Letters…

 

CS Lewis To Griffiths:

The tension you speak of (if it is a tension) between doing full & generous justice to the Natural while also paying unconditional & humble obedience to the Supernatural is to me an absolute key position. I have no use for mere either-or people (except, of course, in that last resort, when the choice, the plucking out the right eye, is upon us: as it is in some mode, every day. 79 But even then a man needn’t abuse & blackguard his right eye. It was a good creature: it is my fault, not its, that I have got myself into a state wh. necessitates jettisoning it). The reason I doubt whether it is, in principle, even a tension is that, as it seems to me, the subordination of Nature is demanded if only in the interests of Nature herself. All the beauty of nature withers when we try to make it absolute. Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first & we lose both first and second things. 80 We never get, say, even the sensual pleasure of food at its best when we are being greedy.

 

What indeed can we imagine Heaven to be but unimpeded obedience. I think this is one of the causes of our love of inanimate nature, that in it we see things which unswervingly carry out the will of their Creator, and are therefore wholly beautiful: and though their kind of obedience is infinitely lower than ours, yet the degree is so much more perfect that a Christian can see the reason that the Romantics had in feeling a certain holiness in the wood and water. The Pantheistic conclusions they sometimes drew are false: but their feeling was just and we can safely allow it in ourselves now that we know the real reason.

 

For we have often agreed, haven’t we, that one can love nothing but good–sin consisting in the love of the inferior good at the expense of the superior.

 

One thing we want to do is to kill the word ‘spiritual’ in the sense in which it is used by writers like Arnold and Croce. Last term I had to make the following remark to a room full of Christian undergraduates ‘A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep, in humility, thankfulness, and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride’-obvious to you, but I could see it was quite a new light to them.

 

I have been reading Lady Julian of Norwich. What do you make of her? A dangerous book, clearly, and I’m glad I didn’t read it much earlier. (Have you noticed how God so often sends us books at just the right time?) One thing in her pleased me immensely. Contemptus mundi is dangerous and may lead to Manicheeism. Love of the creature is also dangerous. How the good of each is won, and the danger rejected, in her vision of ‘all that is made’ 215 as a little thing like a hazel nut ‘so small I thought it could hardly endure’. 216 Not bad, you see: just very, very small.

TO DOROTHY L. SAYERS

 

Magdalen College, Oxford. May 29th. 1945 Dear Miss Sayers The reason why they don’t like either the narrative element or low comedy is that these have obvious immediate entertainment value. These prigs, starting from the true proposition that great art is more than entertainment reach the glaring non sequitur ‘entertainment has no place in great art’–like people who think music can’t be ‘classical’ if there is a catchy tune in it. It is as if, having learned that religious emotion is not the whole spiritual life and erotic pleasure not the whole of marriage, they then concluded that dryness and impotence were essentials. Pack of muddle headed manichaeans who got marks at their prep. school for reading ‘good’ books wh. they didn’t enjoy. Pah!, Yours C. S. Lewis

Advertisements

Thou Art Making Me

But thou art making me, I thank thee, sire.

What thou hast done and doest thou know’st well,

And I will help thee:—gently in thy fire

I will lie burning; on thy potter’s-wheel

I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel;

Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,

And growing strength perfect through weakness dire.

—George MacDonald

Two

Do not wonder that I promise to fill it with those Truths you love but know not; for though it be a maxim in the schools that there is no Love of a thing unknown, yet I have found that things unknown have a secret influence on the soul, and like the centre of the earth unseen violently attract it. We love we know not what, and therefore everything allures us.

As iron at a distance is drawn by the loadstone, there being some invisible communications between them, so is there in us a world of Love to somewhat, though we know not what in the world that should be. There are invisible ways of conveyance by which some great thing doth touch our souls, and by which we tend to it. Do you not feel yourself drawn by the expectation and desire of some Great Thing?”

Excerpt From

Centuries of Meditations

Thomas Traherne

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/centuries-of-meditations/id1113136323?mt=11

This material may be protected by copyright.

