Saturday, March 10, 2018

Longing for a better country

So. A Wrinkle in Time just came out. I remember reading and enjoying the book...when I was in elementary school. I'm not sure how the book would hold up as an adult! I presume poorly.

Not to mention it sounds like Madeleine L'Engle was a theologically liberal Christian.

Judging by the trailer, the movie seems awful to me. I especially don't like how it looks. Its aesthetics or style. I really don't need to see Oprah try to act either. I don't plan on watching the movie.

That said, some of the first books I ever read in English were written by professing Christians (loosely defined). For example, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, A Wrinkle in Time, Bridge to Terabithia. I don't recall what drew me to these sorts of books. However, I remember being enchanted by them. More than enchanted.

I think a commonality between such books for me was they opened up a reality beyond the reality of what one could see or hear or otherwise sense with the senses. Such books made me consider there might be something beyond the mundane reality of sights and sounds. At least on an emotional level. I hoped it was the case.

I believe these books are classified as fantasy. But sometimes fantasies can point us to a truer reality. Maybe this is a touch too Platonic.

I suppose what I'm feebly attempting to get at is C.S. Lewis' idea of Sehnsucht. As he wrote in Mere Christianity:

Most of us find it very difficult to want 'Heaven' at all - except in so far as 'Heaven' means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained: our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when the real want for Heaven is present in us, we do not recognise it. Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us.

I don't know how reasonable Lewis' Sehnsucht or "joy" would be as a philosophical apologetic. I believe Alvin Plantinga somewhere calls it Lewis' argument from nostalgia, but at the same time notes it's not a well-formed argument. Something along those lines.

Nevertheless, I do think it's emotionally resonant, and in that respect it might be effective on some people to some degree. Perhaps it's more effective on those who already believe and assent, but who haven't trusted Christ and committed themselves to him.

1 comment:

  1. The Argument from Desire: A Conversation with Peter S. Williams

    Williams attempts to make a formal argument.