A second letter that’s actually written to you, not C.S. Lewis

Dear Mr. Lewis:

As I stated in my last post, I’m reading your amazing “Letters to Malcolm”.  Today I wanted to focus on a passage that I am just awed by.  I don’t have any disagreements here.  I don’t even have to much in the way of questions.  It’s worth noticing, though, that you were so amazingly ahead of your time.  Folks like Irwin McManus and John Eldridge, and countless others have reacted to the stereotype that being in Christ means we lose our individually.  Well before these guys were born, you had some pretty amazing things to say about this subject.  As you know, on page 10, you write:

“It takes all sorts to make a world– or a church.   This may be even truer of a church.  If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when He made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell.”

Maybe my favorite part of that passage is the last part: heaven will display far more variety than Hell.  It’s so radical to claim that.  I think we all spend our lives thinking that Evil is so much more interesting than Good.  I wonder if this is because we think to be Good is to follow the rules and to be Evil is to ignore them.  It almost goes without saying that there are many more ways to break a rule than to follow it.

I wonder if the reason for your disagreement with this ordinary understanding is based in the early part of the quote.  What if being Good isn’t so much about following the rules as it is in discovering who we were meant to be?  Who we were meant to be won’t be rule breakers– (atleast, not breakers of God’s rules.)  So following the important rules certainly will be accomplished, but that’s such a small point along the way, the following of the rules.  We could have so much more. 

I hope I’m not being anachronistic here, and projecting todays values on to your thoughts from decades ago.  If I’ve got it wrong I hope you, or somebody else will help me get it right.

Yours in Christ,

Jeff, a wanna-be inkling.

 

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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