". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hope, Part 2

A few days ago I wrote about hope (and my feeling that--especially as the word is used these days--it has been drained of meaning). Then coincidentally today my children and I read this passage from Screwtape (C. S. Lewis) that touches on the same topic:

"The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. . . . either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

"Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human . . . to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past. . . . It is far better to make them live in the Future. . . .

"He [God] does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity . . . washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future--haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth--ready to break the Enemy's commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other--dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. . . .

"It follows then, in general, and other things being equal, that it is better for your patient to be filled with anxiety or hope (it doesn't much matter which) . . . than for him to be living in the present."

No comments: