Thursday, November 08, 2007

Medieval vs. Modern Christian Thought

"[An] example of the vastness of the medieval conception of God can be taken from the poetic fringes of the medieval world - the world of the barbarian north. This was a world just emerging from heathenism, and so the conception of God came from the more civilized south. Imagine yourself standing on the North Sea, the sky above you cold and pale. Your Father, or perhaps your Grandfather had been a loyal servant of Thor and Odin. You, like them, are both Nobel and Barbaric, but, unlike them, you are a Christian. The emergence of your house from heathenism is recent, and apostasy is an ever present possibility, as the Danes once showed by falling into the worship of their devils. But you and your people, the Geats of Southern Sweden still stand delivered. You look at your ship, which is isig and utfus, covered in ice and ready to sail. You are ready to embark, and look out over the hrond-rode, or whale road. You live in an austere world, but one full of a glittering and sever beauty.
C. S. Lewis once spoke of the lure of the pagan "northernness," a lure which in turn was used to help draw him to Christ. "Pure Northernness' engulfed me; a vision of huge, clear spaces hanging above the Atlantic in the endless twilight of Northern summer, remoteness, severity." This northernness is not necessarily Christian, but when turned to Christ, it is redeemed like all sinful things and stands upright. But we Moderns have little interest in such redemptions and their results because the Church in our era is slack and effeminate. We do not look at an unbounded northern sky and by analogy see the eternity of God; rather, we look mystically inward at the swamps and standing puddles of our own hearts and see just what one might expect in such places - but not very much and not very far."

Excerpt from Angels in the Architecture by Douglas Jones and Douglas Wilson.


Anonymous said...

Good stuff. C.S. Lewis is amazing, how he looks at human nature and describes its short-comings so elequently. More importantly, he glorifies God and makes us think about Him.

That sounds like a good book. Any particular reason why you are reading it?

* Han*

Andrew said...

Well, it's part of the Tapestry of Grace curriculum and it was highly recommended by George Grant, who is one of my favorites, so even though I've graduated, my Mom thought I should read it.