Getting Back to Normal?

How many times have you heard, thought, or said the words, “When things get back to normal–“? Are you hoping things will change before you start a new project? Are you just sitting back and waiting for things to get back to normal before you make any new commitments? Though we may be living with limitations we’re not accustomed to, we could be waiting for some far-off (and possibly non-existent) future, and besides, what is normal anyway?

In 1939, when Britain was on the edge of war (a war that would soon change their lives dramatically), C. S. Lewis preached a sermon, “Learning in War-Time.” A professor at Oxford, Lewis wanted to assure his students that learning was always important, no matter the world situation, and we can never have any guarantees of “normalcy.”

“The war (or virus or riots or civil unrest) creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure the search would never have begun. We are mistaken when we compare war with ‘normal llife’. Life has never been normal.”

If life has never been normal, then why does it seem so extraordinary now? And how are we live our lives?

Lewis told his students it is important to remember to do whatever God has given them to do, no matter what the circumstances. “The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly ‘as to the Lord’ . . . A man’s upbringing, his talents, his circumstances, are usually a tolerable index of his vocation. If our parents have sent us to Oxford, if our country allows us to remain there, this is prima facie evidence that the life which we, at any rate, can best lead to the glory of God at present is the learned life.”

The Apostle Paul addressed a similar situation at the church at Thessalonica. When times are normal or not so normal, we should always: “Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (MSG)

We all need to be constant students of the Word. No need to wait for life to be “normal” to do what God has called us to do. I had decided this year to enter several writing contests with the various short stories and poems I have been working on. Sometimes this seems like a waste of time, but the words of Lewis and Paul remind me that I need to continue to do the works God has given me whether that means writing a blog post, sending out a story, studying His Word, praying for my children, or encouraging one of my sisters or brothers to carry on. Don’t wait for life to return to normal to do what God has called you to do. This is the time He has put you in to live for Him. Now, excuse me as I see a contest deadline looming ahead.

Surprised by Oxford–A review

surprised by oxfordI enjoy reading of the spiritual journeys of others for several reasons. Being raised in church with the Bible always accessible to me and my questions, I find it particularly intriguing to read of those who have come to God in less “conventional” ways. How God seeks and saves those are who lost is a source of encouragment and inspiration to me in my own daily walk.

Surprised by Oxford is the story of one young woman’s spiritual journey her first year at Oxford. For those familiar with C.S. Lewis, yes, the title is intentional. Just as Lewis was an agnostic, not looking for God, and not interested in learning of a “personal” God, so Weber went to Oxford to study literature; not to find God. But, God surprised her there at Oxford by putting in her path Christians who lived what they believed and were to able challenge her own beliefs with love and intelligence.

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Some of my favorite quotes:

“that no matter how misleading the title of the theory of relativity, absolute rules the physical as well as the metaphysical. For me God’s love is so great that it can attract even the farthest, most lost, most seemingly random call to Him” (p. 127).

“It was occurring to me that believing in the Bible was an all-or-nothing affair. Either you believe it is the revealed Word of God, or you don’t. It is like being a little bit pregnant. Impossible. Either you are in or you are out” (p. 138).

“That is the bizarre thing about the good news: who knows how you will really hear it one day, but once you have heard it, I mean really heard it, you can never unhear it. Once you have read it, or spoken it, or thought it, even if it irritates you, even if you hate hearing it or cannot find it feasible, or try to dismiss it, you cannot unread it, or unspeak it, or unthink it” (p. 81).

To learn more about Weber, how she has spent the past 15 years and about her new book, check out her blog on: www.pressingsave.com

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C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy–ebook sale

“There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there is never more than one.”  from: That Hideous Strength

space trilogyI have read C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy several times and am always amazed at the wisdom and insight he was able to put into these books. I wrote about the first–Out of the Silent Planet–about a year ago. I am getting ready to read it again with my 17 year old son as part of his assignment for literature. I had checked the price several weeks ago for an ebook, but didn’t want to pay what the cost was at that time. Happy to report that Harper One is having a holiday sale where each of the three books can be had for $1.99. If you have not read these books, this is a good time to get them on your ereader.

