Saturday, May 23, 2009

intellect and emotion

I think I've mentioned before that I'm on a listserv on the life and writings of CS Lewis. I read this post by a man named Francisco a few weeks ago, and it's stuck with me, so I thought I'd dig it up and share. Good stuff!

I have been reading with interest the discussion of intellect v. emotion, head v. heart, and (shall we say?) faith v. reason, and how they are intertwined. As many of you have pointed out, both are necessary. But how they are conjoined so as to achieve a balance is where the problem lies. There's the rub, indeed. Yet it seems that unless such a balance is achieved there can be no true integrity. Unfortunately, for most of us, an imbalance exists, a disintegration as it were, which leaves us in a state much like that of a pendulum, now emphasising heart over head, now vice versa. Is integrity possible? Can it be achieved? I think it can. I think Lewis, to a certain degree, did achieve it. And most of his writings were an attempt at trying to pass on what he had learnt to others, to us. But the question remains, how did he do it? And how, in turn, can we go and do likewise?

I think one of his best clues is found in Mere Christianity. As far as he is able he attempts to enlighten his readers to help them arrive at that state in their spiritual growth as Christians where they can become those new men and women who "even now dot the landscape." He speaks of the new life is Christ as being an exponential leap beyond mere evolution. He speaks of the new birth in Christ, compares it with the birth of a child, but points out that a child born in the natural order has no choice whereas those who wish to be born into new life in Christ do. He also uses the analogy of an egg, which if it were to choose to remain an egg rather than hatching only succeeds in becoming a rotten egg. And here, and again in The Weight of Glory, he gives us the "secret" of making this exponential leap. He tells us that above all one thing is required, for in order to carry that weight of glory one must have humility, "and the backs of the proud will be broken." Elsewhere he speaks of how when we seek to grow in our faith we invite the Lord in, thinking He will make some nice, cosmetic changes to the house that is (what we think of as) ourselves: a new window here, a fresh paint job there, a bit of varnish. Then to our surprise and dismay, and at considerable cost to our comfort, we learn that He plans to tear down our house completely. He is not content to live in a shanty. Only a castle is fit for the King. So He proceeds to tear down all that we held so dear, to demolish everything we thought of as the persons that we are, to put the old man to death in order to raise the new one to life. But He will not do so without our permission. Unless we are willing to undergo this process, we remain natural, carnal men and women. We live the life of bios, a life we share with the animals and plants, but we will never attain to the life He wishes us to have, the zoe life, the eternal life which is to know the one true God and the Christ whom He has sent, and which can, in fact, begin here. We will never become fully integrated Christians.

In the end I think what Lewis is trying to drive home is the fact that we really do not save ourselves. Our intellect is not enough to bring about this change he speaks of, this making of the new man. Certainly our emotions are even less capable of doing so. In fact, both our intellects and emotions together cannot achieve it either. If they could, what need would we have of a Savior? The temptation is always there for us fallen human beings to think that somehow we can improve ourselves, become good, become holy, by our own efforts. This sort of thinking, if we were to really admit it, is exactly the kind of claims made by adherents of the New Age. The sad and (paradoxically) wonderful reality is that this is not so. We do not, cannot, save ourselves. What we can, and must, do, is allow ourselves to be saved. Easier said than done. Whether we are willing to admit it or not (and here again Lewis has much to say) pride gets in our way. To have the humility to relinquish control of our own lives, to submit to the divine will, to surrender totally to the new life our God so earnestly wants to give us, is no easy matter. But unless we are willing to do so, we, like Orual, will only have personas and never truly become the persons we were meant to be. We will always only be wearing a mask, and never truly have faces.

Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and die...

My tuppeny-ha'penny on a Saturday evening on the eve of the Fifth Sunday of Easter. Happy Mother's Day, too, to all the moms in SpareOom, and to all the moms of all SpareOomers of whatever persuasion, male or female.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Sole Burner!

update: I don't know you you-all managed it, but you landed on $350 even for the total donations! Thank you SO MUCH to all of you who sent in money!
Woo hoo for the American Cancer Society - sure hope they're doing good things with all the money we raised for 'em! You may remember that I ran in the Sole Burner last year for the first time. Here's a video from this year that does a pretty good job of giving the feel of it:

Since I had found it necessary to walk three or so times last year, I wanted this year to run the whole thing this year, if possible. My friend Javier took on the task of pushing me toward that goal - he ran track & cross country in high school, so it's been great fun to learn way more about running than I ever knew before. Toward the end of the training I was able to run the whole course with him - even doing the "hill of hope" at the beginning AND end - crazy! I don't think yesterday's scafuffle helped too much - but then again, maybe it did! After all, they did pump me full of fluids and steroids. (Hmm, I wonder if I should be glad they didn't do any drug testing??) Breathing was definitely a challenge, especially on (as my friend Erin calls it) the hill of hope-I-don't-die. But I ended up finishing in 31 minutes 30 seconds (9:50 minute miles), which is way better than last year's 33 minutes 34 seconds (10:49 minute miles). Hooray!
So many thanks to those of you sent money supporting the event. Dang - I should have totals of the money raised but I left it at work - I'll update this post with it when I get back on Monday. Like last year, I wrote on and posted two stars: one in memory of my dad, one in honor of my friend Deanna, who beat throat cancer 2 years ago.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Africa for grown-ups

So. I created a blog (you're surprised, right?!) for the upcoming Liberia trip! It's called Angela Ad Lib . Like this one, it's enabled for e-mail or RSS feed updates, so you can stay as updated as you care to on what's up with me! I'll continue to post slightly more personal/general life updates here on ladybugblue. Oh - and I may re-post some of general stuff about Liberia from this blog - so don't get weirded out if you see a few repeats!

I don't know if this happens to you, but every so often I have these little moments where I just sense God's love for me. I had one today as I was finishing a run. I was tired and coming in toward home, and the most cooling beautiful breeze came up around and behind me. I knew right then that I was so loved, and not alone - a big deal, particularly if you're single. And I started thinking, dang, I'm kind of getting the sense that there won't be too terribly many cooling breezes in Liberia - how will God show His love for me there?! Silly I know - I WAS tired - but that was the thought. I'm loving the Wisconsin spring this year, and although I may very well end up not doing the 2 year project, I really hate even the thought of two years without the seasons changing and without springs. How will I know God loves me, there? Will I be ever be able to be out in the wilderness (where I so often sense His presence) without fear? How often will I be able to just be out in His beautiful world, enjoying it and Him? Will everything be crisis and heat and being strong and striving and seriousness and others and their suffering? Will I get lost in that, and forget how much I - like any child - desperately need not only guidance and wisdom, but love, from my Parent?

I guess I will rely extra-heavily on my friends and family - the other big way I sense God's love! Can't even describe how encouraging it's been to have folks listen, share thoughts, email, shop, hang out, brainstorm, and just generally be there as I'm sorting out details of the upcoming trip, and the implications of the bigger project. It's funny because 10 days seems short compared to two years - but it's still a big deal! And I'm excited, but I'm also nervous about it. It's probably the least defined trip I've taken to one of the more challenging places in the world. As one girl (who's been to Kenya) put it this weekend: "Liberia is Africa for grown-ups"!