C. S. Lewis and the Incarnation

I wasn’t sure that I could find something to say related to the season until I came across this passage in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer by C. S. Lewis:

When one prays in strange places and at strange times one can’t kneel, to be sure. I won’t say this doesn’t matter. The body ought to pray as well as the soul. Body and soul are both the better for it. Bless the body. Mine has led me into many scrapes, but I’ve led it into far more. If the imagination were obedient, the appetites would give us very little trouble. And from how much it has saved me! And but for our body one whole realm of God’s glory—all that we receive through the senses—would go unpraised. For the beasts can’t appreciate it and the angels are, I suppose, pure intelligences. They understand colours and tastes better than our greatest scientists; but have they retinas or palates? I fancy the “beauties of nature” are a secret God has shared with us alone. That may be one of the reasons why were were made—and why the resurrection of the body is an important doctrine.

The doctrine of the Incarnation is at the heart of Christmas. It is a notion that is believable; that is, many people, especially children, have no problem accepting it. But it is certainly not simple. Theologians have spent considerable effort explaining the idea, as they have such revealed teachings as the doctrine of the Trinity.

Admittedly as one grows older the vision becomes less clear and it is a sad fact that for some of us, our experience with our bodies (and the material world) inclines us to find the Platonic notion of angelic disembodied spirits very appealing. But Christian teaching, as explained by philosopher Josef Pieper, insists on the belief that man is a union of body and soul. Striking the balance between pure sensuality and hyper-idealism is a difficult one; nevertheless, to pursue one or the other extreme is invariably less than human.

Christmas gives us hope that we can find sanctity in and through the created world.

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