Saturday, April 26, 2008
That Hideous Strength
I'm almost finished with the last book in C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. I have enjoyed these books immensely for how Lewis intricately weaves theology, philosophy, and science fiction together. That sounds like a dangerous combination, and assuredly could be, but read with discernment, these books have created in me a deeper longing for my Savior and Creator.
Below is the account of Jane's, one of the main characters in That Hideous Strength, conversion. I really connected with it as it is similar to my own conversion. I had grown up knowing the facts of the Gospel, but never experienced the reality of them, or the reality of Jesus Christ. I know that sounds kinda esoteric or mystical, but Scripture is clear that mere mental assent to the Gospel is not sufficient to save (James 2:19) but one must have a real, transforming, self-denying, regenerating, new-birth conceiving meeting with the real, living Jesus Christ. This may not be a dramatic, Damascus Road experience but is real none the less.
In the book, Jane has just been told by a prophet (Called the "Director") that she will become a Christian. This seems like nonsense to her, as she grew up in the church but rejected it as an adult because it seemed stale and made of fairy tales. Besides doesn't she have a say in the matter? She goes out to the garden to contemplate things...
"...for one moment she had a ridiculous and scorching vision of a world in which God Himself would never understand, never take her with full seriousness. Then, at one particular corner of the gooseberry patch, the change came.
What awaited her there was serious to the degree of sorrow and beyond. There was no form nor sound. The mould under the bushes, the moss on the path, and the little brick border, were not visibly changed. But they were changed. A boundary had been crossed. She had come into a world, or into a Person, or into the presence of a Person. Something expectant, patient, inexorable, met her with no veil or protection between. In the closeness of that contact she perceived at once that the Director's words had been entirely misleading. This demand which now pressed upon her was not, even by analogy, like any other demand. It was the origin of all right demands and contained them. In its light you could understand them; But from them you could know nothing of it. There was nothing, and never had been anything, like this. And now there was nothing except this. Yet also, every had been like this; only by being like this had anything existed. In this height and depth and breadth the little idea of herself which she had hitherto called "me" dropped down and vanished, unfluttering, into bottomless distance, like a bird in a space without air. The name "me" was the name of a being whose existence she had never suspected, a being that did not yet fully exist but which was demanded. It was a person (not the person she had thought), yet also a thing, a made thing, made to please Another and in Him to please all others, a thing being made at this very moment, without its choice, in a shape it had never dreamed of. And the making went on amidst a kind of splendor or sorrow or both, wherof she could not tell whether it was in the moulding hands or in the kneading lump...And as it closed, without an instant's pause, the voices of those who have not joy rose howling and chattering from every corner of her being.
"Take care. Draw back. Keep your head. Don't commit yourself," they said. And then mreo subtly, from another quarter, "You have had a religious experience. This is very interesting. Not everyone does. How much better you will now understand the Seventeenth Century poets!" Or from a third direction, more sweetly, "Go on. Try to get it again. It will please the Director."
But her defences had been captured and these counter-attacks were unsuccessful.