This week’s Lewis readings put us smack in the middle of the story. Thank goodness we can leave 1940s science behind. Aside from eluding his Earthly captors, wandering, and discovering another form of Malacandrian life (aside from the sorns he has already seen), Ransom does little but learn about the hrossa and their language.
Well, that’s not accurate. There are a couple of interesting things he does learn, but about which we readers aren’t yet fully up to speed on. We learn of a being called Oyarsa, whom, it appears, is responsible for all that is. We learn about the eldil–shades of the zodiacal ruminations from last week’s chapters!–and that, it appears, the only way the hrossa can cognitively understand evil and sin is to describe an evil person as bent. Very biblical, that. A righteous man, is, after all upright.
It is the “unseen” (to Ransom) eldil that the hrossa children (“pups”) see that struck my imagination today. Yesterday, at the Divine Liturgy, we recited the words of the creed, “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is visible and invisible.” Fr Patrick pointed out for us that “invisibile” is better understood as “unseen,” not necessarily as not being able to be seen. He pointed out that of all of the reality that humans encounter–even from the strictly biological perspective–nearly all of it is “invisible” or unseen. Bacteria, viruses, the inner workings of our bodies, and so forth. Indeed, nearly all of humanity remains for us, unseen, as we have no daily encounters with the rest of the world outside our living. These are, for us, unseen.
So too, for Ransom, are the eldil. I’m not getting ahead of the story by noting that these are the angels in Lewis’ space trilogy. Ransom, encumbered by sin, cannot see them. The hrossa children, apparently sinless, can see them. It is no secret that this child-innocence is approximated or regained in the saints of the Church. What seems to us miraculous powers of perception and insight, are, more accurately, what humans were intended to be. Do the stories of the saints and desert fathers and mothers strike us as “quaint” and “metaphorical”? Hardly. These men and women did indeed see angels and demons and the great spiritual warfare that we modern Christians relegate to the “fanciful” and “symbolic” because we have lulled ourselves into spiritual somnolence by our apathy and aversion for agonia, the life of the Christian which Paul indicates is normative.
I would pray that my own eyes might be opened to see all that is. But I’m afraid I’m far too flabby and none to eager for hardship. More’s the pity. Indeed, I stand indicted.
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