Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 3; Chapter 2 (The Cardinal Virtues)

This chapter focuses on the cardinal virtues, something which I mention frequently in my writing.  After reading through this chapter I feel as though there is not a specific focal point on which I can reflect without just regurgitating what Lewis said.  Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on a series of important quotes through the chapter:

"Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think on what you are doing and what is likely to come of it."
 "Nowadays, most people hardly think of prudence as one of the virtues.  I n fact, because Christ said we could only get into his world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are good, it does not matter being a fool"
"Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence."
"But he wants everyone to use what sense they have."
"Christianity is an education itself."

Basically...Faith AND Reason, think  before you act, you don't have to know it all before you start, form your conscience, and make the effort to learn.

"Temperance is.... going the right length and no further".
"But the whole point is that he is abstaining, for a good reason, from something which he does not condemn and which he likes to see other people enjoying."
"One of the marks of a... bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up."

Basically... its not just doing the right act, but the right act with the correct attitude (eventually, for this will take a change of heart, but the perfection of virtue would really call for the alignment of the attitude).  Also, its not about "abstinence" per se, but about moderation.

"Justice... is the old name for everything we should now call fairness."
"It includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises..."

This is pretty self explanatory... give people (and God) what they deserve.

"And Fortitude includes both kids of courage--the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that 'sticks it' under pain."
"'Guts' is perhaps the nearest modern english'."
"You will notice...that you cannot practice any of the other virtues long without bringing this one into play."

Again, pretty self explanatory.

"There is a difference between doing some particular just or temperate action and being a just or temperate man."
"A man who perseveres in doing just actions get in the end a certain quality of character."
"...It is that quality of rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk of 'virtue'."

True virtue is about consistency of action, and consistency of thought.  It's doing and thinking the right thing habitually, and doing it with the right intention and attitude.

"This distinction is important for the following reasons" [so that we might not think]
1) "Provided you did the right thing, it did not matter how or why you did it..."
2) "We might think that God wanted simply obedience to a set of rules: whereas He really wants people of a particular sort."
3) "We might think that the 'virtues' were necessary only for this present life"

This is why we shouldn't think of morality (or virtue) as "single action alone"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 3 (Christian Behavoir); Chapter 1 (The Three Parts of Morality)

The Human Machine and Ship

This chapter of Lewis features one of my favorite examples of morality, the human person as part of a fleet of ships.  I used this to teach the concept of Virtue back in my Totus Tuus years, and so I was excited to revisit it, and wasn't disappointed when I started seeing it in a new light.

The Human Person is like a ship, and Mankind like a fleet, all sailing on the ocean to a common mission (death). Now in order to complete this mission successfully, three things must happen.  1) You must not collide or damage other ships, 2) You must keep your ship in working condition, and 3) you must know your mission, where you're going, and how to get there.
 
Therefore, Morality consists of three parts: 1) The external relationship between man and man (Social Justice), 2) The internal ordering of the human person (Personal Virtue), and 3) the Purpose or end goal of the morality itself (Holiness). To be a "moral individual" one must cultivate all three parts.

1) Social Justice--This is the first and most obvious form of Morality, the sphere in which it is most easy to conceive of objectiveness.  There are few who will disagree that, in essence, we should not harm another, and that in fact it is our duty to "make right" wrongs that are done to others.  This is why we have charities, welfare, homeless shelters, and free clinics.  However, if you only focus on this aspect of morality you may say, "as long as my actions don't hurt another person they are fine for me to do". This statement does not take into account the second rule of the human fleet.

2) Personal Virtue--There is no point in not colliding with other ships if your own ship can't complete its mission because of "faulty equipment".  This is the second purpose of morality, to keep US in working order.  Humans were made to work in a certain way, in accordance with love, free-will, and right reason.  Morality are instructions for proper operation of the human machine.  If we try to operate outside our normal parameters our machine breaks down and fails to work in love, free-will, and right reason.  Once this happens
we fail to control our collisions with others.  Simply put, our lack of interior morality will cause us to lead others astray.  Personal sin leads to social sin.  If you want to live by the first rule, you must abide by the second.

