A church that fits me

While going through some old posts from an older blog of mine, I found a quote from C. S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters.” Every time I read this passage I think about what the point of church is. Is it important to find a church that fits you? Is it about something else? I’m really not sure of the answer, although sometimes it might seem obvious. Lewis poses some thought-provoking ideas.

In “The Screwtape Letters,” a demon and senior tempter named Screwtape writes to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter. The uncle provides advice to Wormwood, who has been assigned a man. His task is to prevent this man from following God. The “Enemy” referred to in the letters is God.

My dear Wormwood,

Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organisation should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction. In the second place, the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy want him to be a pupil.

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE

Discipline and commitment

As a musician, discipline is extremely important. You gotta schedule your practice time and stick to it. It doesn’t always work out as planned because you might have to schedule an important meeting like reviewing your literature review with your thesis advisor (coming up soon!). Or maybe you are just having a terrible day and don’t want to practice. Practicing is nothing like a performance; all the glamour just isn’t there.

Practicing is a demanding activity for your brain, if you do it the right way. Moreover, it can be boring and stressful. But you gotta do it.

Before coming to college, I was not disciplined with my practice, or with anything. All of a sudden, I had to develop this thing everyone admires but no one likes.

However, I think it is safe to say I am close to being a disciplined clarinetist.

Just as I have developed discipline to practice, I must do it in some other areas, and there is one that has been patiently waiting for me. Given all the pressure I feel at the moment, much of it self-inflicted, I need to spend time with God. Seriously.

Commitment has been on my mind since school began in August. I have many important decisions this year, both personal and professional. I really need some help, guidance and support. Maybe I would have all those things if I could be disciplined in my relationship with God.

And I’ve tried.

I’ve tried to make time for God at any time of the day. I’ve done it for about a week at  time, but then I start to think, Well, maybe I couldn’t do it today but tomorrow I will.

Perhaps I need to start by treating my devotional life as I do my clarinet practice: with seriousness.

If I have committed and developed discipline in my clarinet practice, this blog and the podcast, God can help me do it with my devotional life.

Perhaps I’ve been too relaxed about what my relationship with God should look like that I fail to see how much I’ve neglected it. Maybe that is why I am so afraid of the future. It might be the reason why I struggle with a deep-rooted desire for transcendence.

Can I really develop a healthy devotional life? God, will you help me? Will you help me get rid of these fears and commit to you?

Shabbat shalom.