Monthly Archives: October 2014

Mere Christianity Part 20

Chapter 9 in Mere Christianity is called “Charity.” I don’t have a whole lot to say on this chapter as it was quite short.

C.S. Lewis begins by saying “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did.” Actually, psychology suggests that we form our opinions of people before we’re even conscious of doing so. It also shows that negative impressions are more powerful than positive ones, so it’s hard to make yourself like someone after you decide that you dislike them. You cant simply make yourself like someone by acting as though you do.

He then says “If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.” I don’t think emotions work this way either. Where is the evidence to suggest that this is true?

And his final argument is “They are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacturer feelings. Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it.” That’s manufacturing feelings. It also sounds a bit like Pascal’s Wager to me. It makes no sense to try and “fake it till you make it” in this case.


Mere Christianity Part 19

Chapter 8 in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is “The Great Sin.” This chapter discusses the sin of pride.

Lewis begins by stating “The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit.” Pride and self-conceit are not the same things. Pride is “a feeling of elation or satisfaction at achievements or qualities or possessions etc. that do one credit.” Conceit is “a far-fetched comparison, esp. as a stylistic affectation.” You can have pride without being conceited.

He then claims that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil.” No, the devil became the devil because he disobeyed God. It can be said that pride led him to disobey God, but I’d say it was more likely love. “Pride leads to every other vice.” Prove it. Seriously, this is an extraordinary claim. Lewis would have to go through every vice, prove that it was in fact a vice, and then prove that it was caused by pride to make this claim correct. I could make it incorrect simply by pointing to one vice not caused by pride. For example: addiction is not caused by pride. Since addiction is seen as something to avoid, it is a vice. It’s caused by having a particular personality type that makes one more sensitive to becoming addicted. Nobody is proud of their addiction, at least not that I’m aware of.

Lewis goes on to argue “In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronize me, or show off?'” Where is the evidence that this test works? How is it prideful to dislike being patronized or snubbed?  Those are very rude behaviours in themselves. I’d find it odd if even the most humble person was okay with them. That doesn’t signal pride, it signals that a person has been effectively taught societal moral beliefs. The dislike of being overlooked may be more accurate, but I’d still say your dislike of being overlooked says something else about you, namely that you are extroverted as opposed to introverted. As an introvert, I often try very hard to be overlooked. I doubt an extrovert would say the same.

He then states “Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive-is competitive by its very nature-while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident.” Again, evidence?

According to Lewis, “It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.” I’m proud to be able t say that I am organizing a conference. But I know very well that I’m not going to be the best at it. There are others with far more experience than I have. I’ve already made mistakes, and I’m sure to make quite a few more. But I’m learning a skill that I’m hoping will be useful in the future. I’m doing something that I never thought I’d do, but it turns out to be something that I’d like to do more of. How, exactly, is that competitive?

He then argues “But a proud man will take your girl from you, not because he wants her, but just to prove to himself that he is a better man than you.” I’m pretty sure he’s describing a narcissist, actually. That is a very special level of pride. And, just a side note, you can’t actually have what you don’t own taken from you. “Take” implies ownership. You do not own your partner. If they leave you, that’s their choice (unless they were kidnapped).

He claims that “10,000 pounds will give all the luxuries that any man can really enjoy.” Man I wish this were still true. Of course, without regaining a lot of the labour issues from the time.

Lewis says of pride “What makes a pretty girl spread misery wherever she goes by collecting admirers? Certainly not her sexual instinct: that kind of girl is often quite sexually frigid.” Wow. How sexist. First off, nobody can make you sexually or physically attracted to them. One can try by wearing certain clothes and applying certain products, but it’s your own brain that causes you to become attracted to the person. As such, an individual person has very little control over whether or not they collect admirers. The ones who can collect admirers usually don’t have to put much effort into it. Second, men really are not the only ones who have sex drives. Women like sex too. And third, we live in a society that tells women to suppress their sexual desires lest they be sluts, but if they do suppress them they are prudes. To say that a woman must be sexually frigid because she is pretty is perpetuating a very problematic belief.

He then argues “If I am a proud man, then, as long as there is one man in the whole world more powerful, or richer, or cleverer than I, he is my rival and my enemy.” Again, this sounds more like a narcissist than simply someone who is prideful.

