Monday, September 26, 2011

The Practical Conclusion

"The perfect surrender and humiliation were undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man. Now the Christian belief is that if we somehow share the humility and suffering of Christ we shall also share in His conquest of death and find a new life after we have died and in it become perfect, and perfectly happy, creatures. This means something much more than our trying to follow His teaching. People often ask when the next step in evolution—the step to something beyond man—will happen. But in the Christian view, it has happened already. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us."

I've been trying to write this post for a couple of weeks now. Sort of circling it and then walking away to do something else because I'm not really sure what to say. The above paragraph is the opening paragraph of this chapter and it proves that Lewis is using humiliation and humility as related words. It doesn't sit well with me, but that's probably just a personal thing.

Lewis seems to think that sex and conception, birth are 'odd': "We derived it from others...and by a very curious process, involving pleasure, pain, and danger. A process you would never have guessed. Most of us spend a good many years in childhood trying to guess it: and some children, when they are first told, do not believe it—and I am not sure that I blame them, for it is very odd."

I don't know why it seems so 'odd'. Maybe to a kid it seems odd because they have (or shouldn't have) any concept of sex. But to an adult it should seem perfectly normal. It is what it is, and we enjoy it when it's done right. How else should new life be conceived? If God is in charge of the design of everything then the reproductive process is exactly the way He wants it to be. And if He's not and it's all evolution, then this is the most secure and efficient version that nature has come up with to date.

Lewis believes that there are three things that spread the 'Christlife'. Baptism, belief and communion. He lists them in that order, by the way. That's not me. :) Baptism is a kind of second birth, being born into the family of Christ, the Church. Belief (depending on your age or position on the subject) can come before or after. Converts, obviously, believe before they are baptised. Children who are raised in the more traditional branches of the Christian faith are baptised long before they are capable of rational belief. Arguments for both sides are documented elsewhere. I come down on the side that if a child is born into a Christian family then they deserve to be baptised as soon as possible so that they can take as full a part as is possible in the life of the Church. The same goes for Communion. I don't understand the reasoning behind making children wait to receive Communion until some fairly arbitrary age. Well, I understand it but I don't agree with it. I think it's more important to feed the child the spiritual food that they need which goes hand in hand with being raised in a Christian household.

"I cannot myself see why these things should be the conductors of the new kind of life. But then, if one did not happen to know, I should never have seen any connection between a particular physical pleasure and the appearance of a new human being in the world. We have to take reality as it comes to us: there is no good jabbering about what it ought to be like or what we should have expected it to be like."

I think this is one of those things where everyone has their thoughts on why such and such is required or conducts Grace, but it all boils down to this. We don't know why God chose this method over that, but He did. It's sort of a, 'God says so' thing. Which is not particularly satisfying to the intellect, but if you choose to believe in a divine being who runs the world then there are some things that cannot be answered any other way.

Lewis goes on to say that of course baptism, belief and Holy Communion are not everything. That people must strive to imitate the spirit in which Christ lived their entire lives.

"A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble—because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out."

I think that's about all I've got to say on this chapter. Now that I've done with it, I can finally pick up the book and read the next chapter.


  1. I like that last quote of his that you copied. That's a good way to look at it.

    It's funny to me that you have such a hard time with humiliation being used instead of humble since they are related.I do understand they have different connotations now, but I do wonder if they used it differently and interchangeably when Lewis wrote.

    Or maybe he wants to convey something strong. That Jesus in essence humiliated himself or allowed himself to be humiliated. For us. Perhaps he wants to let us know that it was awful for Jesus to hang naked in front of everyone. Middle Eastern culture doesn't celebrate nakedness quite the way we do today. *shrug*


    late 14c., from L.L. humiliationem (nom. humiliatio) "humbling, humiliation," noun of action from pp. stem of humiliare "to humble," from humilis "humble" (see humble).

    Ha...I kind of agree with Lewis that birth is odd. True "it is what it is", but still, I've also thought how odd it all is.

    Glad you decided to share some more. Thank you!

  2. Humility/Humiliation - Reminds me of a silly thing from my childhood. I was reciting a memorized Bible verse for my teachers, I think it had something to do with fruits of the spirit but I'm not sure. But it listed off a bunch of good traits for a believer to have, and one of them was "humility." I got confused and said "humiliation," and my teachers laughed at me. (Ironically, I found the whole experience fairly humiliating itself. :D) Now I could go back to them and argue that Lewis sees them as basically the same!

    I'm also with Lewis on birth and sex being odd. I get what you're saying about kids not understanding sex, but even from a standpoint of someone who does. Let's get away from the kids and imagine trying to explain the process to an adult from an asexual alien species that reproduces by parthenogenesis. Sex is weird. :D And birth hurts. The fact that it's *(sometimes) fun doesn't make it any less ridiculous from the outside.

  3. Susanne,

    It's a good quote. :)

    I know! I just have such an issue with it but I can't put my finger on *why*.

    *laughs* Okay. Maybe I'm wrong and sex/birth is weird. I don't find it weird. Given the way we're set up, how else would it happen?

  4. sanil,

    I would pay money to see you go back and tell the teachers that C.S. Lewis is on your side!

    I'd think we could explain it to the nice alien in a way they could understand. They wouldn't get it in an experiential way, but the mechanics and biology of it could be learned. *shrug* I just don't find it weird! Sex, when done right, is fun. That's the whole reason to put up with the funny faces and sounds! ;p


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...