High and Holy Feelings
High and Holy Feelings...
There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels. It's not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but out of bad archangels. The false religion of lust is baser than the false religion of mother-love or patriotism or art: but lust is less likely to be made into a religion.
- C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, Chapter 11.
This chapter has one central idea...
All desires must die before they can be redeemed.
According to Lewis,
There are no better and worse desires.
No desires that are ultimately unfulfillable.
But all desires must be allowed to die and rise again.
Lewis demonstrates this for us through two unexpected characters: A mother and a lustful man.
Pam, the Mother...
Could a mother love her child too much?
In this scene we see a mother who seems to love her child deeply. However, it seems to be this very love that stands in her way toward heaven. Lewis uses this character to make a point: there are certain affections we deem completely pure— surely mother-love could never corrupt! But as Lewis demonstrates, all affections and desires can become degrading if they are not ordered properly and committed to God. They can go wrong if they are not baptized.
Of course, as we discover, it is not her love but her lack of love that prevents her from her heavenward journey. She sees Michael (her son) as a possession, something she deserves, something no one has the right to take away from her. To enter heaven, she must see that no person has a "right" to another person. Love is a gift that we give, not a noose that we tie.
According to the Spirit, Pam's son will be hers, but only after she realizes that nothing is hers by right, and everything by gift.
"He will be, Pam. Everything will be yours. God himself will be yours. But not that way.”
Pam's desire, or affection, or mother-love will be given back to her, but only if she submits it to God first.
Will she let her desire be baptized?
We're left to wonder...
The Lust Lizard...
In the same way that Lewis shocks us with the idea that mother-love can be corrupting, he shocks us by showing us...
Sexual desire is good, and it can lead us to God.
But if, and only, if it is baptised, directed toward God, redeemed.
Lewis takes an affect (lust) we see as icky and bodily, something we'd rather not imagine in heaven, and shows that even it can become the desire that pulls us deeper into heaven, if only we'll submit it to God.
What Lewis shows us here is desire redeemed.
When the man lets the angel kill the lizard, while he screams "God help me!", his desire is killed, only to rise again it's perfected form.
The desire that kept him out, is the desire that ushers him in.
I love this passage...
Then I saw, between me and the nearest bush, unmistakably solid but growing every moment solider, the upper arm and the shoulder of a man. Then, brighter still and stronger, the legs and hands. The neck and golden head materialised while I watched, and if my attention had not wavered I should have seen the actual completing of a man-an immense man, naked, not much smaller than the Angel. What distracted me was the fact that at the same moment something seemed to be happening to the Lizard. At first I thought the operation had failed. So far from dying, the creature was still struggling and even growing bigger as it struggled. And as it grew it changed. Its hinder parts grew rounder. The tail, still flickering, became a tail of hair that flickered between huge and glossy buttocks. Suddenly I started back, rubbing my eyes. What stood before me was the greatest stallion I have ever seen, silvery white but with mane and tail of gold. It was smooth and shining, rippled with swells of flesh and muscle, whinneying and stamping with its hoofs. At each stamp the land shook and the trees dindled. The new-made man turned and clapped the new horse's neck. It nosed his bright body. Horse and master breathed each into the other's nostrils. The man turned from it, flung himself at the feet of the Burning One, and embraced them. When he rose I thought his face shone with tears, but it may have been only the liquid love and brightness (one cannot distinguish them in that country) which flowed from him. I had not long to think about it. In joyous haste the young man leaped upon the horse's back. Turning in his seat he waved a farewell, then nudged the stallion with his heels. They were off before I well knew what was happening. There was riding if you like! I came out as quickly as I could from among the bushes to follow them with my eyes; but already they were only like a shooting star far off on the green plain, and soon among the foothills of the mountains
There is no irredeemable desire. Isn't that a beautiful thought?
What did you think?
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