3) Holiness--Intrinsic and external morality are all fine and good, but it is important to remember that we are on a mission--to reach Heaven.  This reminds us that the rules we are following are objective--since we are all humans, we all have the same ultimate end, and thus we must play by the same rules.  Morality is not a cultural subjectivism, it is not a democratic design, it is a product of a universal human nature.  Because of this, we can all KNOW the rules, and thus because our morality as a whole in part depends on the ability of others to be moral, we have a responsibility to both impart and enforce those rules to the other members of our fleet.

Happy Sailing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 2; Chapter 4 (The Perfect Penitent)

A Modern Atonement Theory

Lewis' chapter on "the perfect penitent" is really just a thinly veiled treatise on Atonement Theory.  Atonement theories basically describe the way in which Christ's Crucifixion enables our salvation.

There are three main theories of atonement amongst mainline scholars, those being: Ransom Theory, Satisfaction Theory, and Moral Influence Theory.  Many Protestants also adhere to Substitution Theory, but the differences are so nuanced that, for the purpose of this post, they shall be as one.

It is important to note that Lewis considers the discussion of specific theories rather unnecessary. He states that What Christ did (die on the cross for our sins) is more important than how he did it.  He says that we will never fully understand it, despite our theories, and so such theories should only be used to paint a "fuller picture" and only for those who can understand such.  Nevertheless, Lewis posits his own Atonement Theory.

Lewis starts off by stating the problem--humans, by sinning, have dug themselves into a hole and need to get out of it.  The only way by getting out of it is by repentance--dying to yourself, "unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years".  The catch is that only a bad person needs to repent, and only a perfect person can do it.  Or in other words, the very thing that makes us need repentance, makes us incapable of doing it.  Therefore we can only do it if God helps us.  And here is where Lewis theology gets, "unique".

Lewis posits an interesting twist between Satisfaction and Moral Influence theories in saying that God had to be come human in order to teach us how to repent.  In essence, it was Christ's human AND divine natures that enabled him to show us how to suffer and repent.  Now.. that may seem like no big deal, but lets look at the implications of this thought.

Talking of the process of repentance Lewis states, "You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man".  Lets think about this... for we are now putting a limit on God.  Is Lewis right in this assertion about God?  I believe so, for repentance is contrary to the perfect nature of God.

"Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God's dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence:  but we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and he cannot die except by being a man.  That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all." Lewis' theology here makes me very nervous... as he is seemingly treading a very thin Christological line.  However, he focuses equally on Christ's divine and human natures, saying that it was the union of each that enabled his example of complete self sacrifice (a very "satisfactionary" answer).  It is this very example that enables us to learn from Christ's example.  This differs from traditional Moral Influence theory in that, while MI Theory focuses on the moral imperative we are moved to by Christ's loving sacrifice, Lewis' theory focuses on the ability of that Sacrifice to TEACH us.  Lewis is moving from a theory of exemplar love, to one of pedagogy.  Interesting, and hopefully we shall see where he is going with it.

If you didn't understand most of this post, that's fine--I struggled in understanding what I was writing.  The important thing to remember is that God loves us so much that he died for our sins even though he was completely blameless.  We should react to that love by taking his example of perfect penitence, and trying to repent ourselves.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 2; Chapter 3 (The Shocking Alternative)

What is the shocking alternative that Lewis presents in this chapter?

We have three choices about the person of Jesus: Based on what he claimed of himself, we can say that he was either 1) A Lunatic, 2) The Devil Himself, 3) the Son of God, as he so claimed.  Lewis states that saying "I accept him as a great moral teacher, but not as God" is relatively absurd.  In my opinion, that would be much like saying, I believe mother Theresa is a great moral example, but not a Catholic Nun.  She did what she did, because she was who she was.  However, that's merely the end of the chapter, and Lewis does not yet give us an answer.

The majority of the chapter is focused on the problem of free will.  Alas, the crux of our theodicy!  First, DOES free-will exist?  OF COURSE! The fact that evil actually occurs is proof of free-will.  We make hundreds of choices a day.  Still, for some reason determinism is alive and well, and if the greatest minds of the world cannot definitively prove it wrong, I will not presume to try.

