The Creator’s Imagination
Has Provided the Gospel
in Full Colour …
and it is Peopled with Fishers and Facts
of a Subtle Children’s Work
by C.S. Lewis, that Draws Adults
C.S. Lewis provided in his children’s series of imaginative, allegorical, sensitive, captivating and rollickings in adventure stories, a sort of blur of spiritual coverage. That is, this is how many would regard it. In one film portraying this series, there was such a strong, apt, gentle, discerning, wisdom in character known as the Lion, suggestive of Christ in the most eloquent of manners, that it undoubtedly carried a spiritual message concerning Him. The willingness of the Lion to suffer, even to be sacrificed, the overthrow of the malice of his adversaries in the triumph of his overcoming death after the execution: all bespoke the Gospel with just that distant intimacy that could bring some to reflect. It was intimate in meaning; distant in apparent form because of the allegory!
This Christ did in the parables, and more besides.
In the space fiction series of C.S. Lewis as in the Wardrobe Works (as one might baptise them alike), right down to the name ‘Ransom’, for one space surging character, there are more or less subtle perspective-messages intricately woven into the texture of the stories, which have their own fascinating originality. The stories themselves in their bizarre but analytically captivating way, are original, and the allegory woven into them though teeming with the message of Christ, is wrought in an original literary manner. Thus the imaginative treatment of the scenery in other climes, other planets, brings challenge to the too facile conceptualization which many may make of our own earth. It shows the sense of composite design, integral purpose, multi-formatted points, with a flair for meaning below every surface, actually shown or deeply hinted at. At the same time, the allegory comes cruising in like a large launch, at first but a speck in the distant waves, but now looming in colour and impact, and arrests the heart long hardened to the Gospel with the sense of its very naturalness and embracive competence.
C.S. Lewis, for whom, it is reported, a special Chair of Medieval Literature was created at Cambridge Uniersity, was of course a literary surgeon for the ills of his time, and the Gospel he deployed was the edge used. His works on Christian Apologetics are of vast importance, and considerable skill. Thus when one read in The Advertiser, February 22, 2003, under Theatre, report of a stage production in which there is to be a ‘DELIBERATE DONWPLAYING’ of “the book’s Christian subtext”, it was anything but reassuring. To one accustomed to the actual original to some extent, it would be like saying that in studying the disease of some patient, we would downplay blood, since we are not haematologists.
Why however was it to be downplayed ? what was the source of this conscious reduction of its presence and impact ? The reason given in the text in the newspaper, for this downplaying was … that the whole production was not being done for a church.
Yet one should have thought that the exercise in the interest of a church and in other interests would have one thing in common, namely the original of C.S. Lewis being presented in this dramatic form!
Thus to take out the heart and kernel of Lewis’ constant preoccupation with Christian message, right from the time of his wartime Christian Behaviour, and his Problem of Pain, his Miracles, his Mere Christianity, his emphasis in Transposition, on various Christian themes and messages, his thoughtful pondering and communication in many modes, of some of these things: it is to take out the foundation of his thought.
If one were to try to remove the foundation of the Twin Towers in New York while they were still standing, one would probably find that the result would be rather like that of the actual bomb which destroyed them: an intentional, human-manned bomb, in the form of an aeroplane. This however would be a less dramatic effort in manner, but scarcely in result! The towers would still fall…
the attempts to revise, rewrite, revamp, reconstruct, mutate the literary
masterpieces of yesteryear may have good intentions, but what is it like ? It
resembles President Bush attacking
It is the sheer immensity and ruthlessness of the actions which seems to provoke attention. If then it would be virtually unthinkable to attack the concept of the US planned attack on Iraq without such ingredients, both in the mind of Bush and in the minds of many who have considered the tyrant, how much more is it a virtual exclusion zone to consider Lewis’ thriving story production without the amazing goodness of Christ, the message associated, the climate concerned, the stimulus of subtlety and the evocative instruments of focus on the work of the Saviour. As the evil focus is endemic, so the good; as the obliterative, so the constructive; as the damaging, so the healing.
Divorce from your navel might be attempted; but it would be a central proceeding to try it!
