That Hideous Strength, Chs. 14-17

I don’t know what it is but I always like the darker stuff of trilogies. For me, Empire was the best of the original Star Wars movies. I prefer Inferno to the rest of the Divine Comedy. Hamlet gets top spot over The Taming of the Shrew. And the third of C S Lewis’ Space Trilogy is by far my favorite. I was somewhat sad to end it this week.

The denouement is appropriately dark and grisly. For those who grew up on Lewis’ Narnia, the beheadings, disembowelings, and general terror and bloodiness of the Babel-like demise of N.I.C.E. is nightmarish and terrifying. And Lewis tells it so matter of factly, British understatement and all, that one is the more taken in and horrified.

What is interesting is that the human enemies of N.I.C.E. are possessed by the evil they have chosen to serve, but their possessions are as unique as their persons. Frost’s scientific espousal of mere physicality is brought to its ultimate logical conclusion as he both dismembers his colleagues, and immolates himself. His is the most gruesome, because most materially graphic, of all the deaths. Jules dies as is appropriate for one puffed up by pride. The Fairy dies in the same torturous way in which she tormented her victims. And Winter’s detached philosophical rejection of truth and goodness leads to the ever diminishing hold on reality.

Which is to say, each will be judged by their own words and deeds. Each will face the consequences of their own actions and choices. The unique allegiances of each will determine their eternal destinies.

Similarly, the salvation of the community of Logres finds its particular expressions in the singular personalities of those who’ve chosen the Truth of Love. I suppose being a new father, with newfound love for spouse and child, the salvation by domesticity wrought in the lives of Jane and Mark is especially touching. Mark comes to realize how he has objectified and dehumanized Jane. And he is ashamed. Lewis hints very strongly that Mark’s salvation then comes through the person who knows anew. Jane had come to realize that she served an empty ideal of progressive feminism which was a chimera and nothing like real womanhood. Her salvation is wrought then in the acceptance of a husband who far from deserved her allegiance. One could describe the consummation that comes on the community of Logres, and that consummation is both erotic and metaphysical, but one risks losing the Gospel in the midst of misunderstanding about true eros. The salvation of Logres is not merely the focal point of individual orgasm. If you will pardon me, fucking is not sacramental. Rather the consummate and biblical knowing, the full giving of self to another, in the context of lifelong fealty and submission and obedience to God and one another, the physico-spiritual union of man and woman, this is the sacrament brought down by Venus at St Anne’s.

We have lost this understanding of love.

Such fools as clergy who have abandoned their loyalty bandy about the orgasmic over the erotic. They claim incarnation in ejaculation; they ascribe to orgasm some mystical ecstasis. But they do not, nor apparently can, touch and know the true sacrament of eros. Their judgment comes not in some hateful intolerant demagogues carrying picket signs, nor necessarily in any sort of “visitation” in the form of STDs. Rather, their judgment comes in the logical conclusion of their choices, words and decisions. They know only the orgasmic, not the erotic. They miss out on love for sex. They know only lust, not the Lover. What they desire is their reward and damnation.

Conversely, for those who surrender body and soul to the will of the Beloved, is found in their own wedded beloved, far more than they could have ever have imagined. In this true sacrament of the knowing of man and wife, the sum is greater than the parts, because blessed and sustained by God.

One thought on “That Hideous Strength, Chs. 14-17

  1. Wow…excellent post! Who are you? I found your blog while looking for David B. Hart stuff and have only read this post so far, but really enjoyed it. I too am a big Lewis fan, particularly a fan of the space trilogy, particularly That Hideous Strenght. E-mail me, tell me about yourself, or something. I’m a 22 year old New St. Andrew’s junior, recently married, and very soon to be father. Thanks…glad I found this blog! Cheers!

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