Friday, July 29, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Hope

Blogging about C.S. Lewis seems to be a theme with me lately. I have no defense. I can only state the reality: Mere Christianity is an outstanding book.

So, in keeping with my precedent, here are a few more thoughts on the great work.

A couple days ago I read the chapter titled "Hope." It outlined the different ways that people respond to disappointment in life. All men, Lewis writes, feel a desire they find impossible to meet on earth. Some men keep on trying to fill this void, moving from one form of pleasure to another, never satisfied. Other men quickly give up on ever quenching their thirst, becoming cynics. Christians, though, take a different approach.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Women Risk Rejection, Too

I’m turning 27 in a few months.

That’s not a particularly exciting age. There is no major rite of passage attached to it. But for me, it’s somewhat significant. It will mark 10 years of undesired singleness.

I came from a rather old-fashioned family. My parents saw no point in young girls putting on lipstick and parading around with boys pretending to be grownups.

But all that changed at 17. At long last, make-up was permissible. So was Biblical dating. And as every young girl knows, no sooner are you allowed to date than a handsome prince rides in on his white horse to carry you away to the land of marital bliss.

Let’s just say it was a rather anti-climactic year...

Visit Marry Well to read more

Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You Cooler Online?

Brad Paisley’s “Online” spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Country Songs chart in 2007 — topping out at No. 1 the week of October 13. While “Online” may not be one of Paisley’s biggest or longest running hits, the video is still among his most popular. According to, “Online” had been viewed 6,076,037 times as of July 16, ranking No. 3 for Paisley’s most viewed videos.

Considering the developing culture of electronic social networking, it’s not hard to see why the song has received so much attention...

Visit Marry Well to read more

Friday, July 22, 2011

Garden Fresh Zucchini Bread

It was seven years ago when I first made it.

Seven years. Wow -- that's a long time.

It was the year my family planted our first garden in Missouri. We were living in Springfield at the time, and our garden plot left much to be desired. Still, we had more okra, yellow squash, and zucchini than we could eat.

We had to get creative.

Among the various vegetable recipes we tried that summer, we sampled a recipe for zucchini bread.

It was wonderful.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Showing Restraint in Relationships

In the Christian classic Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot wrote about her courtship with her first husband: “Nothing was harder for a woman in love to endure and nothing was stronger proof of the character of the man Jim Elliot than his restraint of power.”

“Restraint of power” – or self-control – is a crucial aspect of Biblical dating. Elliot discusses this principle in Chapter 11, titled “Impatience”...

Visit Marry Well to read more.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Modesty According to C.S. Lewis

I opened up Lewis' Mere Christianity this afternoon to the chapter titled "Sexual Morality." I wondered how Lewis would approach the topic, considering that he published this book almost 60 years ago, in 1952.

Lewis begins with an exploration of modesty. I was surprised -- and pleased -- by his conclusions:

The Christian rule of chastity must not be confused with the social rule of 'modesty' (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays down how much of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what words, according to the customs of a given social circle. Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all times, the rule of propriety changes. A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady completely covered in clothes might both be equally 'modest', proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste (or equally unchaste). Some of the language which chaste women used in Shakespeare's time would have been used in the nineteenth century only by a woman completely abandoned.

Lewis also points out that someone who breaks these social standards is not always being immodest:

When people break the rule of propriety current in their own time and place, if they do so in order to excite lust in themselves or others, then they are offending against chastity. But if they break it through ignorance or carelessness they are guilty only of bad manners. When, as often happens, they break it defiantly in order to shock or embarrass others, they are not necessarily being unchaste, but they are being uncharitable: for it is uncharitable to take pleasure in making other people uncomfortable.

Lewis is also very realistic about the differing standards in society. Having grown up in the conservative Christian culture, I've seen what a stumbling block the issue of modesty is for many people -- and I don't mean men who struggle with lust.

Men and women alike too often judge others based on the way they dress. Conservative women take pride in their own standard and look down on women who are "less modest." And on the other hand, women who come from more relaxed backgrounds sometimes judge their conservative counterparts as being legalistic.

Lewis' solution?