In the end,
you have to face the ultimates, such as are mentioned
in an article on the Web
by Stephen Kinzer, on “The Misery of
It came to
power and assault on
It is one thing, then, to fail to come to terms with reality; but it is another to remove it where it is placed, in this most superb of arenas, that of God in history, in Christ. One must lament this popular direction of de-emphasis in this generation, as if one were to lose one’s head, and could still think (as one could, being dead, in the presence of Christ – Revelation 6:9ff.), and even watch its burial by some clean-up personnel. It provides a rather ghastly sense of detachment. Remove the meaning from history and we may get your story, but not history; and remove the thrust of literature, and you may get glamour, but not message. It is like reducing a telephone call, by the manipulation of digital data, ever so slightly changing things in a systematic manner, to mere verbal trash.
THE SPIRIT OF THE TIMES IS UNSPIRITUAL
Is it not
however in the spirit of the times as in the schools so broadly, to remove the
testimony of creation (as in Trappings for Potpourri, or Wake Up World! Chs. 5-7, or TMR Chs. 1, 8,
It is like
having a Concorde aircraft (one that still works) available, when one seeks to
The fact that the ironic and blessed humour of the Lord, grim to be sure before such stakes, exposed the coming, wildly popular disinclination to believe either the flood or the resident power of the Creator is noted in II Peter 3:3-5 (cf. Joyful Jottings Ch. 12), millennia in advance of its occurrence, is sobering even for the flighty. His divine detailing of this rash impetus of the Spirit of this terminal epoch of our Age, before Christ returns, reduces to true proportion the searing, soaring fantasies of man, ever seeking his own heights, and descending to depths anything but divine in the carnal process! The current syndrome of unbelief, specialised as in II Peter 3, II Timothy 3, I Timothy 4, as well as generic as in Matthew 24, is uncovered not hundreds, but thousands of years ahead, the Lord laughing at the mockery of truth (as Psalm 2 shows, especially at the resurrection of Christ, when all hell could not produce His body, nor annul His body, the Church).
In fact, this situation for these last days, independently identifiable as such from the Bible, in the above references (usefully summarised in Answers to Questions Ch. 5 and SMR Ch. 8), exposed this development BEFORE the modern world even came alive – or rather became moribund with its irrational philosophic perspectives (cf. SMR Ch. 3, TMR Ch. 7): this merely regales the mind with contentment. How vast is the splendour of One who can speak two millennia ago (when the tree was green, to use Christ’s metaphorical construction, from Luke 23:28-31), about the day of reckoning that is to come IN THIS WAY, and now is coming, like the Flying Scotsman of the last century, approaching some youth with his foot caught in the track!
So does the earthiness of earth rise, attempting in its arrogant lowliness to divest the celestial splendours, and so does the pageantry of this or that culture, claim for its own, the imaginations of wonder, and this for the quest of entertainment or indeed, of death. This last is itself becoming a quest as predicted and seen in Revelation 6, and HOW the living bombs, affianced to the moribund and morbid concepts of self-slaughter fulfil this! in atmosphere and extent, not only in jihad, but in mad mass slaughters in order to effect some plan, bizaree, banal or simply cursed, now of this kind, now of that. The world proceeds like a motor bike with the rider fallen off, but his children safely attached, the better to preserve them for the doom of impact. Avoiding the virtue of reality, it dashes headlong and headstrong like some corporate latter day Judas, or as if it were Small Pox on the rampage.
To be sure, some may do this in part for commercial reasons, for military splendour, as well as for dreams of delusion; but the personal must give its consent. Why is this so ? It is because none of us is governed by another, in the conscience, the heart and the perspective department, though it is saturninely the case, that without God, the source of truth, the donor of vitality, the basis of all creation, reality itself becomes blurred in its meaning, as does a scene viewed from some Japanese super-train, little involved in its goings, being suspended in air by magnetism, but still intent on its destiny. And surely it comes.
The forces of movement in our world are very much of a kinetic variety, that is the merely physical, the merely denotational; and the ground of action and its basis, this is ignored as if the idea of motion were the ultimate, and the source of the idea were irrelevant, like blood in the veins, or validity in the reasoning (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 6 -7, 19, TMR Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 3, pp. 934ff., Little Things Ch. 10). It is as if the very concept of no concepts were not a concept, itself in need of ground in truth as much as any other!
