Amusement parks. Vacation. Time to decompress. We all need and crave recreation and refreshment, but somehow, we often find ourselves not as refreshed as we hoped to be. I think this problem has to do with the fourteenth shift in thinking since the Enlightenment–replacing the former idea of leisure with the very different idea of amusement.
We all see things and naturally wonder what caused them to happen. When we come home to shattered glass, we ask our kids who broke the window. When we do an experiment in the chemistry lab, we try to determine what caused the reaction. When I saw the “Dancing House” in Prague, I wondered what the blueprints must have looked like leading to such a structure. And when I see a new home being built in my neighborhood, I wonder who is having the house built and whether we might become good friends.
I am exploring fifteen ways thoughtful believers saw the world before the Enlightenment, and how we see the world now. C. S. Lewis draws these distinctions masterfully in his writings. I believe this is one reason why his books and articles are so engaging and enduring. He is on to something, and we intuitively know it.
This week I’ll pick up the discussion of fifteen differences C. S. Lewis identified between our current way of seeing the world (influenced by the Enlightenment) and earlier ways of thinking. I have discovered, and am trying to show, that new is not always better. Thinking that new is better amounts to “chronological snobbery,” as Lewis put it. So here are several more distinctions that come out in Lewis’s writings. These should help us to love God with our minds more effectively and should lead to more godly decisions and actions as a result.
We are all tempted to be chronological snobs, assuming what is fashionable to believe during our day and age must be right. This means we also assume those of previous times, who have different ideas and values, must be wrong. C.S. Lewis was able to resist this temptation. He stands as a model of how we might do the same, and how doing so will be a great benefit to us.
I have made the case that people flourish when living according to an Essentialist view of what we are. If I’m right, much of the narrative in Western culture should change, including our response to the LGBTQ+ debate. But if I’m wrong, we have the right narrative, which means we are on the right path to human flourishing and the common good.
In my last post I concluded, “[I]n order to help one another flourish, we must determine whether Libertarianism or Essentialism is the correct way to understand what we are. Understanding this clarifies the questions we should be asking and discussing. It determines how the data of experience should be interpreted. And it highlights the wrong questions both sides have been focusing upon.”
We cannot say we have fairly considered the issues surrounding the LGBTQ+ conversation without understanding and having good reasons why we embrace either the Libertarian or Essentialist views. Last week I discussed the Libertarian position. This week I’ll do the same for the Essentialist point of view.
Some believe God exists, but he can’t do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not powerful enough. Others believe God exists, but he doesn’t want to do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not good enough. Both attempts to explain the existence of God given the reality of Evil are common. I also think they are both wrong.
What would you say if asked why you believe God is a person and not an impersonal force? This is the question someone asked me on a recent flight. I offered five reasons, four of which I have summarized these past few weeks. This week I conclude this series with the fifth reason I gave: I and billions of others worldwide—and for centuries—have encountered God as a Person.