Re: [eldil] What did CW, Tolkien, CSL, make of life?
- Hi Steve and all
That's a very interesting question.
The Christian response to life on Earth seems to vary from regarding it as a Divine gift all the way to wishing it would go away, and in some cases (the Donatist heresy) waylaying people in the desert and demanding to be killed. I note that the Church celebrates saints' death-days rather than their birthdays and I think that speaks volumes, unless I have misunderstood the theology of it.
I think the Inklings were mostly life-affirming (e.g. Tolkien had a deep and abiding love of trees) but they were also caught up in the contradiction about the world as it is that occurs for those who believe that we live in a fallen world. For instance in one of the space trilogy books (or possibly in his sermon The Weight of Glory), CS Lewis opined that Christians appear to each other as full of life, but to other people as if they are dead, because they are already undergoing theosis / sanctification by grace (with the implication that non-Christians, being unknowingly in thrall to the Devil, cannot abide this). Of course to those who believe that theosis is potentially available in all religions, this makes little sense. Tolkien seems to have believed that the Fall had affrected the Earth itself - hence all the stuff about the Valar having to repair the damage caused by Morgoth. And Charles Williams seems to have believed that there is a perpetual war between Heaven and the other lot.
As a Wiccan and a Unitarian, I don't believe in the Fall (I believe in dependent arising more-or-less as outlined in Buddhism, which is quite similar to coinherence I think). Not that either of these traditions have set doctrine, but there is a broad consensus on that, I'd say (definitely in Wicca, anyway; maybe the more Christian-oriented Unitarians believe in the Fall in some metaphorical way, but they don't believe in original sin). I personally am in love with life itself, and the Earth, and want to keep coming back here. (Buddhists think I'm weird!)
Is it the veil of tears or the vale of tears? (I always thought it was the latter.)
In any discussion of life, I am always reminded of the picture of the Three Vinegar-Tasters. Confucius, Lao-Tsu and the Buddha are standing round a jar of vinegar and tasting it. Buddha and Confucius are wearing an expression if distate because they taught that life was sour and bitter, but Lao-Tsu is smiling and enjoying the flavour.
1. (Fwd) [coinherence-l] What did CW, Tolkien, CSL, make of life?
Posted by: "Steve Hayes" hayesstw@... hayesstw
Date: Sat Aug 9, 2008 5:49 pm ((PDT))
I've forwarded this from the Charles Williams forum since it concerns all the
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Subject: [coinherence-l] What did CW, Tolkien, CSL, make of life?
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I've again looked up and read Richard Sturch's article, 'Common Themes Among
Inklings', Charles Williams: A celebrations, ed. Brian Horne, 1995. Thanks,
Richard!! (Get this book, all!) My question in light of our sehnsucht
discussion is, What did the Inklings think of life, and life's aesthetic?
must know that for centuries the church has been and still is struggling with
this now- considering 'veil of tears' teaching about this life, and preaching
longing for death and eternity in God's presence vs. the affirmation of the
great aesthetic of life. Noted, at least in my church experience, that we're
hearing more and more "For the beauty of this earth" praise and celebration.
Certainly Williams spoke of the salutary beauty of love on this earth. Lewis
loved his nature walks, his libations, his books and his friends. Tolkien?
Their characters learn about cosmic things through life experience, no? But
for them, is beauty on earth something cherished or fraught with the
oppression of evil? So which way does the balance swing with these Inklings?
Life? Death and Paradise? Or both in some way? How? And is what they wrote
and thought still relevant (I'd say yes, of course). More to the question,
what they wrote life affirming?
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