I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, com­ing back from the fire; limp­ing, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been say­ing is quite right, I shouldn’t won­der. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Sup­pose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan him­self. Sup­pose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more impor­tant than the real ones.

Sup­pose this black pit of a king­dom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pret­ty poor one. And that’s a fun­ny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies mak­ing up a game, if you’re right. But four babies play­ing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hol­low. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narn­ian as I can even if there isn’t any Nar­nia. So, thank­ing you kind­ly for our sup­per, if these two gen­tle­men and the young lady are ready, we’re leav­ing your court at once and set­ting out in the dark to spend our lives look­ing for Over­land. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Sil­ver Chair
If it is dis­agree­able in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for your­selves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the Riv­er, or the gods of the Amor­ites in whose land you are liv­ing; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
— Joshua 24:15 NASB

Tom’s going home again water-lilies bringing. Hey! Come derry dol! Can you hear me singing?

tom_bombadilLis­ten­ing to an old favorite while get­ting show­ered this morn­ing and was struck with a real­iza­tion. In con­sid­er­ing mar­riage and rela­tion­ships, old Tom sets an exam­ple in his regard and con­sid­er­a­tion for his lady Gold­ber­ry which should be the no-excus­es, no-excep­tions stan­dard we men must hold our­selves to with our own lady Gold­ber­rys.

I can count on two hands exam­ples I’ve seen in my own life. They are what I aspire to for myself. Almost with­out excep­tion, they are men (and women) who have made God the head of their mar­riage.

This, of course, flies in the face of fem­i­nist clap­trap, and I make no apolo­gies. Any non­sense that makes less of a Daugh­ter of Eve in sil­ly pur­suit of mak­ing her ‘equal’ is to be laugh­ably dis­card­ed. I hope that they them­selves find some­one who con­sid­ers them of far more worth than ever he does him­self, and who like­wise makes no apolo­gies.

Most men may nev­er reach this stan­dard, but may be con­tent if like a stan­dard in bat­tle, it goes ever before him dis­play­ing his colours and char­ac­ter, as much reminder to him­self as cau­tion to those ahead.

For some rea­son, beyond my ken, this KHOD com­ic was list­ed in the marshwiggle.org site sta­tis­tics for yes­ter­day. I adore KHOD. How very apro­pos. Here, Spencer’s father is show­ing his stan­dard to his son and teach­ing him to yearn for a sim­i­lar stan­dard of his own.

KHOD, July 11, 2013, "It gets worse"
KHOD, July 11, 2013, “It gets worse”

If you want someone to know the truth, you tell them. If you want someone to love the truth, tell them a story.

andrewpeterson
“So it’s a good ques­tion, and I’m not sure I know how to answer it, but today I think He did it that way in the are­na of his­to­ry and time and place because our hearts can only grasp His love if we’re told it in a sto­ry. Some­one said, ‘If you want some­one to know the truth, you tell them. If you want some­one to love the truth, tell them a sto­ry.’ Since God is after our hearts… since He knows the only way for those hearts to work prop­er­ly is to exist in the knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence of His love. He laid down his life to tell us a sto­ry.”
— Andrew Peter­son in answer his wife’s won­der­ing
why the hor­ror of the Cru­ci­fix­ion had to hap­pen.
“He Gave Us Sto­ries”, Ref­or­ma­tion Bible Col­lege,
2013 Fall Con­fer­ence, Cre­ation & Re-Cre­ation.


Go back to time­code 34:45 to hear his guid­ing idea behind writ­ing The Wingfeath­er Saga. He had a vision of who the main char­ac­ter Jan­ner Igi­by was and who he was to become and that it could only be accom­plished through con­flict. “The only way for Jan­ner Igi­by to become that per­son was for me to ruin his life. To send him on an adven­ture that would cause him pain. To strip him of every­thing that was famil­iar. To bring him to a point where he could not see the light at the end of the tun­nel. And now, at the end of my sto­ry I keep think­ing about how my whole point, my whole goal at the end of this epic tale I’m try­ing to tell is to make the dark­ness seem so great that it’s insur­mount­able. To make it so that the main char­ac­ters in my sto­ry are on the brink of giv­ing up hope, so that at the very last moment, I can lift the veil, and blow their minds and they can see that there was some­thing stronger than all the dark­ness.”

Titus 1:15–16

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbe­liev­ing, noth­ing is pure, but both their mind and their con­science are defiled. They pro­fess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and dis­obe­di­ent and worth­less for any good deed.

