Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Common Good

I am continuing the process of reading through the C.S. Lewis "Signature Series" I completed "Screwtape Letters" last week and must say it was a fun way to discuss some of the things we all struggle with as a church and as individual Christians. For those who don't know the book follow's a one sided conversation between a demon named Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape's letters are two fold in purpose, first he is some sort of official employee of hell whose job is to supervise young demons in their efforts to tempt humans into lives of sin and eventually overcome the Enemy (God). Secondly, he seeks to give good family advice on how to be a good demon and how to get the most out of a life spent in hell. Each chapter is a seperate letter written on a variety of topics. Of course they are all absolutely backward of how we are supposed to live and interact with our Christian faith, but that is point. A sort of tongue in cheek way of reminding us how we are to conduct ourselves. Some of my favorite letters were ones written in order to guide young Wormwood on subtle temptation or allowing good things to come between his patient (an unnamed male human) and his new Christian faith. Things like allowing patriotism and fighting for the common good are all acceptable to Screwtape so long as they become the thing that drives humans into thinking that is the ultimate goal of life and not relationship with God. Or how a demon need not tempt one to a life of total debauchery when simple misdirection will do. One of my very favorite ideas was at just how fascinated with the "ordinary" or "common" we as humans are. When we desire so very much to seek the will of God but somehow get caught up in the ordinariness of a day instead. I have heard rumors of a film version of the letters and there is a play already. I would encourage those who choose to read it and interact with the text and reflect on personal struggles we all share in common. For we are a people who seek the common good of people. We all have some sort of sense of right and wrong (an issue Lewis takes up greater detail in the beginning of "Mere Christianity" and "The Abolition of Man"). But when our social justice is blinded to grace or when 'getting people saved' is blinded to oppressive poverty, according to Screwtape, hell rejoices because we have an incomplete notion of our faith and God. For we need justice and salvation and worship and tradition and prayer and freedom and liturgy and and and. We are never fully formed. We should however not allow the small distractions of life or the greatest most noble of ideas stand in the way of allowing God to work in and through us. We must constantly be on the look out for what mission God is already on in the world and join him in it. For we are not the authors of salvation, we are the the characters in God's grand narrative. next post...Mere Christianity.

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