Thursday, January 22, 2009

Plantinga Ch. 4

Redemption. One thing that I found very interesting while reading this was an analogy from a quote on pg. 85. "when anyone prays alone in his closet, the whole church prays with him in affection and desire." This struck me hard because sometimes I feel so alone in the world. But I need to remember how much Christ loves me and is always there for me. The body of believers should be a community in which they care for one another. And sometimes, like right now for instance, I need a group to care about me. It isn't that my issues are more important than others, but I am having a hard time dealing with life right now. I hate the way I feel all the time, I hate not being happy. But I am never alone. God is always with me, and I know I have people who care about me and watch over me. So it comforts me to some extent.
The analogy that I really liked in this chapter was talking about a bike and all the different spokes that connect it together. Everyone is from a different area, a different style, a different upbringing. But we all meet at Christ. It doesn't matter if you are CRC, Catholic, Lutheran, Nondenom, we all meet together in Christ and work as one to put things into motion. One spoke alone couldn't do it. But everything together makes it possible. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" is one of my favorite verses and it fits here perfectly. If everyone believes that, then things will be accomplished together.

Man or Rabbit?

The class really got involved for this discussion. It really seemed to get a lot of people excited and to participate. When I read this, I was not focusing on Predestination or Free Will. I was trying to answer the question that was originally asked. Can people live good lives without knowing Christ? My first response is yes. But that all depends on what the definition of good is. If good is monetary and possession-ary, then yes people could live good lives without Christ. People work hard to make a lot of money and to have the nicest things. They are happy. They work hard and are rewarded for it. But I don't believe that Lewis thinks of it the way I just described. Basically, I understood Lewis to be saying that a good life would include a love for God and a devotion to Him.
One thing that interested me was the Materialist and the Christian. We have a lot of similarities, but at the same time, we are striving for things that are so different. We, as Christians, strive for unity with God. We want a personal relationship with Him. Materialists strive for happiness in other aspects of life. Over time these two groups will begin to differ in their views. Education, values, money. We have different views on all of them.
Another thing that interested me was when someone asked "Is this fair?" There are so many people who have never been exposed to the gospel, how does God deal with them? It's always been a question I have thought about deeply. And I really would just assume that God decides on a case by case basis. So many people reject Christ, and they have made their choice. People are ignorant and purposefully don't want to learn about Christianity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Love, love, love. I feel like I know so much, I feel like I know so little. It is important, no doubt about that. As I wrote in my previous postings, I was dumped in December after almost two years. It was one of the toughest months of my life. I was so in love, or so I thought. Today while reading in class I read "Love begins to be a demon, the moment it begins to be a god." I was consumed with love for this girl. I should have been focused on my love for God. I put my security in her. I put my everything in her and was so hurt after we broke up. Looking back, I realize how much I did care about her, but I cared so much that I forgot about God. I was living a life that wasn't glorifying Him. Today was tough for me. I haven't been living a good life and it hurts me to realize how much change is really needed. Lewis really connects to me on an emotional level because he was very much like me. He was a sinner and lived how he wanted to. His life has given me hope to change. And I am so glad I took this class to learn about his life and realize the changes needed before it was too late. I figured, I'm at a Christian school, I read my Bible, I listen to praise music. I'm completely fine. I'm not. I need an understanding and a love for Christ beyond anything imaginable in order to really truly honestly call myself a Christian.
Throughout my blogs I have realized how much I need to change about my life. This class really has taught me to develop a Christian mind. And for that I am eternally grateful. I have learned so much about myself and about the way I should live and ways in which I can change it. Love is something that has to start with God. Once I love God, then and only then, will I be able to share my love with someone else. I am so impatient and so wanting, that I want to pave my own road to love. I want to do things my way. I am Italian and my mom always says that all Italians are hard headed. I need God to soften my head and also my heart. I need to be open to all people and things and ideas.
I see the love that our professors have for each other and it is so beautiful. They do not seem like they are sick of each other, they never quarrel, they are always laughing and smiling when they are around each other. Their relationship is centered around Christ. That is so important in love.

