Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.

–George McDonald

(~I think this is true about love as well. ❤️)

World Unfinished

“God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity still in the cloud, the oil still in the earth. How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource. We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.”

–George MacDonald

Those Unknown Laws

“All that can be said is that everything in our life happens as though we entered upon it with a load of obligations contracted in a previous existence. There is no reason arising from the conditions of our life on this earth for us to consider ourselves obliged to do good, to be tactful, even to be polite. … All these obligations whose sanction is not of this present life, seem to belong to a different world, founded on kindness, scruples, sacrifices, a world entirely different from this one, a world whence we emerge to be born on this earth, before returning thither, perhaps to live under the empire of those unknown laws we have obeyed because we bore their teaching within us without knowing who had taught us.”

Marcel Proust, La Prisonniere (As quoted in Homo Viator by Gabriel Marcel.)

REASON

Set on the soul’s acropolis the reason stands

A virgin, arm’d, commercing with celestial light,

And he who sins against her has defiled his own

Virginity: no cleansing makes his garment white;

So clear is reason. But how dark imagining,

Warm, dark, obscure and infinite, daughter of Night:

Dark is her brow, the beauty of her eyes with sleep

Is loaded, and her pains are long, and her delight.

Tempt not Athene. Wound not in her fertile pains

Demeter, nor rebel against her mother-right.

Oh who will reconcile in me both maid and mother,

Who make in me a concord of the depth and height?

Who make imagination’s dim exploring touch

Ever report the same as intellectual sight?

Then could I truly say and not deceive,

Then wholly say, that I BELIEVE.

– C.S. Lewis

The Party of Platitude

In these days we are accused of attacking science because we want it to be scientific. Surely there is not any undue disrespect to our doctor in saying that he is our doctor, not our priest, or our wife, or ourself. It is not the business of the doctor to say that we must go to a watering-place; it is his affair to say that certain results of health will follow if we do go to a watering-place. After that, obviously, it is for us to judge. Physical science is like simple addition: it is either infallible or it is false. To mix science up with philosophy is only to produce a philosophy that has lost all its ideal value and a science that has lost all its practical value. I want my private physician to tell me whether this or that food will kill me. It is for my private philosopher to tell me whether I ought to be killed…

How could physical science prove that man is not depraved? You do not cut a man open to find his sins. You do not boil him until he gives forth the unmistakable green fumes of depravity. How could physical science find any traces of a moral fall? What traces did the writer expect to find? Did he expect to find a fossil Eve with a fossil apple inside her? Did he suppose that the ages would have spared for him a complete skeleton of Adam attached to a slightly faded fig-leaf? … Science never said that there could have been no Fall. There might have been ten Falls, one on top of the other, and the thing would have been quite consistent with everything that we know from physical science. Humanity might have grown morally worse for millions of centuries, and the thing would in no way have contradicted the principle of Evolution. Men of science (not being raving lunatics) never said that there had been “an incessant rise in the scale of being;” for an incessant rise would mean a rise without any relapse or failure; and physical evolution is full of relapse and failure. There were certainly some physical Falls; there may have been any number of moral Falls. So that, as I have said, I am honestly bewildered as to the meaning of such passages as this, in which the advanced person writes that because geologists know nothing about the Fall, therefore any doctrine of depravity is untrue. Because science has not found something which obviously it could not find, therefore something entirely different – the psychological sense of evil – is untrue. You might sum up this writer’s argument abruptly, but accurately, in some way like this – “We have not dug up the bones of the Archangel Gabriel, who presumably had none, therefore little boys, left to themselves, will not be selfish.” To me it is all wild and whirling; as if a man said – “The plumber can find nothing wrong with our piano; so I suppose that my wife does love me.”

I am not going to enter here into the real doctrine of original sin, or into that probably false version of it which the New Theology writer calls the doctrine of depravity. But whatever else the worst doctrine of depravity may have been, it was a product of spiritual conviction; it had nothing to do with remote physical origins. Men thought mankind wicked because they felt wicked themselves. If a man feels wicked, I cannot see why he should suddenly feel good because somebody tells him that his ancestors once had tails. Man’s primary purity and innocence may have dropped off with his tail, for all anybody knows. The only thing we all know about that primary purity and innocence is that we have not got it. Nothing can be, in the strictest sense of the word, more comic than to set so shadowy a thing as the conjectures made by the vaguer anthropologists about primitive man against so solid a thing as the human sense of sin. By its nature the evidence of Eden is something that one cannot find. By its nature the evidence of sin is something that one cannot help finding.

Some statements I disagree with; others I do not understand. If a man says, “I think the human race would be better if it abstained totally from fermented liquor,” I quite understand what he means, and how his view could be defended. If a man says, “I wish to abolish beer because I am a temperance man,” his remark conveys no meaning to my mind. It is like saying, “I wish to abolish roads because I am a moderate walker.” If a man says, “I am not a Trinitarian,” I understand. But if he says (as a lady once said to me), “I believe in the Holy Ghost in a spiritual sense,” I go away dazed. In what other sense could one believe in the Holy Ghost? And I am sorry to say that this pamphlet of progressive religious views is full of baffling observations of that kind. What can people mean when they say that science has disturbed their view of sin? What sort of view of sin can they have had before science disturbed it? Did they think that it was something to eat? When people say that science has shaken their faith in immortality, what do they mean? Did they think that immortality was a gas?

Of course the real truth is that science has introduced no new principle into the matter at all. A man can be a Christian to the end of the world, for the simple reason that a man could have been an Atheist from the beginning of it. The materialism of things is on the face of things; it does not require any science to find it out. A man who has lived and loved falls down dead and the worms eat him. That is Materialism if you like. That is Atheism if you like. If mankind has believed in spite of that, it can believe in spite of anything. But why our human lot is made any more hopeless because we know the names of all the worms who eat him, or the names of all the parts of him that they eat, is to a thoughtful mind somewhat difficult to discover. My chief objection to these semi-scientific revolutionists is that they are not at all revolutionary. They are the party of platitude. They do not shake religion: rather religion seems to shake them. They can only answer the great paradox by repeating the truism.

G.K. Chesterton