Best Wishes to You for a Merry Christmas 2021!

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? 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 you find yourself with more to do than the days you have left in the year—not to mention all of the special demands of the holiday season.

(If you’re facing this or other challenges, please take just a couple minutes to let me know. I’ll be using that information to make next year’s content as helpful as I can.)

Wherever you find yourself, though, try not to let the season 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.

The time that you use to say “yes” to what’s most important you definitely won’t regret. That’s why I created a vacation planner to help you make the most of your time away.

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 above, 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. 

Gupta, Lewis on ambition and pride

Stimulated by Craig Hill’s Servant of All: Status, Ambition, and the Way of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2016),  Nijay Gupta provides some interesting excerpts and reflections. He comments, in part,

I have learned that I cannot control what other people think of me. I need to be driven by what I think is right, keep my pride in check, have friends and colleagues who can graciously call me out if I err, and pass on generosity to those who are struggling just as others have lifted me up. I think we will be held back from doing all that we are called to do if we are overly occupied with how our work “looks” to others. I try to believe that if we commit ourselves to quality (and not just quantity), we should not be embarrassed with our work and productivity.

This reflection is substantially similar to C. S. Lewis’s thoughts that

Pleasure in being praised is not Pride. The child who is patted on the back for doing a lesson well, the woman whose beauty is praised by her lover, the saved soul to whom Christ says ‘Well done,’ are pleased and ought to be. For here the pleasure lies not in what you are but in the fact that you have pleased someone you wanted (and rightly wanted) to please. The trouble begins when you pass from thinking, ‘I have pleased him; all is well,’ to thinking, ‘What a fine person I must be to have done it.’ The more you delight in yourself and the less you delight in the praise, the worse you are becoming. When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all. (Mere Christianity, 125–26, 128)

For the balance of Nijay’s reflections, see his original post.

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.