I won­der if Lewis was not con­sid­er­ing this pas­sage when he wrote Book 3: Chap­ter 8 of A Pilgrim’s Regress, “Par­rot Dis­ease”. ‘Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no dif­fer­ence between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?’

Every day a jailor brought the pris­on­ers their food, and as he laid down the dish­es he would say a word to them. If their meal was flesh he would remind them that they were eat­ing corpses, or give them some account of the slaugh­ter­ing: or, if it was the inwards of some beast, he would read them a lec­ture in anato­my and show the like­ness of the mess to the same parts in themselves—which was the more eas­i­ly done because the giant’s eyes were always star­ing into the dun­geon at din­ner time. Or if the meal were eggs he would recall to them that they were eat­ing the enstru­um of a ver­minous fowl, and crack a few jokes with the female pris­on­ers. So he went on day by day. Then I dreamed that one day there was noth­ing but milk for them, and the jailor said as he put down the pip­kin:

Our rela­tions with the cow are not delicate—as you can eas­i­ly see if you imag­ine eat­ing any of her oth­er secre­tions.’ Now John had been in the pit a short­er time than any of the oth­ers: and at these words some­thing seemed to snap in his head and he gave a great sigh and sud­den­ly spoke out in a loud, clear voice:

Thank heav­en! Now at last I know that you are talk­ing non­sense.’

What do you mean?’ said the jailor, wheel­ing round upon him.

You are try­ing to pre­tend that unlike things are like. You are try­ing to make us think that milk is the same sort of thing as sweat or dung.’

And pray, what dif­fer­ence is there except by cus­tom?’

Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no dif­fer­ence between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?’

So Nature is a per­son, then, with pur­pos­es and con­scious­ness,’ said the jailor with a sneer. ‘In fact, a Land­la­dy. No doubt it com­forts you to imag­ine you can believe that sort of thing;’ and he turned to leave the prison with his nose in the air.

I know noth­ing about that,’ shout­ed John after him. ‘I am talk­ing of what hap­pens. Milk does feed calves and dung does not.’

Look here,’ cried the jailor, com­ing back, ‘we have had enough of this. It is high trea­son and I shall bring you before the Mas­ter.’ Then he jerked John up by his chain and began to drag him towards the door; but John as he was being dragged, cried out to the oth­ers, ‘Can’t you see it’s all a cheat?’ Then the jailor struck him in the teeth so hard that his mouth was filled with blood and he became unable to speak: and while he was silent the jailor addressed the pris­on­ers and said:

You see he is try­ing to argue. Now tell me, some­one, what is argu­ment?’

There was a con­fused mur­mur.

Come, come,’ said the jailor. ‘You must know your cat­e­chisms by now. You, there’ (and he point­ed to a pris­on­er lit­tle old­er than a boy whose name was Mas­ter Par­rot), ‘what is argu­ment?’

Argu­ment,’ said Mas­ter Par­rot, ‘is the attempt­ed ratio­nal­iza­tion of the arguer’s desires.’

Very good,’ replied the jailor, ‘but you should turn out your toes and put your hands behind your back. That is bet­ter. Now: what is the prop­er answer to an argu­ment prov­ing the exis­tence of the Land­lord?’

The prop­er answer is, “You say that because you are a Stew­ard.”’

Good boy. But hold your head up. That’s right. And what is the answer to an argu­ment prov­ing that Mr. Phally’s songs are just as brown as Mr. Halfways’?’

There are two only gen­er­al­ly nec­es­sary to damna­tion,’ said Mas­ter Par­rot. ‘The first is, “You say that because you are a Puri­tan­ian,” and the sec­ond is, “You say that because you are a
sen­su­al­ist.”’

Good. Now just one more. What is the answer to an argu­ment turn­ing on the belief that two and two make four?’

The answer is, “You say that because you are a math­e­mati­cian.”’

You are a very good boy,’ said the jailor. ‘And when I come back I shall bring you some­thing nice. And now for you,’ he added, giv­ing John a kick and open­ing the grat­ing.

The Grace & Truth Paradox — Randy Alcorn

The Grace & Truth Paradox
This mar­velous lit­tle book by Randy Alcorn fell into my metaphor­ic hands just at the right time when I and my room­mate were asked to start a small-group bible study and the top­ic asked for was “How to debate with love.”

