Spiritual Depression

I am endeavoring to read through Spiritual Depression by  D. Martin Lloyd Jones.

I plan on reading, learning and then commenting on it.  This is not a review or a critique but an exercise.

Here is a great link with some audio of Lloyd Jones preaching. (I am not selling the book and do not profit from the advertisement of it).


Thinking Critically

Have you ever been in the middle of watching a news program, sitting in a classroom  or (been caught up in an infomercial) and suddenly thought ,” Wait a minute, what am I being fed here? I am not  just being informed but  subtly told how I should think, feel, and react to the information being presented”.

With the infomercial we catch on pretty quick ( but it’s so tempting to believe that we too could have those rock hard abs in just 4 weeks with only 30 seconds a day of the ” Ab-maestro”).  We want the abs, they want our money, usually in just 27 easy payments of  $14 (plus shipping and handling).

But who really goes for that stuff anyway?  Actually,enough people buy that stuff to allow the seller to pay for hour-long commercials.  Yeah.

We may have little respect for the authority of the infomercial but when we have a person in a trusted  position of authority on our television, such as a news anchor person, a  popular talk show host,  or a beloved teacher in a classroom, our tendency is to accept  what we are hearing somewhat uncritically. In  all of these situations we are lead in a particular direction or to come to a particular conclusion. That’s how we become informed positively (or misinformed).

Often we are told what to believe or what to accept. It is always subtle and we end up  buying not only into the news facts but the bias presentation of  the news story. The background banter between the anchor and co-anchor as they shake their head or nod to one another in approval to the stories developments or outcome.   We are expected to swallow more than  the facts we are expected to agree with the presentation itself , after all, the people presenting the bias are authority figures, they carry weight, they reflect the “proper opinion” don’t they?

Persuasion is a  good teaching tool but critical thinking looks past the apparatus to weigh the facts , sometimes to bring those facts in contact with other facts left out of the argument and to simmer those facts together to find critical truth.

Think about the most controversial subjects (Rights of the unborn vs pro-choice or, intelligent design verses evolutionary theory)  we are told what opinion is politically correct , all through  the presentation of facts, and  our little boat is pushed out onto the waters of society adrift along with others and floating on popular opinion. This creates societal peer pressure. In fact these are almost of no controversy anymore due to the continued political correct agenda of the presentation of news media.

Teachers will be marking your paper. Now there’s incentive to tell them what they want to hear. If it is a paper written on a controversial subject like rights of the unborn vs pro-choice . You can bet the pressure will to be to toe the line and weight the discussion to the popular opinion. ( Would an ethics class even consider this topic?) I wonder.

Or try postulating the concept of Intelligent design in a classroom exploring the theory of origins and evolutionary theory.

It is a theory isn’t it?  yet there is no other postulation to be brought to the table?  I mean stuff to make you think!!!

Think about the effect that political correctness has had on the exchange ideas in the public forum. In the space of  one single generation people  have made a 180 degree turn on some  the major issues of life and world-view.

We are not to be conspiracy theorists and we may have to be careful about what we say to whom ,or we will have no voice at all, but certainly we posses our own mind and with this amazing mind we have a tremendous capacity to think critically and to own what we believe and not just be drifting along with no purpose and no well thought out world view and conviction on important issues.

So watch the news, ( maybe turn off the infomercials and the talk-show host) and hear your teachers but own you mind and own your convictions don’t give them away to the world.

Have you read C.S Lewis; lately?

The Writings of C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, have been highly publicized through the production of the  movies that have come out over the last few years. (I saw most of them twice and I think I enjoyed them even more than my children, though we all loved them).

But there is no substitute for reading the stories first hand. C.S. Lewis is and will always be one of my favorite authors.

In fact I  distinctly remember reading the stories, (starting with The Magicians Nephew )  to my son. I was jumping around the room speaking with different voices and an English accent. I could see his eyes widen and his expression change as the stories characters were literally leaping  of the page. ( well I was leaping). Several times as my wife was reading to my daughter in the other room or doing night-time prayers, I could hear them saying ” What on earth is going on in there” or  What are they doing in there?”  Chairs were falling over, I was leaping ,I  would knock on the wall to represent the knock on a door and so on, to enhance the story’s imagery. ( I was often reminded that we were to be settling the children down, not winding them up). Sometimes my daughter would want to hear the story I was telling, not mom’s.  She was always welcome but was more on the quiet side and would get up and leave if we were getting out of hand.

Reading both My sons expressions and the book I would heightened the sense of suspense at the appropriate times. Working with the words of Lewis, I made the bad characters sinister and the good characters noble. I made the children in the book wonder filled and Aslan, well there was no doubt who Aslan represented. He was Powerful, Good, Eternal and a Saving Lion, not a tame lion mind you, but a good Lion.

