Cheer UP! Podcast

Appreciating the Marvels of Nature and Contending with Extremism

July 19, 2023 Cheer UP! Podcast Season 3 Episode 120
Cheer UP! Podcast
Appreciating the Marvels of Nature and Contending with Extremism
Cheer UP! Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever sat back and marveled at the absolute wonder of nature's beauty, and thought about how it mirrors the intricate creations of God? In this episode of the Cheer Up! Podcast we discuss how such experiences can deepen our gratitude and longing for heaven.

As we continue to navigate through the pages of The Screwtape Letters, discussing focus and extremism as advised by Uncle Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. We engage in a thought-provoking discussion on the connection between hatred and extremism, highlighting the importance for Christians to avoid hatred, especially in an era marked by escalating extremism, stress, and fear. Join us as we reflect on the role of hope, peace, love, mercy, and grace during these unsettling times and the pandemic's adverse impact on human behavior. Our conversation underscores the importance of not losing focus amidst the trials and challenges of our time.

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Speaker 1:

Hi and welcome to the True Up podcast. I am your host, carole R Hunt, and with me is the amazing Sherry Swalwell. How are you doing today, sherry?

Speaker 2:

I am doing great. I can't believe that it's already July. I am loving the summer and not thinking about back to school, even though it's already in our faces in the stores. I am choosing to be intentional and living in the moment, not dreading what is coming ahead. My tears are not bad, but I just love the pace of our summers. I love sitting out on the deck. I love just all of it. The bugs aren't quite as bad. The corn is starting to grow. I have morning walks with our youngest. I just love the pace of summer. I really, really do.

Speaker 1:

I know it is amazing. What I love more about the summer is that early in the morning, because the trees are not full right, we have a sugar-mape on our front yard and it has tons of branches. It's early in the morning. I now hear tons and tons of birds because a million of them live in that tree. I am talking as early as 4am.

Speaker 2:

Yes, there is nothing better than starting our day that way. We are the same way. I think that is one of the reasons I love our early morning walks. They all Like. Last year I noticed them for the first time, then this year if you just stop and listen, there are so many different sounds to so many different birds. I don't know. It just really makes me long for heaven, because it just makes me think if God loves us so much to give us that now, what is our life going to be like up there? It blows me away.

Speaker 1:

I know, it is the little things that. Well, I guess I want to be grateful. I don't think it's my age, I think it's just the fact that I never cease to be amazed by God's beauty right, god's beauty. And I wonder how many times I just ignored this when I was younger. But little things like seeing different type of butterflies. My husband would hear me squee and I had done it not too long ago. I was in a laundry room. We have a huge window in a laundry room and I was looking out and there's some wildflowers there and he heard me go. Oh, my goodness, hey, pretty, pretty.

Speaker 2:

I know he had to be like who is she talking?

Speaker 1:

to In the laundry room and right out there just dancing and pollinating around the wildflowers and stuff. It's a black butterfly. They are not common here, but they're not common If you know what I mean. They're not uncommon, but they're still pretty rare to see. You don't see them every day. Like you see the monarchs and all the other butterflies here they're still, and this one was so beautiful. He was just out there just pollinating the flowers and doing his business. It stayed there, I think, for quite a while. I think I'm going to get a picture too as well. Just those little things. Obviously, that's not my first time seeing a black butterfly, but I'm like, how many times in the past has I been all around me and I just never even noticed them before? That is so good in all of his creation and the intricacies of a butterfly never ceases to be amazing. Am I right, sherry? Do you guys have tons of black butterflies where you are?

Speaker 2:

Well, I have to tell you, a couple years ago I'm trying to think how old our son was. He was still in elementary school. He actually called me out to see a black butterfly, because he said the same thing that you did and he knows the name of it. I don't know the name of it.

Speaker 1:

I can't think of it now, Right right.

Speaker 2:

He got his cool name and he said the same thing. He said, mom, these are so rare he goes, you wouldn't believe it. I know exactly what you're talking about because we were admiring it too. I think we were in Tennessee or we had just gotten back from Tennessee and he saw another one this year already. Because of our discussion about it a few years ago, I thought, oh, wow, this really is not just. Oh, mom, look at the butterfly, this is a really cool, big deal.