Below are quotes that I found espe­cial­ly mean­ing­ful. (More to fol­low as I con­tin­ue my explo­ration.)

What Gives Us Away?

A friend sat down in a small Lon­don restau­rant and picked up a menu.

What will it be?” the wait­er asked.

Study­ing the puz­zling selec­tions, my friend said, “Uhh…”

The wait­er smiled. “Oh, a Yank. What part of the States are you from?”

He hadn’t said a word. But he’d already giv­en him­self away.

In the first cen­tu­ry, Christ’s fol­low­ers were also rec­og­nized imme­di­ate­ly. What gave them away?

It wasn’t their build­ings. They had none.

It wasn’t their pro­grams. They had none.

It wasn’t their polit­i­cal pow­er. They had none.

It wasn’t their slick pub­li­ca­tions, TV net­works, bumper­stick­ers, or celebri­ties. They had none. What was it?

With great pow­er the apos­tles con­tin­ued to tes­ti­fy to the res­ur­rec­tion of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. ~ Acts 4:33

They tes­ti­fied to the truth about Christ and lived by His grace. Truth was the food they ate and the mes­sage they spoke. Grace was the air they breathed and the life they lived.

The world around them had nev­er seen any­thing like it. It still hasn’t.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace & Truth Para­dox, Ch 1

“We should nev­er approach truth except in a spir­it of grace, or grace except in the spir­it of truth. Jesus wasn’t 50 per­cent grace, 50 per­cent truth, but 100 per­cent grace and 100 per­cent truth.

Truth-ori­ent­ed Chris­tians love study­ing Scrip­ture and the­ol­o­gy. But some­times they’re quick to judge and slow to for­give. They’re strong on truth, weak on grace.

Grace-ori­ent­ed Chris­tians love for­give­ness and free­dom. But some­times they neglect Bible study and see moral stan­dards as “legal­ism.” They’re strong on grace, weak on truth.

Count­less mis­takes in mar­riage, par­ent­ing, min­istry, and oth­er rela­tion­ships are fail­ures to bal­ance grace and truth. Some­times we neglect both. Often we choose one over the oth­er.”

“A para­dox is an appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion. Grace and truth aren’t real­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry. Jesus didn’t switch on truth and then turn it off so He could switch on grace. Both are per­ma­nent­ly switched on in Jesus. Both should be switched on in us.”

“Some church ser­vices are per­me­at­ed with Chris­t­ian clichés that mys­ti­fy unbe­liev­ers. Nobody’s drawn to what’s incom­pre­hen­si­ble. Grace com­pels us to put the cook­ies on the low­er shelf where the unini­ti­at­ed can reach them. Jesus warm­ly wel­comed the non­re­li­gious and spoke words they under­stood. So should we.

Oth­er church­es try to make sin­ners feel com­fort­able. How? They nev­er talk about sin. Nev­er offend any­one. They replace truth with tol­er­ance, low­er­ing the bar so every­one can jump over it and we can all feel good about our­selves.

But Jesus said, ’ ‘No ser­vant is greater than his mas­ter.’ If they per­se­cut­ed me, they will per­se­cute you also’ (John 15:20).

Something’s wrong if all unbe­liev­ers hate us.

Something’s wrong if all unbe­liev­ers like us.

If we accu­rate­ly demon­strate grace -and- truth, some will be drawn to us and oth­er will be offend­ed by us—just as they were by Jesus.

When we offend every­body, it’s because we’ve tak­en on the truth man­tle with­out the grace. When we offend nobody, it’s because we’ve watered down truth in the name of grace.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 2.

“Grace nev­er ignores the awful truth of our deprav­i­ty. In fact, it empha­sizes it. The worse we real­ize we are, the greater we real­ize God’s grace is.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 3.

“God has writ­ten His truth on human hearts (Romans 2:15). Shame and twinges of con­science come from rec­og­niz­ing that truth has been vio­lat­ed. When peo­ple hear truth spo­ken gra­cious­ly, many are drawn to it because of the moral vac­u­um they feel. Hearts long for truth—even hearts that reject it.”

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4.

