CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

In his short essay entitled "On the Reading of Old Books", C.S. Lewis says that it is important to read old books in order to be less suseptible to the prejudices and outlook of one's own age. Lewis notes:

Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means old books.

Lewis recommends the reading of one old book for every three new ones -- a habit I highly endorse. And while reading the old books help point out the characteristic mistakes of our own period, they also point out when a particular attitude that is thought to be new to our own period is actually much older. These attitudes, moreover, are not only reflected in the non-fiction work, but the fiction work may sometimes illustrate an attitude or outlook with much more grace and eloquence than can be found in the non-fiction arena. Thus, I read old fiction as well as non-fiction books.

It was in the reading of an old fiction book that I came across a short story entitled "Fullcircle" by John Buchan (copyright 1928). The story is not specifically about religion, but at the beginning of the story the protagonist is introduced to a couple of people, Mr. and Mrs. Giffen, who are living in an old house known as Fullcircle. The description of the people is one that some might think is an attitude of people in the 21st Century. Yet, Buchan's description suggests that their outlook may have been old even in 1928.

They are the rootless stuff in the world today -- in revolt against everything and everybody with any anscestry. A kind of innocent self-righteousness -- wanting to be the people with whom wisdom begins and ends. They are mostly sensitve and tender-hearted, but they wear themselves out in an eternal dissidence. Can't build, you know, for they object to all tools, but very ready to crab. They scorn any form of Christianity, but they'll walk miles to patronize some wrteched sect that has the merit of being brand-new. "Pioneers" they call themselves-- funny little unclad people adventuring into the cold desert with no maps. Giffen once described himself and his friends to me as "forward-looking", but that, of course, is just what they are not. To tackle the future you must have a firm grip of the past, and for them the past is only a pathological curiosity. They're up to their necks in the mud of the present....

I know I have encountered hundreds of people like them on the Internet. They now call themselves "Spiritual" but not bound to any religion. And, apparently, they've been around since at least the 1920s (but I suspect that their type has been around much, much longer).

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