Speaker 2:

Your screen reminded me, or made me realize we are so much alike. We were interested earlier this year for vacation and we had the privilege of having black bears come visit us right up on the cabin, on the porch of the cabin where we were staying. Our son caught a video and I'm so embarrassed because I don't usually talk in a high-pitched, childlike voice and he was on the video going oh, I think it likes us, like seriously. I felt so ridiculous afterwards that I was so enthralled by this bear whose nose was right on the screen and we were literally nose to nose with this bear and I was in heaven. It was the best well, not the best ever, but it was amazing, God, like you said, the intricacies of just our bodies, and then the intricacies of the creation that God created for us to enjoy. It just blows me away all the time and I never, ever, ever want to take it for granted, ever.

Speaker 1:

I know right, you just never want to take it for granted and we just, oh my goodness, if you sounded like a little girl, I probably would have sounded like I have no idea, because I would have been so excited I could just say both of our voices mingling on your videotape and people going who in the world?

Speaker 2:

is that Exactly?

Speaker 1:

You know, because I would have just loved, loved, loved, loved, that you know, just being that up close and personal with them, and I would have been sorely tempted to open up the window and try to touch it right, which I don't like. No, no.

Speaker 2:

That's what was so cool about it is we were outside on the porch after dinner playing cornhole and they were literally 10 feet away from us and we didn't even realize it. And we were on the porch outside until they got about five feet away, and then we came in the house. So I mean they were like right there with us and they weren't aggressive, they weren't. I mean they were like curious and they were obviously wild animals. So you don't want to like piss, but it was so, so amazing, so amazing.

Speaker 1:

It was all God and that is the perfect way, right, Because you're there, they're there, you're respecting their wildness, but yet you're still appreciating their beauty and all that God has created them, right? So, yeah, you know, it's not like. You know, you try to play with them or do anything like that. I mean, that would just be crazy, right, Because they are wild animals and we need to respect that. But that just adds to the beauty, right? Oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, the funny thing is is the very first day, so we got their mother's day night and we had gone.

Speaker 2:

Well, we checked out the cabin and then we went back into town to get some supplies and we were on our way back and we were all looking at the mountain going up to the cabin. There's like sheer drop off, so like you really have to be paying attention when you're driving and I would never drive it myself, my husband is amazing at it and so we were both looking to the right, because that was the side that the mountain dropped off on. And then we were looking. There were these helpkeepers that were taking care of these other cabins on our way up to ours. And I turned to look at my husband and we were driving really, really slowly because there were people out there and dumpsters that we had to go around and all kinds of stuff, because they're building new houses all the time. But anyway, I turned to look at my husband and he had his window down because it was beautiful weather. There was a bear right outside his window.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 2:

I saw it and all I said was bear. And he looked at me like that and he turned and the bear was literally in his face and it was amazing. And then that was the baby, I think. And then the mom and the other baby were literally like five feet away in the just in the little clearing of the woods right past where the one was, right at his window. It was insane, but it was so beautiful, oh my gosh. It was like probably the highlight of the trip.

Speaker 1:

And now I am completely envious and I am right now thinking, hmm, I have got to hijack one of their trips one day, one year. I have got to have a hobby, hobby and I and just make them up there so I can have these type of experiences. But these black bears like how awesome is that? And for those of you who are just joining in and wondering like, hey, wait what?

Speaker 2:

type of pie cast is this?

Speaker 1:

Is this a discovery channel? No, do you have indeed reached?

Speaker 2:

a true pie cast.

Speaker 1:

Is this a true pie? It's just that Sherry and I were just answering on about our love of nature. Our love of nature, you know, and how we just are in awe of it and how we just hope to stay in awe of all the God's creation and all the intricacies and the details and the little things you know that make each and every little creature that much more awesome. Right, you know I don't like spiders, I can't help but just be in awe of their whips, right, and how they spin them, you know, and you know just everything that goes into that for them to be able to do so, we truly serve an awesome God. And, speaking of God, we are going to continue our discussion in this summer series, which is called the school tape letters. We are going over some of the topics that are covered in the book, the school tape letters by CS Lewis. That's last name is spelled L-E-W-I-S.

Speaker 1:

The book was, I believe, originally published in the early 1940s, so it's a piece of classical literature. It's not a very long book. It's only like 31 letters to the book and they're rather short in comparison to the books nowadays, but, excuse me, in comparison to classical literature books, which could be like very, very, very thick. Now, this is not like that. So, and again, it's just like 31 letters. I think there may be six, seven, eight, maybe maximum eight paragraphs long. And it's one and it's called the Screwtape letters because it is about a demon named Screwtape and he is writing letters to his nephew, ron Wood, who is also a demon. Uncle Screwtape is a head demon and a nephew Wormwood is like a lower ranking demon, kind of new to the whole demon process thing, and he's been assigned a human who is very new to the faith, and Uncle Screwtape is just trying to is giving tips and advice and suggestions to his nephew Wormwood about how to handle his Christian so that the Christian does not end up in God's camp but in Satan's house. So, and that's basically what the Screwtape's letter is about.