And he states that “As long as you are proud you cannot know God.” If you can’t know God if you are proud, but all people suffer from the sin of pride, then how come Lewis keeps making assertions about knowing what God wants us to do?

Lewis says of those who are prideful “I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound’s worth of Pride towards their fellow-men.” How does Lewis know what other people are thinking, or the accuracy of their beliefs? Is he a mind-reader? Does he have some sort of special access to God’s knowledge that these other people don’t?

He claims “Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good-above all, that we are better than someone else-I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil.” So…whenever you feel good about yourself, it’s because of the devil? But God is the good guy? In that case, why worship God? He makes you feel bad and worthless, but the devil makes you feel good.

Then he goes on to say “The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself all together or see yourself as a small dirty object.” But God isn’t an abusive boyfriend at all. No, he loves you. He makes you hate yourself, but he loves you so it’s okay.

Lewis finished by stating that “The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature.” This right here is evidence that C.S. Lewis accepted evolution.


Mere Christianity Part 18

In “Forgiveness,” chapter 7 of the third book of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Lewis discusses the importance of forgiving your enemies in Christian doctrine.

“It is made perfectly clear that if we do not forgive we shall not be forgiven.” I like this bit. It makes me think:  if Christianity is true, and C.S. Lewis is correct, then all those parents who throw their children onto the streets for being gay, or even because they are atheists or drug addicts, won’t be forgiven because they could not “forgive” (since I don’t view sin as real, and I don’t believe homosexuality is wrong, I put forgive in quotes because I don’t think it is in need of being forgiven) their own child for what they perceive to be a sin.

“Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I’m afraid I sometimes do (and those are, no doubt, my worst moments).” This is just sad. The fact that anyone would say that it is only in their worst moments that they think of themselves as nice…that’s depressing. Nobody should think so little of themselves (unless they aren’t actually a nice person, but that’s a whole other discussion in itself). “but that is not why I love myself. In fact it is the other way round: my self-love makes me think myself nice, but thinking myself nice is not why I love myself.” Don’t you have to think yourself worthy of love before you can love yourself? Thinking yourself nice is one way to gain the view that you are worthy of love. So I’d say you need to see yourself as nice (regardless of whether or not you actually are) before you can love yourself.

“hate the sin but not the sinner.” People, please stop saying this. This is neither an inclusive nor is it a loving statement. What you are telling people when you say this is that a part of them is worthy of your hate. If I said “don’t worry: I don’t hate you, I just hate that you’re a Christian,” would that be okay to you? If you’re upset that, then don’t turn the same logic around on other people who you view to be sinners.

“In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man.” No. Just no. Hate is not an acceptable response. You don’t have to like everything that a person does, but if you love them, and if they aren’t hurting themselves or others, then you accept them fully. If you think they are hurting themselves or others, you confront them and share your concern. But you don’t apply hate to the situation.

“We ought to hate them.” Really Lewis? Really? Okay, I am really not a fan of the idea of hate. I don’t hate anybody for any particular belief system. I dislike people for the beliefs they hold. I dislike the MRA mentality of blaming everything bad on feminism. I dislike people who say racist and sexist things. I dislike people who tell me I can’t be moral because I don’t believe in a God. Those beliefs get on my nerves, and it puts the people who express those beliefs in a bad light to my mind. But I don’t hate them. Hate is a useless emotion. It’s pointless. It never accomplishes anything other than to cause problems.

“You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see whit itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything-God and our friends and ourselves included-as bad, and not be able to stop doing it.” This is a slippery slope argument. There is no reason to believe that if you can’t forgive one person you’ll end up hating everybody. It’s pure fear-mongering.

“If you had committed a murder, the right Christian thing to do would be to give yourself up to the police and be hanged. It is, therefore, in my opinion, perfectly right for a Christian judge to sentence a man to death or a Christian soldier to kill an enemy.” Murder implies intent. If you killed someone in a fit of rage, we call it manslaughter. If you kill someone who is attacking you, we call it self-defense. If you murder someone, it was premeditated. If it was premeditated, then why do the right thing after the fact? If you already planned and pulled off a murder, then why do the right thing and turn yourself in? I also can’t agree with the idea that killing someone is ever right. It may be necessary, but necessity does not indicate rightness.

