Thursday, June 27, 2013
Breaking the Four Minute Mile
I'm still in Oxford, and while I had a break from class yesterday, I took a short walk from my college (St. Stephens). I discovered an historic site - the actual track where Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile. If you don't remember the story, the four minute mile was a marker that nobody was ever thought to be able to break. And then, in 1954, Roger Bannister, a lanky runner from England, set out to break it, and then did - he ran the mile in under four minutes. It was a major achievement, akin to Hillary climbing Everest, or a man landing on the moon.
It occurred to me that C.S. Lewis was a sort of "Four Minute Mile Breaker" in his own way. Lewis was one of the first Oxford professors of his time to become a Christian, when Christianity was considered "not the thing to do." More to the point, Lewis carried Christianity off intellectually, in a place where (Oxford), intellectualism is the main mode of experience. Specifically Lewis offered new inroads to non-Christ followers about how to become a Christian. There were three main areas or avenues that Lewis took as an evangelist (apologist) of sorts - Lewis' Four Minute Miles:
His first main idea was that all people have a profound and fundamental desire to experience more life, love, enjoyment than this life offers. "All people have a desire for something more. Therefore, we reach beyond the shadowlands of this life..." (paraphrased). This desire is proof that we are, "made for some place other than this, made for heaven."
Second, that all people have fundamental laws or morals. All cultures have a fundamentally similar understanding of justice, mercy, love, life, goodness, ethics, morals. These morals are evidence, Lewis said, of God in us, "imago dei".
Finally, Lewis wanted to take on opposing ideas and thinking patterns of his time which were antithetical to Christianity. The most famous example (and easiest to explain) might be the illustration from The Silver Chair. "There is no such thing as Aslan, or the sun, or the over world, it's a nice idea, but it's not real, all that there is is what you see, here in the underworld," said the White Witch. "Well, there may not be all of those things," Puddleglum said, "but I want there to be, and I would rather believe that there is." (paraphrased). Therefore, choice was a deep part of Lewis' formula.
Now, class begins,
Perhaps I am working on breaking my own "Four Minute Mile"...
All For Now,