Thursday, January 28, 2010

YIMC Book Club, “Mere Christianity,” Week 2

It is week number two, club members, and time for some mere discussion on Mere Christianity. Unlike last week, when I posted a seemingly interminable essay on the first week’s readings, this time I will be leaving most of the discussion up to you.  But I have a few thoughts to share first.

This week we read Book I, chapters 3–5, and Book II, chapter 1 and 2.

Is it just me, or have there been rumblings of dissatisfaction among loyal YIMC Book Club members regarding our current selection? Perhaps More Christianity or Christianity Pure And Simple by Dwight Longenecker, agnostic turned Anglican priest turned Roman Catholic, should have been nominated? Keep those choices in mind for the next vote after we read Hellaire Belloc's The Great Heresies. But until then, we just have to keep slogging, people!

Keep in mind that C.S. Lewis was not a theologian (full disclosure: neither am I). Nor are his writings to be considered encyclicals by an antipope named Jack the First. He warned us in the preface that nothing controversial or authoritative would be written here. Is this why none of our commentators last week seemed to make it past the Hall mentioned there? And words like these appear prophetic given the galvanic changes that have occurred in Anglicanism in the last 15 years,

Now if once we allow people to start spiritualising and refining, or as they might say “deepening,” the sense of the word Christian, it too will speedily become a useless word.

Enough of  last week. This week’s chapters builds on the idea of the Law of Nature, the Something behind the law, and why we are uneasy, since by our failure to uphold and live the law we are in opposition to the Mind behind the universe, which seems to me to be a barely concealed knock-off of an idea from Chesterton's essay Why I Am A Catholic.

Quite honestly, we have read five chapters this week and the only thing that I found of real interest was at the end of Book 2, Chapter 2 when Mr Lewis writes the following,

Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going. He does it by playing on our conceit and laziness and intellectual snobbery. I know someone will ask me, “Do you really mean, at this time of day, to reintroduce our old friend the devil-hoofs and horns and all?” Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is “Yes, I do.” I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, “Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.”

After enjoying steak and potatoes, salad, and dessert with GK Chesterton for the previous nine-week session, we have seemingly fallen back to a milk-based diet. Perhaps I need a bigger bottle? Or a different perspective maybe? Perhaps I shouldn't have read The Incarnation of Our Lord by St. Athanatius before embarking on this read? Somehow I doubt that.

So let me turn this over to the membership.  What passages struck you or resonated with you? Which ideas did you find really brilliant? Your thoughts please!

For next week, we read Book II, chapters 3–5, and Book III, chapter 1.