måndag, december 04, 2006

When I Tremble in Awe and Fear

It's more apt to be in front of an incorruptible Federal Agent.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book titled The Problem of Pain. I picked it up from a used book table near my office. I walk by this table every day, check the titles, grab whatever is odd, historical, or funny, pay a dollar and add it to the office library.

The book, I soon discovered and should have anticipated given the whole Narnia thing, was not so much about herniated discs and glass slivers. It was more about religion, which, Lewis explains, requires these three things: numinous (a trembling, fearful type of awe), a sense of morality, and then the numinous-er standing in judgment over one's fealty to morality. With Christianity, there is a fourth element: an historic event, like, oh, I don't know, Jesus, I guess.

In getting the reader to an understanding of what is meant by numinous, Lewis starts us down the path that leads to shock and awe by explaining that when someone says there is a tiger in the next room, one feels danger and fear, but that is not the same fear one feels at hearing that there is a ghost in the next room. With a ghost, there is not the same sense of physical danger.

I beg to differ. If someone tells me there is a ghost in the next room, I am equally concerned for my physical well being and would high tail it out of that house in an equally snappy manner. If there is a ghost, my experience from every movie I saw in middle school tells me that I will be a ghost soon, too. If there is not a ghost, then the person telling me such is insane and about to get out some type of limb-separating device and turn it on me.

He says, "I used to be an atheist, but then I realized, that had to be a reason that the three elements of awe, morality, and reckoning have been around forever and cross-culturally."

Or else he realized that people don't buy as many books from atheists.

I would like to have some fun with this book, but right now I am mighty tired of religion. So, Mr. Lewis, for now, it's back on the shelf. I think I saw a used book on that table that promised 365 Ways to Be Ready for Christmas. Much more practical.