Tag Archives: C. S. Lewis

11 September: Vague religion versus Theology, Season of Creation XIII.

Times were hard in 1944. A religion that could not attempt some sort of explanation of the war that was still ongoing was no use to CS Lewis. In this extract he makes clear why. Much as Pope Francis did with Laudato Si’. There are good Christian reasons for studying the ways we are invited to prepare for the future without burning carbon, it’s not an add-on, it’s part of our share in creation, and it’s serious hard work.

A vague religion – all about feeling God in nature and so on – is so attractive. It’s all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you won’t get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you won’t get to eternal life by just feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. And you won’t be very safe if you go to sea without a map.

In other words, Theology is practical … if you don’t listen to theology, that won’t mean you have no ideas about God. It’ll mean that you’ll have a lot of wrong ones.

C.S. Lewis, Beyond Personality, Geoffrey Bles, 1944.

Thomas Merton felt that more listening to Scripture was also part of the picture. He congratulated Ernesto Cardenal on his translation of the Psalms into Spanish, at a time when the Divine Office was recited in Latin: ‘These are the versions we should really be chanting in choir. How few monks think of the real meaning of the Psalms. If priests knew what they are reciting every day.’

Thomas Merton & Ernesto Cardenal, From the Monastery to the World, Berkeley, Counterpoint, 2017

Here is the link to Sister Johanna’s Psalm reflection for today.

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Psalms

What is it like to use the psalms for prayer every day and many times a day?  By God’s grace, my experience of praying the psalms daily now stretches over nearly four decades.  I shall try to say a little about what I have learned during this time.

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Filed under Autumn, Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si'

Through New Eyes

We used to sing, ‘When every eye shall see Thee / In deity revealed.’ Moses only saw ‘the back of God’ for a few moments on top of the mountain, a sight too awesome for anyone else, until we learn to see.

Centuries after Moses, for a few moments on top of the mountain, three apostles saw Jesus transfigured. Too awesome for Peter at the time but after the resurrection, as Jesus had suggested, the vision made sense.

Recently I received a minor revelation, not on a mountain top, but on top of a bus – not the Oxford one where C.S. Lewis had a personal epiphany, but the East Kent No 6 to Canterbury. In the front seats were a middle-aged Japanese couple and their teenage daughter; I’d guess father or mother or both were visiting academics, since they later got off at the university. Their daughter was the unwitting angel of revelation for me. She stood up, wrapped her arm around the grab rail, and took a rapid series of photographs. ‘There she goes’, I thought. ‘They love their cameras.’

She sat down, enthusiastically sharing the pictures with her mother. Through new eyes she had seen a place I had passed hundreds of times, seeing and not seeing.

If I need a revelation to see my home county, it’s time to pray, ‘Lord that I may see’, and learn to see Him or his angel, even on top of a bus.

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Filed under Daily Reflections