Plantinga Ch. 3

The Fall. The beginning of this chapter is very sobering. *On a side note, I guess I have been using that word a lot. "Sobering". I need to use that word in many senses. I have been drinking a lot and I need to change my habits.* With that being said, we tend to look at the creation story and see how good God made everything and how perfect He is. Its hard for us, or for me at least, to look at the fact that we ruined perfection. "We look at paradise, not paradise lost."
On page 49, it says "Human life is not the way it's supposed to be." We messed up. And sometimes I feel like no one has messed up more than I have. I can't believe that God loves me even though I am so fallen. The importance of the fall is much too easily forgotten. I forget so often how lucky I am that we follow a gracious God. John 3:16 is a verse that I will never forget. It is one of the first verses I was ever taught, and would guess that most Christians know it. I need to stop taking it as granted. I would really like to begin living the right way again. I just need to be patient and understanding. But that does cause some problems. We are arrogant and prideful. We are corrupt. Half the time, we don't even see what is wrong with our lives. We like to think we are living the right way, doing good things. But in complete reality, we are disappointing God. God hates sin, and everytime we sin, we are betraying Him, hurting Him. That has been crazy to me because He gave us His Son, and we betray Him, day in and day out. I really feel like I need to reexamine my life, and sober up (in a God sense).

Plantinga Ch. 5

The first thing I noticed while reading this chapter was in the second paragraph. It says how the people of God were crying out and pouring their hearts out for redemption. And it seemed as if they wanted personal redemption. But in their minds it went so much farther than just personal salvation. They ask for redemption throughout the land. They ask for a righteousness for the people of the land. They want God to change things and make everything better, for everyone. So many times I think about myself and what I want. Not caring about others in the slightest. I guess that is our nature, and the world tells us that is the right way to think. But caring for others and wanting redemption so that everyone is better off will help this world out so much.
Today was the inauguration of Barrack Obama. Now although I did not vote for him, I do believe he can do something to change this nation. What does this have to do with Plantinga Ch. 5? Well, not everyone wanted Obama, but the decisions he makes will hopefully be better for our country as a whole. He will be scrutinized for every decision, but we want and need a righteousness throughout this great land of ours. Hopefully Obama can make good sound decisions and fix some of the problems our country has been having recently.
While reading this I began to picture in my mind what the union of us and God will be like. When we get to hang out with God and just dwell among Him in His kingdom. My mom once told me, "however great you think it's going to be, times that by 1,000,000 and you still won't be close!" God is such a perfect creator and such an amazing being it is hard to fathom His greatness.
When times are good, we don't pray for the kingdom to come as we should. My life has been a complete disaster recently. I'm not much of a complainer. I like to grit my teeth and bear it. But the Sunday, before my finals started, my girlfriend called me at 1 am. She wanted to "talk". We broke up later that night. That was just the start of it. Monday morning before my first exam, my dad called me and told me that he had just lost his job, and on top of that, both of his parents were going into the nursing home later the next day. And remember, I still had to take finals. My life was torn down, before Christmas, I was praying for God to do something to help me out. I just need to learn patience and to pray for God's kingdom to come into existence.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Poison of Subjectivism

Pride and greed. Two things that I have always struggled with. Through high school I was "Mr. Popular", Three sport athlete, Sadie Hawkins Court King. I was it. And I knew it. I wanted everyone to like me, I wanted all the girls to want me, I wanted to be the best at all the sports. I was arrogant and used it to my advantage. So when this essay started out equating those things with misery and vice, I knew I was in for a trip.
One thing that was really interesting to me was the time period in which this was written. It really made me think back to that time. At first while reading, I thought Lewis was just pointing out stereotypical characteristics of Germans and Japanese people. But the more I got to reading, the more I began to understand the severity of the topic. Lewis claims that we have been programmed to think a certain way, and to behave a certain way. I guess that needs to change. We have nothing to base that claim on. This is a problem, Lewis says, because he says we base too many things off of ideas that have no support. There are so many differences within culture groups and religious groups that it causes a difference in ways people are brought up and "programmed" to think.

