C. S. Lewis on Prayer as Monologue

Malcom

 

Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person.

(From “The World’s Last Night and Other Essays“, p. 8)

Poem

They tell me, Lord that when I seem
To be in speech with you,
Since you make no replies, it’s all a dream
– One talker aping two.

The are half right, but not as they
Falsely believe. For I
Seek in myself the things I meant to say,
And lo!, the well’s are dry.

Then, seeing me empty, You forsake
The listener’s part, and through
My dumb limps breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.

Therefore You neither need reply
Nor can; for while we seem
Two talking, Thou art one forever; and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.

– C.S. Lewis; 4 April 1934

(From “Yours Jack“, p.44)

Note on the word “limps” above: 

There are apparently different editions of this poem, with an earlier one published in 1964 reading “lips” instead of “limps.” How to resolve this I do not know, but it is interesting that in 1933 Lewis wrote:

Take not, oh Lord, our literal sense. Lord in thy great,

Unbroken speech, our limping metaphor translate.

It is also interesting that Lewis says in his letter from 1934 that he had written the poem “over a year ago.” I also note that at the time Lewis wrote the poem it was only about 2 1/2 years following his “second conversion,” to Christianity. About a year prior he experienced his “first conversion,” to theism.

Thanks for reading…

Bryan @ Manifest Propensity, 2015.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Poem “Christians and Heathens”

dbonhoeffer

 

 

People go to God when they’re in need,

plead for help, pray for blessings and bread,

for rescue from their sickness, guilt, and death.

So do they all. all of them, Christians and heathens.

 

People go to God when God’s in need,

find God poor, reviled, without shelter or bread,

see God devoured by sin, weakness, and death.

Christians stand by God in God’s own pain.

 

God goes to all people in their need,

fills body and soul with God’s own bread,

goes for Christians and heathens to Calvary’s death

and forgives them both.

 

From Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 8, Letters and Papers From Prison, pp. 460-61.

This poem by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is perhaps one of the most accurate statements in Christian theology regarding the  question of where God is, in relation to human need and suffering. I may try to elaborate more on its meaning in future posts.

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2014.

“Hatred (A Duet)” by the Kinks: What is the ultimate kink? (With help from Frederick Buechner’s “On the Road With the Archangel”)

Archangel

Sometimes I am amazed when I repeatedly stumble upon similar profound thoughts in unexpected places. One recent example is my stumbling yesterday upon the song “Hatred (A Duet)” by the Kinks, and then today something that Frederick Buechner wrote in his novel “On the Road With the Archangel.” Continue reading

“Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” by Blind Willie Johnson – NASA’s Golden Record’s witness to Jesus in Gethsemane

voyager-record

It is fitting that NASA’s  interstellar mission of Voyager includes the song “Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” on the Voyager Gold Record, being Blind Willie Johnson’s musical depiction of Jesus in Gethsemane; The passion of Christ which concerned humankind, the angels and God, the earth and the heavens. Continue reading

Soren Kierkegaard on “Keeping the two commandments” – “Works of Love” 8 (preferential love, part 1)

works of love

“Just because Christianity is the true ethic, it knows how to shorten deliberations and cut short prolix instructions, to remove all provisional waiting and preclude all waste of time. Christianity is involved in the task immediately, because it has brought the task along. There is, indeed, great debate going on in the world about what should be called the highest good. But whatever it is called at the moment, whatever variations there are, it is unbelievable how many prolexities are involved in grasping it.”

“Christianity, however, teaches a man immediately the shortest way to find the highest good: shut your door and pray to God – for God is still the highest.  And when a man will go out into the world, he can go a long way – and go in vain –  he can wander the world around – and in vain – all in order to find the beloved or the friend. But Christianity never suffers a man to go in vain, not even a single step, for when you open the door which you shut in order to pray to God, the first person you meet as you go out is your neighbor whom you shall love. Wonderful!” (Soren Kierkegaard, “Works of Love” p. 64.) Continue reading

Soren Kierkegaard’s “Works of Love” 2 (“Prayer”)

works of love

In 1847 the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard published his “Christian reflections” on “the works of love.” I have come to believe that Kierkegaard has been largely misunderstood, misrepresented, and therefore ignored by many Christians, to their own detriment. So for these reasons, and due to my own interest in what he has to teach about the “works of love,” I will be presenting a series of meditations as I read through this book. Continue reading