Speaker 1:

We started this series on June 7. So please, please, please, please, please go back and listen to that episode, because there we give an overview, just a very quick overview, of the Screwtape letters and also we give tons of information. But most importantly, we share biblical information and scriptures on demons, who they are, are they real and what does the Bible have to say about them and all of that. So, and we cover that, like I said, in a very first episode in June and I believe it's June 7, so you please go back and listen to that if you have any further questions about the demons that we're talking about in this book.

Speaker 1:

Last week we went over letters 4 and 5, which was about sincere prayer and war War meaning. Of course the book was written in the 1940s, so it's referring to the wars that was going on back then and how nephew Wormwood's Christian patient pretty much you know his initial reactions and things to the war this episode we are going to be continuing with letters 5 and 6. And letter 5 talks about the focus of you know what Wormwood should be focusing on and the focus of his Christian human I guess I should say maybe. And then letter 6, which talks about extremism. But I also want to quickly add, before we kind of just delve into those topics, that for those of you who have really just really been enjoying this dialogue or well, you know these episodes on CS Lewis and you're like, hey, you know, I got some things, I want to say, some things, I want to add, some things I want to talk about then let us know, send us your thoughts, your insights, your commentary to wwwchiripicastcom and we may include it, you know, in a future upcoming podcast. But also we may create a Twitter space just to discuss this topic. And if we get at least 10 people who send an email to Chiripicast saying, hey, yes, I'm interested and oh, by the way, here are my thoughts, insights and comments, yeah, if we get at least 10, then we would definitely consider starting doing a Twitter space for everyone to just not just me and Sherry talking about it, but getting everyone involved in dialoguing about this book and the topics that are covered.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so, again, welcome to Chirination, and we are going to continue our topic of the letters that are covered letters four, excuse me, letters five and six and the screw tape letters, which is letters. Letter five is about focus and basically they're well, actually with five and six, because I can kind of summarize both of these pretty quick. So, letters five letters letter five is about, you know, focus and letters six he talks screw tape and Uncle Warmwood talk about extremism, and so basically these are just continuations of what was going on in letters four and five, which is where A head demon, uncle Screwtape, is telling young, newer demon, nephew Wormwood, to keep his Christian, his newly assigned Christian, distracted and how easy that can be, since you know, his Christian is a very new Christian and he talks about how, you know, keep his focus on anything other than like real, sincere, genuine, heartfelt prayer and that is kind of like you know. And to get his focus on anything, anything other than a God who created him and really searching his heart and calling out to God and you know, and just getting on his knees and being humble in prayer, any and everything. He wants him to change his focus to anything and everything that he can to kind of just really keep him on, you know, on a path to, you know, joining them in hell someday. And so, basically, letter five is where it talks about focus, is a continuation of that, and then letter six, where it talks about extremism, is kind of continuation of you know, I'm sorry, I'm saying letters five and six, I mean letters six and seven, so please excuse me for that. This episode is about letters six and seven. Letter four was about sincere prayer, letter five was about war, letter six is about focus and letters seven is about extremism. So I wanted to correct that for those who may actually have a book and may be following along and be like Carol, what are you talking about? You're all so. I just want to go ahead and correct that. But any extreme is on part.

Speaker 1:

In letter seven, you know, it's the war again. It's the 1940s and war is ramping up and people are being called up to war and it's very likely that the young daemon, nephew Warnwood, who's a young daemon, that his new Christian patient, his you know human, is about to be called up to war and he wants him to. You know, his uncle screw tape is basically kind of telling him, you know, to let his Christian human express his hatred for the Germans onto his neighbors who may, you know, into his neighbors or, you know, in things like that, for example, like you know, for example, like, are any of them German descent, you know, something like that you know is basically, I think, what he was, you know, getting at, or if they're not, you know, if they're in favor, you know, and things like that. So basically it's about extremism and hatred and I guess what popped out to me, especially in letter seven where it talks about extremism, sherry, is, I don't know, it seems like it's and I don't know how I and I don't know why these two are just now connecting per se in my head.

Speaker 1:

But hatred and extremism you see what I'm saying, because uncle screw tape is using those together Like he's fueling the, the, the, the emotion or the spirit of hatred, you know, into extremism or or extreme patriotism, you know, and things like that. So, as I know, hatred is an emotion and something that we definitely should avoid as Christians. I don't always tend to align it with extremism. Is that the way you kind of have you? Is that different for you, sherry? Have you always just kind of combined it to? I don't a lot of the people do, but I know that we can be upset at some things and we could, you know, say like, oh my goodness, I, I hate that or something like that, but I just it's not always on the level of extremism to me. What is your view on hatred, sherry?