Where however by definition there is no truth, on the self-defeating theories of men, then in those theories about this, the possibility of truth is removed at the outset, so that it is a pure waste of time (the only pure thing about it) even to consider the contentions, vacuous, reductionist, arbitrary and irrationalist though they be! They CANNOT be true, when truth is not there. From such contused bruisings of the mind, the wise are delivered, but not by their own wisdom, rather by the simplicity of faith, which attests in all things, through Jesus Christ, the answers of coherence, rationality and scientific method (cf. SMR pp. 931ff., Ch. 5).
therefore delightful to find that a step-son of C.S. Lewis is apparently now
finding the Christian faith of great arresting joy, and that he seeks to
present the works of his famous relative not merely as “a magnificent piece of educative
entertainment” (The Advertiser
Dec 31, 2003), but with a background of his own thought, “once I was committed to Christ”.
What has been the result of his conversion ? “I started to read them (these
books) again and they have had an enormous influence”. Indeed, as he grows
older, it is reported (The Advertiser,
It is apparent that it is most readily possible to dramatise Christian things, to use them as in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, that darling and statistically multiplied companion of many for some centuries in their spiritual reading, indeed to deploy them in depth as in Robert Browning, in appeal as in Tennyson’s emotional sensibilities, in artistic longing and satiation as in Wordsworth, in artful thrusts as in so much of Shakespeare (as well attested in The Gospel according to Shakespeare, that small but fascinating culling), in music as in Bach and Handel, Mendelssohn, because truth pours from it like a fountain, there being no aspect of life it does not solve, no problem of philosophy it cannot overcome, no internal frustration or failure.
What! de-emphasise the heart ? where then does the blood find its movement! Or movement its function, or function its integration, or integration its impact!
THERE IS A NECESSARY TRYST WITH TRUTH
AND TRUST IN JESUS CHRIST, THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE
This, the immovable sort of motion, Christ the Creator with His Father, this genesis of generation and originative basis of vitality, this meaning to consciousness and this alone ground for validity, meeting all requirements of reason with a relish and a species of abandon because of its great strength (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7, SMR Ch. 5), is proudly dashed before the cultural molochs, political, artistic, social, financial, of man. Does it take so long to learn that the word of God rules history, and an endeavour to disregard its impact and force from man is like having a hysterectomy in the interests of bearing children!
it is, of course, modishly left out as when you immoderately leave out the wheel to your barrow, the water in your swimming pool; but the case is worse.
When the job is done properly, as in much of contemporary society, it is not merely the absence of water which occurs, but the substitution of concentrated acid, the dissolving power of which leaves man a mobile piece of spiritual inertia, a solution of corruption and a source of vanity, on which he regales himself as the Romans would do with eating following forced vomits. He becomes not merely empty (as Jung specified as a central modern man syndrome), but vitiated, vagrant and vicious by turns, as if some kind of hopping frog could tolerate the acid, and move with endless immobility of mind to its final restless conclusion in dissolution.
God however did not make man for dissolution: the judgment will sit and this, it will not be dissolved. Truth may hurt, but pain does not remove it. To find the truth your enemy is not merely fatal, but foolish, since Christ who alone has portrayed it validly and with endless confirmation, with power, with grace, with prophecy, with personality, with purity, with performance, with word, with wit, with imagination, with resource, with concurrence with the testimony of millennia, is no mean judge.
There CAN BE no just complaint when the compliant judge FIRST has Himself crucified and even interred, rather than exact sentence on you. If, in the face of THAT, you INSIST on the simple severity of justice, so be it; but one of the chief evils of your stand, it is then simply this, that you put yourself above Christ, who in fact and status is above you. What is too high for itself, falls. When it lands, it crashes. Thus you see in John 3:19,
v “… this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
In the light of this, who would not fish for men ? The beach may appear reddish, but that is the colour of the murder medium in man. The peace about it, however is great, for the peace which HE brings is not merely an absence of the intimidations and intimations of this intoxicated world, but one which surpasses all understanding. It is its own intimation.