This next one is very sim­i­lar to Ray Comfort’s anal­o­gy in his talk Hell’s Best Kept Secret in which he talks of Jesus being offered not as sal­va­tion from the trans­gres­sions of the law, but as “Life Enhance­ment”. Peo­ple are enticed to ‘try on Christ’ with promis­es that their dif­fi­cul­ties in life will be resolved (using a para­chute as metaphor for Christ), but with­out any true under­stand­ing of the jump out of the air­plane that is to come. They put it on. It is uncom­fort­able and bulky and gives no ben­e­fit and so they tear it off, are angry at the para­chute (and the stew­ardess who gave it to them), and resolves nev­er to be fooled by that non­sense again. This as opposed to the one who is told at the out­set that there will be a jump to come and the only thing that will save them is wear­ing the para­chute. Then when the dif­fi­cul­ties of life befall him, say for instance, a new stew­ardess who trips and spills boil­ing hot cof­fee on him, he doesn’t cast off the para­chute and say “You stu­pid para­chute!” No, holds it all the tighter, and may ever Look For­ward to the jump to come.

If a teacher is guilty of preach­ing life enhance­ment instead of the truth, then there is noth­ing at all redemp­tive in his min­istry. Indeed, it is less than redemp­tive. It is damn­ing.

The oppo­site is near­ly as bad. That is, preach­ing truth in absence of all grace. Ray Com­fort clar­i­fies, “I’m not talk­ing about Hell­fire Preach­ing. Hell­fire Preach­ing will pro­duce Fear-Filled con­verts. Using God’s law will pro­duce Tear-Filled con­verts.”

The world’s low stan­dards, its dis­re­gard for truth, are not grace. The illu­so­ry free­dom, how­ev­er, -feels- like grace to some­one who’s been pound­ed by grace­less truth—beaten over the head with a piece of the guardrail. In fact, peo­ple who grow up in joy­less reli­gion learn that there’s no hope of liv­ing up to such daunt­ing stan­dards. “Why even try? It’s -impos­si­ble!-.”

But prop­er­ly under­stood, bib­li­cal truths are guardrails that pro­tect us from plung­ing off the cliff. A smart trav­el­er doesn’t curse the guardrails. He doesn’t whine, “That guardrail dent­ed my fend­er!” He looks over the cliff, and sees demol­ished autos below, and is -grate­ful- for guardrails.

The guardrails of truth are there not to pun­ish, but to pro­tect us.

— Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4.

God­ly liv­ing cen­ters not on what we avoid, but on whom we embrace. Any­time we talk more about dos and don’ts than about Jesus, something’s wrong.

—Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Para­dox, Chap­ter 4

Divine punishments are also mercies and particular good is worked out of particular evil

SurprisedByJoy1“If the North­er­ness seemed then a big­ger thing than my reli­gion, that may part­ly have been because my atti­tude toward it con­tained ele­ments which my reli­gion ought to have con­tained and did not. It was not itself a new reli­gion for it con­tained no trace of belief and imposed no duties. Yet unless I am great­ly mis­tak­en, there was in it some­thing very like ado­ra­tion; some kind of quite dis­in­ter­est­ed self-aban­don­ment to an object which secure­ly claimed this by sim­ply being the object it was. We are taught in the Prayer Book to ‘give thanks to God for His great glo­ry’ as if we owed Him more thanks for being what He nec­es­sar­i­ly is than for any par­tic­u­lar ben­e­fit he con­fers upon us; and so indeed we do, and to know God is to know this, but I had been far from any such expe­ri­ence. I came far near­er to feel­ing this about the Norse gods whom I dis­be­lieved in than I had ever done about the true God while I believed. Some­times I can almost think that I was sent back to the false gods, there to acquire some capac­i­ty for wor­ship against the day when the true God should recall me to Him­self. Not that I might not have learned this soon­er and more safe­ly in ways I shall now nev­er know with­out apos­ta­sy, but that divine pun­ish­ments are also mer­cies and par­tic­u­lar good is worked out of par­tic­u­lar evil and the penal blind­ness made san­i­tive. ” ~ C. S. Lewis, Sur­prised by Joy

