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For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
Oratory Church of the Immaculate Conception” by Michael D Beckwith / CC BY 3.0

This article originally appeared as an assignment in an intellectual history class I took. I realized that the subject is basically designed to go viral on Catholic twitter — the four figures I analyzed are beloved in English-speaking Catholic circles, and for good reason in my opinion. This was originally a 19 page paper, so for comfort and ease of reading in this format I’ve trimmed things down a bit and adopted a looser style. It shouldn’t hurt the content too much.

Modernity (the subject of the class and the paper) brought with it a shift in how people reason…

As frequent readers of my Goodreads will know, 2020 was a great year for my reading. I went from reading 33 books in 2019 — my previous record, and something that I was proud of at the time — to a likely 115 this year (although there are 2 I wouldn’t count and 2 I reread so it’s closer to 111 unique, book-length books). I thought I’d cap my year off by presenting my favourite from each month, largely because I wanted to write something but not put too much effort into researching it. This semester was very long.

January — Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam


Melkite-Christ-the-King” by John Stephen Dwyer / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Chapter 8 is a really excellent one: a long arc building up from a reflection on the permissive will of God to one of the most enduring parts of Mere Christianity in the famous Lewisian trilemma.

Lewis begins with a reminder of where we left off:

Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God’s will, or not? If it is, He is a strange God, you will say: and if it is not, how can…

“Apocalypse 1. War in heaven. Revelation cap 12 vv 7–12. Perelle. Phillip Medhurst Collection” by Phillip Medhurst / CC-BY-SA-3.0

After eliminating atheism last chapter, we’re left with a few diverging options. Obviously Lewis would like us to select orthodox Christianity, but Mere Christianity is nothing if not systematic: Lewis’ apologetic mission was to eliminate for the reader all possible alternative philosophies. Chapter 7 begins by identifying one such candidate:

Very well then, atheism is far too simple. And I will tell you another view that is also too simple. It is the view I call Christianity-and-water, the view that simply says there is a good god in Heaven and everything is all right — leaving out all the difficult…

- The Author. (I’ve started using my own photography in my posts as an excuse to practice).

At a snail’s pace, we move on to book two: What Christians Believe. We have transitioned now from Lewis’ proof of God’s existence, called the moral argument, to the book’s heart, namely a summary and a case for Christian doctrine. The first part of the book is remarkable in its own right, and I think provides the argument for God’s existence that is most useful in a normal conversation with a layperson, but I have a special fondness for this section. Were it not for Lewis’ explanation of doctrine, presented to me first via the CS Lewis Doodle youtube channel…

Mere Christianity CS Lewis Author Free Photo” by drewplaysdrums / Public Domain

It’s been a while eh?

Given that I haven’t written one of these in a month or so, I should by rights be totally lost. Thankfully, Lewis, somehow predicting I’d put this piece off for a month, has helpfully included within chapter 5 a short recap of where we left off. He begins:

I ended my last chapter with the idea that in the Moral Law somebody or something from beyond the material universe was actually getting at us. And I expect when I reached that point some of you felt a certain annoyance. You may even have thought that…

Mere Christianity CS Lewis Author Free Photo” by drewplaysdrums / Public Domain

In chapter 4, Lewis begins with what he has established in the first three chapters: the Moral Law exists in the heart of every man, that it is “real,” we “did not invent” it, and which we “know we ought to obey” (21). The reality behind the law is that there must be “something above and beyond the actual facts of human behaviour” which put that moral law there, and that is what is laid out in this chapter (21).

The chapter starts with a discourse on the various views on the nature of the universe. Lewis identifies two major…

Mere Christianity CS Lewis Author Free Photo” by drewplaysdrums / Public Domain

After introducing the idea that there is such a thing as objective morality and defending it from some of the relativists’ arguments, Lewis leaves us with some questions. First, if this law is natural and objective, then why can we elect not to follow it? Second, if we can elect not to follow the moral law, then on what grounds ought we to observe it in the first place?

Chapter 3 begins by describing the human race as “odd,” for two reasons (16). First, humans are “haunted by the idea of a sort of behaviour that they ought to practise…

Mere Christianity CS Lewis Author Free Photo” by drewplaysdrums / Public Domain

The chapters in Mere Christianity were originally radio pieces, so generally they can be read in whatever sequence you like without losing much of the necessary context. Chapter 2, however, is a direct follow-up from chapter 1, so if you’re reading this in the far future and haven’t read my commentary on chapter 1 yet, you can read it here.

In Chapter 2, Lewis discusses two major objections to the moral case that he made in Chapter 1. The first is that what we call “Moral Law” is really just an instinct that emerged through evolution. Lewis responds to this…

Mere Christianity Cs Lewis Author Free Photo” by drewplaysdrums / Public Domain

When I went into this experiment, I envisioned 4 posts, each discussing about a quarter of the book. Each ‘chapter’ (they are really transcribed radio segments) is about 5–10 pages, so a whole quarter (28 pages) would make for about 1000 words of blog post, I thought.

Then I started reading.

Somehow, even though the last time I read this book was in November, I had forgotten just how rich this book is. By page 4, Lewis had already introduced enough material for a whole series of blog posts. …

Pilgrimage of Grace

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