done more slowly. He didn’t contradict nature, he amplified it.Continue reading “When God Provides No Miracle”
Here’s how it happened for me. I was sitting in the back seat on the passenger side. I had just asked the driver how long he’d been with Uber, and he said, like he’d answered the question a thousand times, “Six months.” Then I asked how many rides he’d given, and there was a sort of cool pride in his face and I was expecting a big number, when I saw—or really felt—a presence to my right, a buzzing, looming mass. I looked out the window, and there was the wheel of an eighteen-wheeler right beside my door, coming closer. I still don’t know whether it was changing into our lane or we had drifted into its.
I’ve been making video games for about 25 years. I’ve been a gamer since long before that, and a Christian since before that.
Games have changed a lot over the years. Prior to about 2005, there were a very limited number of good games, certainly a very limited number of “big” games that would take hours and hours of play. They tended to cost a lot of money: you didn’t get a lot of good gameplay for free. To be a gamer then meant to binge on a game for 20 or 40 hours, then wait several months for the next big game to come out. Therefore to be a “gamer” meant spending a lot of time not playing games. You’d get addicted to a game for a week or maybe a month, but then your sources would dry up and you’d go back to real life.
I recently completed the quest of reading everything C. S. Lewis ever wrote in chronological order. Now when the moment is fresh, I’d like to clarify, celebrate, and reflect upon that quest. My chief goal in reflection is to make as much good out of the reading as I can as well as to pave the way for the second expedition through his works that I hope to make someday.
J. R. R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings over a long interval that began well before World War II and ended a few years after. Both Tolkien and his adult son Christopher regularly attended meetings of the Inklings, a literary group of which C. S. Lewis was the guiding star, and the two Tolkiens took turns reading The Lord of the Rings as it came together. Lewis had therefore heard most of The Lord of the Rings before receiving the typescript of the finished novel in October 1949. After reading it he wrote this letter to Tolkien. Continue reading “C. S. Lewis’s Letter to Tolkien upon First Reading The Lord of the Rings”
With a major C. S. Lewis conference getting underway in Houston this weekend, I thought that now would be a good time to publish my chronological bibliography of C. S. Lewis. It is now available as a Google Docs sheet.
I have prepared this bibliography in order to serve my own quest of reading all of Lewis’s writings in chronological order. If you are on this or another, similar quest, you may also find it useful.
I’m on a mission to acquire a copy of everything C. S. Lewis ever published. The standalone books aren’t too difficult but the essays are a different story. They have been published and republished many times in diverse and overlapping collections. Some collections are out of print. Some are available in the UK but not the US. The essays sometimes change titles as they move from editor to editor. The task of deciphering the minimum number (or minimum total cost) of books necessary to own all of Lewis’s essays very nearly requires the help of an artificial intelligence.
I’m writing to those who, like me, would have called themselves Christian as a child but who left aside that faith in the teenage or college years.
My aim will be to show that the reasons—the doubts, the discoveries, the emotions—that led you to set aside faith as you came of age were, although probably reasonable, not ultimately correct. You will see in what I’m about to argue that the reasons that persuaded you then should not persuade you now; that in fact the intellectual insights that moved you away from faith as you came of age were tainted with a kind of naivety, and that the more sophisticated reasoning and greater experience available to a more mature adult not only warrants a return to faith, but compels it.
A sense of foreboding has darkened my skies these last few weeks, fueled in part by what I see in the news and in part by what’s closer to home.
I’ve always been one to assume the best in people. That optimism is no longer sustainable.