The new rebel…

GKChestertonThe new rebel is a Skep­tic, and will not entire­ly trust any­thing. He has no loy­al­ty; there­fore he can nev­er be real­ly a rev­o­lu­tion­ist. And the fact that he doubts every­thing real­ly gets in his way when he wants to denounce any­thing. For all denun­ci­a­tion implies a moral doc­trine of some kind; and the mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ist doubts not only the insti­tu­tion he denounces, but the doc­trine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book com­plain­ing that impe­r­i­al impres­sion insults the puri­ty of women, and then he writes anoth­er book (about the sex prob­lem) in which he insults it him­self. He curs­es the Sul­tan because Chris­t­ian girls lose their vir­gin­i­ty, and then curs­es Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politi­cian, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philoso­pher that all life is a waste of time. A Russ­ian pes­simist will denounce a police man for killing a peas­ant, and then prove by the high­est philo­soph­i­cal prin­ci­ples that the peas­ant ought to have killed him­self. A man denounces mar­riage as a lie, and then denounces aris­to­crat­ic prof­li­gates for treat­ing it as a lie. He calls the flag a bauble, and then blames the oppres­sors of Poland or Ire­land because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to the polit­i­cal meet­ing, where he com­plains that sav­ages are treat­ed as if they were beast; then he takes his hat and umbrel­la and goes on to a sci­en­tif­ic meet­ing, where he proves they prac­ti­cal­ly are beast. In short, the mod­ern rev­o­lu­tion­ist, being an infi­nite skep­tic, is always engaged in under­min­ing his own mines. In his book on pol­i­tics he attacks men for tram­pling on moral­i­ty; in his book on ethics he attacks moral­i­ty for tram­pling on men. There­fore, the mod­ern man in revolt has become prac­ti­cal­ly use­less for all pur­pos­es of revolt. By rebelling against every­thing he has lost his right to rebel against any­thing.” — G.K. Chester­ton: Ortho­doxy, III. “The Sui­cide of Thought.”

Quot­ed recent­ly by Ravi Zacharias. Found at GKC­Dai­ly

The Weight of Glory — A few meaningful quotes

2 Corinthi­ans 4:16–18 NIV
There­fore we do not lose heart. Though out­ward­ly we are wast­ing away, yet inward­ly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momen­tary trou­bles are achiev­ing for us an eter­nal glo­ry that far out­weighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is tem­po­rary, but what is unseen is eter­nal

This does not mean that we are to be per­pet­u­al­ly solemn. We must play. But our mer­ri­ment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the mer­ri­est kind) which exists between peo­ple who have, from the out­set, tak­en each oth­er seriously—no flip­pan­cy, no supe­ri­or­i­ty, no pre­sump­tion. And our char­i­ty must be a real and cost­ly love, with deep feel­ing for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tol­er­ance or indul­gence which par­o­dies love as flip­pan­cy par­o­dies mer­ri­ment.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glo­ry, Church of St Mary the Vir­gin, Oxford, June 8, 1942


If you asked twen­ty good men to-day what they thought the high­est of the virtues, nine­teen of them would reply, Unselfish­ness. But if you asked almost any of the great Chris­tians of old he would have replied, Love- You see what has hap­pened? A neg­a­tive term has been sub­sti­tut­ed for a pos­i­tive, and this is of more than philo­log­i­cal impor­tance. The neg­a­tive ide­al of Unselfish­ness car­ries with it the sug­ges­tion not pri­mar­i­ly of secur­ing good things for oth­ers, but of going with­out them our­selves, as if our absti­nence and not their hap­pi­ness was the impor­tant point. I do not think this is the Chris­t­ian virtue of Love. The New Tes­ta­ment has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny our­selves and to take up our cross­es in order that we may fol­low Christ; and near­ly every descrip­tion of what we shall ulti­mate­ly find if we do so con­tains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most mod­ern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnest­ly to hope for the enjoy­ment of it is a bad thing, I sub­mit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Sto­ics and is no part of the Chris­t­ian faith. Indeed, if we con­sid­er the unblush­ing promis­es of reward and the stag­ger­ing nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. 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. We are far too eas­i­ly pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glo­ry, Church of St Mary the Vir­gin, Oxford, June 8, 1942


I find that when I think I am ask­ing God to for­give me I am often in reality…asking Him not to for­give me but to excuse me. But there is all the dif­fer­ence in the world between for­giv­ing and excus­ing. For­give­ness says ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apol­o­gy…’ But excus­ing says ‘I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it; you weren’t real­ly to blame.’ …And if we for­get this, we shall go away imag­in­ing that we have repent­ed and been for­giv­en when all that has real­ly hap­pened is that we have sat­is­fied our­selves with our own excus­es. They may be very bad excus­es; we are all too eas­i­ly sat­is­fied about our­selves.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glo­ry, Church of St Mary the Vir­gin, Oxford, June 8, 1942

Internal dichotomy of dealing with Sin and receiving Solace: “You cannot have it both ways.”

ThePilgrim'sRegressBookcoverI missed this rather incred­i­ble por­tion the first time or two around.

