Monday, December 14, 2009

The hardened heart, the joyful heart

Perhaps redundant?

I once stood outside my favorite theatre, Tower, handing out papers with a quote from C.S. Lewis and talking to people attending the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ.” I was with the group Apologetics Resource Center. I was the director at the time. We actually had some wonderful experiences until another group, who were attempting to boycott the theatre, saw that we were enjoying ourselves and that a lot of people were talking to us. They came and stood by us. Because we just wanted to talk about the real Jesus not boycott Tower we went home. Picture of Shasta by Stephen Larson

I have been thinking a lot lately about C.S. Lewis and his books such as The Great Divorce, my favorite That Hideous Strength and one some friends reminded me of today, from the Narnia books The Silver Chair.

Lewis had a lot to say about what it was to be a Christian. He had a mind that was able to grab your heart with his wonderful stories while at the same time grabbing your mind with logical argument. He had his adversaries; that is those he was always contending against. He was a Christian Romantic and he despised the ideas of the logical positivists, that is, those philosophers who believed that nothing could be known but what could be supposedly proved empirically.

For some of the logical positivist such things as ethics were not provable and therefore not valid. There could be no-such branch of philosophy as ethics, or religion or aesthetics, etc. Lewis once allowed his readers to watch a man so taken in by such ideas that he falls into hell with hardly a whimper.

In That Hideous Strength at the end with all evil falling apart while those on the side of angels and mythical gods mostly watch and plan for a banquet the departure happens. No, not the rapture that some Christians believe in, but instead, the breakup and departure of evil and the final corruption of awful plans.

Sometimes I think that Lewis understood what that verse “Wherever the corpse is there the vultures will gather” meant more than anyone. (I don’t understand it at all.) In the Hideous Strength the scientists who are evil, they tear down cottages and experiment on people and animals, have cut off a man’s head and have it connected to something they think gives it life. They are planning on making others worship their experiment .

In the end, they all show up somehow before this severed head. That is they show up before the bear, who was very hungry, ate it. It is here in the midst of the confusion that the logical positivist departs. As Lewis writes:

“…he knew everything was lost.

It is incredible how little this knowledge moved him. It could not, because he had long ceased to believe in knowledge itself. What had been in his far-off youth a mere aesthetic repugnance to realities that were crude or vulgar, had deepened and darkened year after year, into a fixed refusal of everything that was in any degree other them himself. He had passed from Hegel to Hume, thence through Pragmatism, and thence through Logical Positivism, and out at last into the complete void. The indicative mood now corresponded to no thought his mind could entertain. He had willed with his whole heart that there should be no reality and no truth, and now even the imminence of his own ruin could not wake him. The last scene of Dr. Faustus where the man raves and implores on the edge of Hell is, perhaps stage fire. The last moments before damnation are not often so dramatic. Often the man knows with perfect clarity that some possible action of his own will could yet save him. But he cannot make this knowledge real to himself. Some tiny habitual sensuality, some resentment too trivial to waste on a blue-bottle, the indulgence of some fatal lethargy, seems to him at that moment more important than the choice between total joy and total destruction. With eyes wide open, seeing the endless terror is just about to begin and yet (for the moment) unable to feel terrified, he watches passively, not moving a finger for his own rescue while the last links with joy and reason are severed , and drowsily sees the trap close over his soul.”

While taking philosophy, a subject I love, and writing poetry I put the two together and wrote this.


(With apologies or Apologetics to A.J.Ayer and Wittgenstein)

Children deserting the mixture of string pulled,
wheel driven, color massed meld of toys,
grab for brown ordinary boxes.
Boxes with four sides, square, sure of borders.
Boxes closed or open are split through
by the utter fullness of children's play,
yet, the play is held within the box.

Poets need boxes, boundaries, borders,
for transcendent visions which split through
space/time, night and day.
But, men who create boxes need poets and God and children who play.

The box was very small.
It had no openings.
The logical positivist crouched
dismally, certain of his confinement.
Some attempted to climb out,
knocking against the thin brown sides.
Unable to make statements about the outside they made
circles within.

The Creator of stories demolished the box.
His story protruding and heavy
fell through the bottom
and pushed through the top.

The children, playing in the box,
romped in colorful riot.
They rolled in laughter,
over-spilling the edges,
bursting through
the opened top and bottom,
delighting in eternal play.


Dave Moody said...

thumbs up!

Viola Larson said...

Dave I just changed one line, I woke up thinking (and I haven't had my coffee yet), I had put that Lewis desised the Logical Positivist when it was their ideas he despised. I am remembering that Anthony Flew was in a philosphy club of some sort that Lewis had something to do with.

Pastor Bob said...

The is a scene in "The Last Battle" in which the dwarves who have been thrown through the door into the stable (which actually is the door into heaven, sit in a small circle, convinced they are in a stable and refuse all help to see that they are in heaven. One person picks up one of the dwarves, swings him around to show that the stable wall is not there and the dwarf thinks his nose was banged on the wall of the stable.

Sometimes belief is so strong that we are unable to allow ourselves to see God at work

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA

Viola Larson said...

Thats true Bob and I am sure it happens to me a lot.