Tuesday, 22 November 2011

C S Lewis

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis 

Today is the anniversary of the death of my favourite apologist, C S Lewis.  My only connections are dining at High Table in his old college, Magdalen Oxford and meeting his executor Walter Hooper in the Bird and Baby afterwards!  The 1st theological book I ever bought was "The Screwtape Letters", but my favourite is "The Great Divorce".  Wikipedia summaries it thus:

The narrator inexplicably finds himself in a grim and joyless city (the "grey town", which is either hell or purgatory depending on how long one stays there). He eventually finds a bus for those who desire an excursion to some other place (and which eventually turns out to be the foothills of heaven). He enters the bus and converses with his fellow passengers as they travel. When the bus reaches its destination, the passengers on the bus — including the narrator — are gradually revealed to be ghosts. Although the country is the most beautiful they have ever seen, every feature of the landscape (including streams of water and blades of grass) is unyieldingly solid compared to themselves: it causes them immense pain to walk on the grass, and even a single leaf is far too heavy for any to lift.

Shining figures, men and women whom they have known on earth, come to meet them, and to urge them to repent and enter heaven proper. They promise that as the ghosts travel onward and upward, they will become more solid and thus feel less and less discomfort. These figures, called "spirits" to distinguish them from the ghosts, offer to assist them in the journey toward the mountains and the sunrise.

Almost all of the ghosts choose to return instead to the grey town, giving various reasons and excuses. Much of the interest of the book lies in the recognition it awakens of the plausibility and familiarity, along with the thinness and self-deception, of the excuses that the ghosts refuse to abandon, even though to do so would bring them to "reality" and "joy forevermore."

 Brilliant!  Only a Brit would see purgatory as a suburb and a bus as the way out (which is far more likely than votive masses one suspects!)!  Laus Deo for Jack Lewis and all who inform and inspire our faith.

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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