I’m getting ready for a 30-minute interview on the NPR program “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” and so I thought I’d have this week's post take the form of a radio interview.
Radio interviewer: I'm here with Greg Cootsona, author of C.S. Lewis and and the Crisis of Christian, as well as his latest book Mere Science and Christian Faith. I want to start right off with this: We all see, Greg—don’t we?—that there’s no real search, like in the good old days, for what they used to call "the Christian mind."
GSC: “The Christian mind”—I haven’t heard that phrase for a while. But it does sound something like “we take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5)—not exactly what Paul was saying, but probably a reasonable extension of it.
Interviewer: Yes, you can describe it in a number of ways. And here’s another one: there’s no one seeking some overarching Christian philosophy—a worldview, perhaps—that puts it all together.
GSC: Yes, you’re spot on! (As they say in England..) It seems like my college students have become such skilled manipulators of information that they don’t have a unifying thread for all of it.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
GSC: Today’s twentysomething is a digital native, a person who always lived with the panoply of digital devices—and especially smart phones—at their fingertips. They also know the explosion of options that’s represented in the fact that today there are almost 1.5 billion websites.
Interviewer: So, Greg, you’re saying that many people today live in contradictory ways? Now that makes sense to me, but do you have any evidence?
GSC: Yes, and I’ll start with an anecdote from one of my interviews with college students—it was the hardcore chemistry major who told me,
“I’m very science heavy. I would love to have faith, but I need to have the facts… hard data.” And yet she continued, “I prayed, and the prayer worked. So I keep praying even if I don’t believe there’s anything beyond the material world.”Interviewer: Do Christians do the same thing?
GSC: Absolutely. I'm continually surprised by the various incompatible spiritualities, philosophies, and political ideologies that I hear from Christian students.
Interviewer: In light of this contradictory pluralism running through our brains, is there a way a Christian mind can help?
GSC: It strikes me that one key is emotions, to which we attach ourselves in incompatible ideas. But our emotions change quite quickly. And so we need to create the Christian mind to help us moderate all those vicissitudes.
Interviewer: “Vicissitudes”—that’s quite a word! Impressive... At any rate, are you asserting that it’s simply getting your head in the right space—and that will solve everything?
GSC: No, certainly not. What I am saying will make a difference is directing all of us toward the love of God. Or as Jesus phrased it so well,
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus (Matthew 22:37)
He’s saying it’s not just the mind, but that we shouldn’t forget it either.
|a Trinitarian-looking coat hook?|
Interviewer: You’ve also got to complete the passage! Jesus adds this (and I'm going to emphasize one phrase):
“This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The Law and the Prophets all hang on these two commandments.” Jesus (Matthew 22:38-40)
GSC: Why is “all hang on” so important?
Interviewer: Because Christians today don’t have anywhere to hang all their ideas, feelings, intuitions, emotions, notions, impulses, sensations, and concepts. And that’s a major loss. But Jesus tells us that love of God and one another is what we need.
GSC: Wow! Next time let me be the interviewer!