Monday, August 24, 2015

Big eyes, full of wonder

"Everyone understand the complaint that our disenchanted world lacks meaning, that i this world, particularly youth suffer from a lack of strong purposes in their lives, and so on. This is, after all a remarkable fact. You couldn't even have explained this problem to people in Luther's age. What worried them was, if anything, an excess of 'meaning', the sense of one over-bearing issues - am I saved or damned? - which wouldn't leave them alone. One can hear all sorts of complaints about 'the present age' throughout history: blasphemy and viciousness. But what you won't hear at other times and places is one of the commonplaces of our day (right or wrong, that is beside my point), that our age suffers from a threatened loss of meaning. This malaise is specific to a buffered identity, whose very invulnerability opens it to the danger that not just evil spirits, cosmic forces or gods won't 'get to' it, but that nothing significant will stand out for it." (Charles Taylor, p303, A Secular Age)
[A Secular Age is on Tim Keller's master reading list for understanding culture]

Martin Luther is particularly illustrative of his age, a young man overwhelmed by the meaning of life - in stark contrast to our age.

Charles Taylor's diagnosis of this shift - the disenchanting of this world. The move from the heavens declaring the glory of God to the vast empty silence of space, from cosmos to universe. And from a porous self to a buffered self. From meaningful-time to just another day.

As Michael Ward notes, commenting on The Discarded Image, CS Lewis...
"...repeatedly encourages his readers to take a stroll under the sky at night. Looking up at the heavens now, Lewis argues, is a very different experience from what it was in the Middle Ages. Now we sense that we are looking out into a trackless vacuity, pitch-black and dead-cold. Then we would have felt as if we were looking into a vast, lighted concavity.
And, "In space, no one can hear you scream." 

We are left to search within ourselves - for a Disney-shaped hero or a business-book personality description, or whatever else we can find to give us some sense of life. But, as Luther notes "man curved in on himself" is our worst nightmare.

We've allowed the world to be put on mute, and the silence scares the wits out of us perhaps more than the noise did in Luther's day... though the replacement noise of social and other media is perhaps just as terrifying.

Schaeffer noted: "He is there, and he is not silent."

Lewis painted the world of Narnia to help us believe. Not by allegory, for you need biblical literacy to notice that. Rather, by re-enchanting us, by sparking our imagination, by what Charles Taylor calls "cross-purposes" that might awaken our ears to hear again.

Then, like Luther, in the sound of the gospel word, we might look out from ourselves, have our eyes opened - "big eyes, full of wonder" - to be apprehended by the one who has stepped into the room for those of Luther's age, of ours, and of every age.

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