Saturday, February 25, 2012

C.S. Lewis Fangirling

The title of this blog should indicate that I like C.S. Lewis. If you didn't know anything about the Inklings, you might infer that I like C.S. Lewis because I go to Taylor University. (They don't ask you about it on your applications, but that's because they'll make you a fan if you aren't already.) And even if you didn't know that Taylor practically endorses C.S. Lewis as the fourth part of the trinity, you might simply be able to guess that I like C.S. Lewis because I am a Christian. Lewis brought deep theology to everyday life in such clear and beautiful language that even those who disagree with his message bow to his mastery. His works have place in the libraries of religious scholars and everyday Christian readers. C.S. Lewis is a king.

I first read The Screwtape Letters in high school. I was amazed at how deeply convicted I was in every chapter. I recognized something about me and my world in Screwtape's every sentence. It's a small book, but there's enough in there to think about for hours longer than it takes you to read.

Yesterday, I read The Great Divorce. The words were still fresh in my mind as I watched Anthony Lawton perform it on stage -- one man, many characters. No set. Just leaving you to imagine Heaven as C.S. Lewis explained it.

Not that Lewis pretended to be an authority on what Heaven was like. He considered himself very much an ordinary person. He always warned his readers that he did not know how everything looked or was -- but he could change one's way of thinking about Heaven, Hell, or God to a way much less distracted by biases. In The Great Divorce, his point was clear: we can't hold onto the things separating us from God. We can't demand the things we want on earth and expect Heaven, as well.

And then there's Narnia. And his theology books. Ones I haven't read, but am going to read someday. C.S. Lewis is an inspiration to Christian writers. After being under his influence, as it were, these past couple of days, I'm again in an admiring rush.

For Narnia and the North! For philosophy! For applied Christianity!

Thank you, Mr. Lewis.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thoughts on Worship

Right now, I should be working on a story. I wrote the prologue this January, and now that I have a group for class counting on me, I need to get two more chapters finished. This shouldn't be too hard, but I'm struggling with what I want to happen combined with what works well.

So, to clear my head and get my writing mechanisms working, I want to write about something I've had problems with for a long time: worship.

I've always gone to pretty conservative churches, and as far as church music goes my family takes a conservative stance. Consequently, I have a hard time thinking of what is basically pop music in church as worship. Taylor plays lots of popular Christian music in chapel, and I've come to enjoy it for what it is: a large body of young Christians singing Christian music. Most of the songs I would consider very worshipful. My transition here was difficult, though.

I love to sing, and I'm pretty good at it. However, I'm used to singing in choirs. I'm also analytical and critical, which means that if one of the really off-key people happens to be standing behind me during chapel, I get very irritated and soon find myself in an attitude definitely not conducive to worship. I'm learning to get over this.

Today in chapel we had lots of prospective students, so chapel was all about Taylor Youth Conference this April. They opened with a Relient K song. I bristled.

And I really like Relient K -- but not in church. To me, there is a definite difference between Christian pop music and worship music. If we started singing Jesus Take the Wheel in church, I would leave, nice though it is to belt in the car. I doubt that lots of churches do this, but sometimes I think we're not that far off.

I strongly feel that the church doesn't need to advertise with music. We should not try to get people to like us because our music is just like the stuff everybody listens to. That's not how the church is supposed to be. But if any work can be an act of worship, which is also something I believe, what's the difference?

People doing what they are meant to do is glorifying to God. But does this mean that poorly-written, watered-down rock music is okay for a church setting of worship? Or am I just being a snob because I think "let love explode" is a terrible lyric? (I also really dislike the song How He Loves... poorly thought out word choice for the sake of being "poetic" and too much repetition for me.) Am I biased simply because I love the old hymns?

To use Christianese, it's a stumbling block for some people, me included.

Right now, I'm working at the front desk of my dorm. On the other side of the room, about ten people are gathered, sharing prayer requests and singing. There are two guitars and a variety of voices, some beautiful and some less than so. But they are indeed making a joyful noise. Every week, we sing many different songs. I like some more than others, but when I sing with these people, I do so with a worshipful heart.

It's one of the reasons I love my dorm. I'm thankful God has given me these nights of hall worship to look forward to. I think it's helping me approach corporate worship with a better heart. Will I ever reach conclusive answers? I don't know. But I'm learning much more about it here than I would have back home.

How do you approach worship?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Birthday - Ocarina

In need of a post, I decided to make a (very) quick ocarina vid. My cousin got me this one for Christmas. It's a Songbird pendant ocarina in F, and yes, it's shaped like a strawberry.

Nothing fancy, and the fingerings came with the ocarina itself. It was nice to have some early morning ocarina practice.

I think it's going to be a wonderful birthday.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Letter Writing

I have one longstanding pen pal and a few other people to whom I write letters on a semi-regular basis. Recently, though, I haven't written many. It's easy to let the time-consuming act of handwriting a note, stamping it, and mailing it be overtaken by such shiny things as Twitter and Facebook, not to mention soulless email.

A while ago, Hugo award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal decided to rebel against the sad state of our communication and issued the Month of Letters challenge.  The idea is to send something through the mail every day the post operates. This February, that's 24 days. I'm only three mailed items in, but I'm already enjoying getting back into letter writing. Maybe my recipients don't, though.

 Handwriting issues aside, there's something very comforting about sending and receiving mail. It means that someone took special care to get something to you. It means that you've received something tangible, something you can keep with you. For me, it's a way to put a little more writing in my life -- and in the lives of others as well.