Never Such a Fair Man on Their Side

“There was no man like Shakespeare for drawing pictures of good women. Women had never such a fair man on their side as Shakespeare. Even those that he did not approve of, he was never cruel or contemptuous to. He had a tender heart for all humanity, and while he drew the most lovely women, he was forbearing and gentle towards those whom he did not approve of.”

– George MacDonald, lecture on ‘The Merchant of Venice.’

Summoning Joy

File:Winged Victory Side.jpg

Do you have the strength to summon joy? Gratitude, sure – that is doable. But joy? A smile in the face of all the darkness? To choose laughter in the face of tears? And yet, it is joy that lifts our spirits to the clouds, when the tendrils of despair would drag us down into the mire, and suffocate us there…

He does all things well – by which I mean, he chooses to do the right thing, in the right way, every time. Do we have the strength to follow? To put ourselves in remembrance, again and again, that this all shall pass, and that he that does the will of the father lives forever? To choose joy, when our hearts would faint and despair? To choose to be strong and conquer, where we would normally react and let go, or break down and cry?

The difference lies in holding on to the knowledge that this time of difficulty and darkness will pass. It lies in remembering that if we are in it, we can win it. And it lies in keeping close to our hearts the knowledge that our father loves us. And that he will not allow one straw more than we can bear – that every challenge and disappointment, every stone thrown our way, if taken the right way, can be used as another building block, another step upon which to rise higher. The challenges are medicinal – a medicine that is not given where not needed, and that when required, will bring us to health, to strength, to sanity, and in the end, to joy.

So let us fight on, and may God grant us that mystery of the laughter of Christian men, that has “Roared through a thousand tales…” May we also stand with the giants of the ages – those “Kings and clowns in a merry plight,” and learn from them how to take ourselves and the difficult situations around us lightly – that like the angels, we too may learn to fly. And in the face of dark and uncertain days, may we “Follow the star that lives and leaps… Follow the fire unfurled For riseth up against realm and rod, a thing forgotten, a thing downtrod, the last lost giant, even God…”

And the earth shook and the King stood still
Under the greenwood bough,
And the smoking cake lay at his feet
And the blow was on his brow.

Then Alfred laughed out suddenly,
Like thunder in the spring,
Till shook aloud the lintel-beams,
And the squirrels stirred in dusty dreams,
And the startled birds went up in streams,
For the laughter of the King.

And the beasts of the earth and the birds looked down,
In a wild solemnity,
On a stranger sight than a sylph or elf,
On one man laughing at himself
Under the greenwood tree—

The giant laughter of Christian men
That roars through a thousand tales,
Where greed is an ape and pride is an ass,
And Jack’s away with his master’s lass,
And the miser is banged with all his brass,
The farmer with all his flails;

Tales that tumble and tales that trick,
Yet end not all in scorning—
Of kings and clowns in a merry plight,
And the clock gone wrong and the world gone right,
That the mummers sing upon Christmas night
And Christmas Day in the morning.

Follow the star that lives and leaps,
Follow the sword that sings,
For we go gathering heathen men,
A terrible harvest, ten by ten,
As the wrath of the last red autumn—then
When Christ reaps down the kings.

Follow a light that leaps and spins,
Follow the fire unfurled!
For riseth up against realm and rod,
A thing forgotten, a thing downtrod,
The last lost giant, even God,
Is risen against the world.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

And Colan’s eyes with mystery
And iron laughter stirred,
And he spoke aloud, but lightly
Not labouring to be heard.

“Oh, truly we be broken hearts,
For that cause, it is said,
We light our candles to that Lord
That broke Himself for bread.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

But some see God like Guthrum,
Crowned, with a great beard curled,
But I see God like a good giant,
That, labouring, lifts the world.

~ The Ballad of the White Horse

Atlas by Artus Quellinus (1)

~Watergirl 

But did They Want to Know God?

“They all wanted to be at peace with God; but did they want to know God? Did they want to know God a their Father as Christ knew and felt God to be His Father? To be at peace with God, that was a poor phrase. It was one which could never satisfy; neither would it satisfy them. One must come to rejoice in the very thought of God, in the thought of knowing God, and delight in the hope that they could get back to the Father.”

From a report on a sermon by George MacDonald