There and Back Again with C.S. Lewis
by Andrea Morocoima
As I resign myself to my laptop tonight, the bursting celebration of a triumphant Resurrection Sunday is slowly hushed into evening and the sun smugly finds its place on the horizon behind our tree line irrespective of today’s cheery activities: there is an invitation for the habitual dreary dark of night to ensue. The white linen dresses are put away, the Easter eggs returned to their boxes and the churches close their doors until next week as we prepare for a gloriously bland Monday morning.
Is this not much like the rhythm of life itself? Despite those cheery holidays interrupting the dreadful regularity of boring human schedules, one thing is always assured: night comes. It always does. Yet somehow children always seemed surprised by it when they play outside and drag their feet back upset that it is already “dark”. And is this not how we treat death itself? We know it is coming, yet are almost always surprised by it and drag our feet back to God upset that it has already come to a loved one and cry out “Unfair!”
A few years ago, I purposed to crack open the pages of A Problem of Pain with all the naive academic airs of understanding the biggest challenge to the Christian faith: If God is good why does He allow suffering? Either He is not loving, not good or does not exist.
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C.S. Lewis with his usual genius easily tackles this atheist quip. He writes that a truly loving God lets us make our own choices and so we are entitled to free will. Because of free agency, God cannot force free creatures to choose good, but instead allows them real freedom to choose evil. In addition, an added consequence of sin is that nature itself is cursed and the result is disease and pain. I thought, “Got it: free will = danger and pain. Sin = curse on the natural world.”
But last week I read A Grief Observed. It undid me. It stripped me bare. I was forced to stare my own sense of complacency in the face and truly analyze death for what it is. Lewis wrote A Problem of Pain in 1940 before he saw the Nazis ravage his homeland with death and destruction. He wrote A Grief Observed in 1961, not only after Lewis survived the War but also immediately after death itself reared its ugly head and robbed him of the sweet companionship of his wife Joy due to cancer. I met a different Lewis. A bewildered Lewis. A very real, grieving, stabbed Lewis. His nice, neat arguments were suddenly scattered through a torn up room of anger, tears and dejection. I was afraid with him in a strange way. I had rested so much confidence in Lewis’ calm, collected genius only to find him throwing anger and emotional fury against a wall…
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