Oh the many things I love about That Hideous Strength: set in a college atmosphere, exposes the power-hungry agenda of modernist progressivism, the cosmic backdrop of ageless spiritual warfare . . . So many things.
I found two things of interest to me this week. The first involved the living reality of Jesus’ words about the Gospel: that it divides parents from children, brothers from brothers, even, Paul notes, marriages. The Studdocks are one such marriage. They are lining themselves up for and against the Gospel, though they hardly know their actions as such. But this is the way of conversion and of apostasy and heresy. Very seldom do each happen suddenly, critically. Indeed, both are chronic states, taking a lifetime to fulfill their ends, though the telling fruit be borne sooner.
Jane Studdock thinks she is merely ringing up Mrs. Dimble because of the bad dreams she, Jane, is having. She does not know that such a simple action will have lasting consequences. For that one action will lead to a meeting with the Dimbles. Which will lead to a recommendation to go to St. Anne’s to see Miss Ironwood. And that meeting itself reveals the choice that has already been made, as it were, by actions set in motion.
Similarly, Mark thinks himself doing little more than providing the best he can for his family, though admittedly perhaps more for himself. But more than that, he sincerely thinks himself to be advancing a great cause for his fellow humans. He cannot yet know that his simple action of accepting an invitation to the college’s “Progressive Element” will set in motion actions that will unleash untold horrors on the world.
And neither Jane nor Mark can know that the paths they have chosen they might just as indiscernably forsake once underway. Conversion and apostasy are such slippery things. A small, unnoticed decision here, the attempt to advance one’s well-intentioned cause there. And heaven or hell becomes a real-world consequence. But of course, Lewis knew this and wrote about it often.
The other point of interest is a brief exchange between Hingest and Mark Studdock:
“‘I suppose there are two views about everything,’ said Mark.
“‘Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there’s never more than one.’ . . .”
Hingest, of course, must be killed for such sentiments, and before the chapter is completed, he is–most brutally.
So long as there are innumberable opinions, we may feel safely ensconced in our own. Others may disagree; we may even face arguments fatal to our convictions. Ah, but so long as there are many opinions! After all, who could be so closed-minded as to insist on only one. How callous and uncaring. That is to say, until the Truth is known. Then there really is only one view on the matter. The rest are illusion.