August 11, 2008


Found in Space: How C. S. Lewis has shaped my faith and writing. (Philip Yancey, 7/22/2008, Christianity Today)

"My idea of God is not a divine idea," Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed. "It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. … The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins." That book, conceived as his wife lay dying a most cruel death from bone cancer, unsettles some readers. Lewis had dealt with theodicy philosophically in The Problem of Pain, but tidy arguments melted away as he watched the process of bodily devastation in the woman he loved. I believe the two books should be read together, for the combination of ultimate answers and existential agony reflects the biblical pattern. The Cross saved the world, but, oh, at what cost.

Lewis saw the world as a place worth saving. Unlike the monastics of the Middle Ages and the legalists of modern times, he saw no need to withdraw and deny all pleasures. He loved a stiff drink, a puff on the pipe, a gathering of friends, a Wagnerian opera, a hike in the fields of Oxford. The pleasures in life are indeed good, just not good enough; they are "only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited."

I found in Lewis that rare and precarious balance of embracing the world while not idolizing it. For all its defects, this planet bears marks of the original design, traces of Beauty and Joy that both recall and anticipate the Creator's intent.

Alone of modern authors, Lewis taught me to anticipate heaven: "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea."

The Wife was making noises recently about getting an exchange student some year, so when I signed the youngest up for PlaySoccer camp I offered to host one of the coaches. They're mainly British kids who come over for 7 weeks in the summer and go from one town to the next, a week in each, staying with families and running soccer camps during the day. Went and picked ours up yesterday, a nice Polish fella who's attending the University of Southampton. He said how much he likes America because everyone is friendly and "life is good" here. Amen, brother.
Zemanta Pixie

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 11, 2008 5:10 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus