Religion Column: A good conversation – Part One

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2018

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

So much has been made of the continuous decline in the skillset brought forward in our conversations. Reflexively, and excused by our so-called “busy” lives, we have reduced the thought processes to sound bites and Twitter accounts.

Quite naturally, the cost to our relationships and our intellectual processes have taken their toll. We search for the fast and simple answers, as though we have an urgent appointment  and immoveable deadline to attend to a most timely manner. Usually, this “appointment” has to do with our own needs, and our insistence in making the time and place.

Typically, it is time to be spent with ourselves in leisure; even if it is only that spent in the recliner. This is the nature of our times, as we seem to have little time for ourselves and there is very little time to spend just being at peace.

Over the next few weeks, let us spend some time together in conversation. For many, we may be a little rusty. For, after all, conversations require exercise. If our mental muscles have gotten a bit flabby through unuse, then perhaps it is time to take it to the gym.

Not to worry, as we may still recline in the Lazy Boy, but the mental thoughts could be a different subject.

C.S. Lewis, of the Chronicles of Narnia fame, and J.R.R. Tolkien, of The Lord of the Rings fame, could not have been more opposite in their religious views. Lewis was an avowed atheist, while Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic. Yet, each possessed an individual strength, coupled with an inward ability to endeavor to understand the other’s position; if not learn to embrace it.

C.S. Lewis had felt, for a very long time, that any belief in God was grounded in myth and fable. His discussion often focused upon the ancient tales of mythology; particularly of the Norse Gods. This position is typical of one looking to confirm the existence of God, through the Scientific Method. In other words, to apply the laws and theories of nature to the supernatural.

“All religions, that is, all mythologies to give them their proper name, are merely man’s own invention,” he related.

J.R.R. Tolkien was from a very different camp. Long devout in his catholic beliefs, he had long accepted his Church’s teachings and dogmas. The great difficulty, in not accepting any Christian views, was Lewis had to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining all of “this” and how it got here, away.

It was a very serious burden for a serious thinker.

Lewis always had the sense that he was being pursued, in one way or another. Begrudgingly, there developed a sense that it was a power outside of himself and that power was greater than all that he possessed.

J.R.R. Tolkien, also a very wise man, spent many long hours discussing the various points of their views.

Gradually, as the Apostle John directed all of us, “let him show out of a good conversation,” It was the point that communication, whether or not there is agreement on the position, is that a successful interchange has taken place.

We should well note this direction in our current culture and conversations.