Monday, April 26, 2004

On My Nightstand 

I’ve been working through The Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis, his first “Christian” book (written the year after his conversion.) I’ve always loved it even though I always feel like there is a lot of it that I’m not getting.

It tells about the round trip journey of a boy named John from “Puritania”, where he was taught about the country’s Landlord who was “very, very kind” to let people live in his land but would throw them in a “black hole full of snakes and scorpions” if they broke any of his rules, through the world, where he encounters major philosophies and lifestyles of Lewis’ day (hence some of the obscurity.)

I’ve been reading bits of it with Tim so today I asked him what his journey would look like, and thought about my own. We decided that, on one hand, ours would be very different from John’s because we grew up as “children of the Landlord” under the tutelage of “Mother Kirk” (the Christian church) and never wandered and searched in such confusion. On the other hand, we have known people, or at least known of people, like those John encounters on his journey, so we have weighed our beliefs against theirs. At different times we may have flirted with some of the “Enemy’s” ways, especially the “Northern” pride of intellectualism and the “Southern” pleasures of paganism, but we knew they were empty and destructive and never gave ourselves over to them.

As I thought more about the story, I realized that very soon after John came to understand the truth about the Landlord he crossed the brook of death; the end of his journey took him out of the besieged land. We, however, don’t need a map out of this land, what we need is a guide that shows us how to live in this world, how to see through the Enemy's strategies and how to love those who are blinded by them. For those who are willing to wade through it, The Pilgrim’s Regress does an admirable job of the former.

If you do decide to tackle it remember what Lewis said about allegory, it “is best understood by not trying too hard to understand it. Like loving, going to sleep, or behaving naturally, reading an allegory is done worst when we try hardest.” (Kathryn Lindskoog Finding The Landlord, quoting Lewis from an article he wrote about Edmund Spenser)

And since I’m on Lewis, I have to recommend a nice interview I just came across with his stepson Douglas Gresham. I’ve read a lot about Lewis, but had never heard this particular, much enviable, ability:

He also was a very fast reader, but he had honed the talent and perfected the strange memory that resulted in never forgetting anything he had read. Now he could, he could ask you to pick any book off of his shelves, and you would pick a page and read him a line and he would quote the rest of the page; in fact, quote the rest of the book until you told him to stop. He had this enormous capacity to remember everything he'd ever read.

Annette, thanks for all your wonderful insights and encouraging blogs
Annette, thanks for all your wonderful insights and encouraging blog posts
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