Learning In War Time

This is great. No doubt. There is a war going on right now, so we can all relate to this. "Whatever you do, do to the glory of God." This is a great quote and really fits struck me. Whether we are meant to fight, fight to the glory of God. If we are meant to learn, learn to the glory of God. If we are meant to work, work to the glory of God. Everything can be translated and connected to glorifying God. If it is my calling to be learning right now, then why shouldn't I keep on learning during war time? I would say that I should keep on learning. I need to be prepared for the real world and the real questions that outsiders will ask. Everything in life helps you understand God better. It helps us connect to God.
There is always trouble in the world, there is always people who need help, there are always people hurt, there are always things needing change. So this is really not really a different situation than the world at any point. To have a better understanding of others we should learn. We should learn culture, we should learn religion, we should strive to understand as much as we can. Adriana said today that if we aren't sweating while we are studying, we aren't studying hard enough. Obviously, that was kind of a joke, but it was definitely memorable. Those who are going to learn, will learn no matter what. During war, during peace, during tough times, during easy times.
Another main point that I really liked was the fact that there is no middle ground for Christ. Our class had many different ideas, but I guess I feel that in everything we should glorify God. Life seems mundane and some aspects are boring and lifeless, but it all is important and relevant. There is only one truth, and that is Christ. There is no room for anything else. In the same way that there is no middle ground with Christ, there is only one answer. We are either glorifying God or not.
That is something important that I should focus on. Because I feel like when I try to glorify God, I do a great job. But other times, I completely forget and act completely stupid, and don't glorify God in the slightest.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity. This is the only other work of C.S. Lewis that I had even heard of (other than the Chronicles) before this class. And I had never even read it, and didn't really know anything about it. But through reading the preface, I discovered that this was an actual discussion. So while reading this, I really liked it because of the style. I love to talk (I know you might not believe it because I have been quiet in class) but I love to talk and this conversationalist style he uses in this really hits home for me.
In the beginning it talks about moral law. When I first thought about it, I said that there could not be a moral law for everyone. Everyone has been brought up differently with different experiences, situations and family life. Lewis argues that there could be mere conventions that could be different, but that the moral law could take care of the little things that everyone would agree with.
One of the most interesting things I thought about this was the playing of the piano. My group talked about this for most of our time together today. We all found it interesting and unique. There are situations where all the notes sounds perfect together. And other times when the notes sound terrible together. God tells us which notes to play, what tune to go by, what notes to follow. Sometimes we mess up and miss the keys, or want to do it our own way because we think it's better. "Our instincts are merely the keys." We live in a complex society and that causes for a complex song with complex music.
Another point that I found rather interesting was how he brought up how we would be observed from the outside. We look at animals and we can't realize their choices, we only see their decisions. We 'feel' this moral law in us, and we make choices on it. But if you looked at us from the outside you wouldn't be able to see the moral law that we 'felt'.
Professor Ribeiro quoted Lewis at the close of class that I have thought about that all day. "We laugh at honor, and are surprised to find a traitor in our midst." That is so true. We do not focus on the good people, we always focus on the people who need help and make mistakes. But we act so surprised when we hear something bad.
I don't really know how I feel about this. It is very sobering to think about this. This class has been so good for me. I have begun to think and reexamine my life. "Little decisions have dire consequences."

Screwtape Letters

Wow. Talk about thinking. This letter put a whole new perspective on my life. A lot of the time, I think about the bad things I do. And when I say the "bad things" I mean like big sins. I completely forget about the swear words that constantly flow from my mouth. I discount "small" sins because they have become acceptable to me. I have made a habit out of so many bad things, and that is almost more dangerous than anything else in this world.
In this chapter, Screwtape is explaining to his nephew about how not to work on his patient too hard but to gradually work him towards Hell. "For this reason, I am almost glad to hear that he is still a churchgoer." This quote is perfect. It is showing that the Devil is working slowly on its patients. They do not realize what real trouble they are in. They think they are still doing the right things and being a good person. The gradual road is the safest road to Hell. Just thinking of that scares me so much. I realize what a bad person I am and how fallen I am.
In this essay, near the end, they talk about the younger devils wanting to report "spectacular wickedness". But Screwtape is quick to counter that and say that smaller sins are just as important in breaking Christian's down. We are so fallen, and are so ashamed of the "bigger" sins we commit and we aren't ashamed of the smaller stuff. Like I was saying swearing, white lies, drinking. There are so many things that I mess up but have accepted. God is so full of grace that it blows my mind, that he could save me, that he could love me, that he could care about me. He is so loving and forgiving, and I need to start living for Him and fulfilling His will.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Plantinga Ch. 2

