Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1530
Still hammering away at Getting Medieval with C S Lewis. Turning now to the “creation chapter.” Here are a few halting thoughts toward an introduction. They won’t appear in the final book in this form, but they suggest some linkages between medieval Western faith and modern Catholicism – in an area Protestants could learn from:
Modern Catholic tradition still draws from the Creation emphasis in the medieval church, which has attenuated in Protestantism.
Lewis picked this Creation-positive spirituality up too. Think of his love of storms, rocks, trees; his laughing exuberance in storms, rain, fog, drizzle (making him the perfect Englishman), as he reveled in “the quiddity [“that-ness,” essential nature] of things”; his use of long walks in the country to recharge himself.
We might see in these things the influence of the Victorian romanticism still lingering especially in literary and artistic corners of the British Isles during Lewis’s growing-up years: that sense of the mystic sacredness of nature itself, the sort of lavish and sometimes dark and even pagan pantheism that made Blake such an odd duck, led the brilliant Catholic engraver Eric Gill to create his frank and shockingly explicit public works of art, and brought the late-19th-century Decadents such as Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde (both of whom became Catholic) down into their pit of muck. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged C S Lewis, Catholic Church, Catholicism, community, Creation, death, G K Chesterton, love, marriage, romanticism, sex
It is no good to talk about “theology of work” and “faith-work integration” as if these topics somehow floated above the economic realities in which we live. Nobody has to remind us that those realities are pretty grim right now. But we can’t very well address them effectively with the resources of the church–or any other resources–unless we understand what’s going on in our economy.
Does this mean we need to be trained economists as well as pastors, seminarians, theology professors, engaged laypeople? Not at all. A chaplain or pastor can minister effectively in a hospital room without a medical degree. But it sure helps if said pastor has some idea of what challenges a patient might face within today’s medical system; what the patient’s prognosis is and what that will mean for their quality of life; and so forth. Just so with those Christians who today want to address work through eyes of faith.
This is one thing I respect highly about the Kern Family Foundation’s current grant-making activities in evangelical seminaries across the country: the foundation will not let seminaries get away with a surface-y, pietistic approach that majors on our individual gifts and vocations while ignoring economic realities. Indeed, the foundation and its seminary partners are now working toward a set of faith-informed “economic wisdom maxims” that are securely grounded in economic realities. I can imagine few more helpful enterprises in moving forward the faith-work conversation today.
Apropos all this, friend Collin Hansen, Editorial Director over at the Gospel Coalition, brought the following article to my attention. This piece by Jonathan Rauch in the top policy magazine The National Journal is sobering, to say the least. But the first step in solving a problem is knowing you have one. And right now, America has a very big one. Continue reading
Posted in Work with purpose
Tagged Brookings Institution, Economic Policy Institute, economics, education, Gospel Coalition, Jonathan Rauch, marriage, National Journal, responsibility, unemployment, work
When Miss America “came out” for sexual abstinence, pageant organizers got their undies in a bunch.For the Christian History & Biography e-newsletter, it was another opportunity to shed some Christian-historical perspective on an old, old issue. (As usual, caveat lector: the links in the following are old.)
Christian History Corner: No Sex (Before Marriage), Please…We’re Christian
Miss America preaches a 2000-year-old message
Erika Harold, Miss America 2003, has just emerged victorious from a very public struggle over sex. Erika, a professed Christian, announced after winning the title that she would be using her year in the spotlight to promote sexual abstinence for teenagers. For reasons best known to themselves, the Miss America pageant organizers in Atlantic City ordered her not to do so. Then, in the face of controversy, they reversed their decision but made Erika promise that she would couch her message in the more politically correct theme of “teen violence.”
One look at the multi-billion-dollar television industry upon which the Miss America pageant feeds should make clear the pageant promoters’ difficulty. How many premarital and extramarital sex acts are shown or implied each year on American television programs? How many times does a message of abstinence make it onto the airwaves—outside of Christian stations? Hmmm.
Probably the most obvious and counter-cultural ethical position of Christians today—one shared by the other “peoples of the Book,” Jews and Muslims—is the proscription against premarital sex. Continue reading