I intended to blog about more than one of the essays in Christian Reflections two posts back but ended up writing so long about my experience in Miss Diamond’s Social Studies class that I didn’t have time to talk about more than just one. So for today, here’s a quick rundown of some of the ones that grabbed me hardest without any preamble (other than this preamble stating that I won’t add a preamble).
"Christianity and Culture": This was the essay that most directly hit important aspects of my daily life. Identifying himself as a “culture seller,” Lewis recounts his post-conversion search for clarity on whether he should spend time and get paid for promoting something that doesn’t lead to salvation and may in some cases even hinder it. As a music professor, I too am a culture seller, and I’ve gone through many of the same questions and read many of the same sources Lewis read in search of answers. He continued to teach literature after becoming a Christian, so obviously his questioning led to a positive answer, but his essay ends with what seems like an unsettled, tentative accord. I wish I could have directed him to Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine and to consider Philippians 4:8.
"The Funeral of a Great Myth": The Great Myth in question is the on-the-street view that the universe and life and intelligence and humanity and morals all evolved and will continue to evolve, making life, the universe, and everything better and better and better – until entropy takes over and everything dies. Lewis never lost his love of the Norse myths of heroes who fought nobly in spite of the inevitability of Ragnarok, so of course he also respects the beauty of the evolution-as-betterment myth even as he sees it going out of fashion. It does seem to have gone out of fashion; Hitler and terrorism seem to have convinced the general public that humans aren’t improving morally with each generation. The myth hung on in the various Star Trek series, but I’m not sure where I’d look to find it today.
"On Church Music": An excellent article!!!! The worship wars had already started in Lewis's time. (They’ve probably been around for centuries.) Here he gives sound advice on how to handle the tension. Why haven't all the Protestant churches that respect Lewis promoted and devoured this essay?
"Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without an Answer": Why does the New Testament teach both that our prayers are answered only when they are in God's will (the proper form being "if it is your will" or "not my will but thine") and that whatever we ask (or command!) will be done? How wonderful that Lewis expresses his ignorance and truly writes "without an answer"!