Browsing All posts tagged under »C.S. Lewis«

Perspective Makes the Difference

March 27, 2012


Have you ever noticed that in life, perspective can make all the difference on how you act, react or judge a situation or person? I’ve recently rediscovered this principle at work in my life. I am not proud of the fact but when I see someone do something which I would not do or ‘not do’ something which I believe they should do; I have begun catching myself as my first inclination is to judge that action in such a way as to ascribe a negative motivation for the action or inaction.

The reason is that whether or not we consciously acknowledge it, we all have an internal barometer or scale which we use to assess ourselves and others against. The fact that all have such an internal measure guide is not wrong in of itself. The main problem with using our own scale to evaluate actions or inactions is that our scale is fundamentally flawed. There are two primary flaws with using our own scales to evaluate ourselves and others against.

  1. Our scale is flawed in that it is biased in favor of us and biased against others.
  2. Our scale uses the wrong measurement criteria.

Let me explain.

The Screwtape Letters (The Paramount Theatre)

March 14, 2012


When the word reached me that Max McLean would be in town for one day, doing two performances of “The Screwtape Letters” at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle, I knew that I had to be in attendance. “The Screwtape Letters” was adapted by Jeffrey Fiske and Max McLean from the book of the same name written by C.S. Lewis. It stars Max McLean, who also co-directs with Fisk. McLean has been performing the play since the opening run in New York, Chicago and D.C.; having successfully completed well over 700 performances of TSL.

As a longtime admirer of C.S. Lewis and his writings, I was skeptical that one could effectively convey the nuances of the book on stage, as it’s not your typical fare. It was hard enough for some to read the relatively short book completely through. The book records the mail correspondence between Screwtape, a demon of the highest order, and his fledgling tempter nephew, Wormwood. In their exchanges, Wormwood, a recent graduate of the “Tempters' Training College” describes his first assignment with a human affectionately referred to as the “Patient”. It is Wormwood’s mission to ensure that the Patient is tempted off of the narrow path. In return, good ol’ Uncle Screwtape, reminiscent of an unholy ‘Dear Abby’ or ‘Dr. Phil’ manner, dispenses his malevolent wisdom and insights concerning Christianity, faith and the human condition, in hopes of guiding Wormwood into nefarious maturity and bringing about the eternal damnation of the Patient.

My momentary uneasiness was allayed by the choice of music played while waiting for the curtains to open. My attention was initially seized by Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” and The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” and I am delighted to say that the performance to follow was wickedly riveting, entertaining and thought-provoking. Max McLean, dressed up like Alistair Cooke’s evil cousin doing a Masterpiece Theatre vignette, held me spellbound throughout. The show, unlike Wormwood, does not disappoint in the end.

Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery: Freethinker or Well Programmed Automaton

September 27, 2011


Like Rome of old, each one of us knowingly or unknowingly incorporates personal experiences into our existing playbook; the repertoire of who we are and how we interact with the world around us. It can be as mundane and innocent as incorporating lines from movies into day-to-day communications with friends. I can recall how 25-40% of my vocabulary with friends in high school was driven from endlessly repeating lines from movies or television shows like: Stripes, Caddyshack, SCTV, Blade Runner, Harold and Maude, Repo Man, etc. Why, because in that community of friends, it was expected. It was understood that if you wanted to engage with these folks successfully, you needed to have a familiarity with these kinds of movies or shows. People gained their sense of identify from being in that group.

Be the Exception to the Rule

August 25, 2011


People in the church often err by labeling groups of people with broad strokes (e.g. liberals, democrats, homosexuals, etc.) and not spend the time to see that all people are unique individuals. There may be similarities, but just as all church attenders are not identical clones of one another, people outside of the church are not either, regardless of what group one labels them with. The reverse is also true, non-church folks tend to label church folks as all being hypocrites, illogical, insecure or hateful. If that were true, how do they account for Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Mother Theresa? Here’s the hope. When we individually as Christians engage non-Christians in a Christ-like manner, an amazing thing happens; it helps to falsify the stereotype of Christians that others may have previously held. Individuals impacted by our Christ-like actions can no longer claim (at least not honestly) or live comfortably with their previous label for “all Christians”. They are forced to broaden their prior stereotypical thinking to now include, at the very least, exceptions to the rule. They can no longer use “All Christians are…” because they now know a Christian who does not do that. It’s a two way street. As the Christian, in this case my friend, got to know this transgendered individual as a unique person with common human fears, hurts, dreams and hope – we begin to see others more and more like ourselves. Our common humanity is reinforced and mankind’s artificial “walls of separation” are broken down, if only a little bit.