Describing vs Explaining

Our daughter is quite verbal. With this affections for words, she likes to state what she observes when mommy or daddy leaves the house on certain occassions: "Daddy work." or "Mommy work." Were a stranger to hear her toddler-speak, rightfully, they would conclude that dad is indeed at work. Anna would have succeeded in describing my actions and locality. I went to work. But, has Anna really explained anything? No, she has merely described. And, here, we find a key lesson in observation. When a physicist tells you all about the interplay of mass and acceleration and gravity, he is describing gravity. If he's an honest physicist, he'll tell you that at the end of the day he can't truly explain it. Only when a scientist, or any human endeavoring to observe, embraces this mystery will he trod the less worn paths of humility towards truth, rather than the well-worn path of Sisyphean ascent.

Lewis on Prayer

"What sort of evidence would prove the efficacy of prayer? The thing we pray for may happen, but how can you ever know it was not going to happen anyway? Even if the thing were indisputably miraculous it would not folow that the miracle had occurred because of your prayers. The answer surely is that compulsive empirical proof such as we have in the sciences can never be attained."

We cannot prove the causality of prayers to God and what we see happen anymore than we can prove the cause and effect of our "prayers" to man, Lewis says. For example, just yesterday my wife and I thought it would be nice to end our Sunday evening with a trip to the ice cream shop. We considered inviting our neighbors, as we were sensing we needed the company of friends, but thought they had a long weekend and we ended up traveling alone. We arrived, got our ice cream and sat down, and then looking over, we saw our neighbors drive up! They came anyway and we enjoyed ice cream together, even though we failed to ask.

So, why pray if we can't really prove the causality of our prayers? Does prayer really work? This question "puts in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. 'Work': as if it were magic, or a machine - something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary - not necessarily the most important one - from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is."

Lewis on Excellence & Quality in Literature & Art

From Christianity and Literature, pp 1,2.

Lewis reflects on supposed "Christian" literature and art. He doesn't pontificate on the "literary value" that "written by Christians for Christians" but rather a "Christian approach to literature."

"The rules for writing a good passion play or a good devotional lyric are simply the rules for writing tragedy or lyric in general: success in sacred literature depends on the same qualitys of structure, suspense, variety, diction, and the like which secure success in secular literature.

...I question whether the badness of a really bad hymn can ordinarily be so irrelevant to devotion as the badness of a bad devotional picture. Because the hymn uses words, its badness will, to some degree, consist in confused or erroneous thought or unworthy sentiment."