Oswald Chambers in the Morning ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oswald Chambers in the Morning

Rocky Mountain Sunrise from Long's Peak Trail
Oswald Chambers was not known for his postmodern open-mindedness, which was probably why his website (Oswald Answers Your Questions) never took off. Despite his fairly dogmatic approach to truths of every kind, sometimes I have the sneaking suspicion that he got it right.

Take this quote I read shortly after arriving home from Colorado:

Specific times and places and communion with God go together. It is by no haphazard chance that in every age men have risen early to pray. The first thing that marks decline in the spiritual life is our relationship to the early morning.

I almost had the feeling that the ghost of Oswald had been trudging up the trail to Long’s Peak at my side. The mountains had exonerated his over-the-top pronouncement, as it were. What do you think about his premise?



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8 comments:

John B. said...

The best I can do right now is sort of half-paraphrase, half-quote, but in the chapter of Walden called "Where I Lived, What I Lived For," Thoreau says that he saw every morning as an invitation to renew his life and to begin it with a new innocence, that those who do not see the dawn as that new opportunity have despaired of life and are pursuing a darkening way.

And this provocative line about the connection between the dawn and one's life, which IS a direct quote: "Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep."

It'd be hard to say Thoreau was "religious," but he most assuredly was spiritual.

Nice picture, by the way. Yours?

tim said...

No doubt Chambers got some things right, but the fact that he seems to be convinced he got most things right is off-putting.

Just a brief exposure to Mr. Chambers left me nearly disgusted. Maybe "pompous fool" isn't a description he fully deserves, but that is what I tend to thing of him. (to clarify, pompous comes first, because that is what makes him foolish--if he weren't pompous he wouldn't be foolish).

must_decrease said...

To paraphrase Driscoll, ‘I can only hope to get to a place in life where some young punk will criticize my work…’, calling Chambers a pompous fool seems a bit harsh for a man who many “Spiritual Giants” in our time consider to be a “Spiritual Giant”. That his work has had the staying power it has should serve to make us stop and consider sympathetically what it is he is calling us to, prior to an outright criticism. It seems to me that many of those that recoil at the idea of rising early to spend time with God also find themselves unable to find time in their schedules for meaningful time with God.

tim said...

My comment (and the exposure to Chambers that I mentioned) has nothing to do with the passage Ariel quotes, though the quote itself is indicative of Chamber's habit--i.e. making incredibly strong inductive statements that use his opinion and interpretation as the primary foundation.

Your conclusion ("It seems to me that many of those that recoil at the idea of rising early to spend time with God also find themselves unable to find time in their schedules for meaningful time with God.") might serve as an example of the faulty reasoning mentioned above.

Obviously "pompous fool" is harsh (and not altogether true, as I readily admit above, though it is what I tend to think of him).

Finally, arguments from authority (i.e. all these other people like him) are inherrently flawed and have no substantial justifying power.

--------

In the end, I have no problem with other people liking Chambers, but I don't and I feel that I am justified in this. Indeed, I go further--his style is a dangerous one, and ought to be avoided by more thoughtful (less modern) communicators.

Paula said...

I'm an atheist, but I can still see the value of getting up early. It just seems as if early risers are more productive. Waking late and staying up later doesn't get the same result.

Paula said...

I'm an atheist, but I can still see the value of getting up early. It just seems as if early risers are more productive. Waking late and staying up later doesn't get the same result.

Will Robison said...

As a person who has always been a night person - whether I'm right with God or not - I can clearly say that you're all crazy.

Still, watching the sun rise over the Grand Canyon was special, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about either ;)

Ariel said...

John B., your ability to pull Thoreau quotes out of thin air is almost akin to Julian Wright's knack for threading the needle to hit his teammate in the hands for an open dunk. I envy you. And I may need to read Walden. (Yes, I did take the picture - on the trail to Long's Peak.)

Tim: "Just a brief exposure to Mr. Chambers left me nearly disgusted. Maybe 'pompous fool' isn't a description he fully deserves, but that is what I tend to thing of him."

must_decrease: "Calling Chambers a pompous fool seems a bit harsh for a man who many 'Spiritual Giants' in our time consider to be a 'Spiritual Giant'"

Tim: "In the end, I have no problem with other people liking Chambers, but I don't and I feel that I am justified in this."

I kind of like it when the gloves come off and the fighters reveal that they aren't novices at the art of sparring. Argument that rises above the level of name-calling is especially welcome on the internet...

I'd put a foot in each camp here. Chambers has triggered some raised eyebrows on my part for his sweeping overstatements that sometimes (I think) cross the line between legalism and authoritative speech. (Martyn Lloyd-Jones also falls into this camp on occasion.) Chambers has too much insight into the spiritual life to be written off for his dominating persona, though. He just needs to be taken with salt, liberally sprinkled.

As to the quote in question, I think there's something to the morning focus. Paula notes that most people see a pattern...I also like the dig from must_decrease: "It seems to me that many of those that recoil at the idea of rising early to spend time with God also find themselves unable to find time in their schedules for meaningful time with God."

Not true across the board, but it seems to cover the odds pretty thoroughly. The morning is almost a proving ground: What grabs my energy and attention first?

I say that at a cost, since I'd much rather stay up until 2:00 a.m. than get up at 6:00...

 

Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife