November 24, 2003
Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of JFK's assasination. There's plenty of publication about that, little of it mattering to me. However, it's also the 40th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, a famous novelist with religion interleaved heavily into his works. This article from the NY Times brought this anniversary to my attention. Interestingly, Lewis was an atheist much of his life, but turned to devoted Christianity at the end. There were several quotes that stood out to me as powerful and descriptive. I like how the author mentions how he made religion readable, rather than overbearing self-righeousness. Lewis also said, "Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst," which is so true, and so unfortunate to the many who have suffered at the hands of religious fanatics. Yet Lewis was also wise enough to note that sin and evil are due to the men (and women) themselves, not to a predisposition, destiny, or faith itself. I must applaud him on this, as I see too many people blame an entire religion on the wrongful acts of a few people.
Posted by charr at 12:02 PM
Amen, brother! :) You wouldn't believe the number of times I've been called brainwashed or evil simply because a few Mormons have gone nuts. For instance, back when the news had just broken that Emmanuel had kidnapped Elizabeth Smart, before we knew anything about motive or anything, this guy I knew immediately said he did it because the Mormon church brainwashed him just like they did me, and if I didn't get out I'd end up just like that crazy man. Don't you just love backwards logic?
Were you thinking about the Mormon religion or the Muslim religion when you wrote this: "I see too many people blame an entire religion [for] the wrongful acts of a few people"?
What is your fave Lewis book? I've only read the Chronicles of Narnia, a mythical set of books, and none of his religious ones although I've been meaning to.
This goes hand in hand with stereotyping people based on thier religion. This is a big pet peeve of mine. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked how many wives my father has. (My answer? I laugh like they are crazy then say straight faced, "Only five." Then I explain.) Just because there are a few wooly bearded men out in the wilds of Utah who are polygamists and call themselves Mormon, doesn't mean that we all are wooly bearded polygamists. It's gotten to the point where I cringe everytime some news program does a segment on them. I know I'm gonna get questions tha next day even though the reporters usually manage to insert the usual "been excommunicated from the mainstream LDS church" thing. Oy. People don't seem to hear that part.I can't tell you how many times my "good friends" at college held prayer meetings outside my dorm room where they prayed for me to "be released" from the evil devil-worshipping cult I belonged to. (I kid you not.) Ever hear "Now We Gather at the River" at 2AM in the hall of your dorm? Not something I'd recommend.Topic? I loved the Chronicles of Narnia as a child. I don't remember what they're about now, so maybe I should re-read them. I'll add then to my "to read" list.
Heather: I know what you mean, and the whole E. Smart story came to mind as I wrote this.Ellen: I started off non-denomenational, but as I mentioned, started to think about the E. Smart story and thus Mormons. I was also very much thinking of whacked "Christians" like David Koresh or other cult leaders who get young girls to sleep with them, and how they try to use religion to accomplish evil desires. It could very much apply to Islam as well. I've always been a proponent of the idea that Islam is peaceful. While I still maintain that, I am increasingly disturbed by the commonality of extremists, and the lack of Muslims standing up and condemning the acts of the radicals. Maybe their voices just get drowned out by the media.As for a favorite C.S. Lewis book, I don't know that I have one. I read the Narnia books a long time ago, but don't remember them too well. I started reading The Screwtape Letters one time while waiting for a girl, but I didn't get too far. My mother loved Lewis' work, and I like Shadowlands, but I haven't read many of his works.Jan: You make me laugh, but I do feel sorry for your lost soul. ;) Why did your dad only have 5 wives, when he could have had many more? People would ask me all the time on my mission and I would just tell them I couldn't handle more than one woman. But in reality, while you've had more experience than me at this, I do know what you mean.
Here's an interesting trivia bit that some of you may already know. C. S. Lewis was good friends with, and was helped to convert to Christianity by J. R. R. Tolkien. Although Lewis ended up writing primarily religious books, Tolkien challenged him to write some sci-fi. His 'Space' trilogy is the result of that challenge. I read it a really, really long time ago, but I think I enjoyed it.The Narnia books are actually Christian allegory, so they definitely fall under the category of religious books. A lot of his books were like that, in fact, though some are more obvious about it. The Great Divorce, for example, is about a bus that takes anyone who wants to go from Hell up to Heaven. The narrator goes through all the excuses keeping people from the bus, from the people who haven't got a thing to wear to Heaven to the preacher in Hell who would rather give a sermon on the nature of God to his congregation than go meet Him himself.He also wrote an interesting book called 'Till We Have Faces' in which he retells the Greek myth of Psyche with a few alterations to give it a Christian moral lesson. It's really good.
I used to do the "No, no, no" when asked about polygamy. But now I just explain that isn't currently practiced and leave it at that. If pushed, I bring up that it was practiced by prophets in the Bible. There is a possibility that it will be requested of us again. And it had a purpose when it was instituted in times past (both in Biblical times and the 1800s). The error of those wooley beared men isn't so much that they are practicing polygamy (legal crime) as that they are doing it at a time when God hasn't deemed it necessary (moral crime). The great thing is because of the growth of the church, most people know someone who is Mormon and we're looked on much more favorably than in decades past. Although the born-again types (of which I used to worship with) will pray for our souls til the day we die. And isn't nice to know they care? ;) I tell 'em I'll take all the prayers I can get.
In an article I read today, they are apparently working on filming the Chronicles of Narnia in New Zealand. Should be interesting.