I loved that time.

C.S Lewis  had a way of opening up the gift of imagination in the way he tells a story. He once was a thorough going atheist and I respect him for that because when he came to faith, he came to it in God’s timing through a mind that was willing to engage great truths without backing down. He was willing to accept where  the evidences pointed him, and no doubt God was calling Lewis see Him as He is. He allowed the weight of the crisis ” That God indeed exists and can be known” to settle on him for his good.

Lewis once convinced and committed, then used his gifts to tell  “The Great Story”.

Here is Lewis in His own words speaking about his allegorical writing in the time in which he lived,

“until the theologians and the ordained clergy begin to communicate with ordinary people in the vernacular, in a way that they can understand, I’m going to have to do this sort of thing.”

Today of course the pulpit does communicate to the ordinary people in the vernacular ( at least in the protestant denominations that I know) but C.S Lewis contribution  to the fabric of Philosophical thought ,faith and story telling belongs to the church of believers, he is one of our dear brothers who  I love to read.

If you ever want to get into some serious C.S. Lewis though you have to read his other works.

Here are a few suggestions

Mere Christianity  http://www.amazon.ca/Mere-Christianity-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652926

Surprised by Joy  http://www.amazon.com/Surprised-Joy-Shape-Early-Life/dp/0156870118

The weight of Glory  http://www.amazon.com/Weight-Glory-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060653205/ref=pd_sim_b2

A grief observed  http://www.amazon.com/Grief-Observed-C-S-Lewis/dp/0060652381/ref=pd_sim_b8

Above and beyond the rhythm

My work gets me around the city of Vancouver a lot. Vancouver is a great city; it has a vibe a rhythm. There are the early morning dog walkers in the Yale Town district up at 5:30 am with all of the dogs sharing the few trees in the park for bathroom breaks and the Lulu lemon yoga pant clad 20 something women going to or returning from their yoga classes with a rolled up mat under one arm and yes, a latte in the other. They busily bustle along with an air of importance and a “look at me” attitude. Men pour out of the Gyms too (A few have those yoga mats) but most are freshly pumped up from free weights and they Jog. This is one of the nicer parts of town. The people here are well off, motivated, highly effective; some are singles, some family people.

Further on just a few blocks north there are the shopping carts the people sleeping in doorways the high traffic back alleys that are shared by the homeless for bathroom breaks (You have to be careful where you step). There are the 20-50 something men and women who have no place to lay their head, with a cigarette- butt- rollie in one hand and yes a shopping cart in the other. If you were to continue north and a little west (Which puts you into the East Hastings area) you would find yourself in the heart of a homeless population that knows few biases related to race, colour or background. It is a scary place, people yell at each other; they yell at themselves, they yell at unseen persons too. They fight over items in garbage bins (they steal things from each others carts.) The stories of how they came to be here are as varied and interesting as any you will hear. This is the not so nice part of town.  The people here are hopeless, the often forgotten, the surviving.

That’s North of Yale-Town but if you were to head west a few blocks you would find the early morning streets a-buzz with the hospital staff of St Paul’s Hospital scurrying around coming on or off shift or slipping out to get a Starbucks wearing scrubs and walking and talking together so fast they look like they are in fast motion. They really are busy and they’ve been busy all-night long. These people are the serious, task oriented, concrete thinkers. Likely they come from elsewhere but they are woven into the fabric of the city on a 24 hour basis. Hospitals never go on break.

If you head still west up to Davie Street not much happens until after 7:00 am this is a bedroom district, old apartments,  with restaurants, deli’s, coffee shops that open later in  the morning. This district continues North on Denman and circles around to Robson. The people in this area are bohemian, activists, progressive, New Age, Taoists, bicycle riding transit users, artist, writers they have student loans, and are either gay or have gay friends attend various  rallies and the pride parade.

Then comes myself a (delivery man) I come into the city and travel from area to area within the city, I know the city but am not of the city, I am part of the city rhythm, yet I am a stranger. I have observed that as I meet and come to know individuals within the city, the rich, the homeless, the busily employed, the freethinking bohemian, there are moments when you see that all men and women have a longing for something more than they have at present, a deep yearning for more, a resting place for the soul, an ultimate relationship.  Every time I see it in them I remember this statement of Jesus, in Matthew 11

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The hard part is sharing the message. It offends the sensibilities because it is attached to the knowledge of God, it strikes against our pride, it calls us to turn from lifestyle practices and replaces our values with a higher standard.  A relationship with God draws boundaries and will require change.  I have come to care about the people I serve as a delivery person and those who are put on my path. I want hem to experience the forgiveness that leads to life and relationship with Christ.  these are the people on my path.

Who are the people on yours?