Scribbles, &c.

Symbol or Substance?

A friend of mine loaned me a copy of Peter Kreeft’s Symbol or Sustance: A Dialogue on the Eucharist which posits an imaginary dialogue between C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Billy Graham, discussing the Real Presence from their respective traditions. I’m always a little suspicious of imaginary dialogues from real people, but I thought Kreeft did a good job preserving the individual voices without sliding into wish-fulfillment. Kreeft, a Catholic, deeply respects the integrity of the three positions. As he states in the introduction, this is the only way it could work without turning one or more of the characters into caricatures. The book contains a few occasions of Lewis and Tolkien reading from their notes and papers, including this bit from Lewis' The Weight of Glory:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, marry, snub, and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean we are perpetually solemn. We must play. But out merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat — the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

Today will be a double-post sort of day. I came across a section in Jesus of Nazareth on the second Beatitude and want to spend some more time ruminating on it.