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Mere Christianity Summaries
In Lewis' opinion, there are two "senses" of faith in the mind of an average Christian: faith as belief and faith as a virtue. While faith as a belief is easy enough to accept, faith as a virtue is harder to understand. Lewis validates this sense by calling it an art of holding on to things despite your changing moods. A good Christian home consists of both good actions and faith in Christ.
According to Lewis, theology is like a map which helps people along the way to understanding God. The map of theology is based on people's experiences with God and must be coupled with your own personal experiences; it would be hard to understand theology without having some experience of God previously. Men aren't sons of God in the sense Christ is; they were made, not begotten.
According to Christianity, God is three dimensional: the Father and the Son combining to form the Holy Spirit. Humans are living the Biological life, or bios. The true Christians are attempting to reach a higher level, spiritual life. It is possible for God to talk to a finite amount of people at once becuase he is beyond time; he sees the human race's actions as one continuing action, everyday is 'now' for him.
By the time our bios runs out, if we have had a full and understanding relationship with God we will share in the life of Christ. In doing this we will have shed our tin (from our Biological Life as "tin soldiers") and come to life. Humanity is like one growing organism; every person has a purpose which combine to form the purpose of the organism of humankind.
The Our Father points Christians in the right direction when it portrays the speakers as sons; when Christians liken themselves to Christ they lessen the hardships on road to Spiritual Life. According to Lewis, the Christian way is to take the whole human apart and the finished product will be worth the trials. Instead of cutting off branches here and there, Christ wishes to tear the whole tree down and from it will grow a more beautiful thing.
When given the chance, God does not attempt to heal parts of a confused or sinful human, his sole aim is to make us perfect. The whole world is not neatly divided into Christians and non-Christians, there are a great many undecided or leaning slightly one way. When it comes down to it, everyone needs God the same amount, and speculations about other people's souls are pointless becuase in the end it is you and God alone.
Lewis explains that the Christian view of the "next step" in evolution is humans becoming sons of God. Lewis says that Christ is the "new man," and people today become the new men by loving and imitating him. When we give ourselves to Christ and what we now call ourselves begins to fade away, we become our true selves, the "new men" we always had the potential to be.
World Religion Summaries
Most religions tend to attempt to answer some of the same fundamental religious, or spiritual questions, such as what is the human condition, salvation, our destiny, and what is right and wrong (ethics). The two major basic elements of religion are faith and belief. Worship is also a major element of religion, and could be something like the Eucharist.
The traditions of ancient Greece, Iran, and Rome include a variety of beliefs and practices typical in the Ancient West. In Ancient Iran, the most practiced religion was Zoroastrianism, in Ancient Greece-the famous pantheon headed by Zeus, in Ancient Rome a similar pantheom. There were also several "mystery" religions that appeared throughout the Roman Empire, including the cult of Isis. The similarities of these religions show how history can shape religion; bits and peices of beliefs passed on through generations.
Illiad (Robert Fitzgerald translation)
Agamemnon has taken a daughter of a priest captive and Apollo answers the priest's prayers with arrows into the army. Akhilleus asks why Apollo is angered and a wise man, Kalkhas, explains that it is becuase of Agamemnon. Agamemnon berates Kalkas but Akhilleus defends him. Akhilleus is tempted to kill Agamemnon but is held back by Athena. He leaves Agamemnon's company and Agamemnon sends soldiers to take Akhilleus' wife. His mother went and asked Zeus for help and Zeus thought upon it.
The battle for Troy continued. The Akhaians attacked savagely and gained the upper hand, but Hektor led the Trojans in a mighty counter-attack, causing another brief respite. Diomedes and Glaukos agree not to fight each other becuase of a newfound shared lineage. Hektor returned to the city and told his mother to pray to Athena, but the prayers are in vain. Hektor roused Paris for battle, and after comforting his worried wife, returned to battle.
The Greeks are in a desperate war-council, debating whether to stay and fight at Troy. Nestor persuades Agamemnon to offer Akhilleus gifts in return for his renewed service, so Odysseus leads a group to Akhilleus' hut and presents the plight of the Greeks. Akhilleus firmly declines, and refuses to fight even after Phoinix and Aias attempt to persuade him. When word arrives of Akhilleus' answer, the Greeks agree to stay and fight, with or without the great warrior.