Perelandra, the second book in the series, has Ransom being sent on a mission to the planet, Perelandra. He does not know what his mission is until he gets there. He soon finds that this is a new world which has not yet fallen to the sin of mankind and earth, but that the Tempter is there already making plans. Ransom understands these plans, knowing the history  of his own world, but how can he convince the first lady of Perelandra that he wants to help and that Weston (remember the scientist in Out of the Silent Planet?) is bent for evil?  bbc7perelandra500

That Hideous Strength was published in 1945. Most futuristic books published so long ago would seem to be out of date, but this book fits in nicely with today’s popular dystopian books. It is much longer than the first two books and very different. The first time I read it, back in my college days, I felt a bit confused for the first 100 pages or so. Then things began to click and I was mesmerized and, as usual with any book by Lewis, amazed at his insight into man and into spiritual warfare.

Even if you don’t normally read science fiction, take a chance on any of these books and you will not be disappointed. I’m not sure exactly when this sale will end, but probably in less than a week, so pass on the news to any of your reading friends; especially those who may have gotten a new ereader for Christmas.

“Those who are enjoying something, or suffering something, together, are companions. Those who enjoy or suffer one another, are not.” That Hideous Strength

Happy Birthday, Jack!

“To have faith in Christ means, of course, trying to do all He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.” C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity

Out of the Silent Planet–C.S. Lewis

Today is the birthday of C.S. Lewis.  I wrote a little about Lewis last week and today want to talk about the first book in his space trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet.

I used this book while teaching literature to some high school students. There are themes running throughout the book such as the value of life, social Darwinism, and the spiritual battle of good & evil which make for very good discussion with this age.

In this trilogy, the main character, Ransom,  seems to be a lot like Lewis himself. He is a professor, an expert in languages and medieval literature, single, and was wounded in WWI, but Lewis always maintained that he fashioned Ransom after his good friend, J.R.R. Tolkien.

In Out of the Silent Planet, Ransom is kidnapped by some scientists who take him to another planet, Malacandra, believing they need him as a sacrifice. Ransom manages to escape after they land & begins to meet the inhabitants of this planet.  Though he is afraid of them at first, he soon learns that they have more intelligence, and certainly are more moral, than the scientists who have kidnapped him. He also discovers that Earth has been exiled from the rest of the solar system due to its fallen nature.

Ransom settles into a routine with these beings and has his ideas about life–mainly, religion and humanity–challenged and questioned. Before he can get too comfortable, though, he is summoned to meet the ruler of  Malacandra. Here, he is challenged still greater about his previous beliefs in God and his own planet, Earth.

Though Lewis was a genius at explaining God & theology in his non-fiction writings, his analogies and allegories are also amazing and thought-provoking throughout his fictional writings.

I used the literature guide from Progeny Press when I taught this book. I highly recommend all of their guides. They divide the book into readable sections with vocabulary and discussion questions. They have several others for books by C.S. Lewis including some of the Narnian Chronicles and The Screwtape Letters and are a Christian-based curriculum.

Happy Birthday, Professor Lewis!

C.S. Lewis

Today marks the day one of Christianity’s greatest writers died in 1963. Lewis’s writings continue to inspire, entertain, & educate over 40 yrs after his death. Lewis is known mainly for his Christian apologetics–an Oxford professor who became a Christian much against his will. His book, Surprised by Joy, tells of his conversion to Christianity. His book, Mere Christianity, is a Christian classic.
Lewis also wrote books that, though for a younger audience, are continuing to entertain all ages. I read his Narnian Chronicles in a literature class in college and used that first book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in a literature class with a homeschooling co-op.
On Lewis’s birthday, 11/29, I will post about another series I used while teaching literature to high school students.