8.28.2009

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was a prominent Irish playwright. His works address serious social issues through satire. Though you would not be able to tell from his picture, he was pretty freakin' funny.

He was an advocate for liberalism and socialism and a critic of religion, moralism, and capitalism. He was friend and sparring partner of one of my favs, G.K Chesterton, and though they fiercely disagreed with each other's worldviews, they maintained a cordial relationship. Reading them together is very interesting as many of their debates are predecessors of today’s. Thus, while reading them, I am always surprised by how relevant they are for today, even though they were writing in the early 20th Century.

Pygmalion is one of his most celebrated plays, which earned him both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar. Eventually it would be adapted into the musical My Fair Lady. It addresses the relationships and conflicts between the classes.

Doctor's Dilemma seems every bit as relevant - and perhaps more so - than it was in 1906, given the current health care debate. It addresses the problems of health care driven by profitability and self-interest as opposed to patient care. Obviously, it makes a case for socialized health care.

8.08.2009

The Practice of the Presence of God

Brother Lawrence gives us an example of what it is to "pray without ceasing." This book is a real challenge -- an invitation, even -- to pray and to spend your entire day contemplating God. The end result of such a spiritual discipline is a kind of ecstasy, as the Christian realizes the glory of God. The Christian who practices the presence of God seeks to honor God in every task, whether it be washing dishes or going away for a quiet time of prayer. Brother Lawrence made no distinction between the two:

"The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clutter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament."

8.07.2009

The Great Divorce

Exegetes and expositors no doubt wish that Lewis had been a more precise interpreter. Rationalists no doubt wish he had stuck with explaining what is real. But I think Lewis' brilliance is his ability to use fantasy and mythology to speak of things more real than could properly be exposited or explained.

To read this book for facts about Heaven and Hell would be a mistake. To read this as an exposition of the afterlife, I think, would be a mistake. This book, I believe, is an exposition of the great gospel truth: "He who loses his life, finds it." Lewis is illustrating real life, real love, and real happiness. And the key is self-forgetfulness. Those who fail to enter Heaven are those who cannot get over themselves - their ambition, their suffering, their rights, and so on. Those who enter, who become more real and experiences life more fully than they could imagine, are those who come into the light to have their shame painfully exposed and lose themselves in love for God and others.

Put down your self-help books! Your discontentment comes not because you have failed to consider yourselves. You are unhappy not because you have not attended properly to your own happiness. It is precisely your grasping, which keeps you from it. You are dying because you have not lost yourself. You have not yet forgotten yourself.