Review of The Pilgrim's Regress

I finished reading “The Pilgrim’s Regress” yesterday, and found myself much too tired to blog about it. This is not an in-depth review of all the incredible nuances, but rather more a reflection of some parts I found intriguing. It was an enjoyable read for the most part. There were some dialogues that became long and drawn-out (of which I could say about Bunyan’s book as well). This work was slightly more philosophical in nature than to my greatest liking, but still good. There are a few places in particular that I will highlight for you. Because of the nature of the book, it is difficult to fully appreciate the statements below out of their proper overall contextual place, but hopefully you will see into Lewis’s perspective and perhaps get a hankering to read the book. Lewis has a way of putting priceless gems amidst a heap of rubble. It is finding the gems and rubies that becomes so much fun when reading Lewis. Remember, this is an apologetic work for Christianity. The beautiful thing about allegory is that so many pictures are able to be seen if your imagination is in proper functioning order. There are possibilities of glimpses that perhaps even the author never himself envisioned or intended.

Here is an excellent example of Elitism that has always haunted the planet. It is as much true in “church” politics as it is in secular politics.
“But this is how business is managed," said Mother Kirk [this character represents Christianity]. "The little people do not know the big people to whom they belong. The big people do not intend that they should. No important transference of property could be carried out if all the small people at bottom knew what was really happening.”
“The great art of life is to moderate our passions. Objects of affection are like other belongings. We must love them enough to enrich our lives while we have them - not enough to impoverish our lives when they are gone.”
“I give up!" broke out Mr. Sensible. "Spare us the rest, young man. We are not at a lecture, and I readily admit that your scholarship is more recent than mine. Philosophy should be our mistress, no our master: and the pursuit of a pedantic accuracy amidst the freedom of our social pleasures is very unwelcome.”
This dialogue is exceptionally interesting. I think Lewis’s intention here was overly and abundantly clear of the “need” for most would be seekers (or even those who ask questions) to go through the necessary and qualified or more learned. There is always someone more learned than ourselves. People are conditioned to believe (not in word, but in actuality) that God does not communicate to the common man. The common man “will not nor cannot” understand the “deep” things of God without a pastor, priest, minister, preacher, bishop or whatever title is given. There is a big difference when we speak about knowing God on an intimate level or knowing about Him. Holding my M.Div or any other title in the scholastic world of Christendom does not equate being in an intimate relationship with God of Heaven. It means I know a lot about God and His book. Hence, he who studies most does not necessarily win. Messiah, Son of God is the only mediator between God and man; there are no others. How often Christianity forgets this. We (like Israel) long to have a king over us or for someone else to talk to God and relay to us what He wants. This is not that far off and you know it.
“‘So you have met Mother Kirk’? No wonder that you are confused. You had no business to talk to her except through a qualified Steward. Depend upon it, you have misunderstood every word she said.’”
Ah, yes, good old orthodoxy, our mother who loves us so, but would gladly turn and eat her own children should they turn aside from her “straight” ways. Yes, her barren formula.
“‘Poor Sensible, he is aging fast…I should have thought his views differed from yours a good deal.’‘Ah, to be sure, to be sure! He is not very orthodox, perhaps, but as I grow older I am inclined to set less and less store by mere orthodoxy. So often the orthodox view means the lifeless view, the barren formula. I am coming to look more and more at the language of the heart. Logic and definition divide us: it is those things which draw us together that I now value most--our common affections, our common delight in this slow pageant of the countryside, our common struggle towards the light. Sensible's heart is in the right place.’"
This excerpt about the “Shepherd People” (clearly the Hebrews) was fascinating in light of “Histories” proper analysis which helped John’s (the main character speaking) clear anti-Semitic attitude (which is common in view of Israel by the Church by years of misunderstanding) that seemed to have been carried by him from his youth, fostered and perpetuated by the Stewards (religious leaders).
“‘You have heard of the Shepherd People? I had been hoping you would not come to that, Father. I have heard the Stewards talk of them and I think it is that more than anything else that sickened me of the whole story. It is so clear that the Shepherd People are just one of these Pagan peoples-and a peculiarly unattractive one. If the whole thing is hobbled by one leg to that special people…’ ‘This is merely a blunder,’ said History. ‘You, and those whom you trust, have not travelled. You have never been in Pagus, nor among the Shepherds. If you had lived on the roads as I have, you would never say that they were the same. The Shepherds could read: that is the thing to remember about them. And because they could read, they had from the Landlord [God], not pictures, but Rules.’ ‘But who wants Rules instead of Islands?’ ‘That is like asking who wants cooking instead of dinner, do you not see that the Pagans, because they were under the enemy, were beginning at the wrong end? They were like lazy schoolboys attempting to eloquence before they learn grammar. They had pictures for their eyes instead of roads for their feet, and that is why most of them could do nothing but desire and then, through starved desire and then, through starved desire, become corrupt in their imaginations, and so awake and despair, and so desire again. Now the Shepherds, because they were under the Landlord, were made to begin at the right end. Their feet were set on a road: and as the Landlord’s Son once said, if the feet have been put right the hands and the head will come right sooner or later. It won’t work the other way.’”
This saying resonated familiar with me.
“Do not laugh at me, Father – or laugh if you will – I am indeed very ignorant and I have listened to people more ignorant still.”
“Do you not know how it is with love? First comes delight: then pain: then fruit. And then there is joy of the fruit, but that is different again from the first delight. And mortal lovers must not try to remain at the first step: for lasting passion is the dream of a harlot and from it we wake in despair. You must not try to keep the raptures: they have done their work. Manna kept, is worms.”
This too is an interesting statement.
“Fighting one vice with another is about the most dangerous strategy there is. You know what happens to kingdoms that use alien mercenaries.”
“‘There must be a good side somewhere to this revolution,’ said Vertue. ‘It is too solid – it looks to lasting – to be a mere evil…’ The Guide laughed. ‘You are falling into their own error,’ he said. ‘The change is not radical, nor will it be permanent. That idea depends on a curious disease which they have all caught – an inability to disbelieve advertisements. To be sure, if the machines did what they promised, the change would be very deep indeed. There next war, for example, would change the state of their country from disease to death. They are afraid of this themselves – though most of them are old enough to know by experience that a gun is no more likely than a toothpaste or a cosmetic to do the things its makers say it will do. ‘It is the same with all their machines. Their labor-saving devices multiply drudgery; their aphrodisiacs make them impotent: their amusements bore them: their rapid production of food leaves half of them starving, and their devices for saving them have banished leisure from their country. There will be no radical change. ‘And as for permanence – consider how quickly all machines are broken and obliterated. The black solitudes will someday be green again, and of all cities that I have seen these iron cities will break most suddenly.’
And the Guide sang;
Iron will eat the old world's beauty up.
Girder and grid and gantry will arise,
Iron forest of engines will arise,
Criss-cross of iron crotchet. For your eyes
No green or growth. Over all the skies
Scribbled from end to end with boasts and lies
(When Adam ate the irrevocable apple, Thou
Saw'st beyond death the resurrection of the dead.”

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