Truths Ancient and Simple

The process of living seems to consist in coming to realise truths so ancient and simple that, if stated, they sound like barren platitudes. They cannot sound otherwise to those who have not had the relevant experience: that is why there is no real teaching of such truths possible and every generation starts from scratch.

~CS Lewis, Letters of CS Lewis (8 May, 1939), p. 166

Obstructions of Man

From a letter George MacDonald wrote to an unidentified man, printed in ‘Wingfold’ Spring 2017: 

“If any man comes to me with theological questions, if I find that they are troubling him, and keeping him from giving himself to God, I do my best to remove any obstructions as are the result of man’s handling of the eternal things: what I count false, I will not spare. But if a man come to me only for the sake of conference on the matter, I will hold none. Let him get what teaching he is capable of receiving from his knowledge of Christ.”


Unto the True Alone

They will not, therefore cannot, do not know him.Nothing they could know, could be God. In sooth,

Unto the true alone exists the truth.

They say well, saying Nature doth not show him:

Truly she shows not what she cannot show;

And they deny the thing they cannot know.

Who sees a glory, towards it will go. 

But Will it Make Me Happy? 

The question for me regarding the validity of a religion is, does the philosophy match up to reality – does it produce real results that work across the spectrum of the various fields and areas that we inhabit as human beings? 

There are various ideas on having a successful business, as there are many fields of thought on the subject of bodily health and medicine. And the thing you’ve got to ask yourself after hearing the theories (and hopefully testing them in your head to see if they even seem coherent or make sense) is, “But does it work?” In other words, is it true? Does this idea match up to the reality of the world we live in, or is it a “nice idea,” but not at all practical? Even saying it that way clouds my meaning, because there are differing meanings of the word “practical.” So the question “does it actually work?” ends up being a better test in this space. 

And I think at the end of the day and when you get down to the full meaning intended by the verbiage used and the picture painted by the various religions, that Christianity is the one that the most “true.” It is the one religion that is big enough to not only match up to the reality of the conditions of life we find ourselves in as human beings, but also large enough to cover all the bases, beginning with the care of all the multitudinous needs of every individual man, woman and child on this earth. Once those are considered, we find that the Christian point of view then still has breadth to cover the needs of humanity considered as a whole, and of the creatures that coinhabit this earth with us, and of the planet itself. 

Once the needs of all the beings on the planet are considered, organized and arranged for, then we have the possibility of an operating system without missing code or bugs , and we have the potential for everything to work and flow smoothly in harmony and peace. And at that point, we have the possibility for peace and fulfillment for every individual within that system. When all the pieces are set to right, then you have a world that is conducive to the flourishing of the human mind, heart and soul, and the flower of that eudaimonea is the happiness we were looking for all along. 

But as Lewis says, you can’t get that flower of happiness by seeking out the flower first, or by trying to find “happiness” itself. You have to do the work of planting the right seed (one that will actually produce flowers), tending to the seedling and young plant, watering it, fertilizing it, and weeding it. And then, at some point after some considerable time has been spent in setting the plant right, all your labors pay off, and one morning when you had almost forgotten about the roses, you find your plant has flowered. 


Visions of a True Man

Image result for painting, service to others


We have seen that the moment whatever goes by the name of truth comes into connection with man; the moment that, instead of merely mirroring itself in his intellect as a thing outside of him, it comes into contact with him as a being of action; the moment the knowledge of it affects or ought to affect his sense of duty, it becomes a thing of far nobler import; the question of truth enters upon a higher phase, looks out of a loftier window. A fact which in itself is of no value, becomes at once a matter of life and death–moral life and death, when a man has the choice, the imperative choice of being true or false concerning it.

~ George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons


“When the truth, the heart, the summit, the crown of a thing, is perceived by a man, he approaches the fountain of truth whence the thing came, and perceiving God by understanding what is, becomes more of a man, more of the being he was meant to be. In virtue of this truth perceived, he has relations with the universe undeveloped in him till then. But far higher will the doing of the least, the most insignificant duty raise him. He begins thereby to be a true man. A man may delight in the vision and glory of a truth, and not himself be true. The man whose vision is weak, but who, as far as he sees, and desirous to see farther, does the thing he sees, is a true man. If a man knows what is, and says it is not, his knowing does not make him less than a liar.


The man who recognizes the truth of any human relation, and neglects the duty involved, is not a true man.

The man who knows the laws of nature, and does not heed them, the more he teaches them to others, the less is he a true man. But he may obey them all and be the falsest of men, because of far higher and closer duties which he neglects. The man who takes good care of himself and none of his brother and sister, is false. A man may be a poet, aware of the highest truth of a thing, of that beauty which is the final cause of its existence; he may draw thence a notion of the creative loveliness that thought it out; he may be a man who would not tell a lie, or steal, or slander–and yet he may not be a true man, inasmuch as the essentials of manhood are not his aim: having nowise come to the flower of his own being, nowise, in his higher degree, attained the truth of a thing–namely, that for which he exists, the creational notion of him–neither is he striving after the same. There are relations closer than those of the facts around him, plainer than those that seem to bring the maker nigh to him, which he is failing to see, or seeing fails to acknowledge, or acknowledging fails to fulfil.


Man is man only in the doing of the truth, perfect man only in the doing of the highest truth, which is the fulfilling of his relations to his origin.

Excerpt From: George MacDonald. “Unspoken Sermons: Series I., II., and III.” iBooks.