Second Quarter Anthropos
For Anthropos this year, thus far I have:
1. Written a solo instrumental peice, which includes the drum set, bongos and bells. The three instruments would all be played by me.
2. Written a possible companion to the instrumental, which would be recorded over the music. This companion is a medium-length poem concerning a few of questions about life and people.
3. Recorded a rough draft mix of the bells, bongos and drum set. Both the mixing and playing will need polishing.
Second Quarter: Reactions
In this chapter of the Illiad, a play-by-play commentary of a gruesome battle ensues. While I like the Illiad as a whole this type of chapter fails to capture me becuase of its monotony; it seems to be just a chain of endless death leading up to one conclusion: the Greeks need help. However, I understand that Homer is merely illustrating his point with lots of blood and gore- there may not be another way to illustrate it.
World Religion Reactions
Hinduism is presented in World Religions as very interesting, while I disagree with most of its beliefs. Among those, I oppose both the ideas of reincarnation and monism, as I can see no reason in either. I also find the beliefs of karma and darmha very illogical(they are based on reincarnation). However, the idea that "ultimate reality understood through contemplation of the universe" and "ultimate reality understood through contemplation of the inner self" are the same intrigues me very much.
Bred in the Bone:1-60
This first part of the book is simply a long introduction. I like the way that Davies begins to emphasize the family immediately, becuase how Francis relates to his family and how he becomes independant of it later it are major themes within the book. I felt that Davies could have been a bit more explanative at parts with the first chapter of Simon, Arthur and Maria.
Bred in the Bone:60-150
Davies intoduces a wealth of characters in the second part of the book. In this way he exposes the reader to the different sides of young Francis, from the introspective to the curious. I enjoyed the two angels, who gave some information not illuminated in the chapters but also adds a sense of predestination; making Francis’ life seem as if he were a
puppet of the daimon.
Bred in the Bone:150-207
Even more the last part, I noticed that Francis tends to be pushed into important desicions and events, whether it is his father introducing him to Spook or Bubbler Graham introducing him to women (and the constant reminder of the babysitter-like daimon in
each chapter). Davies seems to be emphasizing how naive Francis is at the point, and increasing the reader’s anticipation of the enigmatic, independant Francis of whom Simon,Arthur and Maria discuss in the introduction.
Circumlectio Third Quarter
During the third quarter of this year in Honors Religion, we have delved into new topics and continued exploring older ones. Anthropos projects have continued to grow and What’s Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies was completed. Our class also completed another novel, Sunflower by Simon Weisenthal. In a number of ways, relating to each other and also in general, these individual projects have an interesting correlation in my case.
What’s Bred in the Bone, in my opinion, was an interesting story. It seemed to get better as it went along, probably because Francis’ older life was narrated in less detail and more actual happenings than the beginning. I enjoyed it for a number of reasons, some of which relate to Anthropos and Sunflower. In the book, Davies tells the life of Francis Cornish, from childhood immaturities to his final, dramatic death. The story is not merely
a narration of one man’s life, it is an illustration of how one person can grow through his adversities, how the person chooses to live and how he is affected by others. Francis’ growth is both internal and external; Davies makes this even more interesting with the addition of guardian angels into Francis’ story.
In Sunflower, the readings took a somewhat more serious approach. Weisenthal’s story is basically a nonfiction narrative with a compelling question in conclusion- making it an as introspective a piece of literature as What’s Bred in the Bone, probably more.
Sunflower is an exploration of the individual human mind; its question in my opinion is a matter of a person’s prior experiences. Having shaped one’s individual “take” on things,experiences make opinions. The dilemma and the question posed resulting from it is truly mind-bending, and it is obvious that there is no right answer between forgiving and not forgiving. This is proven by the diverse responses to the question from a wide range of people.
My anthropos project has not yet been completed. I have continued to explore new sounds in the actual piece and also new methods of mixing the separate parts of the song. As I stated in the in-class essay, I want my Anthropos to be a question mark, like
Sunflower in a way but even more like What’s Bred in the Bone, because I plan to illustrate a sort of musical timeline of my life, or at least come close to it.
