Author Archives: Stephen
One of C. S. Lewis’s most interesting contributions to Christian apologetics is the Argument from Desire:
“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world” (Mere Christianity 120).
What “other world” would you like to have been made for? Hint: an even better one than this!
I was interested to discover a respondent on an internet forum who denied having any unsatisfiable desires. He admitted that certain desires had never been satisfied perfectly, but maintained that they could be in theory, or that the satisfactions he could find in this life were good enough. How does one respond to this line of argument? It’s rather like trying to convince the dwarfs in The Last Battle that they aren’t in a stable!
One conclusion might be that the argument from desire just doesn’t work with a certain type of person. Some of us are just too emotionally undeveloped- -or jaded–to be susceptible. But I would suggest that we make a mistake by taking such people’s statements at face value. Solomon tells us that “God has set eternity in their hearts” (Eccl. 3:11). Either Scripture is wrong or the denial of transcendent desire is a smokescreen, a defense mechanism designed to protect dwarfish atheists from reality.
A person who is still human is not in fact satisfied by the temporal and physical, however hard he tries to convince himself that he is. But you probably can’t argue him out of his position. You can only try to arouse the desire, to fan it to the point where he cannot ignore it any more. And the best way to do that might be to talk about the foretastes of fulfillment we have already been granted in Christ, or just to live a life of transcendent openness to Joy before him.
If you can get him to read Thomas Traherne’s Five Centuries of Meditation, it wouldn’t hurt. “Things unknown have a secret influence on the soul, and like the center of the earth unseen violently attract it. We love we know not what, and therefore everything allures us. . . . Do you not feel yourself drawn by the expectation of some Great Thing? . . . You never enjoy the world aright till you see how a [grain of] sand exhibiteth the wisdom and power of God. . . . You never enjoy the world aright till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars. . . . Infinite wants satisfied produce infinite joys. . . . You must want like a God that you may be satisfied like God. Were you not made in his image?”
Now, I desire to be here! But it’s only a sign and a symbol for something that lies down an even more enticing path.
Lewis learned the argument from desire from Augustine’s Trinity-shaped vacuum and his heart that was “restless until it rest in Thee,” as developed by Traherne, Herbert, and MacDonald. The argument will have a certain logical cogency for those in whose hearts Desire has been sufficiently aroused. The best service those earlier writers–and Lewis himself–may do us is to fan that flame. In it, let us burn.
Donald T. Williams, PhD
Order Dr. Williams’ books Stars through the Clouds, Inklings of Reality, or Reflections from Plato’s Cave ($15.00 each + shipping) at https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.
From “Oh, Deer! A Tiger!”
Gretchen’s cousin Hans was a fourth-year botany student at Grimmsworld University and for his senior project he decided to visit her in the Big, Scary Forest to collect leaf samples.
On the day of his arrival, Gretchen watched from inside her step-mother’s cottage’s window as he stepped off Big Scary Forest Bus #71. With a bearish growl, the bus drove off into the trees, leaving behind a heavy cloud of exhaust.
Gretchen watched as Hans took stock of his luggage. He had his suitcase, his knapsack, a small fanny pack, and–most importantly–his leaf book and magnifying glass, both of which he kept in his front shirt pocket.
Gretchen laughed. He was paler than the underbelly of a fish. He wore circle-rimmed glasses and a neat bow tie. He wore a safari hat that in an odd way complemented his comfortable, new hiking shoes.
Halfway to the cottage door, the student spotted a leaf. He set down his luggage, picked up the leaf, studied it with his magnifying glass, and then pressed it into his book.
For a moment, Gretchen wavered between running outside and waiting for Hans to knock. But she couldn’t help herself. The cottage door flew open and she ran out, her brown hair trailing behind her. She threw her arms around Hans and shouted, “You’re here! You’re here!”
Hans dropped his magnifying glass and hugged her back. “Greetings, Cousin! It’s good to see you!”
Gretchen pulled stray hairs out of her mouth and as she set them back behind her neck, she said, “You’re tall!”
“I suppose I am! It’s been a time since I left for school after the family reunion.”
At the reunion several years ago, Gretchen had been eleven–six years younger than Hans. That had all been before Gretchen and her father had moved into the Big, Scary Forest. Since then, her father had married Aggy, bringing her and her daughter Ethel into the family. Then he had died fourteen months ago leaving Gretchen alone with those two.
