Saturday, July 23, 2011

vancouver bound!

Well we’re on our way out west to BC for our Regent class.  Hard to believe we’re actually making the trip.  Right now we’re at Sarah’s Aunt and Uncle’s place in Winfield, just north of Kelowna, and it smells like breakfast is just about ready.

We were counting yesterday how many alumni we’ve been able to visit so far: we had a few unexpected surprises and it’s been cool to catch up with people again.

After leaving Winnipeg and visiting Sarah’s parents and Josh, we met up with Sean Jennings and Tim Sample in Brandon.  Unfortunately, Laurie, Sean’s wife, was already on her way to Springside camp for the week (hopefully she’ll be home on our way back through)—but we had a good visit with Sean and Tim.  I hadn’t seen Sean since our wedding.  Crazy!  We went to Montana’s and talked Rob Bell and how Bible schools need to teach pastors more about organizational administration while we munched on burgers, chips and penne pasta (I ordered the latter!)

From Brandon we went to Moose Jaw for the night and stayed at Kathy Retzer’s house.  Sarah met Josh, her fiancĂ©e, and we had a few good laughs before Dave and Leanne Falk stopped in.

The next day we left Moose Jaw and headed for Brooks, AB to stay over with Leif and Cara.  On a whim, while we were in Swift Current, Sarah thought of calling up Gordon and Karla Hamilton, and Karla was home with Sophia!  So we went over to see the new little one and then drove out to where Gordon was working as job foreman on a construction project.  In typical FGBC fashion, there were a few more alumni working there as well.  Craig Knudsen and Dean Drinnan were up on the rough, and Dean even recognized us and gave us a wave.

Then it was on the road again to Brooks.  We got in for supper time and enjoyed chicken and veggie kebobs with Leif, Cara, Damien and Nikolai.  So good.  For future reference: always barbeque your chicken next to your pineapple—delish!  We hung out and played with the kids before turning in.  The next day would be our longest yet.

There were storms just past Calgary—you couldn’t even recognize the mountains through the clouds!  Thankfully no hail or strong winds.  The storm diminished once we made it into the mountains.  I just wanted to stop and watch the mountains (“watch”?  Yeah, that works…) but we’d be stopping every minute or so they were so awesome.  I love spotting little waterfalls cascading down from the snows up high.

After a lengthy drive and many adventures we found our way to Winfield! 

Now it’s time to relax…


Saturday, July 16, 2011

out of the silent planet

The second book I’m reading for my Regent class is Out of the Silent Planet.  I’ve read this one before, or, rather, it was read to a group of us in college when a small band of curious listeners would converge on Larry and Lorraine’s living room for Beth’s weekly literary reading.  The group, fittingly enough, was called Inklings.

So it’s been a good refresher to return to this first book in Lewis’ science fiction trilogy.  What strikes me the most thus far is Lewis’ ability to present fascinating ideas about reality through the mind of his main character, Dr. Elwin Ransom (a philologist whom he designed partially off of his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien!)  out of the silent planetWhat Ransom experiences through his voyages to Malacandra (what we call Mars) and his experiences thereon are nothing short of fantastic.  Along the way Lewis shares some fascinating ideas.

Here’s an example of how Lewis reimagines Space itself.  Ransom is sailing along in his space-ship and discovers that one side of the ship is always night and the other is always at “noon.”  He finds himself continually drawn to the light, for while he bathes in the glow he feels himself being changed:

There, totally immersed in a bath of pure ethereal colour and of unrelenting though unwounding brightness, stretched his full length and with eyes half closed in the strange chariot that bore them, faintly quivering, through depth after depth of tranquillity far above the reach of night, he felt his body and mind daily rubbed and scoured and filled with new vitality.…

[He] became aware of another and more spiritual cause for his progressive lightening and exultation of heart.  A nightmare, long engendered in the modern mind…that follows in the wake of science, was falling off of him.  He had read of ‘Space’: at the back of his thinking for years had lurked the dismal fancy of the black, cold vacuity, the utter deadness, which was supposed to separate the worlds.  He had not known how much it affected him till now – no that the very name ‘Space’ seemed a blasphemous libel for this empyrean ocean of radiance in which they swam.  He could not call it ‘dead’; he felt life pouring into him from it every moment…  No: Space was the wrong name.  Older thinkers had been wiser when they named it simply the heavens… (Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, 34-35).