Secondly, if free will exists, then WHY?  The underlying question here is, how can a God who is, not only all good, but all powerful allow something to happen contrary to his will?  Well basically, the act itself is against His will, but the act of choosing is not.  Lewis uses the following example:  A mother wants her child's room to be clean, but wants him to learn to do it himself.  Therefore she decides not do it for him, but rather encourage him.  Now, the child can choose not to clean his room, and that very act of untidiness is contrary to the will of the mother, but the act of him CHOOSING not to clean is completely in accord with her will.  So it is with God, he wants us to choose, often we just do not choose well.

O.K.  But why does he allow us to choose?  Wouldn't the world just be a better place if we were all just made to do the right thing?  Well.... yes and no.  Yes, this world, here and now, this very moment, would be a better place.  But then we wouldn't get to choose heaven.  We would be stuck here on this rock for our complete existence.  Humans were created for complete, unifying, ecstatic, love with God.  We cannot get that on earth, so we must receive it in heaven.  But the road to heaven is not a free ride, we must choose it.  Much like I must choose to love a spouse and she must choose to love me.  Sure, we could be forced into it, without emotion--she might be good at housekeeping and raising kids and doing what women do in marriage, and I may be good at working, and paying bills, and disciplining the children--but that's all we would be, a group of people coexisting.  Without choice there can be no love, and without love there can be no joy.  That is why God allows us to choose, so that we may feel love and joy.  Merely existing would be pointless.  Unfortunately with this ability to choose love is also the ability to choose evil... and the greater a person you are the greater capacity you have to do either (for that is what happened with Satan).  But, that is the price to pay for choice.  Obviously God thought it worth the risk.

The world is a tough place.  We are fighting for happiness, for love, and for joy... and we should be thankful we are able to experience such things, despite also suffering.  So, let us do try and make God's decision worth while... let us choose Christ!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 2; Chapter 2 (The Invasion)

A Theodicy for our Time

"The Invasion" is Lewis' 5 page theodicy, his answer to why evil exists. He addresses the differences between Christianity and Dualism (both, in his opinion, very manly beliefs) and in what way evil is present.  He starts by saying that Christianity, like reality, is not simple and is contrary to what one might think.  After all, how can God, if he is all good and loving, allow evil to exist.

Well my friends, let me claim something radical--evil does not exist.  Yes, that is right.  Don't get me wrong, evil occurs, bad things happen, but we are not living in the world of Star Wars (it is more like Lord of the Rings).  Evil is not some cosmic force with power all of its own in an epic struggle against good with the results yet to be determined.  Rather, in a surprising, and often confusing twist of epic narrative, the Evil is really only "Good gone bad".  In a round about sort of way, it was created by the good (though it does not actually exist ;-) ).  This is a stumbling block, but can make sense.  Evil is a perversion, a privation, of Good, much like darkness is a privation of light, or cold is a privation of hot.

Ok, so maybe in some existentialist sense, it does exist, in that it is present and we can identify its effects, and there are beings that are evil.  But evil, in and of itself does not exist, rather it is a quality of some being that was created with the intent to be good, yet failed to actualize that potential.

One can do good for the sake of good, but one cannot to bad for the sake of being bad.  Every action we do, every decision we make is in pursuit of some perceived good.  So, as Lewis points out, people do evil for either sexual pleasure or some commodity that they will receive (power, money, fame, etc).  But these things are not, in themselves bad, for by themselves they are all, morally neutral, if not good.  Sexuality, power, money, and fame, can all be used to good ends.

Good must exist for evil to occur, for the object of evil is perverted good, and evil, lacking good, cannot create for itself the goodness that it desires.  Evil is contingent, so to speak, on Good.

So, let's stop beating around the bush.  Satan was created by God.  God didn't do it to create evil, he didn't do it just because he gets a kick out of watching us squirm.  Rather, he created Satan out of love, out of desire to do good, and Satan went wrong.  He exercised his free will in an attempt to gain power, and is now the epitome of privation.