I do not think that a very strict or fussy standard of propriety is any proof of chastity or any help to it, and I therefore regard the great relaxation and simplifying of the rule which has taken place in my own lifetime as a good thing. At its present stage, however, it has this inconvenience, that people of different ages and different types do not all acknowledge the same standard, and we hardly know where we are. While this confusion lasts I think that old, old-fashioned, people should be very careful not to assume that young or 'emancipated' people are corrupt whenever they are (by the old standard) improper; and, in return, that young people should not call their elders prudes or puritans because they do not easily adopt the new standard. A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems. (emphasis mine)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

You Can't Marry A Church

We’ve all seen it happen.

John and Jane meet at church. They get to know each other better in their singles group. They start dating. Then, they disappear.

How many couples fall in love only to drop out of their social circles? According to Henry Cloud and John Townsend, such couples are putting themselves in danger. Cloud and Townsend write in their Boundaries in Dating that “a single person must date within a community of people who care about him or her…Their friends, pastors, and community should provide support for their dating lives”...

Visit Marry Well to read more

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

C.S. Lewis and Intellectual Slackers

This summer, at long last, I am turning my way through the pages of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. It is, as I expected, stimulating and delightful.

Today, I read the chapter titled "The 'Cardinal Virtues.'" The whole thing is thought provoking, and I especially loved what Lewis has to say on the virtue of Prudence.

Prudence means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it. Nowadays most people hardly think of Prudence as one of the 'virtues',  In 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. But that is a misunderstanding. In the first place, most children show plenty of 'prudence' about doing the things they are really interested in, and think them out quite sensibly. In the second place, as St Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only 'as harmless as doves', but also 'as wise as serpents'. He wants a child's heart, but a grown-up's head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim. The fact that you are giving money to charity does not mean that you need not try to find out whether that charity is a fraud or not. The fact that what you are thinking about God Himself (for example, when you are praying) does not mean that you can be content with the same babyish ideas which you had when you were a five-year-old. It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any the less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain. He has room for people with very little sense, but He wants every one to use what sense they have. The proper motto is not 'Be good, sweet maid and let who can be clever,' but 'Be good, sweet maid, and don't forget that this involves being as clever as you can.' God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. 

I never would have thought of an "intellectual slacker" as someone who was imprudent. As Lewis goes on to say of other Cardinal Virtues, their definitions have become quite narrow in our society.

I'm thankful for authors like Lewis who consistently stretch my understanding, and, in this way, help me become a more prudent person.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oh about some cobbler?

It all started with a bowl of peaches.

Soft, juicy, you-can-just-smell-the-sweetness peaches.

It was time to eat them or let them go.

And being that it was quite possibly the most boring 4th of July evening of my life, I had nothing to do.

So my mom and I grabbed a couple knives and started slicing peaches for what is, in my opinion, the most delicious cobbler in existence.

My grandma started making this cobbler when my mom was little. The recipe came from her 1953 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. A few years ago, she gave my mom a reproduction copy.

Isn't it cute?

Don't you love the cute little 1950s graphics?

Just seeing this recipe makes my mouth water.

I tasted the cobbler for the first time at my grandma's house one sunny California summer. The peaches were in season.

It was a cobbler unlike any I'd previously tasted. The sticky-sweet fruit was topped with a fluffy biscuit-like shortcake.

Whipping one up was just the thing for a dull holiday evening.

Here it is, for your undying pleasure and enjoyment.

Fresh Peach Cobbler

3 c. sliced fresh peaches
1 c. sugar
1/4 t. almond extract
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 c. sifted enriched flour
1 T. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. shortening
1/2 c. milk
1 well-beaten egg
2 T. sugar

Arrange peaches in greased 8x8x2-inch pan. Sprinkle with mixture of 1 cup sugar, almond extract, lemon juice, and lemon peel. heat in oven while preparing shortcake.

Sift together flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture is like course crumbs. Add milk and egg at once; stir until flour is just moistened.

Spread dough over hot peaches. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 35 to 40 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

I make a double batch and put it in a 13x9x2-inch pan. When it's done, it looks like this.

Want a piece? Make your own!