Soon after the crew descends upon Malacandra, and Ransom has another revelation and his earlier thoughts come to conclusion:

They were falling out of heaven, into a world.  Nothing in all his adventures bit so deeply into Ransom’s mind as this.  He wondered how he could ever have thought of planets, even of the Earth, as islands of life and reality floating in a deadly void.  Now, with a certainty which never after deserted him, he saw the planets – the ‘earths’ he called them in his thought – as mere holes or gaps in the living heaven – excluded and rejected wastes of heavy matter and murky air, formed not by addition to, but by subtraction from, the surrounding brightness.

Things do not always happen as a man would expect.  The moment of his arrival in an unknown world found Ransom wholly absorbed in a philosophical speculation. (Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, 45).

What is love is how Lewis’ imagination finds it way onto the page.  It’s like he has his characters moving along and then has this idea about space and finds this way to have Ransom think it through in a believable way and even giving us as readers an opportunity to share in his epiphany.  Also, it’s just such a neat thought… that space is more alive than the worlds are.

Have a good one!



C.S. Lewis.  Out of the Silent Planet.  London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

the great divorce pt.2

Back to work today.  Working straight through for eight days until we leave for Vancouver.  Can’t believe we’re actually going.  Feels very surreal.

Onward to more reading!!

Here’s another excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce.Roger ponders C.S. Lewis... I think they would be friends.

We pick up where the shade of the intellectual man is deep in conversation with his old friend and fellow thinker; the latter has been sent to offer the invitation of the journey toward heaven to the other.

Near the end of their conversation the intellectual gets frustrated by the prospect of losing the forum for free inquiry—that is the sort of plays we make in asking questions indefinitely: challenging one another, entertaining new thoughts and philosophies; and yet ultimately coming to no real conclusions (or perhaps believing that no true conclusions can be made at all).  He is repelled by the idea that in God there are the final answers.  Check it out:

“But you must feel yourself that there is something stifling about the idea of finality?  Stagnation, my dear boy, what is more soul-destroying than stagnation?”

“You think that, because hitherto you have experienced truth only with the abstract intellect.  I will bring you where you can taste it like honey and be embraced by it as by a bridegroom.  Your thirst shall be quenched. . . .
Listen! . . . Once you were a child.  You knew what inquiry was for.  There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you had found them.  Become that child again: even now.”

“Ah, but when I became a man I put away childish things.”

“You have gone far wrong.  Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth.” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, 40-41).

This reminded me so much of my freshman worldview class with Brian Tysdal.  Brian was (and still is, I’m sure) incredibly passionate about the nature of truth. 

We usually think of truth as those objective, empirical facts.  But what if there is more to knowing truth than intellectual understanding?  It’s hard to comprehend.  And maybe that’s the point here: that by severing our intellect, our reasoning faculties, from our imagination we’ve also lost the ability to understand truth as something more than a scientific laying-bare of facts or figures.  Perhaps capital “T”, Truth, as Lewis suggests here, is something that God intends to be tasted and embraced.  Perhaps when we come to see Him face to face, tasting and embracing will better describe our experience of knowing the Truth.  This sounds like relationship language doesn’t it?

Jesus describes himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)  If a person is Truth, then that means that as I enter into relationship I enter into Truth.  Relationships involve the engagement of the whole person—including, but not limited to, the mind.  I feel that in this moment, Lewis is on to something very special: not only does he hit the nail on the head in terms of our adult understanding of truth as only abstract intellect, but he points to a deeper reality, a poetic, reality which invites the heart as well.  I want to know the One who is Truth. 

One down three to go!

One down three to go!

Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You've even seen him!"  The Message, John 14:6-7


C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York, Harper Collins, 1973).

Monday, July 11, 2011

the great divorce

I’ve begun my reading for my upcoming Fiction of C.S. Lewis class, and decided to start with one of the two books that I hadn’t read before which is The Great Divorce.  It’s a short “theological fantasy” in which Lewis, as himself, boards a bus which takes its passengers to the outskirts of heaven. 

great divorceHe and his fellow passengers arrive in a forested meadow-land at the foot of a great mountain range where the promise of dawn continually teases.  From there Lewis watches as the other travellers encounter friends and family from their past who have come to guide them up into the mountain and into the Dawn.  It gives Lewis the opportunity to explore some really interesting scenarios: like a mother being upset that her son who died as a child was not sent to welcome her when her brother comes instead; or a man who is so intellectually astute that he is incapable of putting aside his curiosity in order to recognize God as Truth.  A lot of it is about how we need to put away our preoccupation with Self and instead choose to seek after God.  When we do this, we actually find ourselves, for He begins to show us how to recognize ourselves in the larger context of His love and forgiveness.

This was one of my favourite scenes.  One of the Bright Ones offers one of the Ghosts of hell to take the journey toward Heaven:

“Will you come with me to the mountains?…”

… “I am perfectly ready to consider it.  Of course I should require some assurances… I should want a guarantee that you are taking me to a place where I shall find a wider sphere of usefulness—and scope for the talents that God has given me—and an atmosphere of free inquiry—in short, all that one means by civilisation and—er—the spiritual life.”

“No,” said the other.  “I can promise you none of these things.  No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at al.  No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them.  No atmosphere of inquiry, for I will bring you to a land not of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God.”

“Ah, but we must all interpret those beautiful words in our own way!…” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, 39-40).

He really doesn’t get it.  What I love about this is how Lewis reveals how self-absorbed we can be.  The man still wants to be known, respected, and worth something—but he wants it based on what he thinks he can accomplish.  It’s inherently self-pleasing.  It’s not that the desire to be understood or useful is wrong.  It’s how we seek to satisfy those longings that is often misguided: who do we look to tell us we’re useful, valuable, or correct?  This man looks to his own accomplishments and his ability to contribute to society to find his worth.  God doesn’t want that: He wants us to recognize our worth in Him.  For He truly knows us: intimately and deeply; and in Him we find our worth, for in Him we are whole, healed, and restored.  Loved.

I want to learn again how to be curious for finding the good answers, not as something that I use in order to try and make myself look good.

"Show me how you work, God; School me in your ways. Take me by the hand; lead me down the path of truth." Psalm 25:4-5a (The Message)


C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (New York, Harper Collins, 1973).

Saturday, July 09, 2011

reading slowly

   I’ve been getting into Eugene Peterson’s The Message translation of the Bible.  We were reading the Beatitudes last night.  There’s so much hope here; each sentence is a tasty morsel worth savouring slowly.  I find that certain beatitudes stand out to me, speaking to me about where I am in my life. 

You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

  You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you.
Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
  You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. 

  You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God.
He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. 

  You're blessed when you care.
At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for.
  You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. 

  You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.
That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. 

  You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

The Message (Matthew 5:1-10)

   There are these moments that come when I find myself really wrestling with what direction I’m heading, and I’m wondering, “God, what’s happening here?  Where is this going?”  There’s this struggle that I think a lot of us face all too often where a barrage of questioning and wondering and guilt and worry gets stirred up inside of us.  Inside of me.  I have a choice in that moment: I can succumb to that overwhelming, pressing deluge or I can surrender myself to the care of my God. 

   And if I do that, if I surrender myself to Him, He takes that ugly mixture of pain and stress and anger and fear and he begins to work on me until suddenly I don’t see the storm anymore.  That’s where I find myself in the beatitudes: in the 6th one, where my inside world—my mind and heart—are put right.  And then I can start to see the bigger picture: the ways in which God is so deeply at work in my life and in our world.

   And I know that I have been blessed.