journey of an atheist 2 -- drifting at sea
2/02/2007 10:36:00 AM
The first course that Lewis plotted was a course of indulgence. Lewis went to many boarding schools as a boy, teenager, and a young man. These schools were anything but edifying for Lewis, save a few teachers and peers he encountered on the way. To him, the thing to do at these schools was to be self-centered, so Lewis did just that. He became what he calls, "dressy" (I Broaden My Mind) He dresses in the latest fads with designer ties, and slicks his hair with oil, although he personally thought it was gross. Lewis for the first time stoops to vulgarity, swearing and cussing, as it seems to be the thing to do. He also notes that for the first time here really begins to lust after women. These indulgences were his first attempt to fill the void left by the absence of Joy in his life. But these things seemed to lack, and it was at that point Lewis changed directions.

The second course that Lewis plotted was almost a 180-degree turn from the life of indulgence. It doesn't seem that Lewis took on a whole new persona overnight, but the shift was gradual, subtle over time, with the indulgences in culture lessening. The indulgence was replaced with isolation. Lewis delved into education and learning, but this produced a whole new set of problems for Lewis. As he put it, he had replaced self-centeredness with selfishness (The Great Knock) with the emphasis being on the intellectual arrogance. Lewis, after having gone to Wyvern began reading a number of highly scholastic authors. This reading gave him a sense of superiority to those who only read magazines and listened to nothing but ragtime (Light and Shade). This also gave him an intellectual justification to reject faith in addition to his experience. He doubted prayer, and seemingly used unanswered prayer as an excuse not to believe in God (I Broaden My Mind). He rejected religion in light of pluralism because struggled with accepting truth claims of a particular religion over the competing religions (I Broaden My Mind). Likewise, he struggled with a world of what he calls "undesign", and he questions how a god could make a world like his own (I Broaden My Mind). Perhaps the climax of Lewis' rebellion was what he called chronological snobbery, in which he rejected anything that was old because he thought newer things were better. It seems that he was one who sought to debunk the status quo, to be novel or revolutionary, whether it was against established orthodoxy, or its polar opposite (Check).

But in all of Lewis attempts to be novel and find Joy on his own, he struggled with confronting those he held dear with his beliefs, particularly his father. He admits that he could not face his father with his beliefs and postulates how his father might react. So cowardice compelled him to heap on more novelty and intellect that him drove further and further into rebellion. Lewis says of this, "Cowardice drove me to hypocrisy and hypocrisy to blasphemy" (Fortunes Smiles). In all though, Lewis still remained empty, yearning for something to fill him. Lewis agonizes, "The authentic 'Joy'...had vanished from my life: so completely that not even the memory or the desired remained. The reading of Sohrah had not given it to me. Joy is distinct not only from pleasure in general but even from aesthetic pleasure. It must have the stab, the pang, the inconsolable longin." (Renaissance). The more he read, the more the memory of Joy crept back into Lewis' life. He likens the feeling to heartache. And yearn he did -- to the point that he wanting nothing more than to have Joy back in his life. Lewis says, "And at once I knew (with fatal knowledge) that to 'have [Joy] again' was the supreme and only important object of desire" (Renaissance).

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