Whatever you might think of the quality of the currently popular fantasy books, comic books/movies, and long-form TV offerings, one thing is for sure. Dark and grim is king right now.
Of course, judging by the news, there are good reason for this. Things are not going so well in places like Ukraine, Syria, Iraq. This election is more a cheap reality show than the choosing of the leader of the free world. Suicides and drug use are on the rise. There are few heroes to look up to, and most of our writers are doing a decent job giving creative expression to a general sense of purposelessness and tension.
C. S. Lewis lived in a time that was perhaps even more uncertain than ours. World War II, the loss of almost an entire generation of men in England, the rise of both fascism and communism–I could go on for a while. But instead of merely reflecting the ugliness around him, Lewis was bold enough to imagine what it could have been like if the ugliness was cut off at its root.
Perelandra is just this kind of exploration. In this second of Lewis’s so-called “Space Trilogy”, Ransom (a protagonist loosely based on J.R.R. Tolkien) travels to Venus. This planet is younger than earth, and in terms of spiritual history, the fall of man has not happened. Not yet. Ransom finds himself the only person capable of preventing a man possessed by the devil from subverting a second Eve (this one with green skin).
The language in this book is lush, the imagery fantastic. The philosophy is compelling without being preachy. The conflict is real, and the danger of man’s moral fall has never been more convincingly rendered. This is one of my top ten books of all time, in any genre.
I share this book with you today, because tonight is the conclusion of the three-part soap opera known as the “Presidential Debates” (even though there is nothing either presidential or “debate” about any of them). Instead of depressing yourself any further, read this book. I urge you to consider how far we have fallen, and how the lesson of Venus can perhaps help us all remake ourselves and our country in a more positive image.
How about you? Any recommendations for books to edify you, instead of making you even more depressed about the state of the world?
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