Saturday, July 19, 2008


Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract and negative deity to the living God. I do not wonder. Here lies the deepest tap-root of Pantheism and of the objection to traditional imagery. It was hated not, at bottom, because it pictured him as man, but because it pictured Him as king, or even as warrior.

The Pantheist's God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you. There is no danger that at any time heaven and earth should flee away at His glance. If He were truth, then we could really say that all the Christian images of kingship were a historical accident of which our religion ought to cleansed.

It is a shock that we discover them to be indispensable. You have had a shock like that before, in connection with smaller matters--when the line pulls at your hand, when something breathes beside you in the darkness. So here: the shock comes at the precise moment when the thrill of life is communicated to us along the clue we have been following. It is always shocking to meet life when we thought we were alone. "Look out!" we cry, "it's alive!"

And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back--I would have done so myself if I could--and proceed no further with Christianity. An "impersonal God"--well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth, and goodness, inside our own heads--better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap--best of all.

But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband--that is quite another matter.

There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling religion ("Man's search for God"!) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?

So it is a sort of Rubicon. One goes across; or not. But if one does, there is no manner of security against miracles. One may be in for

C.S. Lewis, Miracles, a Preliminary Study

Anyone who has had a crushing personal crisis will know what Lewis is talking about--what resonates for me at the moment is the absolute knowledge that rolled over me like a great wave, or a steam-roller, a little over two years ago: that it was Christ who was calling me to live in truth, calling me to name what I am, pick up that "cross," and follow wherever it led me. It seemed at the time that it could only lead into the desert, and forty years of it, at that.

I am dumb-struck, struck dumb [if you can imagine such a thing] to find that it was more like forty weeks, and that LOVE returned into my life, welled up into my life, when I least expected it, and was in fact looking for something quite different. Yes, it may just be that I am as moralistic as Elizabeth Taylor and Ethel Merman, neither one of whom could sleep with anyone without marrying them, apparently. But I feel that it is something else: miracle, God acting where and when we least expect it. The experience is just as overwhelming and just as demanding as that terrible call of two years ago.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise God all creatures here below, praise Him Above, ye heavenly host: praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


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