Twenty something days on a Greek island and it’s been an interesting introduction to Greece. I’m submerged in a different culture but surrounded by a diversity of Americans. This island has fresh organic meals to enjoy, an abundance of wine to sip, and plenty of sand to be found in various spaces.
I’ve also been experiencing a tug of war in my spirit but a firmness in faith as finished reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This book is a series of letters from an older to younger devil to coach him in his temptation of the ‘patient’ in to sin. The ultimate goal is to turn a man from God to win his soul to the underworld. When reading the letters a few lines jumped out of the pages at me and it greatly impresses me how applicable C.S. Lewis’s writings from 70 years ago are today.
All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy [read: God], are to be encouraged… Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours–and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours. 7
Currently there is a refugee crisis in Europe of people fleeing war from the Middle East and North Africa. I am safe and cozy in Greece with my love. In these same waters refugees are crossing in over crowded boats. Families are throwing their possessions to the sea to make room and children are drowning in the process. The Pope has responded by pleading to those of Catholic faith to take in a family in need. Germany has stepped up and offered to take in 800,000 refugees over a certain time frame. Other countries (not all) are doing what they can. There is a great Christian response to help as well as a lost Christian response to self-preserve. Some things that I’ve read have been heart breaking from childhood neighbors, “If you aren’t scared to death at the fact our government is about to allow 10,000 plus of these ‘refugees’ aka ‘terrorists’ into our country then you should be!” I was disappointed to read this and the responses of hate that followed in the name of patriotism, self-preservation, and fear.
You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday’s paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes, but in conversations with those he cares nothing about on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. 12
Even as I write this blog, I take a quick pulse of Facebook. I find myself reaching for my phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night to stay ‘connected’ with family and friends scattered across the world. Or at least this is the justification (lie) that I tell myself.
I am surrounded by new people and places but social media prevents me from being present, reflective, and prayerful. It truly does. In fact, I boast that I have almost obtained so many Wifi passwords in Naxos that I can stay connected as I walk across the city. This is an area that I need to be more intentional about as it is a daily struggle. I envy my friends who are too involved with their families, hobbies, and day to day to update their statuses and post photos of their adventures. I can guess, I’m not the only one who struggles here… I see your posts too.
Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, some underfoot, without sudden turnips, without milestones, without signposts. 12
Then I was attacked, so to speak. There is a mid-20 something year old local who I chat with daily. He shares his perspective of world religion, science, and history and at times we debate the origin of the world, seriously. Two days ago when I wandered in the hotel, he was excited to introduce me to his thick accented Great Uncle who lived in the U.S., obtained U.S. citizenship, and who was so excited to tell me all about it. There was clear affection between the two and it was an interesting yet casual introduction. Then some how, I don’t even know how this happened, I was under attack for my religious stance.
Great Uncle was very challenging. He would ask me a question but then wouldn’t let me answer. He would forcefully laugh at my responses. He asked me if Arabs were children of God. I think he expected me to say, No. I said, “of course they are… There was this man named Abraham…” Then he interrupted. I told him the answers to his questions are right there in the Bible. Then he laughed at me again, “you read the Bible?!” This went on, and on, then I asked…
Me: Are you Christian?
Uncle: Of course I am! My mother took me to church when I was a child and had me baptized.
Me: Do you believe in Jesus?
Uncle: Of course not! that’s absurd. *boastful laugh in my face*
I stood firm in my faith. I was exhausted. I felt that I was punched in the gut. Great Uncle gave up, said his farewells, and excused himself to his room. I went to bed with the biggest headache that night.
If he dies now, you lose him. 28
Then the most amazing thing happened. I went on a sailing cruise with my husband and 2 of his colleagues. Four different Americans, from different regions, with different backgrounds, living different lifestyles. Out of almost nowhere one of the friends declared “You are such a Good Christian! You have a light about you. You are very Christ-like.” I looked at my husband immediately with watered eyes, “that’s why I married her.” It was the nicest complement I’ve ever received! It seemed the four of us instantly connected and shared our childhood experiences of faith, religion, hypocrisy, and Jesus camp. That day we sailed, I puked, we laughed, we swam, we sang. It was an adventure.
…in attacks on patience, chastity, and fortitude, the fun is to make the man yield just when (had he but known it) relief was almost in sight. 30
What I’m reading next? The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. *gulp* I don’t know what this about yet.