Friday, April 08, 2005


History Isn't Now

I've been reading C.S. Lewis' "Till We Have Faces," acquired at Debbie and Nate's pre-garage sale. I'd come to help Nate assemble his new bicycle but they were deep into the "When in doubt, throw it out" process. They handed me a 50-pound box of books and said "Go at it." I also got a PDA, but that's another story.

"Till We Have Faces" is a retelling, so it says, of the Psyche and Cupid myth. I've not read that so don't know. The king has two daughters, one of them beautiful, and the beautiful one becomes a sacrifice to the local god when the land is in difficulty. The other daughter and her soldier friend go to retrieve Psyche's remains, but don't find them. While searching, however, from the top of the mountain they see a beautiful land down on the far side, so they go to take a look.

Psyche meets them. Orual crosses the stream to hug her and they start talking. Psyche describes the place where she lives, but that's not what Orual sees. Psyche's world holds a magnificent house and wine running in streams, but the other sees only hills, moss and water.

Orual, being the practical person she is, tells Psyche she's lying, that there's nothing like what she describes out there. That's where I stopped reading. It hurt too much.

If you believe in an ugly world you get plenty of support. Good things never last. History says that everything falls apart, so why should I even try to change it? People mumble and grumble their way through life, eyes to the ground.

God has to pour his love into me so that new grass grows faster than life's lawnmower can cut it off. New attempts have always crashed. Why believe that this could ever be different? Here's Dave's take on this:

"Do you remember the fishing story in Luke 5 - (read the story for yourself if you like). After the disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing, Jesus tells Peter to push out again into deep water. Peter said, 'but Lord we have toiled all night and caught nothing.' Peter's focus was the failure of the past, Jesus said, 'Peter Push out and let down your net for a catch.' Jesus' focus was the future.

"After catching a huge amount of fish, Peter falls to his knees and says to Jesus, 'depart from me for I am a sinful man' - notice again, his focus was on past failures. One of satan's most powerful binding devices is when he chains us to our past. Jesus on the other hand - 'Peter fear not,' (don't worry about the past), 'From now on . . . . ' Get it, Blow Torch? The Lord's Perspective is forward not backward, what's ahead not what was behind. 'From now On . . . . .' Larry God in his grace gives you a blank slate; it is called 'From now On ....' Just let Him guide you as you compose your own new story.

"... Larry, remember to tell the junk yard dog - 'Stop your barking because it is all about "From now on . . . "' "

I suppose it's that people are well-meaning, but the alacrity with which they try to disabuse others of seeming illusions seems to be beyond the strict need. It's no wonder I keep dreams secret even from myself. I change sides as soon as I see that the nay-sayers have the majority. Protective coloration. Join in with the stone-throwers.

An image from "The Last Battle" keeps coming to mind: the dwarves sitting in a circle on the grass, so convinced that they're inside a dirty stable that no one, not even Aslan, can talk them out of that belief. Aslan's roar becomes a donkey's bray to them.

There are many illusions in this world. We've all been burned by them and thereby learn lessons that are strongly reinforced by the next flame job. I wonder how much of this is prophetic. A common idea in fantasy stories is that belief in itself dictates the outcome. I never wanted to believe that; I'd prefer the world to go on existing even if I don't believe in it, but I've seen many demonstrations of people growing into what others believe of them. If enough people believe that one person is a jerk, there's a strong likelihood of him growing up to be a jerk in the real world. Belief may not dictate reality but it is one of its vectors.

God gives every sign of loving us, no matter what the world says about us. The world's opinion is expressed every moment, pressing us into its mold of preconceived ideas and plans. "You are this. You will be this." God comes along and says "That's only one opinion. Mine is different." Which would I rather believe? If someone comes up to me and says "That wonderful house you live in, that God built, it's just an illusion. You need to come back to the real world and live with us..." well, who should I believe? Should I really believe that God can loosen the grip of the past and pull me out of it? Or would I rather be safe and believe nothing can change?

God really can build a new world. I don't even need to believe it completely. Hope seems to be enough, at least for a time. I just have to keep walking. He'll show it to me. Belief, however, does make the walk easier.

The Junkyard Dog was heavy. No growth I could produce could push him aside nor lift him but now that he's gone a sort of psychic isostatic rebound is going on, pieces of my soul moving around and rising, looking for daylight. Recently I've been struck by just how immature I am in many ways, and I think I know why. It makes sense; when maturity looks like death, why bother? God offers a living alternative that I believed could never happen. I can barely believe that it is happening. I'm still prone to telling God that he's being impractical or that what he proposes just can't be. He is slow to anger, and very patient with my absurd trust in human truth.

See, Kim? I can write a story that's not centered on lunch!

2005 April 8
Email failed; posted to Blog April 11

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