Friday, March 12, 2010

In Praise of Thinkers

One of the delightful things in reading the writings of thinkers is that their writings are chock-full of thoughtful thoughts.

I mean that in two ways. Of course, what they have to say about their primary subject is rich and savory.

But even their "incidentals," their supporting illustrations and arguments, reveal that they have thought long and hard about other subjects as well, and it makes one want to read them discourse on those other subjects as well.

C. S. Lewis was such a thinker. In ch. 2 of Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, he responds to the charge that praying in one's own words is far better than praying the ready-made prayers of others. Lewis argues that both have value, and, while he prefers praying in his own words, he finds that also praying the "ready-made" prayers of others preserves a sort of balance to his prayer life, and he explains why.

Lewis argues his point well, and I can't say I disagree in the least, (which is why I have enjoyed using prayer books myself, like The Valley of Vision and A Diary of Private Prayer).

But not only does he argue his subject well, he drops other thoughts in support of his argument, thoughts which reveal that he has spent much time thinking about a lot of things.

  • "Heaven will display far more variety than Hell."
  • "The more 'up to date' the book is, the sooner it will be dated."
  • "I think the 'low' church milieu that I grew up in did tend to be too cosily at ease in Sion [sic]. My grandfather, I'm told, used to say that he 'looked forward to having some very interesting conversations with St. Paul when he got to heaven.' Two clerical gentlemen talking at ease in a club! It never seemed to cross his mind that an encounter with St. Paul might be rather an overwhelming experience even for an Evangelical clergyman of a good family ..."

I find these statements tantalizing. Who knows if I'll ever get through Letters to Malcolm? If I read it too fast, I may miss a lot.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Immanuel Kant And Wisdom From Heaven:
Is it not true that some thinking is no more than a road to a dead end? Take, for example, Immanuel Kant of whom, I remember someone once said he took twenty years to discover that he was real and alive in the world and really did exist. Kant said:
“I think, therefore, I am.”
But great ideas have always come from great thinkers -- Men of God, created with and given understanding from heaven who have cut many a paths through to doorways out of life’s areas of wilderness that heretofore have been almost insurmountable in this world. And I love stome of the great ideas of men like C. S. Lewis and oh, so many others. Yet concerning wisdom that rises above, God Himself has shown:
12. I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. 13. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. 14. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. 15. By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. 16. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. 17. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. 18. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. 19. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. 20. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: 21. That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.
The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
Further, King Solomon himself -- after a very long and life-wise, and observing reign -- has said:
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Song of Solomon 12:13) --The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
Webster’s New World Dictionary says of “WISDOM,” that it is
“the quality of being wise; power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding, etc.; good judgment; sagacity”
7. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Ibid., Proverbs 1:7)
THE APOSTLE, PAUL, said that the world, by it’s wisdom, does not know God (1 Corinthians 1:21). Therefore, human guesses about life and philosophy are unrealistic (apart from spiritual revelation from heaven). Such guesses as I. Kant made of his own existence can be a waist of time and quite destructive. The reality of his and everyone else’s existence may be quite a brilliant thought. But it leads us nowhere for life, liberty and the pursuit of God and happiness here, nor in the hereafter as does the Bible. Paul Said:
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30, NIV --Dad