Francis Cornish’s experiences (relationships, Drollig Hansel, prosecution of Letztpfenning, Marriage at Cana), as well as his otherworldly guide, shaped his life. Many of his decisions were made because of prior experiences. This is interrelated with Sunflower because Weisenthal illustrates how much one experience (although the Holocaust is a special case) can shape a conflict over something seemingly as simple as forgiveness. These both relate to Antropos because where I am right now in life is a question mark; I am still exploring myself and the world around me and my experiences are shaping my responses to what happens to me. Before the Marriage at Cana, Francis thought to himself: “What did he now believe, at the end of a toilsome and sometimes humiliating apprenticeship?....What was his picture, the masterpiece which would conclude his apprenticeship, to be?. ” These thoughts relate to my own in my life right now.
Fourth Quarter Circumlectio
Fourth Quarter Circumlectio
Over the course of this year at school, I have grown in numerous ways spiritually. This growth comes as a result of certain classes throughout the year: my class of Honors Religion as well as Junior Retreat and in a way from my Theory of Knowledge class.
In Religion class we have covered a wide range of material over the year, from a basic review of the concepts of Christianity to Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism (while not considered a religion). We have learned about these unique and extremely different religions with lectures in class as well as with the IIP presentations that were given in class. We reviewed Christianity in terms of the biblical history, but very briefly. More than actual review of the religion and its history we reviewed the theology and the concepts of the religion. From that starting point, we explored the other major religions of the world, in a way from a christocentric view.
We watched videos and heard numerous lectures on the religion of Judaism. Besides a review of its basic beliefs and concepts, we talked about and watched some documentaries of the Holocaust. In Judaism we explored the Torah- God’s revelation to the Jewish people (as well as the Jewish laws and basic belief system)-and the Talmud. The Talmud was a bit more interesting to me because it goes beyond the Torah; it contains interpretations and amplifications of what is in the Torah. It is in a way a running commentary on the Torah from the views of today’s Jews, and how the Torah has changed over time in the view of Jews. In terms of the Holocaust, we explored much more than Judaism and how it was changed as a result of the acts of the Holocaust, we explored how it happened, how it was allowed to happen, and the resulting genocide that occurred.
Our class also explored the religion of Hinduism. Unlike most of the other religions we studied, Hinduism has no well-known "founder." It is also unique in its concepts of "Brahman," and how all teaching and early scripture comes from the Vedas. What I found most interesting about Hinduism is that in a way, a Hindu may be a theist, an atheist, pantheist, whatever, and still be a Hindu by performing ritual practices and adhering to certain rules. Being a Hindu isn't neccessarily beliving something, its more living as a Hindu. In Hinduism there is also a worship of Vishnu or Shiva, but really the worshipper is worshipping Brahman above all things. Also unique in Hinduism is the idea of the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
In learning about Confucianism, we learned of it more as an idealogy and, similarly to Hinduism, a way of life. Confucius, in fact, is seen as more of a social and ethical former than a religious leader. Confucianism teaches about morality, relationships with other people (especially parents and elders). Confucius was revolutionary in a way for his belief than a successful king would have an orderly kingdom, while the failing king's country would be chaotic. Confucianism was so important because it was so popular and it was not only a religious movement but much more importantly a social and moral one as well.
Buddhism, unlike Hinduism, does have a central founder in Buddha. Buddhists also believe in the cycles of life, however. Differently from Hinduism, however, is the Buddhist belief that we can escape from the cycle and live one life by learning to act appropriately and becoming enlightened; learning the truth about life. Buddhism rejects all materialism and believe that unselfish kindess and compassion, being morally sound and looking for happiness away from materialism are positive ways to reach enlightenment.
Taoism also had a central founding figure in Lao-Tzu, who wrote the short manuscript entitled the Tao Te Ching. Taoists follow the principles of the book; believing in one supreme Being as well as believing that the basic unifying force behind the universe, or the Tao (way), produces everything. Taoism also encourages its followers to seek out themselves in nature and in solitude.
Through IIP's concerning art and architecture and other things influenced in the world we learned about religions. For instance, my group did South America and we studied the influences of religions such as Catholicism, voodoo and tribal religions. We also studied how those religions grew in popularity in South America (one of our presentations concerned a missionary), and what they affected.
Overall this year I learned much more about world religions than I expected to. This coupled with learning how religion and geography are interrelated in many ways was much more than I expected becuase I thought the course would mainly cover the conceptual aspects of religions. While it did this, it taught me about how world religions affected the world in general and more than just the idealogies.