Thursday, September 27, 2007

Born Again

Some years ago a friend of mine recommended to me the C.S. Lewis "Space Trilogy". Being the great guy that he is, he loaned me his copies. That was like three years or so ago. Being the lousy guy I am, I'm just now finishing up the third book in the series (and so should be getting them back to him fairly soon).

I think perhaps I'm not as enamored of Lewis' fictional writing as is my friend. Still, I just read a passage that resonated with me.

In "That Hideous Strength", one of the main characters, Mark, has lived his life with no regard for religion or real morality or love, but rather by chasing after the shallow baubles and trinkets of Life that many people never realize are nothing but empty promises.

Upon facing what he thinks is the premature end of his life at the end of a hangman's noose, he begins to reflect on his life and begins to realize how empty his life's pursuits have been.
He himself did not understand why all this, which was now so clear, had never previously crossed his mind. He was unaware that such thoughts had often knocked for entrance, but had always been excluded for the very good reason that if they were once entertained it involved ripping up the whole web of his life, cancelling almost every decision his will had ever made, and really beginning over again as though he were an infant. The indistinct mass of problems which would have to be faced if he admitted such thoughts, the innumerable "somethings" about which "something" would have to be done, had deterred him from ever raising these questions. What had now taken the blinkers off was the fact that nothing could be done. They were going to hang him. His story was at an end. There was no harm in ripping up the web now for he was not going to use it any more; there was no bill to be paid (in the shape of arduous decisions and reconstruction) for truth. It was a result of the approach of death which the [bad guys] had possibly not foreseen.

There were no moral considerations at this moment in Mark's mind. He looked back on his life not with shame, but with a kind of disgust at its dreariness.
It seems to me that this passage speaks more fully of being "born again" than do most Christian sermons on the topic. Most sermons I've heard have tended to focus on the aspect of immersion in water (which Biblically seems to be the "official" "signing of the contract" point of the re-birth process -- Rom 6:3-4 and others) than they have on a spiritual change. This passage in Lewis' book, however, drives home the reality of the internal change which is likened unto being born again.

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