Saturday, June 30, 2012

You Have Never Talked to a Mere Mortal

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."

~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wondrous Love

There is a great old American hymn that sounds like astonishment itself, and I mention it... because even its title speaks more powerfully of the meaning of our narrative than whole shelves of books.  It is called "Wondrous Love." "What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss/ to bear the dreadful cross for my soul?"  If we have entertained the questions we moderns must pose to ourselves about the plausibility of incarnation, if we have sometimes paused to consider the other ancient stories of miraculous birth, this is not great matter.  But if we let these things distract us, we have lost the main point of the narrative, which is that God is of a kind to love the world extravagantly, wondrously, and the world is a kind to be worth, which is to say worthy of, this pained and rapturous love.  This is the essence of the story that forever eludes the telling.  It lives in the world not as myth or history but as a saturating light, a light so brilliant that hides its source, to borrow an image from another good old hymn.

~Wondrous Love, from Marilynne Robinson's collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books