Miracles

I recently finished C.S. Lewis’ Miracles – a philosophical work examining whether miracles (“an interference with Nature by a super-natural power”) are possible.  It was a bit dense to start, but it picked up speed and the whole experience was incredibly worth it.  I especially loved the chapters on the miracles of the incarnation, resurrection, and examining Jesus’ miracles (separated into works of the “Old Creation” – like multiplying loaves – and works of the “New Creation” – like raising Lazarus).  The final appendix discusses prayer, divine intervention, and time, and really helped me think about intercessory prayer (I’ve often struggled with understanding its purpose).

Here are a few neat quotes, violently ripped out of context, that I enjoyed: (the list is limited to the sections I read while I had the means to record quotes and is thus woefully incomplete)

In science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.

Theology offers you a working arrangement, which leaves the scientist free to continue his experiments and the Christian to continue his prayers.

… part of a long and beautiful argument in the chapter called “On Probability.”  If we accept science/nature as absolute, things fall apart on closer inspection (why should nature be logical? etc.)  Lewis, here, makes the point with Chesterton – if we’ll allow one thing that makes no sense (the Christian God), everything else falls into place.

 

Almost the whole of Christian theology could perhaps be deduced from the two facts (a) That men make coarse jokes, and (b) That they feel the dead to be uncanny.  The coarse joke proclaims that we have here an animal which finds its own animality either objectionable or funny.  Unless there had been a quarrel between the spirit and the organism I do not see how this could be: it is the very mark of the two not being ‘at home’ together.  But it is very difficult to imagine such a state of affairs as original–to suppose a creature which from the very first was half shocked and half tickled to death at the mere fact of being the creature it is… Our feeling about death is equally odd…In reality we hate the division which makes possible the conception of either corpse or ghost.

On death:

It [death] is mercy because by willing and humble surrender to it Man undoes his act of rebellion and makes even this depraved and monstrous mode of Death an instance of that higher and mystical Death which is eternally good and a necessary ingredient in the highest life… Our enemy, so welcomed, becomes our servant.

Death is, in fact, what some modern people call ‘ambivalent’.  It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.

Discussing the bodily resurrection and physical sacraments and a real heaven in the most beautiful passage on it ever (possibly excepting the passages in Narnia that borrow heavily from this one):

There is in our present pilgrim condition plenty of room (more room than most of us like) for abstinence and renunciation and mortifying our natural desires.  But behind all asceticism the thought should be, ‘Who will trust us with the true wealth if we cannot be trusted even with the wealth that perishes?’ Who will trust me with a spiritual body if I cannot control even an earthly body?  These small and perishable bodies we now have were given to us as ponies are given to schoolboys.  We must learn to manage: not that we may some day be free of horses altogether but that some day we may ride bare-back, confident and rejoicing, those greater mounts, those winged, shining and world-shaking horses which perhaps even now expect us with impatient, pawing and snorting in the King’s stables.  Not that the gallop would be of any value unless it were a gallop with the King; but how else – since He has retained His own charger – should we accompany Him?

 

What are your favorite parts?

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  1. Pingback: Read in 2014 | χορος χαριτος: A Danse of Grace

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