Speaker 2:

Well, I guess I kind of feel like Nowadays people are just extreme with everything, like they either really really really love something or they really really really hate something. People, it feels as though, well, they put a distance Since COVID happened I was explaining this to a different friend the other day. It seems like pre-COVID, you have 100 people. If we have them, we're going through something bad. The other 50 were not, so they could then support the 50 that were COVID hit and everybody was going through the same amount of stress and nobody had the reserve to support and encourage the other people. Everyone was just kind of on survival mode. They were kind of on we don't know what's happening. We don't know what's going on. We need to take care of ourselves. We need to put our own oxygen mask on before we can even look at or think about somebody else's oxygen mask.

Speaker 2:

And then, post-COVID again, it seems like the majority of people are still in high stress situations and there's very few people who are not that are able to then come and help. And I think that it's the high stress that brings that extremism either the extreme love or the extreme hate. And so, as believers, yes, we're still in high stress mode too. But we have the secret weapon. We have the weapon of hope, we have the weapon of peace, we have that weapon of we know who's going to win. We have the weapon of mercy and grace, and we need to use those. We need to not just talk about them, we need to not just ask God to give them to us, but we need to actively use them to help counteract the extreme stress and extreme circumstances that we're under Now.

Speaker 2:

I'm not saying that, as believers, we have everything. Everything's hunky-dory too, too and we're not allowed to experience grief, we're not allowed to experience loss, we're not allowed to experience anger, we're not allowed to experience our emotions. I feel like, in order to truly be healthy, you have to experience your emotions. But we can avoid the major extreme because we have God's peace, god's hope, god's peace, god's love, god's mercy, and we need, as Christians, more than ever, we need to display those and be good representations of Jesus, so that those who need it, those who are in the extreme category, who are under the extreme stress, who are under the extreme weight of whatever is burdening them, can see a difference and then come to God, and God can give them the peace, the hope, the love. It doesn't mean we'll walk it out perfectly, but we need to be conscious, aware and intentional. That's what I think.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, and I love how you brought up the pandemic, because in 2020, we weren't facing a World War, so to speak, like World War III wasn't about to take place on a global stage. But, oh my goodness, you would have thought it was right.

Speaker 1:

Because, no, yeah, you would have thought it was because people were drawing lines. Oh my goodness, it was. You know you were. You know, someone says I want to wear a mask and someone else would say I don't want to wear a mask. And then all of a sudden, all of a sudden, you had like this whole army against you for not wanting to wear one, right, you know? And then it's like you weren't at war and by Bersa, you were like I don't want to wear a mask, and then someone else said I want to wear one, and then you still had a whole army against you and it was. You know, it was just absolutely insanity. So it wasn't like a global war that was about to happen, as in you know, the nephew Wormwood Christian human was facing at the time. But it was, you know, it's more on the level of war and this was globally.

Speaker 1:

The pandemic was globally, and that's why I say it was a whole different type of war. You know about how people were handling it and talk about extremism, because it wasn't just and just using the mask as an example everyone just uses as an example, but just using that for as using the mask usage as an example, people were very extreme on either side. It was like no one could be. It just seemed like it was very rare for someone to be content with someone else doing opposite of what they wanted, you know. And it was like, for instance, that person A said, well, I'm gonna wear a mask If I go to this place, and in person B says, yeah, you'll never catch me wearing a mask, I don't believe the pandemic. It's a, you know, it's all a hoax. Is this, is that you know? And everything else, and everything else. And for them to actually just say, okay, cool, all right, well, we're still going. Right, yeah, we're still going.

Speaker 1:

But it became more of like an extremism, like what you're not going to wear when you're putting everybody's life in danger. Don't you know that? You know. And to other one, you know, to someone else, they're like you're a conspiracy therapist. How can you fall for this?

Speaker 1:

You know, it just became very, very extreme and I could just only imagine, right, using the screw tape letters as an example, and Uncle Screw Tape, and, if you weren't, would like in a spiritual, in a spiritual realm, how many little demonic minions were out there, actively at work on both sides, pumping up the pumping up and fueling the hatred, pumping up and fueling the fear, pumping up and fueling the anxiety, keeping everyone focused on what everyone else was doing. Okay, like he talks about in a you know a couple of letters that we've already covered. Just keep the focus on what everyone else was doing and not so much on what was most important, which was our, which was our souls and our wellbeing and our relationships with God, and even that was under attack in in in a pandemic, because they were like, okay, well, you shouldn't go to church. Well, no, I'm going to go to church.

