Sunday, June 26, 2022

Winston Churchill, Thoughts and Adventures

The linked review is on the longlish side .... it certainly covers the book, so much so that you may as well read the book! It is a collection of articles he wrote before, during and after WWI. 

One of the reasons for picking this one out is that it gives a reasonably brief introduction to Churchill's entertaining, informative, and concise exploration of his life and history. 

An interesting quote, from page 71;

"The longer one lives, the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance, and the harder it is to believe that this omnipotent factor in human affairs arises simply from the blind interplay of events. Chance, fortune, luck, destiny, fate, providence seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing, to wit, that a man's only contribution to his life story is continually dominated by an exterior superior power."

I know that "superior power", and the more I read Churchill, I believe he does as well ... my guess is that he realized that if he was open about his faith, he would be less effective as a world leader, but of course I really have no idea. 

One of the key articles covered in the book is "Fifty Years Hence", Which I believe is completely included from the web here..

I quote the last paragraph:

After all, this material progress, in itself so splendid, does not meet any of the real needs of the human race. I read a book the other day which traced the history of mankind from the birth of the solar system to its extinction. There were fifteen or sixteen races of men which in succession rose and fell over periods measured by tens of millions of years. In the end a race of beings was evolved which had mastered nature. A state was created whose citizens lived as long as they chose, enjoyed pleasures and sympathies incomparably wider than our own, navigated the interplanetary spaces, could recall the panorama of the past and foresee the future. But what was the good of all that to them? What did they know more than we know about the answers to the simple questions which man has asked since the earliest dawn of reason—’Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Whither are we going?’ No material progress, even though it takes shapes we cannot now conceive, or however it may expand the faculties of man, can bring comfort to his soul. It is this fact, more wonderful than any that Science can reveal, which gives the best hope that all will be well. Projects undreamed-of by past generations will absorb our immediate descendants; forces terrific and devastating will be in their hands; comforts, activities, amenities, pleasures will crowd upon them, but their hearts will ache, their lives will be barren, if they have not a vision above material things. And with the hopes and powers will come dangers out of all proportion to the growth of man’s intellect, to the strength of his character or to the efficacy of his institutions. Once more the choice is offered between Blessing and Cursing. Never was the answer that will be given harder to foretell.

From the temptation and original sin to eat of the forbidden fruit, man has always been plagued  by an unquiet soul. He was created to live forever,  and deep down he realizes it, though he fears it, and often denies it. He is faced with the eternal choiced of "blessing and cursing" -- and without submitting (something he is often too proud to do) to the Grace of God, these are choices beyond his ability. 

For me, the big message of the book, shown by Churchill's many scrapes with death, and from this perspective of the then future, we know MANY more, hs is one of the representatives of "is there a divine purpose and plan"? The whole Bible screams YES! One barely needs to scratch the surface of reading history to see the countless examples of "what are the odds of that happening (or not happening)?"

Incalculable ... but for the atheist, all is random chance and coincidence. The cosmic roulette table of chance is their object of worship. If they ponder the science/probability of what they believe, the only valid conclusion is that they do not in fact exist.  

I've read a lot about Churchill, and a decent amount of his own writings. I could spend the rest of my life focused only on studying Churchill, even if my life is a long one! 

Among the many jewels in this book, I was struck by the chapter on Moses. Churchill is often claimed to be "close to an atheist" by historians, and he was  certainly not a "practicing" Christian. However God doesn't really say much about how one "practices" Christianity. He does talk of fulfilling the Law, which is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Luke 26-27 explains how to follow the Law: 

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

We all know John 3:16 ...

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It doesn't say much about church at all. 

For ME, church is critical, since belief is not easy for me, I need a lot of help. The only unforgivable sin is unbelief. One of my frequent prayers is Mark 9:24  ... “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 

On page 214; "We believe that the most scientific view, the most up to date and rationalistic conception, will find its fullest satisfaction in in taking the Bible story literally, and in identifying one of the greatest human beings, with the most decisive leap forward ever discernable in the human story." 

He is referring to Moses, the "law giver", who is just the earthly voice of God. Christ is THE greatest fully human and fully God being who defines eternity  ... through Him, all things were made. 

A worthy read. 

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