Breaking a Dark Enchantment

By

[This is a short piece I wrote for Story Warren that may resonate with Rabbit Roomers as well. –S.D. Smith]


 

“Wonder is involuntary praise.” Edward Young said that and I’m glad he did.

What are we doing to facilitate wonder in our families? C.S. Lewis said we need an enchantment to set us free from the bondage of worldliness. How are we working for our children’s liberty? If it is only in books and art and literature, then we are only making them more interesting slaves. As Lewis says, the true thing comes through the books, or the art. The art is not the thing. Beauty will not save the world, really.

I believe we fail our kids insofar as we perpetuate in their lives the mirage of Godless Delight. We fail them if we convince them, by the forms of our lives or by our words (or both), that the basic reality of the world excludes God. The sad reality is that this is an assumption that flavors much of the stories and art we receive and which shape our spiritual formation. I confess I sometimes live like this.

I need not only wonder and gratitude, but to know the One to whom my wonder and gratitude are rightly directed. We talk a lot about imagination here and I stand by that, but it is holy imagination we are after. If our imagination isn’t doxological, it is diabolical.

We are for the liberty of families. We are foster parents of wonder. We aim to be an ingredient in the spell cast to break the enchantment of worldliness.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modem philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

The wonders really are all around us, pointing us to God and his kingdom of light. But we live in a dark enchantment. How are you working for the liberty of your family? What machines are you building to frustrate the darkness?

Let’s conspire in our construction. Let’s form an alliance. The hole in the enemy’s lines is made gloriously wide. Once more to the breach, dear friends, once more…

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boekellChesterton

Images by Boekell/Boekell.


13 Comments

  1. JamesDWitmer

    @PeterB: Oh, no – you’re right! I just told Sam his essay stinks!

    NOT what I meant – I just love that scene in The Silver Chair!

    Bother. Sam, if you don’t find this funny, I’m going to feel bad…

  2. Peter B

    Especially since you’re laughing — along with the rest of us 🙂

    For what it’s worth, I was just going along with your wakening reference — but then again, you probably knew that.

    Sam, whatever you smell, keep going.

  3. Jerome

    Yes, how DO we go about this? I am reminded of the sermon I heard this last Sunday. It revolved around seeds. We participate with God by planting and watering the seeds, but only He gives the growth. Only He can break the dark enchantment. What seeds has He given us to plant and water in our families and in this world? Can we ask for these seeds?

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