Monday, February 07, 2005

C. S. Lewis, Chess, and Pride

I should make reference to a couple of chessplaying philosophers whose blogging prompted me to start my own. First, Bill Vallicella, whose Maverick Philosopher blog is likely to be familiar to many of you. And also National Master Dennis Monokroussos' new chess blog, found here. (I'm working on a Mac right now, so your advice about links didn't work, Dennis.) Dennis's blog is devoted primarily to chess, but he raised an interesting question about the spiritual implications of playing chess. It brings back a memory of going from being a nominal Christian chessplayer in high school to trying to take my faith seriously in college. I remember reading C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity for the first time and remember feeling as if I had been kicked in the stomach when I read Lewis describe competitive pride as "the complete anti-God state of mind." Surely, this kind of pride is an occupational hazard of the chess world at all levels. Chess may teach humility, but lots of us don't learn the lessons very well. I always thought Lewis overstates his case in that chapter, but on the other hand I probably would not have benefitted from Lewis's kick to the stomach if he had not overstated his case. (I once preached a sermon entitled "True and False Humility" in which I put my own slant on Lewis's chapter.")

However, a good deal of my own cast of mind, my interest in the rationality of religious faith, and a lot of other things which I think have borne good fruit in my life are the result of having spent a lot of time hunched over a board of 64 squares with 32 pieces on it. I'd be a very different person without it, and I don't think I would be a better one.

1 comment:

David said...

I just wanted to welcome you to the blogosphere. I found out about you through the Evangelical Outpost. I posted a few comments about your blog on my main blog at

http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/jollyblogger/2005/02/jolly_digest_27.html