Overcoming our bent toward blindness in the wonders of the ordinary, Part 2

I am continuing to quote from Clyde Kilby, whom John Piper cites in chapter 11 of When I Don’t Desire God, downloadable from Desiring God if you click on the title. (See Part 1 here.)

5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work. (What timely words for me, and others I know, who worry to much about what others think of them, or don’t think of them. It is a dishonor to God’s image in us by comparing ourselves with others.)

6. I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what [C. S.] Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence. (When was the last time at just looked at something God created, without being in a rush to do something or in a hurry to get on to the next event?)

7. I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder.” (Childlike wonder gets lost in the adult world of performance and duty, but does it have to?)

8. I shall follow Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music. (The good, the classic, the quality works reflect the goodness of the creator in this world. Use them, listen to them, read them.)

John Piper writes this in the footnote to number 8:

Darwin gave this advice out of great regret looking back over his life. Near the end of his life, in the autobiography that he wrote for his children, he said:
Up to the age of 30 or beyond it, poetry of many kinds … gave me great pleasure, and even as a schoolboy I took intense delight in Shakespeare…. Formerly pictures gave me considerable, and music very great, delight. But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: I have tried to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music. . . . I retain some taste for fine scenery, but it does not cause me the exquisite delight which it formerly did. . . . My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts, but why this should have caused the atrophy of that part of the brain alone, on which the higher tastes depend, I cannot conceive…. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature. [Cited in Virginia Stem Owens, “Seeing Christianity in Red and Green as Well as Black and White,” Christianity Today2 (September 2, 1983): 38.]

Part 3 is here.


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