Sunday, May 3, 2009

More Thoughts on C.S. Lewis

Here's another quote that resonated with me, from the Preface to The Great Divorce:
"The attempt [to "marry" heaven & hell] is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable 'either-or'; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain. This belief I take to be a disastrous error."
"If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell."

I had an interesting experience recently in this regard that, although perhaps not right on the mark, nevertheless made me think. Last year we had all of our old records (vinyl) made into CDs so we could continue to listen to them. One time earlier this year I happened to be listening to one of these CDs in my car, & it sounded just like the record - including some unintended noise from the phonograph. Those of you familiar with how the old records sounded after a lot of playing know what I mean. The quality of the sound was actually quite good, but in the background was the tell-tale sound of a needle passing over grooves, kind of snap, crackle, pop. Something about this made me feel very comfortable, sort of like going to grandma's house and eating cookies with hot cocoa. It was a great feeling, which got me to "pining" for the old days when sound reproduction wasn't so perfect, but we felt pretty good about it anyway. I was feeling all warm and comfortable with my thoughts and memories of days gone by when an interesting thought came to mind.

I thought, "What are you thinking? Why would you give up the perfection of today for the imperfections of yesterday, just because they are comfortable?" This thought did not come alone, for which reason I believe I was being instructed, not just daydreaming. The next thought was that at some point in the future I may be blessed to live in a world that, when compared to the one we now experience, will be close to "perfect". Much, if not all, of the "noise" (suffering from the poor choices of others, and the vicissitudes of mortality) of our present condition will be gone. Will we then "pine" for the good old days when things were "comfortable" because that is what we are used to? Will we choose to live in "historicity" rather than the colorful living present, just because it reminds us of the "old times"?

By following the admonitions of the living prophets, we may right now move forward with more and greater momentum toward the establishment of Zion (which is accomplished family by family, aided, of necessity, by the organization of the Church). As we approach it, and finally obtain it, we may find that it is a very different place than where we are today, with a culture that differs in many respects from that we are used to, including perhaps different traditions, calendar, holy days, dress, grooming, customs, daily routines, manners, language, dietary customs, etc. What will we think? What will we be willing to give up from our own culture, both familial and societal, to obtain Zion? Will we really be willing to sacrifice "the old ways" for new ones that may be very foreign to us? I am not sure we understand this, and it is probably not critical to put it at the top of our "worry list" just now. But still, I can't help wondering about my own preparedness in this regard.

If you think that you are either doing pretty well in this regard, or that you will when the time comes (although the time is now), read again the New Testament. And pay particular attention to the many passages that reveal the difficulty that individuals in the Church in those days, including some leaders - great men - had getting over the Law of Moses and moving on to the Law of Christ. The establishment of the Culture of Christ, which began in 1820 with the opening of the heavens once again, has been gaining momentum and will continue to do so. And I can't help wondering if I am becoming practiced in choosing that culture (the "best") and leaving behind my imperfect past, regardless of how "good" or "better" - or simply historical - it may seem. The measure of our success in this may well be the standard of following the prophets, reading, listening to, absorbing, and implementing teachings from general, stake, and ward conferences.

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