Speaker 1:

Oh, no, how are you going to do that? You're going to be a super spreader, you're going to do this, you're going to do that, you know, and people are like what, what are you saying? What are you talking about? Everything just seems so extreme and, spiritually speaking, in a spiritual world, it would have been just abs. It would have been amazing, very, very, very scary, but nonetheless amazing, to see all the demonic minions at work on both sides all over the globe. What do you think about the spiritual aspect of all of that, sherry?

Speaker 2:

I completely, 100%, agree with you. If we, as they sit here and we talk about this group, take letters, I think about how easy it is because we're so busy, we're so stressed. We live in a world that does not advocate for rest, does not advocate for taking care of ourselves, does not advocate. In the olden days, you had to sit and wait for the fire to start before you could cook dinner. You had to sit. Oh yeah, you could walk places. So you had your mind could rest while you were walking, unless you were worried about wild animals and people killing you. But you had rest woven into your day. And people who try to rest or who try to have rest woven into their day today are condemned, are ridiculed, are told that they're weak, they're lazy, whatever, whatever. And so what I feel from this, the main theme or the underlying theme, is that the demons, like there's so much at play in the supernatural realm, it's these little things that get us. Not that he comes at us with these big, huge things necessarily. Sometimes he does, sometimes he gets us with illnesses or things like catastrophes, covid, stuff like that but it's the little things, it's the little compromises, it's that. What's my slope? That one day you wake up and you are further down than you ever thought you would be, and it just like you said, to be able to have our eyes open and see the supernatural in what's truly happening. I think all of us would wake up and feel very differently and act and make very different choices, which we should talk about that next week when we start talking about the crops and peaks and pleasure, because those are the topics that we're going to have next week. So I think we should carry this conversation on next week and just let people have that food for thought this week. That what do you think Like? Do you believe that there is truly angels and demons fighting for the greater good? Do you truly believe that there is more than just what meets the eye and, if so, what are your thoughts on that? Let us know if you want to have your own, if you want to join in on the discussion, and we can do a Twitter what did you call it? Again, a Twitter feed, twitter space, twitter space. We can do a Twitter space about it, because we would love to hear your. I mean, there's nothing that I love more than to talk about books and talk about topics and have that back and forth dialogue. I love listening to other people's opinions, I love hearing what you think and I love just learning from other people. So if you want to join in on the discussion and you want us to have a group meet in July and August and September, then let us know that you're interested. Email us at cheerapodcast at gmailcom and let us know of your interest in starting one of those.

Speaker 2:

Go over to CARES website, k-a-r-a-r-h-u-n-t dot com and find out about her fiction books, her series, the Habakkuk series Find out about pretty soon. I think Lydia is going to be up on there. People are going to be able to find out more about that. And just look around and get to know Kara a little bit better. Come over to my website, sherry Swawell dot com C-H-E-R-I-S-W-A-L-W-E-L-L dot com.

Speaker 2:

And if you want to stop at slippery slope, if you want to grow a relationship with God, naturally on your own time table, and just get to know Him more intimately, I would encourage you to check out the Jesus. To me, everyday membership it's less than the cup of coffee, less than the price of a cup of coffee, a free, free drink for the whole month, and I think that you would be well. You won't get the caffeine high or crash. You won't get the sugar crash and you will just get a chance to really get to know and grow your relationship with God. And I don't know about you, kara, but today's time we need to, we need to stay in the word, we need to be growing.

Speaker 2:

And in a way that is natural and on your time table, on your pace. It doesn't need to be something that's forced, it doesn't need to be something that's demanded. It's just, the more we dig in and the more that we choose to have that relationship with God, the more hungry he makes us for things of Him and I, just I don't want to lose that hunger. I don't want to lose that awe of His creation and the bears and the butterflies, and I don't want to lose that hunger for growing in.

Speaker 2:

Him. So just a few things I wanted to encourage you all about. John 1633,. Jesus tells us that these things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace In the world. You will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. We are so glad that you are here today. Come back next week. We're going to talk about props and peaks and pleasure. Those are the two letters or chapters that we're going to talk about next week. Until then, have a great rest of your week and enjoy your Sabbath.

Appreciating Nature's Beauty and Wonder
Focus and Extremism in Screwtape Letters
Extremism and Spirituality in Stressful Times