Monday, December 31, 2007

A Frightening Warning from C.S. Lewis

In the third book of C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength (Collier, 1986, p. 353), Lewis describes the mindset of the chief villain. It is frighteningly real and shows deep understanding of human nature:
The last scene of Dr. Faustus where the man raves and implores on the edge of Hell is, perhaps, stage fire. The last moments before damnation are not often so dramatic. Often the man knows with perfect clarity that some still possible action of his own will could yet save him. But he cannot make this knowledge real to himself. Some tiny habitual sensuality, some resentment too trivial to waste on a blue-bottle, the indulgence of some fatal lethargy, seems to him at that moment more important than the choice between total joy and total destruction. With eyes wide open, seeing that the endless terror is just about to begin and yet (for the moment) unable to feel terrified, he watches passively, not moving a finger for his own rescue, while the last links with joy and reason are severed, and drowsily sees the trap close upon his soul. So full of sleep are they at the time when they leave the right way.

It should be our prayer that we never succumb to the habitual sensuality, resentment, or fatal lethargy that might keep us from the saving grace of the cross. May we feel the terror of being separated from the One who has the power to cast both body and soul into Hell.

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