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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Friday, June 22 2001

Mere Christianity

At the risk of losing some readers with the subject line, I'm again turning to my current reading, along with the concluding thought in yesterday's entry, for a little inspiration on a day when the creative well seems dried out by the unrelenting summer solstice sun. Yesterday's concluding thought was, "But if penury (poverty) is a habit so hard to break, why isn't also faith, as well, engrained and why is rejoicing not a learned and even unshakeable personality trait?" And my current reading is a little gem of a volume, Pleasures Forevermore, the Theology of C.S. Lewis, by John Randolph Willis, S.J.

I admit to throwing in the concluding question on yesterday's entry as almost an afterthought in a bald attempt to try to "redeem" a tepid discourse about a very personal reflection on my travel plans and how they became cast in concrete. It may be patriotism, not religion, that is the last refuge of scoundrels, but some may wonder if I'm retreating to religion in excursions like yesterday's.

However, if you've paid attention you know I spent most of my adult career as a youth and campus minister and it may be allowed that although circumstances beyond my control have taken the valley boy out of the ministry, nothing can get "the ministry" out of the boy ("old boy" more aptly). On the one hand, I believe ultimate concerns in life (which is how I define "religion") do have a place in the public forum and shouldn't be ruled off limits for polite discussion. But on the other hand it seems manifest that "religion" scares people off; at the very least, if I'm talking about it, it's my religion, not your's, that I'm talking about, so why should you care to read about it?

Which leads to my current reading. C. S. Lewis, the subject of the book and my favorite author, is widely beloved by serious Christians and people of goodwill of other faiths as probably the most influential "religious" thinker of the 20th century who was not a professional religionist: no member of the clergy, theologian, or religious studies teacher, but an everyday layman. He was a professor of a "secular" subject (medieval and classical literature) in the English-speaking world's premiere university, Oxford, and by church membership an Anglican (the Church of England or, as known on this side of the pond, Protestant Episcopalian).

Willis, a Roman Catholic priest and Jesuit professor of history at Boston College, claims that his book is the first Catholic study of Lewis's theology. But as such, it's not surprising to Lewis admirers that the study is very appreciative of its subject's thought and influence. It's often said, only half in jest, that reading Lewis is the one issue that American evangelicals, Anglicans, Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox alike enthusiastically endorse.

Lewis's books range from a series of novels aimed at children but much loved by their parents, too, the Tales of Narnia; a science fiction trilogy; several other works of fiction (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Until We Have Faces) and many nonfiction books, mostly about Christianity, its doctrines and practice.

Among the latter, probably the most influential volume and the one most appreciated by the wide spectrum described above, is Mere Christianity, in which Lewis argues for the large body of teachings all serious (as opposed to nominal or in-name-only) Christians share. It's his masterpiece of Christian doctrine, intended to forge bonds among post-World War II members of Anglican, Catholic, and evangelical denominations in England and, by extension, the world beyond. And by and large it succeeded and continues succeeding.

Today's postcard is full so I'll wrap this up tomorrow. But my point, lest you miss tomorrow's post, is that when we do turn to "religion talk" here on the Jonal, it's to the broadest yet meaningful sense of the word "Christian" and not any in-group, sectarian, arcane, or denominational understanding.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

English language reform

David L. Bickley sends along a plan to improve the English language.

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5 year phase-in plan that would be known as "Euro-English."

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c." Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k." This would klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f." This will make words like "fotograf" 20 percent shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the language is disgraseful, and they should go away. By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivon vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru!

Sent by Alice Pruit

Four more to grow on

"Second place is the first loser." Dale Jarrett (NASCAR driver)
"It's not about money and power; it's about information. When you control the information, you control the power and the money." Ben Kingsley in Sneakers
"If you sit down to gamble, look around. If you don't see any suckers, get up and leave because you're the sucker." A Texas Gambler
"If anything can survive the probe of humor, it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted." Eric Idle

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