Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mere Christianity -- Chapter One

After much consideration, I decided to conduct my first blog reading project on C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity." I knew it had fairly short chapters, which make it less intimidating for a first project than Chesterton's Orthodoxy (which was the other favorite pick amongst my readers).

My goal will be to do at least three chapters a week, possibly more. Please feel free to read along with me and chime in along the way! (I do request that you read the chapter reviewed before joining in any theological discussions, as the purpose of the blog is to chronicle my thoughts, NOT recap every theological point made by Lewis, as that can easily be accessed by reading the book).

Mere Christianity Reflections – Chapter One

The Law of Human Nature

Two things I love about C.S. Lewis.

Firstly, he knows exactly how to frame a thought. He doesn't rush ahead of himself, but takes it bit by bit. And then even as you're thinking of possible arguments against him, he counters them, as though you're there, speaking over his shoulder while you're writing.

Secondly, he doesn't talk down to you. He talks to you man-to-man. He's positing a thought, an idea, and in a manner of old friends, leading you to see things from his direction. He never suggests or insinuates that you, the reader, are ignorant or sinful – at least not without taking equal blame upon himself.

In chapter one, Lewis deals with the belief that there is a Law of Human Nature that all humans fundamentally know and know they ought to obey. He demonstrates this not by trying to prove it through facts and historical data – but rather just by human observation. You can't help nodding your head and going “yeah, people do talk that way, and yeah, they do expect you to live up to some sort of standard while talking to you, even if they don't actually live up to it themselves!”

And I think what is really important about this chapter is that Lewis devised it to be directed towards any ordinary person who picked the book up (or rather, listened to his original radio talks during WWII). Even though this entire concept is completely Biblical, he never tries to drive a non-Christian reader away by appealing to Biblical authority. He relies entirely on ordinary observation, with ideas and suggestions completely familiar and accessible to the average person, no matter what religious persuasion.

1 comment:

Cecile said...

I agree that one of the best things about the first chapter is that Lewis doesn't mention God or Christianity at all. Obviously they are what the whole book is about, and no non-Christian reader would be fooled. However, once Lewis convinces the reader that the "Law of Human Nature"
exists, he or she can't back up and disagree with his reasoning later on in the book

I liked what Lewis said about how no matter how different cultures are from each other, we can acknowledge some basic rules of behavior. But, I wonder whether some things have changed even in the past century. He mentions selfishness as a universal wrong, but today selfishness is encouraged by American culture in particular. Many people seem to think that the best thing one can do is win or become rich and famous at any cost. I wonder if the more selfish people become, the harder it will be to agree that there are rules beyond what is good for themselves.

I know that was a small part in the chapter, but it struck me as central to Lewis' overall point. Modern culture is so far from the standard of the Biblical cultures, it often seems ridiculous to believe in a God who lays down rules.

Oh, sorry this was so long. I love how friendly Lewis seems, and this book forces one to think.