Hans smiled at her. “How have you been, Cousin? Have you been brushing your teeth?”
“Of course, I have! Have you been getting good grades?”
“Of course I have–indubitably. Where should I put my things?”
“I’ll show you your room.”
Gretchen grabbed the suitcase and led Hans into the cottage. Inside they found Ethel and Aggy sitting in the living room. When they saw Hans, Aggy sprang up and gave Hans a singularly motherly hug.
“Gretchen’s told me so much about you. I’m Agatha but you can call me Aggy. It’s so good to finally meet you. How was your trip?” The woman had dark hair and a marble-sized wart on the right side of her nose. She was about fifteen pounds over “comfortably plump” and wore pointed shoes.
Gretchen hurried further into the house and set Hans’s suitcase in his room and then came back.
When she returned, she heard Agatha say, “Oh, Ethel, get up, girl, and come meet your step-cousin, Hans.”
Ethel did so, television remote still in her right hand. She stood by her mother and said to Hans’s shoes, “Nice to meet you, Step-Cousin Hans.” She was miserably thin and had no wart, but her hair was blacker than her mother’s.
“It’s a delight to meet you too, Ethel.”
“Her friends call her Ethy. You can call her Ethy too,” Aggy said smiling.
Ethel rolled her eyes, turned around, and went back to her couch. She turned the volume up on the TV.
Gretchen interrupted, “Come on, Hans. I’ll show you your room.”
“I’ll come too,” said Aggy. “Come on Ethy. You come too. You can show Hans our humble home.”
As Ethel sighed and pulled herself up from the couch, Gretchen led them on to Hans’s room. Agatha and Ethel crowded in to help him order his things. . . .
Finally, Agatha asked him if he needed a few minutes to finish unpacking by himself and before he could answer, she ordered both the other two girls out and she herself left.
As they left, Hans called after them, “Thank you for your beneficent help. I shall finish here and rejoin you presently.”
As the three females were leaving, Hans barely heard Aggy say to Gretchen, “Girl! Does he always speak like that?”
“Sometimes worse, Mrs. Aggy,” Gretchen murmured.
While Gretchen began preparing dinner, Aggy kept talking to Hans in the living room and asking him questions. “You know, Ethy wants to go to Grimmsworld University too. She’s very smart. I’m thinking she’d do best in nuclear physics. What do you think?”
“It’s a good program,” Hans said. “Though I don’t quite have the patience for that sort of thing myself. My GPA would take ‘a-tomble’ if I tried that major.”
Gretchen noticed what Hans had done and smiled at Hans, but Agatha continued talking and Ethel continued being silent.
“So how were you able to afford it, Hans? You see, that’s my worry mainly. I know my dear is quite intelligent enough to learn on that level. She started reading when she was five, you know. But I just don’t know how we’ll afford it. I suppose there are scholarships and things like that but it’s always so difficult to find them. And I’m sure they’re made to favor richer families. Could you give her some tips on essay writing? Maybe show her some scholarships she could win?”
“I received several scholarships myself and I’ve been working as a research assistant for approximately six months now.” Hans unzipped his fanny pack revealing insulin and a blood sugar monitor. He listened as he checked his blood sugar.
“But do you know of any scholarships that would suit Ethy here?”
Gretchen listened with horror as the talk continued. She saw that Agatha was doing something to the already prepared pot of spaghetti sauce and she was worried for her cousin. But she could say nothing at that point. Agatha would get very angry if she interfered.
Simple family drama? I’m a frayed knot! Find out what’s really going on in Lantern Hollow Press’s short story anthology, Encountering Otherworlds and the Coming of Age, arriving to online bookshelves July 15. Read stories of children entering worlds of imagination–and find out if they can make it out alive! We cannot wait to share these wonderful tales, written by our very own Lantern Hollow Press staff. Mark you calendar today!
From “Destiny, Werewolves, and How I Might Have Helped Save the World”
Some people are meant to live happy, but ordinary lives, while some are dragged irresistibly into danger, glory, and the pressures of heroism. It’s Fate or Destiny or Something-Even-Bigger-Than-Both. And there’s nothing that person can do to stop it. Well, in this story, that person whose Fate was sealed on the first day of her junior year of high school was not me. My life is set on a track of the happy, ordinary, and completely free from glory or heroism. The most dangerous thing that I am facing is college applications and I am perfectly happy for it to stay that way.
