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Chapter 4 - part 3

The final book in Lewis' theological science fiction Space Trilogy.

Chapter 4 - part 3

Postby Kanakaberaka » 23 Mar 2009, 23:05

Synopsis : Mark is "buttonholed" by the former Reverend Straik. This "Mad Parson" is not the sort of person Mark expected to find working for the N.I.C.E. But as Straik explains himself, it soon becomes obvious why. And yet Mark fails to understand what Straik has to say, brushing off his radical ideolgy as a sermon. Mark ends this one sided conversation when he asks for help finding his lost wallet

Reverand Straik is the last sort of scholar Mark wanted to find in such a progressive organization. But it's his own prejudice that blinds Mark to the fact that Straik is in fact a revolutionary rather than a Christian preacher. Mark hears the Biblical references Straik uses such as "They will gnaw their tongues and not repent." and "Know you not that we shall judge angels?" What Mark fails to understand is the context in which Straik uses these terms for his own agenda. Straik calls for the establishment of Heaven on Earth through the efforts of man. Not the orthodox hereafter Mark assumes he means. So most of this chapter appears to be a monologue. Straik makes his radical declarations for what he belives to be the will of Christ without the help of established religion. Mark can't make any sense of it simply because he can not tolerate the name of Jesus. Lewis presents Mark's view this way :
And at the name of Jesus, Mark, who would have lectured on abortion or perversion to an audience of young women without a qualm, felt himself so embarrassed that he knew his cheeks were slightly reddening; and he became so angry with himself and Mr. Straik at this discovery that they then proceeded to redden very much indeed.

The odd thing is that at the time Lewis wrote these words he was obviously using hyperbole when he created a character who would dare to speak about such unthinkable deeds such as abortion or even an unspecified perversion to the fairer sex, and then feel embarssment at the mention of the name of Jesus. This is obviously part of Lewis' satire. Or was he prescient? Here we are today with politicians defending "a woman's right to choose" without apology. On television we can watch shows such as Jerry Springer where every sort of bizzare relationship is presented on stage. Ironiclly, social progressives squirm at the mere mention of Christianity and it's founder. It's all superstition to them, and has no place in our modern world.

Still, Mark wonders why any sort of religious person would want to work for the N.I.C.E. I think the key to Straik's motivation is in his mention of Cyrus:
"Does clay co-operate with the potter? Did Cyrus co-operate with the lord?

In 2 Chronicles, Cyrus the King of Persia frees the people of Juda from exile in Babylon so that they can return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. It seems to me that Straik is aware of the unholy nature of the N.I.C.E. Yet he belives that even their goals are directed by God for the ultimate good of humanity.
I knew that He was coming in power. And therefore, where we see power, we see the sign of His coming. And that is why I find myself joining with communists and materialists and anyone else who is really ready to expedite the coming.

For Straik "might makes right" to put it simply. He sees what he belives to be the flow of history and belives that the wicked who happen to be powerful are in fact fulfilling the will if God. It's Straik's sincerity which I find so disheartening. He is not a mere cynic. He truely belives that good will come out of N.I.C.E. in the end. What Straik fails to realize is what Lewis mentioned in Mere Christianity: "If we play the part of the Devil, we must be content to accept his wages".

Ominously, Straik mentions,
There is no turning back once you have set your hand to the plough. No one goes out of the N.I.C.E. Those who try to turn back will perish in the wilderness.

Which sounds to me like a warning to Mark about the fate of "Bill the blizzard" Hingest.

Finally, Mark has had enough of what he has mistaken for a religious discourse. So he brings up the subject of his missing wallet. Mark will later discover that there is more to this than simple theft.
so it goes...
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