Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Forgive us... as we forgive (3)

The real test is this.  Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper.49077112 Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything—God and our friends and ourselves included—as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins 2001) 118.


  1. Lewis gives quite an insight here into what feeds the news media today. "Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper." What we most want is for the story to get worse. How many of us were tracking the number of mistresses Tiger Woods had? 1, 3, 7, 8, 12 and from there the story got worse and worse, but the coverage in the news became greater and greater.

    I have come to the point, now, of feeling deeply sad for Tiger. One billion plus dollars wasn't enough to make him happy. Swedish super model wife - not enough. Two great kids - not enough. The Best, the very BEST golfer in the world, but still a craving that would not be satisfied, a dirty secret which threatened to undo him.

    I hope that Woods will have the kind of moment which Dr. Patrick Carnes describes below, a moment in which change is possible: "A moment comes for every addict when the consequences are so great or the pain is so bad that the addict admits life is out of control because of his or her sexual behavior. Some are news-making moments, such as the public censure when a congressman, minister, or professional figure is cited for unacceptable sexual behavior. Millions read the steamy news accounts and, despite their own prurience, make severe judgments about people who are sexual with children, who visit prostitutes, who commit homosexual acts in public toilets, or even who have affairs. A smaller audience—but much larger than most imagine—read each line fearing that the same public exposure could happen to them and judging themselves with the same unforgiving standards the public uses."

    According to C.S. Lewis, reading about Tiger and viewing all the TV reports has been a test, a real test for us. Did we get more and more excited as his story got worse and worse? What was our reaction? Were we among the millions who read the steamy news accounts and, despite our own excessive interest in sex, made severe judgments on Tiger Woods?

  2. Maybe this will be the saving of Tiger. Money wasn't enough, fame wasn't enough and family wasn't enough. We all go thru something to get to this point in our lives. His was more public than most. Perhaps Tiger is now seaching for answers. As we all (should) know he can only find them in the Christian God. I am sure everyone won't agree with the last statement. Thoughts?

  3. If the words "only" and "Christian" were had been left out I would agree. The answers are found in God.

  4. If I understand what Lewis is getting at, the test is still in play - are we more interested in seeing Tiger restored or in seeing how bad off he really is?

    The media feeding frenzy at his demise, reporting every little sordid detail that can be found, would suggest the latter.