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Category Archives: Reviews
A few days ago, I posted some quotes and reflections from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. This will likely turn into a series, as I find more and more awesome Lewisian utterances! Consider the following:
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’–could set up on their own as if they had created themselves–be their own masters–invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside G0d, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other God that will make him happy.
This quote by itself could generate a post (if not more) alone. To be brief, let me point out one point that struck me. I think Lewis is suggesting that man will most mess up, when he attempts to be his own author. The self cannot self-construct itself. It may only be discovered in others, and in sum, in the Ultimate Other, namely God who is the Creator.We possess nothing: not ourselves, not the capability to invent or construct the self, and certainly not the power to invent entities of happiness or self-satisfaction. I propose that the most mature self is the emptiest, most kenotic, self. That’s when the “self” is, in fact, most itself: when it is in the hands of God at the service of others.
A few months ago, I finished reading Mere Christianity. The “book” is a series of talks that Lewis gave on a radio show. However–at least in the edition I have–he did add some points into the book-version so that it read a bit more like a book, and not a mere written speech. Additionally, it is important to take note of the time period: 1942-44 in England. All of this said, I do recommend the book to others. It is a brief look at the basic principles of Christianity, and is a text that is easy to work through. On a personal level, I think what I enjoyed the most from Mere Christianity were the noteworthy statements (i.e., quotes) to pull from Lewis. Without a doubt, C.S. Lewis is a brilliant scholar when it comes to language. I think that this “pseudo”-book (radio broadcast) proves that. In this post, I want to share and discuss some of Lewis’ statements that resonated with me. Lastly, this will be complete in a few posts: there is too much to show in just one!
As Christians we are called to “love our neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:28-31) Too often, however, as we become more and more engaged with our faith and the community where we worship, our neighbor tends to look more and more like us. As humans, our tendency is to hang out with those who share our passions, worldview, and goals for life. Our small group interactions are with Christians like ourselves and before we know it all our friends are Christians. We fill our time with activites that are faith based narrowing our network to those that agree with us and our worldview.
And the irony is that for those that take their faith seriously and that of their surrounding network they have a desire to live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), but they have no immediate network to actively do so outside of ”cold calling.” To be a Great Commission people, we need to expand our network of friends and associates beyond our Christian ones. To do so demands an intentional effort on our part to make friends beyond our inner circle. How do we do this? We do this by getting involved in activities (not sinful) that enable us to meet new people and expand our sphere of influence. In secular terms this is called “networking.” For the Christian, proper networking could have eternal significance.
My dear friend Taylor Marshall has recently published a fantastic new book entitled: The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. This is a book for anyone interested in understanding Catholic teachings and practices more, and particularly their biblical and Jewish roots. The book is clear and accessible to a wide range of readers, and it is beautifully written. Its orientation is certainly popular, but the scholarship that went into producing this text is apparent in the text itself as well as in the endnotes which conclude each chapter. I would recommend this book to both Catholics and non-Catholics. It is a quick and enjoyable read (I had difficulty putting it down when I first began reading it—I’ve read it twice already and am looking forward to reading it a third time when I am able).
The Crucified Rabbi is available for only $14.95 from Amazon.com. Marshall’s book encompasses a wide-range of topics exploring their OT and Jewish roots: Jesus’ messiahship; Mary as Queen mother of the fulfilled Davidic kingdom (the Church); the papacy; Catholic view of baptism; the Mass and the Eucharist; Catholic priesthood; priestly vestments; cathedrals; parishes; monasticism; Catholic views on marriage; holy days and the liturgical calendar; Saints; and the afterlife. His book also includes a very helpful appendix which lists over 300 OT passages Marshall believes Jesus fulfilled in His NT life and mission. His bibliography includes both useful scholarly and popular works for further reading. This book is a must read.
I wanted to take a moment to alert our readers to what I consider to be the finest journal on the market dealing with Scripture and theology: Letter & Spirit . Letter & Spirit is a relatively new journal (first published in 2005) from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, an organization with which I am affiliated, and which Dr. Scott Hahn founded and serves as President and also as the journal’s editor. Letter & Spirit is the only academic journal I have ever encountered that I read straight through, cover-to-cover, as soon as I get my hands on an issue. So why is it such an exciting and important journal?
First of all, it is filled with both highly original and old classic articles that are written from the heart of the Church. Its pages are filled with writings from some of the world’s finest theologians and Catholic biblical scholars as well as some of the most important up-and-coming Catholic scholars. The entire journal is devoted to Catholic biblical theology that is rooted in the Church’s Tradition and Liturgy. The articles are academic and scholarly, and thus some of them assume a readership that has familiarity with Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic (including, in at least one instance, Syriac). Most articles are accessible to non-specialists as well, and any educated lay person would benefit from reading most of the journals’ articles.
Evangelization is taking new forms through new media and at times we hope to feature good examples of these. I learned recently of a new Facebook application called Face Forward designed by the vocations office of the Diocese of Columbus in Ohio. This app really meets the youth where they are. Fr. Jeff Coning, vocations director for the Diocese of Columbus, seems to really get that if we are going to increase vocations we need to be where the kids are and engaging them on their level.
Face Forward is more than just a social network for youth to engage with one another and priests in a safe environment, it is also a very good tool for catechesis of the youth. They have a quiz challenging kids to know their faith, they have a section called “Mass Musings,” and the vocation director even has his play list up for the kids to listen. As another example, recently they posted a video on the “O Antiphons” for Advent. This is really instructive for the youth! I spoke with Father Jeff who described interesting and engaging features to come and discussed that he is going to get the seminarians to help write on the site. I am excited to watch this site grow and expand, and I will be interested to see its effects on vocations for years to come. For readers with teenage kids, I encourage you to check out Face Forward. While the events and the information is local to Columbus, Ohio, I think the idea is worthy of mention as a great example of the new evangelization and something I hope spreads across the nation.