"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing."
"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
What utterly true statements. Throughout my high school years, and really before that, the best science fiction and fantasy did precisely this, and so strongly I could not deny my longing. I would look for signs in my life and on my body that I really belonged somewhere else. The conviction I am not from here remains with me today, originally fired by the longing that came from books and my imagination, which "proved" to me that there was an elsewhere to be from, a place where much that plagued me in my life dropped away. I was never so naive as to believe in utopia but at least the challenges elsewhere would be more colorful and meaningful.
"Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was an Irish-born British novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist. He is well known for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.While I cannot speak for "Jack's" return to Christianity, I can say that one of his visions is arresting for me and I carry it still as one serious description of the human condition. He claimed in his fictional work that planet Earth is under quarantine and placed so by the rest of the cosmos as a planet that is spiritually sick. He said that elsewhere, even as close as Mars, the rebellion fundamental to the human spirit did not take place and so the rest of the cosmos was at peace and reconciled to the real in ways incomprehensible here. We are under quarantine because we would behave as a virulent plague in the larger universe, much as we are doing on the planet. The keepers of the quarantine are containing our self destruction and waiting to see if we survive and then recover sanity enough to be let free.
"Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, and both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptised in the Church of Ireland at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to Christianity, becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England". His conversion had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.
"In 1956 he married the American writer Joy Gresham, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of cancer at the age of 45.
"Lewis died three years after his wife, as the result of renal failure. His death came one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal, as he died on 22 November 1963 – the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died."
Doesn't that feel right to you? It does to me. Please understand I don't claim this is "real", just that it really fits well with my experience of the planet.
Never less than two wide views,
Colored vistas, skew.
I swim very well
Among the rocks, wade the bars
Seeking shells of life.
Then I return home,
Brush away the gritty sand
And eat my prayers.
Written October 14, 2008 1:39 PM
First Posted December 29, 2008