Thursday, December 29, 2016


A great many people (not you) do now seem to think that the mere state of being worried is in itself meritorious. I don’t think it is. We must, if it so happens, give our lives for others: but even while we’re doing it, I think we’re meant to enjoy Our Lord and, in Him, our friends, our food, our sleep, our jokes, and the birds’ song and the frosty sunrise.

From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume II

Monday, December 05, 2016

Discovering creativity

And she added: ‘Of one thing you can be sure: if you are a creator in any particular medium, you will end by discovering the fact. Nothing can prevent the genuine creator from creating, or from creating in his own proper medium.’ She expressed the hope that if he decided to specialise in mathematics or science he would also keep up with the humanities: ‘Scientists in these days tend to work in isolation from the general body of thought ... I believe there will be a reaction, in the next few generations, to a synthesis of science and philosophy, which will help to correct the present disjunction of the two activities.’

From Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul, by Barbara Reynolds - in a letter written to her son. 

Simple Gospel?

"So few parsons are really trained in the use of words ... The result is that when the trained writer restates an old dogma in a new form of words, the reader mistakes it for a bright new idea of the writer’s own. I spend half my time and a lot of stamps telling people that I have not been giving them a fancy doctrine of my own ... Typical of this is a woman who writes to say: ‘I can’t agree with you that Christ is the same person as God the Creator’. One can only say: ‘It isn’t a question of agreeing with me. I have expressed no opinion. That is the opinion of the official Church, which you will find plainly stated in the Nicene Creed, whether or not you and I agree with it.’"

She considered the teaching and preaching of the Church inadequate. The result was that people were bewildered and ‘in a nightmare of muddle out of which [they] have to be hauled by passing detective novelists in a hurry and with no proper tackle’. Preachers will not define terms or say what the doctrine is. 

In September she was invited to attend a meeting of clerics and laity at the B.B.C., ‘who were trying to work out plans for some sort of "call to religion" with musical and dramatic accompaniments’. She was not enamoured of what she called ‘propaganda art-forms’ and considered that it would be better to begin by making a work of art for its own sake and let the moral emerge from it, not the other way round. She came away from the meeting very depressed. To Canon Cockin, a member of the committee, she wrote, ‘It sent me out in a mood for a stiff gin-and-tonic and the robust company of my heathen friends.’ She wrote at length about it to Father Kelly: 

"The wretched pacifist question boiled up at once, and these people always contrive to put one into an awkward position, as though one was completely corrupted by Caesar, while they sit loftily on the Mount with Christ and Mr Gandhi. And the clergy, who were not pacifist, but showed a great reluctance to fight the issue, all seemed disposed to believe that it was the chief business of the Church to advocate socialism and economic reform. It’s so easy to say ‘Let’s have the simple Gospel and consider what Christ would have done.’ But what is the ‘simple Gospel? And whatever Christ ‘would have done’, there’s one thing He would have resolutely refused to do, viz. to sit on committees and argue about politics ... Perhaps the people who sit on B.B.C. committees are the wrong kind of clergymen. They don’t seem to be able to keep the Law and the Gospel distinct in their minds. 

"They all made me feel very gloomy, including the Socialist parsons, who all seem to think that the difficulties of labour will be smoothed away by getting wages right, never mind what happens to the work. I tried to suggest to them (along the lines of the little section on Work in ‘Creed or Chaos?’) that it was necessary, along with the wages question, to get a right attitude to the work. They thought this very novel and constructive ... which shows how hopelessly we have all got wound up into the ‘economic theory’ of society." 

They babbled, she went on, about European Federation, which in her opinion is no more likely to work than the League of Nations or the temporal sovereignty of Rome. The one Federation that does work — i.e. the British Commonwealth — they have no use for.’ [Interesting in the light of the recent Brexit vote...!]

From Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul,  by Barbara Reynolds

Saturday, December 03, 2016

High in the Night Sky

One of the great sins, according to the Scriptures, is the sin of complaining. We tend to overlook this this, thinking that complaining is just an ordinary, garden-variety sin. Everybody complains, right?

But in Scripture it is one of the big ones. The children of Israel in the wilderness incurred the anger of God more than once through their murmuring and complaining (e.g. Ex. 16:2). God had given them amazing provisions in that wilderness, and yet they were blind to it all—their glass was perpetually half empty, not full and overflowing as it had been when they were slaves in Egypt.  The contrast between an unbelieving people and believers is strikingly seen in just this.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14–15).
It doesn’t much matter what you are murmuring about. The content of the dispute is entirely ignored by the apostle. The merits of your particular case are passed by entirely.

He doesn’t say no murmuring or disputing unless your boss doesn’t understand you, or unless your wife is not being difficult. He doesn’t say that murmuring is only allowed when nameless others are not letting you have your way. He doesn’t say that murmuring is a good way of letting other people know you have high standards and that other people are aggrieving you because of them.

No, you shine as lights in the world when you do all things without murmuring or disputing. The Israelites murmured about their food and drink, but there are a host of things you can complain about if you want to blend right in with our crooked and perverse nation. There is the weather, the traffic, the housekeeping, the cooking, the music, the pay, the recognition, and the weather again.

This is not a complicated issue. Grumbling is the black night sky. Contentment is a shining star, high in the night sky.

From Douglas Wilson's blog, Blog&Mablog, 26th Nov, 2016: High in the Night Sky