Here are a couple of things that have been running through my head recently…
– I have recently rediscovered the non-fiction writings of C.S. Lewis. Lewis has been a favorite author of mine since I first picked up The Chronicles of Narnia in elementary school. In high school I started in on his non-fiction works. I bought a box set that included Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, and A Grief Observed (Screwtape and the Great Divorce actually are fiction, but are theologically heavy enough to stand with the others). It was the first time in my life that I had read books that weren’t either fiction stories or textbooks. And I was captivated.
If you’ve never read anything by C.S. Lewis, you have missed out on one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. Lewis writes with wit (typically British wit, mind you), wisdom, honesty, and insight. His understanding of the person and work of Christ, and the function of the Church, is only topped by his insights into everyday life and how to “do Christianity”, as he would say, in a day to day, practical way.
Now that I’m a bit older and (hopefully) wiser, I look back on those years of discovery and have to just smile and shake my head at myself. I remember reading Mere Christianity and feeling superior to other students in my school and my youth group because I was reading such heady theological stuff and they weren’t. I was learning stuff that they didn’t know, and to my 9th grade mind that made me better. Now that I’m diving into Lewis again, I’m beginning to understand more and more how much he would have despaired to think that his writings had produced such a mindset in one of his readers. His theological and apologetic works, even though they deal with highly intellectual material, are filled with humility, grace, compassion for the lost, in addition to an amazing lay-perspective on Christianity.
– Getting back into Lewis has reminded me what a strange language english is. If I were an alien coming to visit earth, and I wanted to learn an earth-language, I would not pick english. Here’s why:
-There are lots of words that look like they should be pronounced the same, but aren’t. For instance, the words bomb (bahm), comb (cohm), and tomb (toom).
-In contrast to the above point, there are lots of words that look different, but are actually pronounced the same. For instance, deer (the animal) and dear (something precious), air (what you breathe) and heir (next in line to be king), or shoe (on your foot) and shoo (get away!).
-Plus, there are tons of words that have like, 15 synonyms. At least. And the word “good”, according to the Oxford Dictionary, has 380 synonyms.
-Don’t even get me started on English-english v. American-english v. Australian english v. New Zealand-english…
For the above reasons, plus about 30 that I either didn’t have time/energy to write or don’t even know about, I’m going to have to officially label english the weirdest language on earth. And please don’t reply telling me about the African language that is composed primarily of clicks and pops. I’d bet one of my arms that they don’t have to worry about synonyms, homonyms, heteronyms, homographs, homophones, heterographs, capitonyms, or polysemes.