Lewis at Wheaton College in the s. Lewis Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, and devoured it. Meilaender is orthodox, insightful, measured, and wise--and he never hides behind abstract jargon or simplistic platitude. He takes Augustine as a "conversation partner" and reflects upon the topics of desire, duty, politics, sex, grief, and method. He listens to Augustine "worry over a subject" and observes that "it is often at those places where one is tempted to dismiss him as misguided, or even comical" that he helps us transcend the confusion and nonsense that characterizes our age.
Underlying the entire book is Meilaender's assertion that Augustine "is one whose power lies chiefly in his sense that the way that leads to God and hence to fulfillment is a way that often hurts and wounds us. Meilaender maintains that Augustine's oft-quoted "programmatic statement" that "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find their rest in you," introduces a tension between mercenary and disinterested "impulses" into the Christian life.
Is Augustine's doctrine of desire a compromise with human hubris? Anders Nygren claims that Augustine's appeal to desire is nothing but "sheer titanic pride. Augustine's account of the restless human heart is not the story of our need to possess God. It is the story of our need to praise Him and delight in His presence.
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Does this escape from self destroy the self or diminish the importance of other people? No, the people whom God gives us to love serve as a kind school of love in which we learn the real meaning of love. But they are--always and only--loved 'in God'; for apart from that location they can never truly be themselves. If desire is so important, what is the place of duty in the Christian life?
What is the relationship of the "attractive" to the "imperative"? For Augustine, duty is central to a life well lived.
Reflection 106: Sleeping in Christ
For example, in Against Lying , he takes the "rigorist" position that lying is always wrong. There are no exceptions. What about the distinction between the right and the good? According to Augustine, "This much I know. In all situations, says Augustine, "man must respect the norm of morality" even if that means martyrdom.
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Meilaender, while respecting Augustine's rejection of ends which justify means, argues that his position must be augmented by the insight the "words may at times rightly be weapons. It is true, but the child denies it. The teacher's question has placed him in a situation for which he is not yet prepared. He feels only that what is taking place is an unjustified interference in the order of the family and that he must oppose it.
The child's answer can indeed be called a lie; yet this lie contains more truth, that is to say, it is more in accordance with reality than would have been the case if the child had betrayed his father's weakness in front of the class. According to the measure of his knowledge, the child acted correctly. The blame for the lie falls back on the teacher.
100 Reflections on the Christian Life
Not only is lying justified in cases of resistance to unjust demands, in some situations lying is justified based upon "mutual agreement," such as in cases of espionage and other forms of concealment. Lying, says Meilaender, may also be appropriate in cases when "truth does not display respect for the other person. The tension between desire and duty will always be with us in this life.
Our neighbor is every person who suffers from abuse, or scorn, or ridicule, or hunger, or lack of shelter. Our neighbors are all human beings made in Gods image, even if they do not, themselves, know God.
In a survey of middle school students in Christian schools we asked whether they had helped anyone in need outside of their own family. It was clear that they had confused witnessing with serving or helping in a physical way. Many Christian adults interpret fulfilling the second part of the Great Commandment by supporting mission organizations financially rather than helping those in need or working for justice for others.
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While working on our book, Families Living in the Fabric of Faithfulness: Parents and children describe what works 1 , my daughter Julia and I interviewed or surveyed many young adults who, no matter what their jobs, were actively engaged in helping those in need. We asked what in their background influenced them to be engaged in this kind of volunteer work.
Reflections on Christian Living – in All things
Separately, we interviewed or surveyed their parents and asked the same question about their adult children. While their answers differed, they gave us many ideas concerning educating children for the Christian life of seeking justice for those in need. Children learn in so many different ways and justice has to be taught in a way that the child will understand its importance whether that be through experiential learning or by watching a situation unfold. Because I saw my mom get satisfaction from helping others, I learned that service is positive. Because I experienced injustice in my own life and saw the injustice in others, I learned that service is necessary.
It was probably required for a high school class. In high school I worked with an agency that helped feed homeless people. Nothing too extensive though.
A reflection on the meaning of life
Honestly I thought it would help my chance of getting into college. I grew up in Chicago and my parents were both very prejudiced. Beauty comes from within. I really wanted my children not to worry so much about their appearance but realize what was important was their actions. The kinds of service families or classes can do will depend on the needs of people in the area in which you live. Have a family or class meeting to discuss the kinds of service you will do together to help others.
Will these activities always lead to changed hearts in our children and students? Not always, of course. One of the parents who responded to our survey said the following:. Part of their integrity is not sharing a lot of thoughts that would make us feel good that they have carried on our values and our faith.
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So there are times we have wondered. But it leaks out, and others around them have shared things with us that make us realize how deep their faith and generosity and thoughtful care is for others. We have to leave the result up to them and to God. Did my husband and I incorporate these activities into our family life?
To a certain extent we did but not often enough and not with the intentionality and discussion that is needed.
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