John is close to the end of his Jour­ney; a jour­ney phys­i­cal, men­tal, and spir­i­tu­al. All the expe­ri­ences, refine­ments, inputs and guid­ance; good, bad, evil, sense­less, sound, are cul­mi­nat­ing into a true real­iza­tion of the nature and per­son of “The Land­lord” and his rela­tion­ship to Him. It final­ly takes just one more bit of input, a tiny cat­a­lyst of truth for it to crys­tal­lize into true, pro­found, and com­plete knowl­edge.

He had been will­ing to trust God to aid him when he cried out for help, but not to trust Him enough to sur­ren­der con­trol.

How like that we all are. We can­not have it both ways.

For a while he went on cau­tious­ly, but he was haunt­ed by a pic­ture in his mind of a place where the path would break off short when it was too dark for him to see, and he would step on air. This fear made him halt more and more fre­quent­ly to exam­ine his ground: and when he went on it was each time more slow­ly: till at last he came to a stand­still. There seemed to be noth­ing for it but to rest where he was. The night was warm, but he was both hun­gry and thirsty. And he sat down. It was quite dark now.

Then I dreamed that once more a Man came to him in the dark­ness and said, ‘You must pass the night where you are, but I have brought you a loaf and if you crawl along the ledge ten paces more you will find that a lit­tle fall of water comes down the cliff.’

Sir,’ said John. ‘I do not know your name and I can­not see your face, but I thank you. Will you not sit down and eat, your­self?’

I am full and not hun­gry,’ said the Man. ‘And I will pass on. But one word before I go. You can­not have it both ways.’

What do you mean, sir?’

Your life has been saved all this day by cry­ing out to some­thing which you call by many names, and you have said to your­self that you used metaphors.’

Was I wrong, sir?’

Per­haps not. But you must play fair. If its help is not a metaphor, nei­ther are its com­mands. If it can answer when you call, then it can speak with­out your ask­ing. If you can go to it, it can come to you.’

I think I see, sir. You mean that I am not my own man: in some sense I have a Land­lord after all?’

Even so. But what is it that dis­mays you? You heard from Wis­dom how the rules were yours and not yours. Did you not mean to keep them? And if so, can it scare you to know that there is one who will make you able to keep them?’

Well,’ said John, ‘I sup­pose you have found me out. Per­haps I did not ful­ly mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your fin­ger, sir. You know when you set about tak­ing it out your­self — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but some­how it is not very seri­ous busi­ness — well, I sup­pose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very dif­fer­ent thing to hold your hand out to a sur­geon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

The Man laughed. ‘I see you under­stand me very well,’ He said, ‘but the great thing is to get the thorn out.’. And then He went away.

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress [empha­sis mine]

I sup­pose you have found me out. Per­haps I did not ful­ly mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your fin­ger, sir. You know when you set about tak­ing it out your­self — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but some­how it is not very seri­ous busi­ness — well, I sup­pose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very dif­fer­ent thing to hold your hand out to a sur­geon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

I need to make this gel and cohere in my own life and fig­ure out how to move for­ward pos­i­tive­ly in such a way as to have it always affect my think­ing and doing. This applies to so many of my own per­son­al strug­gles. I am deter­mined to rely on my own gump­tion and under­stand­ing to over­come my vices and addic­tions because I don’t want to give over con­trol to the sur­geon. I want to retain the abil­i­ty to stop if I chose. I know friends in their same own lone­ly, lame­ly list­ing cor­a­cle in an end­less sea.

The por­tion If its help is not a metaphor, nei­ther are its com­mands., serves as absolute con­vic­tion of pros­per­i­ty gospel and the social gospel I’ve heard preached in post-mod­ern church­es. You can­not preach a won­der­ful hap­py warm-fuzzy God who wants you to have joy and peace and hap­pi­ness w/o also acknowl­edg­ing that this self­same God has also made require­ments of us. Imper­a­tives we can­not ignore. We can­not have it both ways.

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed to Face­book July 27, 2011 at 3:43pm

Chapter One of the Great Story

C.S.Lewis-QuoteFromTheLastBattle

“All their life in this world
and all their adven­tures in Nar­nia
had only been the cov­er and the
title page: now at last they were
begin­ning Chap­ter One of the
Great Sto­ry which no one on earth
has read: which goes on for­ev­er:
in which every chap­ter is
bet­ter than the one before.”

—C. S. Lewis,
The Last Bat­tle