Lewis says that Christianity is a fighting religion.  And he is correct.  We are fighting a war.  This is not, however, a war between two cosmic forces, two equal powers.  Rather, it is a "rebellion", an uprising of evil against that which is Good.  We are living in enemy occupied territory and must choose which side to fight on--do we want the side of the short term "perceived good", or do we want the side of the "ultimate" Good.  "Coincidentally" (or not, since I don't believe in coincidence), the war has already been decided.

As a closing let me say this: all human beings, being the fallen sinners that we are, commit evil.  In meditating upon this, I have come to believe there are three types of people.  1) Those who willfully do Evil, knowing it is evil but for some perceived good, 2) those who do evil without realizing it is evil (often lead astray by #1), and 3) those who acknowledge evil and fight against committing it themselves (though while sometimes failing, they always get back up to fight).  Which one are you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 2 (What Christians Believe); Chapter 1 (Rival Conceptions of God)

 I write today just series of quotations from this chapter, from them, you can make your own conclusion.  Enjoy.

"If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through."

"If you are Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth."

"As in arithmetic--there is only one right answer to a  sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others."

"'We call a cancer bad,' [the pantheists] would say, 'because it kills a man; but you might just as well call a successful surgeon bad because he kills a cancer. It all depends on the point of view.'"

"You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to his will."

"But [Christianity] also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong  with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again."

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.  But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line."

"Thus, in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist--in other words that the whole of reality was senseless--I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality, namely my idea of justice--was full of sense."

"Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple.  If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: Just as if there were no light int he universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark.  Dark would be a world without meaning."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book ; Chapter 4 (What Lies Behind the Law)

Against Materialism

In this chapter Lewis discusses the two prevailing theories of cosmology, the religious and the materialistic, and, of course, argues for the religious.  He states that the truest way we can come to recognize the existence of God is through ourselves, because it is about ourselves that we have the most knowledge.  He says, because natural law shows us what we ought to do, and not what we actually do, it must be separate from us.  Additionally, this Law cannot be something material, as material things cannot state anything other than what occurs, and thus this Law must be something of a conscious mind.  This is the primary way in which Lewis argues for religious cosmology.



I however, want to argue from a point he makes earlier in his chapter, via purpose...in effect more Thomistic via the 5th way.  In reality the chance of a creative event like the big bang occurring is about a 1 in one googolplex chance.  That doesn't even take into account how the atoms got there in the first place... or the subsequent acts of "evolution" which have a near equivalent chance of occurring.  To think that the universe could be as it is today with out some conscientious, omnipotent influence seems slightly myopic to me.  The universe tends towards order, that fact is shown throughout all of history--opposing forces balance, justice is the basis of all law systems, matter is conserved, and supply and demand eventually balances the economy.  Though entropy exists, all things move towards balance and unity.

If you're still not buying my argument, I can argue from a teleological point of view. All things move toward some goal or purpose.  People may differ in their opinions about what that end may be, but I truly think any reasonable person should assume that every action and every living thing is motivated by some goal.  In many ways, all creations and all humans are ordered towards the same goals--self preservation, procreation, self-actualization, etc.  If all these goals are common, and not just biological (self-actualization), it is reasonable to assume they came from a common, non-biological creator.

I am sure I did not conclusively prove anything, I am not an expert in teleological philosophy.  Nor am I always extremely articulate.  Hopefully however, you have begun to see, in the opinions of both Lewis and myself, how both Law and Order point to some greater creator of the universe.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 1; Chapter 2 (Some Objections)

"Feelings", What are They Good for?

In this Chapter, Lewis' main objective is to show that this Natural Law is separate and independent of our human instincts.  However, it is his assertion that "strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses" which I want to examine today.

I am a feelings type of guy. I know, I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but what I feel, my impulses, are a huge part of my life.  Many philosophers, scholars, poets, and others have claimed for thousands of years that feelings, if not bad, should at least be cast aside and ignored, for they impair reason and are not representative of reality.  This has always irritated me--God gave us our feelings, therefore, they cannot be inherently evil, and must serve some purpose.  I believe that Lewis agrees with me!

