“If a good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling ‘whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn’t it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren’t all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?’ But then that threw me back into another difficulty. My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?
A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too— for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies.
Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist— in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless— I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality— namely my idea of justice— was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”
Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (pp. 38-39). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
We live in a time when our culture seems to be actively throwing every ancient value overboard in its effort to be free to be whatever we want to be. It seems that we are loosing every reference point in our attempts to build common ground and a common sense of value. Instead of freeing itself, the result is that the culture is stepping into the void – stepping into a view of the world with no up or down, no ground, no direction. In its effort to redefine itself, the culture is actually loosing its ability to define anything at all.
But there is one thing that our generation does not question – the reality and centrality of art. Though we question everything we do not question the beauty and power of creativity. It seems to be one of the last standing “truths” of our time. Though we have denied everything else, we cling to the aesthetic in every part of culture today. And I think that it is therefore a powerful foundation of common understanding and conversation. It is a bridge – a medium for this seeking to understand and speak truth into this broken world.
This is why I am particularly excited about the Canvas Conference. This is an event that zeros in on this issue. It is a time to really dig down and unpack the significance of the creative drive of our time. It is an opportunity to understand ourselves better. It is a time to be equipped in carrying out the most beautiful message of all to a broken world.
I love to read and write. The guy next to me makes videos and plays something like five musical instruments. The audience around us is composed of a wide variety of creatives including photographers, designers, musicians and writers. In the coming days we will hear from poets, preachers, professors, theologians, rappers and singer/songwriters. Canvas 2016 is about to start.
Continue reading “Creativity and Theology”
Its a simple fact really. A stunning fact. A fact that should shake us to the bones: We will all die someday. And yet we live most of our lives furiously pushing forward as if tomorrow has no right not to come. This week some of us were shaken out of the stupor. Something may have happened to wake you up, to make you stop, to let the cold reality sink in. Death is inevitable. This happened to me and some of my friends by the death of a young man. I personally never met him but the pain of a young and untimely death spreads like a cold fog through the hearts of friends and loved ones to all around. It weighs down on us. It says to us in an arresting voice, “Pull over. Stop and think.”
Continue reading “Living Backwards”
This week I have met in my reading an individual who has been challenging me in new and unique ways. Rosaria Butterfield was an English professor at Syracuse University. She was a stalwart feminist and defender of gay and lesbian rights. Rosaria met Jesus in the life and witness of a pastor who was willing to sit and discuss her worldview with her. The book is a fascinating read and very well written. There is so much in it that is challenging me, and so much that could be discussed. But perhaps the biggest thing that stands out to me as I work my way through the first half of the book is her discussion of her entrance into the christian world, and the complexities that this process caused.
Continue reading “The Real Conversion of Rosaria Butterfield”
We’ve all perhaps heard of Mary Shelley’s dark tale of the genius scientist Victor Frankenstein, who’s curiosity and intellect drive him to create a living monster (yes, yes Frankenstein is the name of the scientist, not the monster). Anyways, as the story goes, the beast haunts Victor everywhere he goes, wreaking havoc on his entire life and eventually leading to his very sad death. Frankenstein has now been told and retold for nearly 200 years, and for good reason. It is a magnificent and horrifying exploration of human nature, the limits of science and our relationship to nature. No matter how you slice it, it is rich with meaning and significance. And yet as I read it last year there was one thread in particular that jumped out at me.
Continue reading “Who Killed Victor Frankenstein?”
Its interesting how the consistent perception within the world around us is that the christian faith (and all religion for that matter) are an escape from reality. We always get this sense that people of faith are coming into their religious experiences as a way of getting away from the challenges and pressures of life in the real world. I can’t speak definitively on other religions, but this is profoundly untrue about the actual christian message. One of it’s central tenets is that God is invading reality. It is a message of the fact that one of our greatest needs is not escape from but reconciliation to the actual world.
Continue reading “Invasive Faith”
This perhaps sounds like an odd question. What do you mean? Doesn’t it just exist? One of the most difficult concepts for us Westerners to understand is the fact that much of the world is not like us. Though we boast in our pluralism, it actually seems to backfire on us and gets in the way of our ability to truly grasp the core differences that shape our world. One such difference is the presence and nature of true liberty.
Continue reading “The Foundations of Liberty”
It is a most interesting fact that many who continually denounce christianity and christians nevertheless seem to continue to quote and side with Jesus himself. The reasons behind this fact can take us into a twisted network of rabbit trail discussions, many of which are most unhelpful. In my conversations with friends and coworkers, both in and outside the christian community, I have often fallen into the trap of trying to reconcile the two seemingly opposing halves of this situation. And yet lately, instead of just eagerly lunging at the bone of argument, I have seen it as a doorway into more meaningful conversation.
Continue reading “Who Is This Man?”
It was now over a year ago that, in a conversation with some friends here in town someone, we came up with the idea that we need to have some sort of event or avenue by which we could channel some of our thoughts and conversations to the college campuses in our town. Despite the slow process, we have worked our way into setting up a club on campus here at our local community college that focuses on discussing the tough questions of faith, meaning, God, doubt and skepticism. We have spent a little more than a month on the ground on campus. That is not much. And yet there are a few things I am learning right away from the weekly meetings and coffee chats.
Continue reading “Thought Life on Campus”