Fairytale Forest - Sunburst“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen:
…….not only because I see it,
but because by it
        I see everything else.”
– C. S. Lewis

I have read this quote from C. S. Lewis many times, and it always gives me a sense of groundedness. Only recently did I begin to see deeper implications of these words.

These days it seems that many contentious issues occupy the attention of especially younger people, those 40 and under. Creation vs. Evolution, for example; “Same-sex” marriage; science vs. religion; the treatment of women in the Bible; that the Bible takes slavery for granted. I could go on, but you know what I’m talking about.

For a long time I’ve debated and struggled with these issues, often nearing despair as I see conscientious people unable or unwilling to come to terms with these topics.I’ve seen promising young ministers inexorably drawn away from the church; I see other young adults following them. Unfortunately, once certain choices have been made, it leads to an almost inevitable drift away from essential truths. Ignoring and denying some truths will only lead to destruction, suffering, and heartbreak.

Once they have made certain choices, people are impervious to appeal, to reason, and have come to such a twisted understanding of nearly everything that it becomes almost impossible to have a discussion. It breaks my heart. And it has often driven me close to despair. That’s where the Lewis quote comes in.

I have come to realize that what and where you believe the Sun is determines the outcome of these questions. Lewis uses it to refer to Christianity, and a masterful allusion it is. But it can just as easily be seen another way.

The Sun, as we know, is the center of our solar system; it is not only our primary source of light, it is the primary sustainer of life. For its light is converted by plants into food, and fiber, and fuel. It drives our weather, and keeps our planet from flying off into cold space.

That’s what Lewis is talking about. He did not just see the sun, record it in his mind; the sun made everything else visible and viable. And that is why it is so difficult to talk with so many today. A hundred years, two hundred years ago, and the world shared the same sun. As Lewis pointed out in his “The Abolition of Man,” the ancient world had far more in common in terms of values than we are commonly led to believe.

From the teachings of Confucius to Ancient Egyptian beliefs; from Indian to American Indian;  Aborigenes; yes, Christians, Muslims, and Jews; Ancient Greek and Roman, Old Norse. These widely differing cultures worshiped different gods, but their basic moral teachings were remarkably congruent. These common values  didn’t put an end to sin, any more than the existence of the sun puts an end to darkness or cold. But it meant that people saw things much more closely to the same way. Much of the book of Proverbs would be recognized and accepted in each of those cultures. But that’s no longer true.

Today, there are several rival “suns” to choose from. Which one you choose as the center of your moral world changes what your life revolves around, and how you see. It becomes the source that makes  everything else visible and viable. It means not only that we see different things, but that we see the same things differently. It may also mean that some things some see do not exist at all, except in their imagination; and some things may not be seen at all.

Make no mistake. I’m not saying people are stupid; far from it. Many are highly educated, a few (of any group) are highly intelligent. None of us chooses as our Sun something dull, or dark or insignificant. We all know the the Sun is bright, luminious, and massive. Whatever we choose will have all these characteristics. As it turns out, there are a number of things that appear to exhibit the features we expect in a Sun.That’s what makes choosing the real Sun so difficult.

What is your Sun? Be careful. The answer may seem too easy. But every choice–every choice–brings with it unanticipated difficulties.