Monday, August 29, 2011

Mere Christianity Discussion / Study Guide. Part 1

Some books are harder to understand, some authors are endowed with amazingly coveted skills to write complicated yet insightful sentence, which often only resulted in perplexed frown from its laymen readers. This book, this author, more than any other books, always leave me in that state of confusion and it is with that problem in mind that I write this post.

Mere Christianity, arguably one of the best Christian books out there, is soaked with gems of insight and biblical truth that it would be unforgivable for a Christian to left this book unread. I strongly recommend this literature, and go to the extent of giving out study guide / discussion questions for the more serious and committed readers out there. Not by anyway perfect, but I've used them for our book club, and they have their own charm.

Book 1: Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe
Chapter 1 and 2
1. One of the big ideas that Lewis discussed in these two chapters is relativism. Do you think this idea is still relevant in today's world? If so, how do you see this idea being manifested / popularized by the culture?
2. Lewis stated three objections against moral relativism and argued that moral relativism is flawed in its essence. Try to read these chapters on those light and think of practical examples / cases of each.

Chapter 3
1. Pay close attention to how Lewis developed and expanded the idea of the law of nature.
2. In chapter 3 paragraph 1, Lewis talked about the consequences of the "very idea of something being imperfect". What are the consequences he had in mind?

Chapter 4 - 5
1. In reasoning with the problem, "what lies behind the law", Lewis laid out what the world think about it, how do they approach it, the problem with the approach, and his proposed solution. Be on the lookout for all these points.
2. There are two bits of evidences about the Somebody - he is not good and not soft which led Lewis to conclude that we were on a deep trouble. "This is the terrible fix we are in". Closely observe the connection between the two evidences and the conclusion.

Book 2- What Christians Believe
Chapter 1 and 2
1. In the beginning of chapter 2, Lewis concluded that atheism is then "too simple". How is so?
2. Lewis here argued the relevancy of Christianity in explaining the world and its surroundings. Dualism as he argued, has less explanatory power to make sense of the world we are living in. "Dualism, in a strict sense, will not work". So what distinguish Christianity and Dualism, and why does Christianity do make better sense?

Chapter 3
1. Lewis brought up the idea of "free will". What does this concept contribute to our understanding of human nature, sin, and the world?
2. What are the implications if people regard Jesus only as a great moral teacher?
3. Imagine if you were in that day and heard people talking about a teacher forgiving sins, how would you react?

Chapter 4 - 5
1. Read paragraph 8 and 9 closely. "But unfortunately we now need God's help in order to do something (read: repentance) which God, in His own nature, never does at all - to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die." The point being is, the reason we have the ability to repent is only because God has done and showed it in the first place.Sin is the prerequisite for repentance. And if God as human is free from sin, then he has no need to repent. How then he gave us the examples of repenting and surrendering without having the prerequisite of sins?

2. Chapter 5 is entitled "The Practical Conclusion". What is so practical about it, and how you could use this "practical conclusion" today?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Joplin, Three Months After

Joplin, MO is the destination and thus the 13 hours drive on Tuesday night with a team of 17 (10 adults and 7 kids). Brief background story: On May 23rd, a massive tornado hit Joplin destroying 1/3 of the city and killing at least 154 people. And thus here we are, three months later, cruising 705 miles from Columbus to Joplin with sheer intention to help with whatever tiny muscle and how-tos we have. 

Welcome to Joplin
The statue was "moved" from a park nearby by the tornado and landed safely at this concrete 
Although some areas are pretty much cleaned up, there are still some areas, like this, that remain untouched. 
What's left from the house. People write their house number and street address because the area is so destroyed that people don't recognize what street they're at. 
This is the tree that we're supposed to cut with an electric chainsaw. But none of us seems to know how to use such incredible tools and when one of us tried (me unfortunately), it took me prob 3 minutes to do the job (and 5 secs for him). Do the math, so we're being "liberated" from the task for the sake of efficiency and he let us watch and enjoy the show. 
The same tree, before being cut off, carried to the curb by the help of a larger tractor. 
This was a residential area before the tornado but now what's left of it are broken trees, vacant lots and foundation of houses.