Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rabbit? Man!

By far, this is my favorite essay.
Lewis started his essay with a question, “Can’t you lead a good life without believing in Christianity?” I’ll explain my understanding later. I really like the way Lewis organized his writing.
At first, he talked about the different views of Christians and non-Christians. From a Christian point of view, a man can only gain happiness when he is walking and working on the road that God has prepared for him. Any “walking aside” may lead to an unhappy ending. However, a non-Christian is more materialistic. He won’t mind to work in the dark as long as he obtained what he called “good” things. In his world, happiness is only judged by either “good” or “bad”.
Even though sometimes when Christians and non-Christians have common goals, their fundamental beliefs will differentiate their goals (purpose) eventually. A Christian is more considered individual development. On the other hand, a non-Christian (Materialist) is more interested about the benefit of majorities
Objectively, we can not judge whose belief is right and whose is wrong. Both of them have their own reasons about their beliefs. However, this is not the problem which Lewis addressed at the beginning. Christians and non-Christians have made their mind on whether they should believe in God or not. Only those who are not sure about their beliefs ask question which Lewis mentioned beforehand. “The man who asks this question has heard of Christianity and is by no means certain that it may not be true.” It is understandable that a man is questioning his beliefs in the beginning. But it is not right for him to just ignore his problem. At the middle of his “pilgrim process”, he decided to stop seeking the truth. For him who asked the question at first, it seems like he doesn’t want to admit that Christianity can lead him a better life than non-Christianity. “He is like the man who won’t look at his bank account because he’s afraid of what the might find there. He is like the man who won’t go to the doctor when he first feels a mysterious pain, because he is afraid of what the doctor may tell him.”
Now let’s go back to the beginning, when Lewis wrote, “One of the things that distinguishes man from the other animals is that he wants to know things, wants to find out what reality is like, simply for the sake of knowing.” If you give a carrot to a rabbit, it just eats it; if you give the same thing to a man, he may wonder and “want to know” what ingredients are contained in the carrot. A man without intention to seek truth is like the rabbit. He doesn’t desire to find out whether Christianity can lead him to a good life or not. He is in a state of honest ignorance rather than in a state of honest error. You can not blame people, such as J.S. Mill, who had indeed thought over the questions. At least, they had made their mind. Nonetheless, honest ignorance is the reflection of worry, hesitation, cowardice, and laziness. I think that’s why at the end of the essay, Lewis appealed us to let “all the rabbit in us [is] to disappear-the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit.”
At the end, from Lewis own opinion, he admitted the idea that “reaching a good life” should be based on Christ. With sole human beings, we can only reach a certain level of so-called happiness, but we can not go further. However, with God, we can achieve the true happiness that a doubted man can never imagine.
So whenever we have problems, question them and try our best to find answers, don’t act like n almost-broken branch which is always dangling on the tree, and being blown in the middle of the air.

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