"According to God's intelligence, the way to thrive is to help others to thrive; the way to flourish is to cause others to flourish; the way to fulfill yourself is to spend yourself." That quote really sums up what I felt this chapter was all about. God made his creation perfect and beautiful. But it is all about our decisions and choices that determine how we make our world.
God gives humans authority to make decisions. Lewis breaks down why creation is important. There is a huge significance to the creation story. Lewis focused on our relationship to the creation story and how we were created and what we were created for. Another topic that he spoke about the importance of rest. We work hard all week, and need to recuperate and praise God for what he has given us throughout the previous week and prepare for the week ahead.
This whole chapter was very thought provoking. I thought about many aspects of life, my life in particular. I feel so fallen, but so saved and loved at the same time. God made everything so perfect, and I have messed up so much. I thought about the amazing grace that God shows me infinitely. He is the ultimate creator and has made everything perfect and special. Including me. Which helps comfort me and help me understand how much God really does love me.
I almost felt guilty reading this. Reading about being redeemable makes me feel as if I am taking advantage of an amazing gift. I am so selfish, but He is so giving. I need to change my selfishness to glorifying God.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Weight of Glory

By far my favorite piece of writing by him that we have read. There is a quote that was also in Plantinga's Ch. 1 from Lewis. "Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased." We always seem so content with out own lives, but something greater, much greater, is there that we cannot even see or imagine.
This had a overall theme of longing and joy again. We are made for something better than this earth can offer us. We long for what we can't have, and on earth, we cannot have what we are made for. We feel ashamed when we long and want. There is a negative connotation with longing and wanting.
There are two ways that Lewis describes glory. Wicked and Ridiculous. The wicked part refers to only glorifying yourself. Forgetting others and putting them down in order to glorify ourselves. And the ridiculous part is like the light bulb. Where eventually it just turns on, and things seem to brighten up.
Glory is just getting the approval of God. It is not a selfish act. It is a very important aspect of faith. We want to have a pure relationship with God and be proud of that. We always are striving for beauty. To be beautiful, to be a part of beauty, to be a part of God's creation. This was by far my favorite piece. I enjoyed it and related to it well.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Our English Syllabus

There are three main ideas that this essay had. They were education, training and learning. We are college students. We are here to "learn" and get "educated". College is for pursuing knowledge, not for learning what is already known. That has been something that recently I have struggled with. I am not the deepest thinker. I like to have specific formulas to figure things out. I do not like things that are supposed to be figured out. I like learning what is already known. I enjoy doing problems, I enjoy math, I enjoy figuring out budgets and balancing accounts. I felt that the main point for this was that we need to expand our thinking. Which I completely agree with, but the way I think is not the same way that Lewis wants me to think. While reading this, I felt inadequate and stupid. Maybe that was just my interpretation. But I am not a deep thinker, and that is something I need to develop. So reading this was hard for me.
I long for knowledge, but I don't think deep enough to really learn anything. I would like that to change and I think that would help me understand Lewis better. We talked in class about how we need to be able to search for answers. Lewis wants us to dig deeper and go beneath the surface to look at things. He didn't seem to like the idea of just sitting down and taking in the information. He thinks learning should be an exploration and a pursuit of knowledge. I agree with him in that aspect.
"Nothing more comes out than what we put in." This quote has been on my mind. I find this true in everything. In high school, I put everything I had into my athletics. And I was good. I was successful. Now I need to translate that motivation and dedication to my schoolwork and to my "personal pursuit of knowledge".

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"We Have No Right to Happiness"

Happiness. What is it? What if my happiness interferes with the happiness of someone else? That's not really cool, but I am happy, so its okay, right? That is something that I struggle with day in and day out. This particular essay had a significant tie to sex. I wasn't really sure why either. But in the example, Lewis explained a story that had taken place in his neighborhood. Where a man was tired of his old wife, so he got a new one. Passion is what drives us in life, it affects our behavior and decisions, and therefore our drive for happiness. But we have to be careful about how we pursue happiness. We need to stay within the law. We have freedom within the law, but we cannot break the law in order to achieve our happiness. There is a clear distinction between moral rights and legal rights. The two should not be confused at all. Gaining possessions is important to some people, and if they stole to get them, that would end up hurting other people and it wouldn't be legal. There is a huge distinction between legal rights and moral rights.
Throughout the discussion many points came up that through out the idea of our own happiness. I found it very interested when people brought up such people as Mother Teresa. She gave up her worldly happiness to help less fortunate people. And I believe she was content and happy doing that. She wanted to do that, and it gave her great happiness to help others. Someone in class said "Happiness isn't the point, loving God is the point." That stayed with me this weekend. Ryan also commented that "happiness is what you do with where God has put you." God put Mother Teresa in place to help people and she did the most she could with that. The decisions we make allow for God's happiness. There is a path we need to follow in order to be happy. And in the end, if we follow that path, we will be eternally happy. Happiness is not something we can pursue outside of God.


