one-two punch

i recently reread both the weight of glory (the whole book) and brave new world and i found a great deal of overlap between the sermon titled “membership” in the weight of glory and brave new world.

huxley’s chilling vision of the future pits the virtues of order and efficiency as a result of conditioning everyone to be more or less the same (though, to be fair, extremely ‘happy’) against the “overcompensations of misery” which result from extreme individualism.

lewis’s “membership” outlines a third possibility in the form of membership, distinct from uniformity/conformity and individualism, stating that a true and rich individuality can arise only from the interplay of parts of a whole (thus the church is described as multiple members making up a body, as opposed to an indistinguishable group of people, i.e. pupils in a classroom or soldiers in an army.)

lewis warns us against a society that increasingly allocates religious experience to the private sphere, when one is alone, while taking steps to ensure that one is never alone (the internet might have been the final and fatal blow to any chance we had of overcoming our ability to escape the world, youtube anyone? wikipedia?)

When I first went to Oxford the typical undergraduate society consisted
of a dozen men, who knew one another intimately, hearing a paper by one
of their own number in a small sitting-room and hammering out their
problem till one or two in the morning. Before the war the typical
undergraduate society had come to be a mixed audience of one or two
hundred students assembled in a public hall to hear a lecture from some
visiting celebrity. Even on those rare occasions when a modern
undergraduate is not attending some such society he is seldom engaged
in those solitary walks, or walks with a single companion, which built
the minds of the previous generations. He lives in a crowd; caucus has
replaced friendship. . . . There is a crowd of busybodies,
self-appointed masters of ceremonies, whose life is devoted to
destroying solitude wherever solitude still exists. . . . And even
where the planners fail and someone is left physically by himself, the
wireless has seen to it that he will be . . . never less alone than
when alone. We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence,
and privacy: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.

– C.S. Lewis, “Membership,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (Macmillan, 1949), 30-31.


~ by justinhong on July 7, 2008.

2 Responses to “one-two punch”

  1. you reread the weight of glory?  freaking…i am not done with the first sermon… 😦

  2. @serena_is_back – haha that was like my 2rd time rereading it :PREAD IT!

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