Best Wishes to You for a Merry Christmas 2020

How have you decided to spend this holiday season?1

Are you recreating? Spending time with loved ones? Taking up other hobbies or interests you don’t usually get to pursue? Or maybe you’re planning to do some combination of all of these.

Too Many Things, Too Few Days

Or maybe the end of the year has crept up on you largely unnoticed. Maybe the hustle and bustle of the regular demands on you have left you with more to do than you have year left. And that’s besides the additional demands of a vaguely upcoming soon holiday season that’s now at the doorstep.

Even if the holiday has sneaked up on you, though, I’d encourage you not to let it pass without pausing to look up.

There’s more to life than your current slate of academic obligations, other work demands, or your next upcoming project. So, carve out some time to say “yes” to what’s most important. You won’t regret it.

Preparing for Time Away

You can start with the simple steps I mentioned a few weeks ago.

  1. Prepare early. Sure, next time you’re planning to be away, you can plan farther ahead. But it’s never too late to start from where you are.
  2. Address others’ needs ahead of time. You might not be able to address a whole lot, but it’s pretty well the 11th hour anyhow. So, depending on what you hear back, you can negotiate whether it really needs to be done in the next couple days or whether it can wait into the new year.
  3. Plan for your time away. Especially if you’re running full speed ahead directly into time away, you might want to plan at the beginning of that time to decompress, as well as think and talk through how you want to invest the balance of the time you’ve carved out to be unplugged.
  4. Before you unplug fully, set up an auto-responder to let others know when you’ll start responding to them again after your time away.
  5. While you’re away, actually unplug. Enjoy the time with your loved ones or whatever extra-academic activities you’ve decided to pursue. Regular demands will soon pick back up again. So, take full advantage of the opportunity to savor the moments while you’re away.

As you go through this cycle, note what you want to improve the next time you’re preparing to be away. Making those changes over time will help make taking time away easier and more enjoyable.

If you’re facing this or other particular challenges, do please take just a couple minutes to let me know so that I can shape next year’s content accordingly.

Wishes for the Season

However you’re planning to spend the next few days, I particularly hope you’ll take the opportunity to join with “the few among the Niatirbians” in reflecting on and being grateful for the elements of truly lasting value in the season.

It can be a challenge to look up from the daily grind or “the rush” long enough to catch a solid glimpse of these elements. But it’s an effort well worth the undertaking.2

  1. Header provided image by Walter Chávez

  2. For the source of the video rendition below, see C. S. Lewis’s excellent essay “Xmas and Christmas,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 334–37. 

Gospel and Testimony

Richard Bauckham
Richard Bauckham

In his 2006 Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham suggests:

that we need to recover the sense in which the Gospels are testimony. This does not mean that they are testimony rather than history. It means that the kind of historiography they are is testimony. An irreducible feature of testimony as a form of human utterance is that it asks to be trusted. This does not mean that it asks to be trusted uncritically, but it does mean that testimony should not be treated as credible only to the extent that it can be independently verified. There can be good reasons for trusting or distrusting a witness, but these are precisely reasons for trusting or distrusting. Trusting testimony is not an irrational act of faith that leaves critical rationality aside; it is, on the contrary, the rationally appropriate way of responding to authentic testimony. . . . It is true that a powerful trend in the modern development of critical historical philosophy and method finds trusting testimony a stumbling-block in the way of the historian’s autonomous access to truth that she or he can verify independently. But it is also a rather neglected fact that all history, like all knowledge, relies on testimony. (5; italics original)

Thus, it is perhaps not without irony that we find ourselves still under the sway of a certain kind(s) of testimony even when we seek most to avoid or to exercise our independence from testimony of some other kind(s) (cf. Gadamer, Truth and Method, 354; Lewis, “Meditation in a Toolshed,” 215).

Puckett, Apologetics of Joy

Puckett, Apologetics of Joy
Joe Puckett

One of our recent MLitt graduates through the Christian Institute for the Study of Liberal Arts, Joe Puckett, completed his thesis earlier this year, and it has now come to press with Wipf and Stock under the title, The Apologetics of Joy: A Case for the Existence of God from C. S. Lewis’s Argument from Desire. The title should soon also be available through other booksellers.

From the publisher:

Among all the arguments for the existence of God there may be none more personal and intimate than C. S. Lewis’s Argument from Desire. This book attempts to explain what the Argument from Desire is and why we believe that the argument is an inductively strong one.

In the spirit of C. S. Lewis, Augustine, and Pascal, this book invites both the head and the heart of the reader to consider the case for God’s existence. While many arguments look out to the external world for evidence of God’s existence, this book calls the reader to look inward to the human heart. While learning from classical thinkers (particularly C. S. Lewis) the Argument from Desire will bring both intuition and experience together to demonstrate the truth of divine presence in the world. The reader will walk away with either a newfound faith or a reinforced conviction that has a strong intellectual and experiential dimension.

From a couple of the endorsers:

“This is a unique piece of scholarship, the only book I know of that is wholly devoted to the most interesting argument in the world. It’s clear and persuasive, and I strongly recommend it.”
—Peter Kreeft, author of Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing

“Puckett’s book is a rich, multifaceted exploration of the argument from desire. . . . It calls us to a recovery of joy, awe, mystery, and miracle, which ultimately directs us toward God—the true object of our deepest human longings.”
—Paul Copan, author of Is God a Moral Monster?

via Wipf and Stock Publishers.