Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mere Christianity

In the first few chapters of this book, Lewis does an extraordinary job laying out the idea of The Law of Human Nature. Two points Lewis makes are that all humans have a curious feeling that they should act in a certain way, and also that humans do not in fact behave in that way. We all know the Law of Nature, but we all break it.
Chapter two distinguishes instincts from law, because a feeling of desire to help someone is very different from feeling you ought to help someone, whether you want to or not. An example is if someone is drowning, you will feel two desires: one to give help (herd instinct) and one to keep out of danger (self-preservation). Additionally, you will feel something that tells you to help the person drowning and suppress the impulse to run away. "The moral law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys."
I really like when Lewis talks about impulses not being bad. Some people in class thought that our impulse to kill must be a bad one, since it is bad to kill. However, Lewis points out that the impulse to kill is appropriate for a soldier. I do not think the impulse to kill would be felt unless you were in great danger; if I was being attacked, the impulse to kill my attacker is not a bad one. Moreover, sexual impulses are not bad ones but may be bad in certain situations. We must know when to restrain and when to embrace our impulses.There are no impulses or instincts that we must always follow, no matter what. They cannot be an absolute guide, because love for humanity must also be paired with justice. The moral law is not an instinct or set of instincts; it directs the instincts.
Lewis brings up the point that although we have different cultural practices and beliefs, the moral differences between countries are not that great. Rules of the road or the type of clothing worn vary from time to time and from location to location, but the moral code is running through them all. People often do not distinguish between difference between morality and differences of belief about facts.
In chapter three, the laws of nature are discussed. In the case of nature, law means "what it always does." A stone will always fall when dropped. This is not because it is under some sort of order, but this is just what in fact it does. "The Law of Gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not." There is not a behavior that stones ought to act in, and there is nothing else needed but facts when it comes to electronics or molecules. Human beings however need more than facts. We must admit that the Law of Human Nature is a real thing, and it is not made up by ourselves. There is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men's behavior...'a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us."
It continues to amaze me how brilliant C.S Lewis is. He presents this topic flawlessly, and it still holds true years after he wrote it. Our group did not have much to say about this piece of writing, because there was nothing to disagree with. He presents a truth that cannot be argued against. However, if we cannot argue against it, we must figure out what to do with it. If we do not follow this Law of Human Nature, how can start to? If the power behind the facts is God (which is what Lewis is leading up to) how can we open our ears and eyes to follow this guide more thoroughly?
Lastly, I just find it so interesting that this Law runs through everyone, every denomination. God is the force behind all of our actions, yet we still have groups of followers who are fighting and competing against one another. It does not make sense to me.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Kaitlyn,

    Great summarization! You are right: “God is the force behind all of our actions, yet we still have groups of followers who are fighting and competing against one another. It does not make sense to me” either.
    Or, maybe it does make sense (if I know myself), but how can I be so, if I may say so, dim-witted? How do I still think I can do it on my own? Not just the pagan need for “unselfishness” (Mere Christianity) but even worse, the Christian “love your enemy” (The Weight of Glory)?
    How I wish we/I, where/was different! But, one day “we shall get in”!
    "It is now as if we are on the outside of the world, on the wrong side of the door. We respond to the freshness and purity of morning, but we don't become fresh and pure thereby. We are separate from the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in" (Weight of Glory).
    How I/we look forward to that day!

    Your fellow warriors,
    Adriana & Paulo