Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Devil in Perelandra Part 1

I split the post "CS Lewis on Gender" into two because upon rereading the post for the umpteenth time I saw that 1) it was long and 2) I kind of changed topics midstream. So, again, I am talking about Perelandra, the second book of CS Lewis' Space Trilogy.

Perelandra by James Lewicki

Throughout the book, Dr. Ransom looks on helplessly as the devil tempts Venus' Eve with basically the very same thing he used on our first parents. He tempts her to become like God. He tells her about Earth women and how they courageously went against social norms and the very teachings of God. He tells her about the honor of martyrdom for a cause. There is one rule on Venus that makes no rational sense: There is one island in which Eve is not allowed to spend the night. The devil tries to capitalize on that and talk her into spending the night on the island.
 
The devil argues two main points. I will be discussing the first one here because it's hard to cover them both simultaneously.
 

Progress for the sake of progress

 

"That is the fundamental paradox. The thing we are reaching forward to is what you would call God. The reaching forward, the dynamism, is what people like you always call the Devil. The people like me, who do the reaching toward, are always martyrs. You revile us, and by us come to your goal." (pg. 81-82)

 
To him, God and the devil are the same thing, the same Force. He sees them as two sides of the same coin. Therein lies his first lie. The devil cannot be equated with God because he is a fallen angel. Since he is a fallen angel we know he isn't nearly as powerful as God. Also, God is all-good, the devil is not. So there is a qualitative and quantitative difference between the two.
 
 
Not all change is bad. We are morally obligated to make what changes we can to alleviate the suffering of others. We are called to change each and every day to better reflect God and His will. "Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day," says Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16.
 
One should be skeptical, however if the change could be called the "devil." I couldn't imagine something perfectly good coming from something so obviously bad. "By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" (Matthew 7:16) Not that the imperfect good should always be rejected. Sometimes it is better to do some good than no good at all, especially in matters of life and death.     
 
 
 
So, one must be prudent in making changes. That doesn't mean no change. Things can't improve if there isn't any change. But that does mean not making changes recklessly. The ends do not always justify the means. And history will likely not absolve the devil. 






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