In the essay “Rejoinder to Dr. Pittenger”, found in the posthumous collection God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis responds to the criticism that he does not ‘care much for’ the Sermon on the Mount but prefers the Pauline ethic, ht BT:
“As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount… Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledge-hammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure.”
I became a Christian during summer camp at age eleven, and few experiences since then can compare to the bliss of that first night and the month or so following it. I still remember, though distantly, the thrill of morning devotionals and a general sense of wonder at the strange, unmapped new territory of Christianity.
Walker Percy wrote that every explorer names his island Formosa, “beautiful”, and such Christianity was to me. After a time, however, I started hearing an internal voice, one that said, roughly, why do morning devotionals for ten minutes – you could do them for thirty. So…
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If you’re one of the few who has been holding out on Paul Zahl’s The Merciful Impasse: The Sermon on the Mount for People Who’ve Crashed (and Burned), the audio collection that Mockingbird released this past Fall, hold out no longer! Here are a few soundbites to whet your appetite. The only aspect of the set they don’t capture is the truly laugh-out-loud humor:
What I’m really talking about is the roots of the problem of being human. Why are we the way we are? What causes us to be intractably defensive, and resistant, and feeling terribly vulnerable to people’s judgments…
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“I’m telling you, that the demand actually is higher than you know, and that allows you to go on your knees more quickly.”
Life demands many things from us – a successful career, a stable marriage, perfect children, a certain quality of life. More often than not, we respond with determination and a fierce will.
Jesus Christ brought a fresh and radical insight to the endless human struggle with demand, associating it with weakness rather than with strength, with failure rather than success. He believed that we only begin to meet the requirements of life when we despair of our ability to…
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