Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Smart Guy

Just finished reading The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis, for – I think – the third time in my life. The first time I read it was early in college (I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish it that time). The second time was maybe 10 years ago (I finished it and loved it). The third time was just this past week.

For reasons that I can’t understand now, a particular section that has been very significant for me, in this third reading, never grabbed my attention before.

If you’ve read the book, you know that it is much more a work of philosophy and fantasy than of theology. (It’s important to say that because Protestant theology nerds like to tear it apart for it’s Purgatorial themes.) One thrust of the book is Lewis’ theorizing on sin and temptation and various kinds of lust. There’s a whole lot more to the book than that, but that’s one aspect that is especially thought-provoking.

This particular quote comes from an exchange between an artist and resident/saint of Heaven. The artist wants to paint what he sees in Heaven, and the saint tries to talk him out of it (for reasons that Lewis verbalizes far better than I). The whole thing is really beautiful and mind-blowing. You should read it. But even if you don’t read it, chew on this for a few days:

“Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him.”

There’s just a whole pile of stuff I could say about this, including how true this can be in me. But I’ll let Lewis speak for himself. And I'd love to hear anyone who wants to chime in. Thoughts?


Todd Wright said...

I've read it, but actually don't remember that quote.

The only THOUGHT I have sounds a lot like, "Hey, Todd. He's talking about you."

rk said...

yeah, i had that thought. this is totally the wrong thing to say to a couple of dudes who just released CD's, huh?

thad said...

This is painfully timeless in its tendency to diagnose.

Johnny! said...

Not only in what they say about Him, but also in how the saying makes them feel.

Always fightin' that artistic navel-gazing pomposity.

rk said...

by the way, Todd, when i said "i had that thought," i meant "hey ROSS he's talking about you." I just reread my comment and it sounded like i was agreeing with the "hey Todd" part. I can be pretty blunt and tactless at times, but hopefully I never stoop quite that low.

Patti said...

I was reading The Great Divorce once in a Starbucks and this icky man who was easily 25 years older than I was sidled over and said, "I'm going through a divorce myself." I considered trying to explain but decided he might see it as some sort of positive response. I just gave a tight smile and stared back at the book. Maybe he went and bought a copy.
My husband was also a skinny, white boy rapper/beat-boxer back in the day, so I really enjoyed the latest Strange But True. He has actually taught our 2 year old girl some skills which she, rather unfortunately, tends to hone while trying to eat.

Patti said...

Ridiculous, not Strange.

rk said...

I think "Strange" is fair. I mean we are talking about Lionel Richie karaoke and a 7th grade white kid's rap career. Ridiculous, strange, totally awesome... it's 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, really.

Oh, and good story. I love trying to figure out what that icky dude thought the book was about. It's like Jessica Simpson and that mysteriously-titled tuna in a can.

Todd Wright said...

Ha ha. Ross, you're tactless, but not THAT tactless.

(I hope.)

Chase said...


Jamie said...

How true. We become more interested and affectionate about telling WHAT we know (even worshiping that knowledge) than loving the One who is the very essence of love. It is misplaced affections that makes this heart in my chest an idol factory.
I think that is why Jesus spent so much time correcting the learned and associating with the humble.