First one note, I will be using the terms "impulses" and "feelings" interchangeably.  Lewis refers to impulses, but much of what he says can be used in light of "feelings" as well, and in fact, in many ways the terms are synonymous if not analogous.  Philosophically, they can be summed up by the words "passions or appetites"

Lewis uses the example of a piano.  There are two types of notes, right and wrong.  However, at some point in time every note will end up being the right note, and every note will end up being the wrong.  It depends on situation, the piece of music being played, to tell what is right and what is wrong.  I like to think of the old adage, "A broken clock is right twice a day".

Now, please don't get me wrong... I am not arguing here for moral subjectivism, we can't just judge for ourselves (usually) if a situation warrants valid impulses, there are absolutes.  I'm simply suggesting that the impulses or feelings themselves are morally neutral.

Take for example, the impulse of hunger.  It is morally good for one to eat when they are hungry, however, it is morally evil (in fact gluttonous) to eat when you are not hungry (for example, out of boredom).  The same can be said of "physical attraction"--in some cases (marriage) it is an appropriate impulse, whereas in [all] other cases it is morally evil.

Really what we are talking about here is the virtue of temperance--that virtue which moderates mans pleasurable and sensual appetites according to reason.  This is all fine and good, but I believe that this is commonly where the proverbial "rub" occurs--How do we integrate feeling and reason, two supposedly contradictory facets of the human person?

 The truth of the matter is this: God gave us BOTH reasons and feelings, so neither are evil, and they cannot be mutually opposed.  However, both are two sides of the same coin.  Feelings can be essential for things such as experiencing God, cultivating intimacy and relationships with those around us, identifying danger, and creating art.  In many of these areas reason can help, but will sometimes lack the same "spark" as passion does.  However, as useful as feelings can be, because of our fallen nature, they are particularly susceptible to error.  Reason must always be held as the judge of feelings.  We must always ask ourselves, "is it OK for me to feel this way? Are my feelings in accord with reality?  Will feeling this way lead me away from God?".  If we find these answers acceptable, then yes, these feelings can be used.  If, however, we find we are not "feeling correctly" we must try to change and be in accord with the appropriateness of the situation.  This is the hard part, for in modern society we are told that all feelings are valid, that all are true, and many dislike that intense action of introspection that comes with realizing you are wrong.  But, to be holy, it must be done.

Therefore, realizing that Lewis is indeed correct, that our feelings are neither good nor evil, let us challenge ourselves and others to continuously be aware about WHY we are feeling the way we are, and if those feelings are truly leading us to happiness.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mere Christianity: Book 1 (Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe; Chapter 1 (The Law of Human Nature)

Lewis' Natural Law

In Book 1, Chapter 1 Lewis discusses very briefly (a 'mere' four pages) his views on Natural Law.  While I am not one to argue with Lewis (the man was brilliant), and I acknowledge he does an adequate job presenting the topic of Natural Law, there are a few points of his which I would care to clarify.

Lewis first begins with an example of two people arguing.  He states that when two such people argue over matters of broken promises, due reciprocity, or rights (basically, matters of justice ), they are actually appealing to some sort of "unspoken" but commonly understood code of behavior. A Law of Behavior.  In fact, he states that the act of quarreling in itself, being an attempt to prove the other wrong, is evidence of an underlying knowledge of right and wrong--an element of NL.

Here lies my first contention with Lewis.  Perhaps it's just my postmodern upbringing, but I don't feel that Lewis does an adequate job in "proving" Natural Law.  Please, don't misunderstand, I am an advocate for NL, and whole-heartedly believe in its existence, but to merely use the example of arguing as substantial evidence is not enough, any relativist could say, "well just because I think I'm right and he's wrong doesn't mean that there is an absoluteness in it, just that we hold differing opinions or different truths".  But perhaps relativism wasn't quite as big of a problem in Lewis' days as it is now.  Or perhaps Lewis isn't going to try to twist your arm to believe--he'll give you the evidence and if you accept it great, if not, your loss.  Relativism itself is a rather absurd paradigm, seldom worth attacking.  Perhaps Lewis felt the same.

