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Saturday, January 22, 2005

C. S. Lewis on faith and surgery

[In one sense, Faith] means simply Belief--accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity. That is fairly simple. But what does puzzle people--at least it used to puzzle me--is the fact that Christians regard faith in this sense as a virtue. . . . I was assuming that if the human mind once accepts a thing as true it will automatically go on regarding it as true, until some real reason for reconsidering it turns up. In fact, I was assuming that the human mind is completely ruled by reason. But that is not so. For example, my reason is perfectly convinced by good evidence that anaesthetics do not smother me and that properly trained surgeons do not start operating until I am unconscious. But that does not alter the fact that when they have me down on the table and clap their horrible mask over my face, a mere childish panic begins inside me. . . . In other words, I lose my faith in anaesthetics. It is not reason that is taking away my faith: on the contrary, my faith is based on reason. It is my imagination and emotions. The battle is between faith and reason on one side and emotion and imagination on the other. . . . Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity: What One Must Believe to Be a Christian. New York: Macmillan, 1952. pp. 121-123.

I am, of course, well aware that Lewis was writing about Faith, not surgery. I'm also aware that I'm merely having a diagnostic procedure today--a tube run down my throat--not surgery. But I'm to be anesthetized, and I also fear. Who doesn't? God is able to take care of me, whether, as I suppose, I recover normally, or whether I don't re-awaken. God has been good to me.

Postscript, Jan 22, 05: came through OK, thank God.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading Lewis, but that particular analogy is completely lost on me -- After having three knee surgeries in the last five years I have found that I absolutely love being put under general anesthesia!! I told my last surgeon, in January 04, that if they sold the stuff in the shots on the street corner, I'd be a junkie!!

First time to your blog, and I like it.