Evolutionary Hymn by C. S. Lewis

Genius!

Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future’s endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
while there’s always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we’re going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it’s god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature’s simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
‘Goodness = what comes next.’
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be).

Larry Norman on Being a Christian

“We each have some problem that we have been unable to solve. Maybe it’s fear; maybe it’s anger… insecurity… jealousy.

“God knows what we’re like, and he loves us just the same. But the way the Church has established its message, many of us think to be a Christian we must be good. We must always be very good. So many people say ‘I cannot be a Christian, because I cannot be this good. I cannot be as good as the Church wants me to be. So I must give up trying, because I will never be the right kind of person… I will never become the perfect Christian.’

“And yet they believe in God. They believe in Jesus, that he is God’s son. They believe that he died on the cross for our sins, and that he rose from the dead, so that we can also rise from the dead. They believe everything. They are a Christian. But they are afraid to try.

“We must not be afraid of God. Maybe we must consider the communication problems with one another, between us and perhaps the Church. And they will say Larry’s hair is long, or he’s drinking water out of a bottle like it was some alcohol…

“Maybe the Church… and I shouldn’t say the Church, because we are the Church. It’s not the buildings, it’s not the priests… it’s us. And the priest, if he’s a Christian. It’s everyone that believes in God that’s the Church. We are the saints. We don’t need to pray to any saint Peter. We are the saints.

“And saint Peter, he’s asleep, waiting for the resurrection. When I die, I shall sleep and wait for Christ to come back and resurrect me. I know he can resurrect me, because he resurrected himself.

“This is our hope in God—that God loves us, that Jesus is coming again, and that God will look at us with love and mercy, and not with a list of all of our failures.

“So please don’t be afraid of God. Open up your heart to God. You’ll never be a perfect Christian. Even the priests can never be perfect.”

Larry Norman, speaking during the Omega Europa concert.

Jerk Factories

In his article “The Bait and Switch of Contemporary Christianity”, Richard Beck hyperbolises the problems inherent in turning Christianity into a religion of tasks rather than the total transformation that it really is.

One can fill a life full of spiritual activities without ever, actually, trying to become a more decent human being. In fact, much of this activity can distract one from becoming a more decent human being… Many churches are jerk factories.

Take, for example, how Christians tip and behave in restaurants. If you have ever worked in the restaurant industry you know the reputation of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Millions of Christians go to lunch after church on Sundays and their behavior is abysmal. The single most damaging phenomenon to the witness of Christianity in America today is the collective behavior of the Sunday morning lunch crowd. Never has a more well-dressed, entitled, dismissive, haughty or cheap collection of Christians been seen on the face of the earth.

Performing spiritual/religious activities does not inherently make you a better person. Really becoming a better person is something that can only be done by Jesus.

We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We [Jews] tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. …I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man.
Galatians 2:15-16,19 MSG

Beck is clear: there is nothing wrong, and much that is right about private devotions, bible study, prayer, fasting, et cetera. It just can’t be a substitute for being a decent human being. We need both. What we don’t need is our churches perceived as being “Jerk Factories”.