Thursday, December 21, 2006

Theology is practical

I find it somewhat entertaining how timeless true statements can be. C.S. Lewis originally put together the radio broadcasts that became Mere Christianity during World War II, but yet so much of it still speaks to us right where we live, right when we live. In this case he is speaking of something dear to my heart - the need for the Christian to keep himself (and yes, of course, herself) current and practiced in the art (and I'd argue to the extent it is used today, the science) of theology.

In other words, Theology is practical: especially now. In the old days, when there was less education and discussion, perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed. Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones - bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected.

Now after reading that, if you didn't know the timeframe of its origin you'd swear it was written in the present day. It certainly does sound like the all-too-common comparisons of pre- and post-Vatican II Catholics, with a certain condescension to those raised with the "wall-facing" Mass and liturgies in a language they didn't understand. But yet, the comments were made during a time when those liturgies were just that way. Now, I stipulate that C.S. Lewis was an Anglican and so I am stretching things just a little, but my intent is to throw yet more light on the fact that our forebearers were not the knuckle-dragging simpletons some of our "modern"-inclined friends would have us believe they were.

Further than that, however, is the reminder that today's problems always will seem more complicated than yesterday's, but so very often they have the same remediation: more prayer, more learning, more contemplation. Christianity is hard work, not a weekend beach getaway.