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December 10, 2012


A Little Monday Morning Cruelty To Bishops From CS Lewis

[Hat tip: T19]

Oh my this is such familiar rhetoric these days in The Episcopal Church:

“Will you come with me to the mountains? It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened. Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?”[says the spirit character in the sceme]

“Well, that is a plan. I am perfectly ready to consider it. Of course I should require some assurances ... I should want a guarantee that you are taking me to a place where I shall find a wider sphere of usefulness-and scope for the talents that God has given me-and an atmosphere of free inquiry-in short, all that one means by civilization and-er-the spiritual life.”[responds the ghost character in the scene]

“No,” said the other. “I can promise you none of these things. No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at all. No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them. No atmosphere of inquiry, for I will bring you to the land not of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God.”

“Ah, but we must all interpret those beautiful words in our own way! For me there is no such thing as a final answer. The free wind of inquiry must always continue to blow through the mind, must it not? Trove all things’ . . . to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.”

“If that were true, and known to be true, how could anyone travel hopefully? There would be nothing to hope for.”

“But you must feel yourself that there is something stifling about the idea of finality? Stagnation, my dear boy, what is more soul-destroying than stagnation?”

“You think that, because hitherto you have experienced truth only with the abstract intellect. I will bring you where you can taste it like honey and be embraced by it as by a bridegroom. Your thirst shall be quenched.”

“Well, really, you know, I am not aware of a thirst for some ready-made truth which puts an end to intellectual activity in the way you seem to be describing. Will it leave me the free play of Mind, Dick? I must insist on that, you know.”

“Free, as a man is free to drink while he is drinking. He is not free still to be dry.” The Ghost seemed to think for a moment. “I can make nothing of that idea,” it said.

“Listen!” said the White Spirit. “Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you had found them. Become that child again: even now.”

“Ah, but when I became a man I put away childish things.”

“You have gone far wrong. Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth. What you now call the free play of inquiry has neither more nor less to do with the ends for which intelligence was given you than masturbation has to do with marriage.”

“If we cannot be reverent, there is at least no need to be obscene. The suggestion that I should return at my age to the mere factual inquisitiveness of boyhood strikes me as preposterous. In any case, that question-and-answer conception of thought only applies to matters of fact. Religious and speculative questions are surely on a different level.”

“We know nothing of religion here: we think only of Christ. We know nothing of speculation. Come and see. I will bring you to Eternal Fact, the Father of all other facthood.”

—C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce


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4 comments

Spirit:

“Come and see. I will bring you to Eternal Fact, the Father of all other facthood.”

Bishop:

“Facts are all relative, and the notion of a ‘Father’ of all other facthood is an indication that your ‘truth’ is hateful to women. No thanks, I think I’ll stay right here.”

[1] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 12-10-2012 at 10:45 AM · [top]

I think we need a C.S. Lewis’ Apostate Bishop or Mainline Official contest.  After watching the PCUSA GA this summer, I think some of those folks are low hanging fruit for parody.

[2] Posted by MTDave on 12-10-2012 at 11:35 AM · [top]

The Great Divorce is my all time Lewis favorite.  Many sermon thoughts spanning my 41 years of preaching.

Of course,  the Screwtape series on VOL the past few years is fondly remembered,  and referred to in their archival form on occasion.

[3] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 12-10-2012 at 09:34 PM · [top]

They do sound like the answers one might get during questions at a candidate-for-bishop’s walkabout.

[4] Posted by rwkachur on 12-12-2012 at 07:01 AM · [top]

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