Do you like Science Fiction (why or why not)? What do you make of Spiritual Warfare (what comes to mind when you hear the words “Spiritual Warfare“? How do you understand the premise and particulars of spiritual warfare?). If you’re keen on developing a better understanding of The Great War, and if you fancy Science Fiction – then have we got a show for you (yes, that is indeed a Veggie Tales reference)…
A Science Fiction – Space Trilogy (authored by Clive Staples Lewis):
- Out of the Silent Planet (1938), set mostly on Mars (Malacandra). In this book, Elwin Ransom voyages to Mars and discovers that Earth is exiled from the rest of the solar system. Far back in Earth’s past, it fell to an angelic being known as the Bent Oyarsa, and now, to prevent contamination of the rest of the Solar System (“The Field of Arbol”), it is known as “the silent planet” (Thulcandra).
- Perelandra (1943), set mostly on Venus. Also known as Voyage to Venus. Here Dr Ransom journeys to an unspoiled Venus in which the first humanoids have just emerged.
- That Hideous Strength (1945), set on Earth. A scientific think tank called the N.I.C.E. (The National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments) is secretly in touch with demonic entities who plan to ravage and lay waste to planet Earth.
There is a scene in That Hideous Strength that has made a tremendous impact on my understanding of what it means (and how it feels) to traverse the path to the end of oneself. Here is that scene (a fella by the name of Mark has been working for a powerful organization [similar to the Third Reich], and he is now beginning to see clearly)…
When Mark found himself left suddenly alone by Frost, his first sensation was an unexpected lightness of heart. It was not that he had any release from fears about the future. Rather, in the very midst of those fears, a strange sense of liberation had sprung up. The relief of no longer trying to win these men’s confidence, the shuffling off of miserable hopes, was almost exhilarating. The straight fight, after the long series of diplomatic failures, was tonic. He might lose the straight fight. But at least it was now his side against theirs. And he could talk of “his side” now. Already he was with Jane and with all she symbolized. Indeed, it was he who was in the front line: Jane was almost a non-combatant. . . .
The approval of one’s own conscience is a very heady draught: and specially for those who are not accustomed to it. Within two minutes Mark passed from that first involuntary sense of liberation to a conscious attitude of courage, and thence into unrestrained heroics. The picture of himself as hero and martyr, as Jack the Giant-Killer still coolly playing his hand even in the giant’s kitchen, rose up before him, promising that it could blot out forever those other, and unendurable pictures of himself which had haunted him for the last few hours. It wasn’t everyone, after all, who could have resisted an invitation like Frost’s. An invitation that beckoned you right across the frontiers of human life . . . into something that people had been trying to find since the beginning of the world . . . a touch on that infinitely secret cord which was the real nerve of all history. How it would have attracted him once!
Would have attracted him once . . . Suddenly, like a thing that leaped to him across infinite distances with the speed of light, desire (salt, black, ravenous, unanswerable desire) took him by the throat. The merest hint will convey to those who have felt it the quality of the emotion which now shook him, like a dog shaking a rat; for others, no description perhaps will avail. Many writers speak of it in terms of lust: a description admirably illuminating from within, totally misleading from without. It has nothing to do with the body. But it is in two respects like lust as lust shows itself to be in the deepest and darkest vault of its labyrinthine house. For like lust, it disenchants the whole universe. Everything else that Mark had ever felt – love, ambition, hunger, lust itself – appeared to have been mere milk and water, toys for children, not worth one throb of the nerves. The infinite attraction of this dark thing sucked all other passions into itself: the rest of the world appeared blenched, etiolated, insipid, a world of white marriages and white masses, dishes without salt, gambling for counters. He could not now think of Jane except in terms of appetite: and appetite here made no appeal. That serpent, faced with the true dragon, became a fangless worm. But it was like lust in another respect also. It is idle to point out to the perverted man the horror of his perversion: while the fierce fit is on, that horror is the very spice of his craving. It is ugliness itself that becomes, in the end, the goal of his lechery; beauty has long since grown too weak a stimulant. And so it was here. These creatures of which Frost had spoken – and he did not doubt now that they were locally present with him in the cell – breathed death on the human race and on all joy. Not despite this but because of this, the terrible gravitation sucked and tugged and fascinated him towards them. Never before had he known the fruitful strength of the movement opposite to Nature which now had him in is grip; the impulse to reverse all reluctances and to draw every circle anti-clockwise. The meaning of certain pictures, of Frost’s talk about “objectivity,” of the things done by witches in old times, became clear to him. The image of Wither’s face rose to his memory; and this time he did not merely loathe it. He noted, with shuddering satisfaction, the signs it bore of a shared experience between them. Wither also knew. Wither understood . . .
At the same moment, it came back to him that he would probably be killed. As soon as the thought of that, he became once more aware of the cell – the little hard white empty place with the glaring light, in which he found himself sitting on the floor. He blinked his eyes. He could not remember that it had been visible for the last few minutes. Where had he been? His mind was clear now at any rate. This idea of something in common between him and Wither was all nonsense. Of course they meant to kill him in the end unless he could rescue himself by his own wits. What had he been thinking and feeling while he forgot that?
Gradually he realized that he had sustained some sort of attack, and that he had put up no resistance at all; and with that realization a quite new kind of dread entered his mind. Though he was theoretically a materialist, he had all his life believed quite inconsistently, and even carelessly, in the freedom of his own will. He had seldom made a moral resolution, and when he had resolved some hours ago to trust the Belbury crew no further, he had taken it for granted that he would be able to do what he resolved. He knew, to be sure, that he might “change his mind”; but till he did so, of course he would carry out his plan. It had never occurred to him that his mind could thus be changed for him, all in an instant of time, changed beyond recognition. If that sort of thing could happen . . . It was unfair. Here was a man trying (for the first time in his life) to do what was obviously the right thing – the thing that Jane and the Dimbles and Aunt Gilly would have approved of. You might have expected that when a man behaved in that way the universe would back him up. For the relics of such semi-savage versions of Theism as Mark had picked up in the course of his life were stronger in him than he knew, and he felt, though he would not have put it into words, that is was “up to” the universe to reward his good resolutions. Yet, the very first moment you tried to be good, the universe let you down. It revealed gaps you had never dreamed of. It invented new laws for the express purpose of letting you down. That was what you got for your pains.
The cynics, then, were right. But at this thought, he stopped sharply. Some flavor that came with it had given him pause. Was this the other mood beginning again? Oh not that, at any price. He clenched his hands. No, no, no. He could not stand this much longer. He wanted Jane; he wanted Mrs. Dimble; he wanted Denniston. He wanted somebody or something. “Oh don’t, don’t let me go back into it,” he said; and then louder, “don’t, don’t.” All that could in any sense be called himself went into that cry; and the dreadful consciousness of having played his last card began to turn slowly into a sort of peace. There was nothing more to be done. Unconsciously he allowed his muscles to relax. His young body was very tired by this time and even the hard floor was grateful to it. The cell also seemed to be somehow emptied and purged, as if it too were tired after the conflicts it had witnessed – emptied like a sky after rain, tired like a child after weeping. A dim consciousness that the night must be nearly ended stole over him, and he fell asleep.