Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Abolition of Man

I'm rereading C.S. Lewis's amazing but little known book The Abolition of Man once again this evening (I can't count how many times I've read it over the years) and I'm once again reminded of how incredibly insightful and downright prophetic this little book was when he wrote it so many years ago. And in reading it aloud to myself I'm struck by the utter brilliance of his eloquence and literary acumen.

There's a reason why it continues to occupy my permanent top ten list of essential books to read. I highly recommend it to everyone I know. But be warned, it's not an easy read at first glance. It's helpful if not essential to understand the cultural milieu in which he lived before you open to the first page. Otherwise it very quickly descends into a morass of incomprehensible verbiage so foreign to our post-modern language that you'll possibly be tempted to toss it into the trash bin halfway through the first chapter.

In fact, that's how I came to own my copy of The Abolition of Man. My old boss at Hope College had tried reading it, and it was so saturated with terminology and cultural references which were so foreign to him, that he literally tossed it into the trash bin, disgusted with the book. And this isn't because my boss was some nitwit. He was incredibly smart and we had many spirited conversations about almost everything under the sun. But his area of knowledge and expertise was scientific and mechanical, not literary and educational.

In any case though, it's a book that can easily be read in a sitting. But you'll want to read through it slowly, because, like a fine meal of exquisite cuisine, you'll want to digest the richness slowly, enjoying the delightful morsels of wisdom interspersed throughout this marvelous tome.

Revisioning the norm which norms every other norm. AKA, gender, sexuality, disability and race revisited.

Wow. This list is amazing and eye opening. And it reminds me that I could easily substitute gender with race, abilism (contra the term disability), or sexuality as far as the "norm" is concerned.

As a white male fully abled (by some standards) heterosexual, I KNOW that the deck is inherently stacked in my favor from the get go.

My life experience has taught me that I get to be the "chameleon" in social settings just by my status. In other words, I can "fit in" in other social settings simply because of my station in life.

But if we're to live out the true Christian witness, which is self sacrificial, yet at the same time acknowledging our inherent self worth as divine image bearers, we MUST own "otherness" as our own identity, precisely because God, through Christ Jesus, entered into our VERY "other" reality in the incarnation.