Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis on Materialism

by Mar 12, 2016Books, Mission0 comments

joyJoy Davidman was an accomplished poet, a sharp thinker, a successful student. She was also an ardent materialist.

A young poet like me could be seized and shaken by spiritual powers a dozen times a day and still take for granted that there was no such thing as spirit. That was what beautiful things did to you. (118)

She guessed that her sensations were just nerves or glands. But her materialism didn’t work for her, deep down:

The very young carry a kind of insurance against atheist despair. Though they believe in nothing else, they will believe firmly in the importance of their own emotions and desires. (87)

What is an “emotion” or a “desire” in a materialist worldview but more nerves and glands, conditioned by untold millennia of natural selection and following in an unbroken chain of causation from the Big Bang?

But Joy prided herself on being a devoted materialist. She thought, as she described it later,

I remember announcing to my parents that I was an atheist at the age of eight. By high school I had it all worked out. Men are only apes, virtue is only custom, life is only an electro-chemical reaction, mind is only a set of conditioned reflexes, and anyway most people aren’t rational like me. Love, art, and altruism are only sex, the universe is only matter, matter is only energy. I’ve forgotten what I said energy was, only. (3–4)

That last line is utterly brilliant. I hope and pray—and prod—that more materialists would come to the place Joy came to:

[I was the] portrait of a happy materialist, but somewhere deep inside there was this girl with dreaming eyes furiously scribbling verses. (4)

Her heart was restless until it found rest with her creator.

HT: Abigail Santamaria

Read More 

Review: Small Preaching by Jonathan Pennington

Review: Small Preaching by Jonathan Pennington

Small Preaching: 25 Little Things You Can Do Now to Become a Better Preacher, by Jonathan Pennington (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2021). Very few pp.Great little title. Punchy and short. Genuinely full of wisdom. The three things that stood out to me most: The very...

Review: Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

Review: Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading by Eugene H. PetersonMy rating: 5 of 5 starsI've said before that I'm an emotional reader. My five stars for this book represent my rapture at great prose and, more...

Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution by Carl R. Trueman.My rating: 5 of 5 stars I'm hoping to publish in a journal a more extensive review of this excellent—though long and at times...

Leave a comment.

0 Comments

Leave a Reply