When we were in class on Friday, we were asked to find two or three important things. One thing I found was "Things we long for, we cannot have". Since I am in economics, I immediately thought of the Rolling Stones song "You Can't Always Get What You Want". In economics we call it the Jager Complex. We want so much, and are rarely ever pleased with what we have. On page 5, Lewis says we are far too easily pleased with worldly things, and we should take advantage of the infinite joy that the Lord offers us. That has really stuck with me through the past few days. I have been having some struggles lately and I guess I would like to focus on what Lewis said. That has stuck with me, and I would consider it an important point to me personally. The second thing that was important to me was the section on "Longing is an Ingredient of Hope". Longing is extensive hope. At first, I would have described longing as a deep wanting and hope as not as deep of a longing, with more of a chance to happen. I am not sure that is a correct definition but that is what I first thought of when I read this section. Hope is healthy. We are supposed to hope for things and be grateful when they happen. There is a lot I hope for in life, and that begins with a longing. The final main point that I found was "As Christians we should hope for Shalom". We need to hope for peace. Peace with ourselves, peace with God, peace in the world. In my notes I wrote "It is not provincial to hope only for ourselves." I don't remember if that was a quote from someone in class, or if it is in the book, but I agree with it. If we think only about ourselves, we forget how important community and friendship is. For me, I couldn't live without my friends. Things that are important to them, I hope they get. And I know they do the same for me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


We are arrogant, proud and selfish people. And this whole idea of Bulverism is derived from our imperfection. Lewis describes bulverism as the way that we tend to attack the person instead of the ideas or reason behind the beliefs. After we attack them, then we explain that automatically discredit their argument and count it as invalid. We don't even consider there to be a possibility of them being correct. But Lewis thinks that we should examine things both objectively and logically. We cannot just use one or the other. (This ties into the assistance that I wrote about for 'Toolshed').
One of things that struck me hardest was when he explained that we first why the person is wrong and then we explain why they are wrong. The only way that this can be achieved is if bulverism is done away with.
C.S. Lewis also states that there are 2 things that cause our thoughts. 1) Ordinary causes and 2) Reason. "Bulverism tries to show that the other man has causes and not reasons and that we have reason but not causes." He then goes on to explain that "Either we can know nothing or thought has reason and no causes."
I think that C.S. Lewis has many good thoughts on the subject. Like I wrote earlier, the connection to 'Toolshed' struck me in a positive way. We need both objectional thinking and logical thinking to be able to find the truth. But we need the help of a Supernatural (God) in order to use reason to make our way to those truths.

"Meditation in a Toolshed"

While I was reading this all I was thinking about was how I am as a person. I am a very emotional person and I like to "Live and Learn." I use my experiences to grow and to help shape who I am. But the more I read, the more I realized Lewis was explaining the idea that there was never any angle that we look at things that is completely right. People have so many different view points and different experiences that it is impossible to understand them all.
His explanation of the light beam was great. I really liked how he tied in the fact that we cannot know everything on our own. We need assistance to really "see" things. We are dependent on something greater to reveal to us an "absolute truth". We as humans like to think we know it all. But in reality we don't. We need the help of others and above all, God, to help us understand fully the world in all aspects.
I liked the fact that he wrote about how we could deconstruct every scientific explanation. Because my mind doesn't work like that it was a good reminder that not everyone is alike. I have trouble understanding people who are less emotional. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and let them dictate how I behave. Other people think more logically and they like to explain things deeper and scientifically. So this was a good topic for the first day, because it will help me understand other thinkers and respect their thoughts better. Because, after all, we don't know everything on our own. Humans like to think we are perfect and know everything, but we are not. We strive for perfection in all aspects of life, but we cannot reach it on our own. We need assistance to understand better. We can understand scientifically, or have great experiences to teach us, but those alone are not enough. We need both parts to really learn and gain truth.