“What I cannot understand is this sort of semi-pacifism you get nowadays which gives people the idea that though you have to fight, you ought to do it with a long face and as if you were ashamed of it. It is that feeling that robs lots of magnificent young Christians in the Service of something they have a right to, something which is the natural accomplishment of courage-a kind of gaiety and wholeheartedness.” So…a soldier should be proud of killing people?

“For really there is nothing else in us to love: creatures like us who actually find hatred such a pleasure that to give it up is like giving up beer or tobacco.” Well isn’t that a depressing sentiment: we aren’t worthy of love so we should be lucky to find it wherever we can. Again, nobody should feel this way. Then again, people shouldn’t find hatred easy either. Though, if it’s like giving up tobacco or beer, it’s no wonder I don’t find myself hating people: tobacco and beer are nasty!

Just a video from a YouTuber I enjoy.

I get such a kick out of this video. Not everyone will enjoy it and with out doubt somebody will comment “Why can’t feminists be nicer!” but for those who enjoy his sense of humor check out his videos.

Mere Christianity Part 17

Since I wasn’t able to do any posts on Mere Christianity last weekend, I have four that I ill be doing this weekend. I know I need to catch up with my Bible posts too, but school has been hectic. At this point I’m just hoping to get back into my Bible posts before December, but no promises.

So, without further ado, here is chapter 6, “Christian Marriage,” of book 3:

C.S. Lewis begins by stating “The inventor of the human machine will tell us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined.” This is a statement requiring a great deal of evidence. First, prove that their is an inventor who created humans. Second, prove that every man requires a wife to be complete and every woman needs a husband to be complete. What about people who have not interest in marriage?  Must they be viewed as incomplete? What does it even mean to be complete? How do we test this?

Lewis goes on to compare marriage to eating. He claims that “It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.” Note to self: I must not chew gum.

He then states that “It is a great pity that Christians should disagree about such questions; but for an ordinary layman the thing to notice is that the Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than any of them agrees with the outside world. I mean, they all regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases.” Does anybody actually see marriage as anything other than the last possible option? Who get’s married (other than a very small minority of people who view money as their only reason for marriage) with the plan in mind to get divorced? Do most Christians actually view marriage any differently than mainstream society?

Lewis discusses the idea of love ‘s place in marriage next. He argues that “The idea that ‘being in love’ is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all.” I sort of agree with this. If love is your only reason for getting married, why bother? You don’t need a legal document to tell you who you love. But I’d also advise someone to divorce their spouse if they told me they didn’t love them anymore. Why? Because things get very bad when you find yourself tied to someone you don’t love. Are the fights and the pain really necessary because marriage isn’t about “being in love”? Withteeth and I are planning to get married for one reason: we want kids. If something bad happens to one of us, or to our children, marriage will offer us the necessary legal protection to overcome the situation. Without the legal protection of marriage, we could find ourselves dealing with unnecessary legal battles.  Marriage isn’t about love for us, because we don’t need the government to recognize our love, it’s about protecting our future family.

He continues the sentiment by stating “A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling a certain way.” Which is exactly why “till death do us part” is silly. You can’t know if you will love your partner forever. Whether you’ve just began dating, have been together for 10 years, or are about to celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary, feelings can change. You may not always love the person that you love right now. Which is exactly why divorce is necessary.

He goes on to say “But what, it may be asked, is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her.” My parents got divorced when I was 12. They should have got divorced when I was 8. They stayed together for 4 years because they thought it was best for my brother and me. It wasn’t. If they wanted to do what was best for their children, they really should have gotten divorced when I was 8. We never went without a home. As for protecting women, I have a better solution: create a society where a woman is not dependent on her husband. This is still a problem today. Women who get married are seen as a liability by their employers. It is assumed that they will have children, so, even if they don’t, they are held back. This shouldn’t be the case. Women shouldn’t have to stay in bad marriages for financial support, they should be able to support themselves well enough to feel secure in leaving.