The girl dragged into adventure and glory and heroism and all that other stuff, the girl with Fate written on her forehead in shining letters, was the new girl at school with the locker next to mine. So I guess you could say I had a brush with Fate, but mostly Fate just glanced dismissively at me before shouldering me aside so that it could get a better look at Katrina Starr. Pretty much like every jock in school would try to do that year.
With a name like Kat Starr, you knew she had to be something special. With platinum blonde hair, blue eyes that blazed defiantly at the world in general, and a tall, slim, athletic build that simply screamed I-take-some-special-form-of-martial-arts-after- school-and-could-kick-your-butt, it was surprising that no one else seemed to notice that she was marked for Greatness. But I guess that’s how it is with these heroes-to-be. They don’t notice Fate until it punches them in the gut. Or kisses them passionately. Fate can be awkward like that.
On the first day of school, when it all began, Kat and I were fiddling with our locker combinations and I was chatting with my good friend Colin. Colin is a girl, by the way, but her parents are that kind of people who think that mixing up names will make their children feel unique and special instead of giving them anger management issues. Colin has an older brother named Ashley.
Colin and I were comparing notes on our summers holidays – she spent half of hers in Europe and I spent most of mine in my room reading (but I still maintained I visited more places) – when a mysterious Entity was suddenly looming behind me. Colin didn’t really pay attention, but I found myself listening in on a conversation between Kat and The Stranger.
“Hello, Katrina Starr,” he began in a deep, sultry voice. I had never described a voice as sultry before, not being a huge fan of soap operas, but his was definitely what I think a sultry voice would sound like. Kind of… throaty.
“Do I know you?” Kat responded, flicking her silvery blonde hair over her shoulder. I wasn’t facing them, but it’s impossible not to catch the shimmer of that hair out of the corner of your eye. “How do you know my name?”
“We know a lot about you, Kat,” The Sultry Stranger continued, sounding pleased with himself. “We’ve been waiting for you.”
“Well, get lost, whoever you are,” Kat challenged. I admired the new girl’s spunk. “Whatever your game is, I’m not interested.” And she brushed past him and walked away.
The Sultry Stranger waited a moment to contemplate her disappearing form, and then stalked off in the opposite direction. I spared him a glance. Oh, it was only Jake, quarterback of the football team and senior stud of Gracetree High School. He didn’t normally sound like that, I thought. What had made him talk so weird to Kat? Probably just an attempt to hit on her. Typical.
“Ugh, this year is going to be awful,” Colin groaned. “I think I can predict the future: homework, homework, and then more homework!”
“I like homework,” I said complacently. I meant it, too. Homework, college, grad school, successful career, book about my successful career, retirement on a beach somewhere. I had dreams of being normal that I was eager to fulfill.
If Kat Starr had any dreams of being normal, though, she was being forced to give them up.
After first period, I ran back to my locker to grab my calculator for my next class and there was Kat, this time with three guys and a girl standing around of her, talking very intently to her.
I sidled closer, unwilling to eavesdrop if I didn’t have to. I’m polite like that. But her locker was right next to mine and Jake was leaning against the door of my locker so I had to request that he scoot over so I could get in. He did, without looking at me.
“It’s impossible,” Kat whispered, sounding upset. I thought about humming, to block out their voices and so they’d know I was there, since Jake already seemed to have forgotten.
“You can’t deny it any more than we can,” said the girl. That was Paige from the cheer squad. Jake’s ex-girlfriend as of last fall. Now she was dating Jake’s teammate Andre, one of the other guys who was looming over Kat. I wondered how they could all still be friends after that much drama, but who was I to judge?
“I’m a clairvoyant,” Paige continued, perfectly serious, “and you’re a hunter.”
“I don’t want to be a hunter!” Kat exclaimed. “I don’t believe in werewolves!”
Want to know what happens next? Find out July 15 if you order a copy of Lantern Hollow Press’s short story anthology, Encountering Otherworlds and the Coming of Age. Read stories of children entering worlds of imagination–and find out if they can make it out alive! We cannot wait to share these wonderful tales, written by our very own Lantern Hollow Press staff. Mark you calendar today!