The Frenchman essay
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The Frenchman talks a lot about humanity and the privilege accorded to man. He talks of the honor that comes with man being created in the image of God. He says that one must strive to uphold the responsibility that God gave him upon creation. Christians may have tried to fulfill their God-given responsibilities in different ways, but they have failed. This is because they try doing it in the wrong way.
According to Thompson we are able to reflect on Pascal’s teaching. He states that the true meaning of life can only be found if we strive to understand ourselves first before we understand the supernatural. The nature of a man is both unique and intense. God has bestowed so much upon man that he expects much more than an average performance by humanity. Man is gifted with a brain that is capable of evaluating good or evil and acting upon it.
Although he puts an accent on the goodness and the infinite abilities of man, the weaknesses and shortcomings of humankind are not lost to him. Through the book, an understanding of human folly is seen. He gives a bonus to Christianity saying that it is the only religion that gives man a chance to be himself. It is only through Christianity that we can be appreciated in our skins.
To bring the contemporary relevance to the book, the author uses examples that have been drawn from our day to day lives. Expressions touching on the struggles and enigma of life are not uncommon throughout the text. More so, the examples used are very contemporary. A good example is the use of movies like the ones by Woody Allen. Further into the book the question of life’s meaning is discussed.
Thomas Morris uses an example of a modern-time celebrity. This is a person, who has all that life could offer. Due to money, fame and influence such celebrity is adequately furnished with joys of life. However, all this wealth fails to bring meaning into his life and he finds himself wondering whether life has any meaning beyond the wealth and fame. This is common to many of us today, who have it all, but fail to make meaning out of it. One may thus own the world, but it is vain without a purpose. So what does it matter if I am rich and lack meaning in life? This is what Pascal was trying to inculcate into his readers and students - that life is more than riches and fame (p. 47).
In the fifth chapter we are introduced to the skepticism, proof and good life. Here the insatiable appetite in humans to find out the truth is addressed. Morris remarks it is as if humans were created to discover the truth and they cannot follow something if it does not hold water. Man always wants to proof what is not more than what is.
However, Pascal sees escaping from what we already know as a form of slavery. “The metaphysical proofs of God are so remote from human reasoning and so involved that they make little impact and even if they did help some people, it would only be for the moment during which they watched the demonstration, because an hour later they would be afraid they had made a mistake”(190).
This thus proves that humans do not really require the truth, but rather use the lack of it to support their evil deeds. The human enigma further clarifies how we as people are a puzzle to ourselves. We are capable of bringing forth the good and so are we in breathing life to evil. Pascal observed that humanity poses the greatest evidence to the truth of the gospel.
This is because Christianity has these two diverse accounts to human nature, where both are recognized and treated independently. Pascal also observes that there is no any other form of evidence that can prove human acts such as Christianity can. In unraveling the truth, God is the only true good to humanity, this should be taken by humans to mean that there is no happiness without God.
According to Pascal many people believe that religion is false. They hate to hear what may be real. In this chapter, Pascal suggests that the cure to this human folly is to make religion attractive and convince mankind that it is worth following God.
One outstanding feature in this chapter is the note that he addressed to himself expressing the above thoughts. However, in this light Christianity should not be seen as an unpleasant endeavor to humans. The proponents of the gospel should make it attractive to humans and avoid using language that may push people away from the grace of God.
The text cleverly talks about the great philosopher and his teachings without making the concepts to look like an endless philosophical debate. While in consecutive chapters of the book Morris addresses Pascal’s thoughts, he does not at any point water them down. The points have been driven home just like the original writer might have intended. The only thing that Morris has attempted is to make real Pascal’s writings. Further he has used examples that try to connect the past with today.
In this book, the true God and the hidden gospel truth have been elaborated to human understanding. It is stated that faith and God run hand in hand, and that God does not want people to be unhappy, but rather they should enjoy being Christians as well as enjoy life. Finally, Thomas observes that humans are the greatest puzzle.
Trying to solve the enigma of life we learn that human beings posses so diverse characteristics that they themselves do not fully understand. Only God can fully reveal ourselves to us. This book is thus, as Thomas Morris said, the ultimate guide to Christian living.