Lewis discusses the importance of a “Christian marriage,” then he goes on to discuss his views on enforcing Christian beliefs on non-Christians. He says that “The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question-how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for everyone. I do not think that.” Here I agree with Lewis. I was born in Canada. I deserve the same legal rights as every other citizen. I am not a Christian. Implementing Christian laws infringes on my rights because I have not consented to be forced to follow laws that I not only don’t necessarily agree with, but that may actually go against my own personal beliefs. I shouldn’t be treated as a second class citizen because you feel your beliefs are more important than mine. If you don’t want to get a divorce, you have that option. But you can’t make me stay married because you think divorce is wrong. The same argument goes for abortion.

He goes on to say “My own view is that Churches should frankly recognize that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives.” While I agree with the sentiment that non-Christians shouldn’t be forced to accept Christian doctrine, surveys would indicate that most British people were Christians when Lewis wrote this, and that, if Christianity actually has lost its standing as the majority belief system (the stats are unclear as to whether this has actually happened), it has only very recently happened.

Lewis then decides to discuss gender within marriage (which, of course, annoys me greatly). He argues that “The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent.” So a leader is necessary for anything to be permanent? “Of course, as long as the husband and wife are agreed, no question of a head need arise; and we may hope that this will be the normal state of affairs in a Christian marriage. But when there is a real disagreement, what is to happen?…Surely only one or other of two things can happen: either they must separate and go their own ways or else one or other of them must have a casting vote.” Because compromising wasn’t (and isn’t) an option? Because either one party had to win or both had to lose? Marriage is a partnership not a dictatorship. If you can’t agree you compromise. One party does not force their will on the other party.

He goes on to say of who should be the head of the household “Well, firstly is there any very serious with that it should be the woman.” Sexism. And he says that any woman would look down upon a woman who headed her own household: “She is much more likely to say ‘Poor Mr.X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.'” More sexism. Also, this is why the Ban Bossy movement got started. When a man tells his wife what to do he’s “being a man.” When a woman tells her husband what to do she’s “bossy and appalling.” In modern terms, a man who does what his wife/girlfriend wants is “whipped.” When was the last time you heard a woman described the same way for the same behaviour?

Lewis then argues “There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives and husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it despite the husband whom they rule.” Because these beliefs can’t possibly simply be engrained into our society. If we accept a common behaviour as acceptable, it must be because nature made us that way. Society (nurture) has no influence on us at all.

Lewis finishes the chapter by discussing the husband and wife’s relationship to the outside world. He claims that “The relations of the family to the outer world-what might be called its foreign policy-must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always out to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders.” What? He also says of the husband “He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife.” Seriously, what?

An Update on SoJo Cal

Proponents of Feminism often seem to have a hair trigger…

I think I have one explanation that might help.

First, I’m not making any claims that it is the only explanation, or the only issue that rile us feminists up, but it’s a musing I found particularly helpful, so here it goes:

Feminists, myself included, often tend to be very critical of everything to do with biological sex, alternate names for the movement, and casual comments about how feminists should be more “friendly.” I’m tempted to even say excessively, but, to be honest, in general most feminist are not excessively critical. It is more that the average person has little to no ability to pick out sexism and are mostly blind to all but the most blatant cases of it.

I think this difference in awareness accounts for the greatest discrepancies between your average active feminist and the general population, and why feminist are often seen as overreaction.

To give an example for atheists, how a feminist feels when some makes a cliché argument like “why can’t feminists be more friendly” or comments like “there (obviously) are differences between men and women” is much like how an atheist feel when some bring up Pascal’s wager or the kalam argument like it’s the new hot thing.

However, for those who don’t quite get that example, it’s like how some times someone just doesn’t have the points of reference necessarily to understand your position and relate. It isn’t that they are stupid, or can’t understand it. It’s more that they are simply not yet in a position to be ready to comprehend a complex problem like sexism. Just like a student in 9th grade isn’t normally ready to learn about the material taught in grade 12. However, this example fall apart here because sexism is not ignorance. Sexism is propelled and strengthen by ignorance. It does real harm to just about everyone, so to not challenge it when it has arisen is like not correcting someone for using a racial slur.

These outbursts tend to be less anger and more frustration brought about by exasperation. A combination of desire to speak up and make positive change and a defensive mechanism to the onslaught of these question that many active feminists face. I’m aware of it and even then I want to, or actually do, snap out at people who make some of these facile (facile in the sense they don’t capture the true nature of the problem) arguments. Even though I know they probably honestly don’t know any better.

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