Dark and Disturbing

I have just finished reading That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis – a novel about dark powers taking over society.

The book is the last in a space trilogy, but it is not space fiction in the way we usually think about that term. Instead, these absorbing and mind-expanding books are about God and good and evil, and the nature of us humans and of God’s purposes and power.

So this book is filled with confusion, deceit, fear, treachery, science, technology, nature, and a campaign for the abolition not only of religion but also of emotion and the inidvidual.

But it is also about God and his mysterious ways of working in this fallen world. The Director and the other good people in this story do not talk about religion in the vague sense of “some mist steaming upward.” They talk about God, and their picture of him is of “strong, skilful hands thrust down to make, and mend, perhaps even to destroy.”

If you have read this book (or the trilogy), what are your thoughts? Send me a reply.

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3 Responses

  1. “What in the World is Going On” by David Jerimiah was recommended to me. I got it but haven’t started yet. Am anxious to give it a read..when time allows.

    It is so wonderful to be in touch with you both again!

    God’s blessings and protection for you both.

    Dee Mellinger

    • Dee,
      I am in the same situation regarding Jeremiah’s book. A friend gave me a copy, but I haven’t been able to read it yet.
      However, C. S. Lewis’ book is in quite a different literary category. Not everyone who likes Jeremiah would enjoy Lewis.
      John

  2. Yes, the trilogy was not intended to be sci-fi, but one could probably use the term space fantasy. I’d encourage you to check-out “Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis’ Ransom Trilogy,” by David Downing (English Department, Elizabethtown College) at http://books.google.com/books?id=P6EVNHp5qF8C

    On p.45, David argues for the series being an attempt to promote the imaginative beauty of the medieval worldview (earlier he discusses the differences between Lewis and Tolkien in writing fiction). There is also material on the Wellsian/Orwellian influence on the Weston character which represents the evils of Evolutionism (p.36). Note: Awhile back I came across an interesting National Review piece by John Derbyshire, which argues that these fears of progress have been unfounded as our freedoms still remain, but my link to the article is ‘bad.’

    For an excellent essay, read “The Discarded Mage: Lewis the Scholar-Novelist on Merlin’s Moral Taint,” http://users.etown.edu/d/DOWNINDC/mage.htm. “The Discarded Mage” has more on the Orwellian nature of the “That Hideous Strength,” the 3rd piece in the triology, and its contribution to tradition of Arthurian legend.

    Comment: prophetic critiques lead us to better decisions and if we don’t keep them before us, there is much to fear in our age of continuing technological advancement. For example, I attended a fascinating presentation on the “ethical character of cyborg technology” at Carnegie Mellon U. What were the ethics? “If it can be done, someone will do it. If you don’t do it, someone else will.” I encourage culture-making (borrowed brom Andy Crouch, http://www.culture-making.com), but culture-making in the art of science at times demand care/deliberation in our applications. With regard to ‘cyborg technology,” although originally researched to restore body functions resulting from injury and disease, there will be bad/evil/improper uses of implanting technology into our bodies and having the ability to control such technology remotely. This is the way the world is as a result of the fall and we are to war against taking application a bad/evil/improper direction/application. Better yet, proper application stems from a foundational moral decision making perspective (wisdom) which we carry to all aspects of reality as a follower of the true God and are to impart/reflect to the best of our abilities in a dark/indifferent/materialistic time such as we find ourself in today.

    You may find of interest that Francis Collins, former director of the Human Genome Project, roots much of his faith in Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” This is particularly clear in the last chapter of “The Language of God,” i.e., Truth Seekers,” and as he moves into the Appendix which wrestles with “The Moral Practice of Science and Medicine: Bioethics.” I would be interested in his response to the Space Trilogy, particularly “That Hideous Strength.” I do not remember his referring to this material.

    Let us with Lewis return to the medieval worldview, but Lord willing what we’ll find the medieval worldview is but a reflection of the Biblical narrative/story which captures the call to reproducing the likeness of Jesus in all aspects of our life, including the culture-making practices of reading good literature, considering the craft of science, and having conversation in the public sphere of a blog across mighty waters … all given to us by the hand of a mighty Creator whose Life-giving breath is upon us along the Way 😉

    Love the conversation, but gotta go!

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