My next disagreement with Lewis arises from his definition of Natural Law.  He states the law is "Human Nature", because 1) humans alone are subject to it, 2) It is the only law which humans can choose to disobey, and 3) it is inherently known by humans as part of their nature.  The first point is where I disagree--Lewis is not clear enough here. Natural Law is not something that occurs "willy-nilly", but rather is the rational being's participation in divine law (Aquinas).  Hence, Angels and Demons are also subject to NL.  That fact however, is not really important.  What is important is that Lewis seems to glance over the fact that Natural Law comes from God, and is the means by which we are guided to our natural end.  Yes, it is, in a sense, a system of ethics or morality, but more importantly, it is the manifestation of our relationship with an infinite being and our thirst for Him.  I support the other two claims of Lewis concerning definition of Natural Law.

Lewis ends by claiming two simple points.  1) We know the Law, and 2) We do not obey the law.  These are simple statements with profound complications.  Implied by these two statements is the fall and the human condition, nearly half of salvation history condensed into one idea--we know, yet we do not obey.  It is perhaps this idea that will aid Lewis in his future arguments, and it is this idea that rings most true in this entire chapter.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mere Christianity: Preface

I know, you're thinking, "He actually read the preface?".  Yes, I always read the preface, especially to non-fiction, and ESPECIALLY to theological books. So before you close your browser window because you think me either daft or out of touch, consider the value of reading the preface to any work.

Dei Verbum states that in reading sacred scripture, the intent of the "Sacred Writer" must be considered (para. 12).  I believe this is true in all writing, especially in Divinely inspired writing not considered Scripture, and so I read the preface.

Lewis does indeed focus on communicating the intent of this writing--to aid support and defense of the Christian cause as a whole body.  He blatantly states that he actively avoids "hot topic" issues that are disagreed upon by various denominations.  He states that 1) these matters should be left for experts, and 2) he believes that often, discussing these issues leads to more division rather than unity.  Personally, I agree with Lewis.  While these matters need to be discussed, they should only be discussed amongst believers whom have already chosen sides, not one who is deciding which game to play.

Lewis relates this to a house... Christianity, in general, is like the hall of a great house, with many other doors leading from it.  His job is only to get you into the hall, not to force you through any specific door.  But more on that later.

He then briefly discusses the problem with the subjective use of the term "Christian" and talks  (somewhat comically) about the denominational difference in the Blessed Virgin.  He also states that, concerning morals, he does not feel as though he can comment on anything he does not have experience about (birth control, gambling, etc.), which could be a relatively controversial statement to some.  However, I will not focus on these in this main portion of this post--they may be left to discussions in the comments or a follow-up post.  Rather, I would like to just note he mentions them and stick to the idea of Christian Unity.

He next talks briefly about Odium Theologicum (Lt. for Theological Hate), which typically refers to the intense hatred that arises over disputes about theology.  He states that, in his experience, these disputes arise from people on the borders of the community, and that "it is at her centre, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine... at the centre of each there is a something, or a Someone, who against all divergencies of belief... speaks with the same voice" (8).  Interesting indeed.

Let us finish with a few thoughts on this beautiful image of the "Hall":

To Lewis, the hall is a place where many are called to wait, to discern which of the doors they are called to enter.  He states, somewhat flippantly perhaps, that even the worst of the rooms would be preferable to no room (or in fact, the hall) at all.  In other words, those of our brothers and sisters who we view to be "outside the communion of the Church", but still within the beliefs of Christianity, have at least chosen to play our game, even if it is on a "different team".  They are still better off than not playing at all.  He then beautiful characterizes the process of discernment.  He states that, while some may know right away which door is for them, some may "find they have to wait for a considerable time".  He reassures the reader though that, "God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.  When you do get into your room, you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise" (11). 

He gives some words of advice to those still in the hall.  1) obey the common rules of the household, 2) always look for truth, do not ask "is this service appealing", but rather, "are these doctrines true, is there Holiness here?" 3) what is it drawing to you to this door?  Pride, taste, or truly God? (11).

Finally, he ends with a few words to those of us whom have already found our room, "When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall.  If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them.  That is one of the rules common to the whole house."

Truly, let us take his admonition.