Monday, January 29, 2007

Loving Literature and Loving God

My good church buddy and kids Godfather, Chris, has recently been talking of his reawakened passion for reading. This reminded me of my recently coming to love reading myself. It all started when my friend, Sam, lent me his book Jack: A Life of C.S. Lewis by George Sayer.
I wanted to share my two favorite parts. The first about literature and the second of Clive's growing pressure to believe. (Mother-in-law, Shirley, has since given her her copy!!!!)

Literature enlarges our being by admitting us to experiences not our own. They may be beautiful, terrible, awe-inspiring, exhilerating, pathetic, comic or merely piquant. Literature gives the entree to them all. Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom realize the enormous extension of our being that we ow to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. My own eyes are not enough for me. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or bee.
In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like the night sky in a Greek poem, I see with a thousand eyes, but it is still I who see. Here as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself: and am never more myself than when I do.
T.D. ("Harry") Weldon was the tutor and college lecturer in the Greats at Magdan College. He was a cynic who scoffed at all creeds and almost all positive assertions, a man, Jack once wrote, who, "believes that he has seen through everything and lives at rock bottom." One day they were talking in Jack's room about the odd events of history when Weldon remarked that there was good evidence supporting the historicity of the Gospels. "Rum thing that stuff of Fraser's about the Dying God," Weldon said. "It almost looks as if it really happened once." Jack could harldy believe his ears. His guest was drinking whiskey but showed no sign of being drunk. When Jack pressed him for more information he seemed anxious to change the subject.
The effect on Jack was shattering. He examined the evidence on his own and had to agree that it was suprisingly good. From this time onward he felt under pressure to believe. He could not get out of his head such arguments as Chesterton's that, in claiming to be the Son of God, Jesus Christ was either a lunatic or a dishonest fraud or He was speaking the truth. Jack reread the Gospels and became more and more aware that they were not myths or made up stories at all, because the authors were simply too artless and unimaginative.

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