“On Losing and Saving the Self”

Given the thoughtful response to Bruce Herman’s Oxbridge 2008 lecture topic, we are pleased to post Wilfred McClay’s abstract of his Oxbridge 2008 lecture, “On Losing and Saving the Self.” Please write in with your thoughts.

“On Losing and Saving the Self”

By overthrowing all older sources of moral authority, modern culture has enthroned the individual as the sole valid source of meaning, and promoted the pursuit of happiness as the chief end of life. But if we accept this state of affairs, we make a dreadful mistake, one that places upon the self a greater burden than it can bear, and cuts us off from the very happiness we so avidly pursue.

But the Christian faith does not make this mistake. It envisions life as a steady parade of astounding reversals, in which the appearances are regularly turned on their heads: the first becomes last, the rejected stone becomes the cornerstone, and our weakness becomes our strength. So too, will the wounded and needy modern self find restoration and wholeness, not through its own introspective efforts, but by acknowledging that its chief source of meaning is something outside itself. The search for the self should lead us to what is beyond the self.

My title comes from words near the end of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, in which this : “The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it.”


Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass – what is the appropriate response?

Last week, we sent out an e-mail about the film version of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. It included a link to Alan Jacob’s interview with Ken Myers about the novels upon which the film is based. We also included the summary of the interview from the Mars Hill Audio website. We found Professor Jacob’s response to be fair and balanced in its view of the quality, purpose, and style of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and thought it worth sharing with our many friends.

Although we merely intended it to serve as a resource for each reader’s individual discernment, we soon learned that some readers of the e-mail assumed that our official stance was against the film and that we advocated a boycott of the movie. While several readers were in favor of this stance and cheered us on, others were surprised that we would take such a position. One reader, much to our surprise, rebuked us for “biasing [people] in advance” rather than recommending that they decide for themselves, which is precisely what we thought we had done. Others sent us further resources on the topic.

In view of the spirited response to our e-mail, we decided to create a space where our friends and supporters can safely weigh in with their thoughts and their voices on important issues of the day.

So what is an appropriate response to Pullman’s works? We invite you to tell us!

Published in: on December 10, 2007 at 2:55 pm  Comments (22)