The medievalist C. S. Lewis could not shake the idea of purgatory—the place of final sanctification before the judgment. He believed it, though not (he said) in its full Roman Catholic panoply. This came partly from a seriousness about sin: surely none of us thinks we can stand before a holy God after death without some sort of cleansing! But the deeper grounding of the doctrine for Lewis as for the medievals is this: Our life is a breath; a blade of grass; a brief, transitory phase between birth and death; a twinkle in time compared to eternal life with God in heaven, or eternal damnation without God and with Satan in hell. You want to live it as well as you can, and when it comes time to die, you want to be as prepared as possible to meet your eternal destiny. While we moderns covet a quick, painless death, the medievals prayed that they would not be overtaken suddenly. Deaths were very public, social: you died surrounded by family and friends—people came, talked to you, you settled grievances with them and wept and prayed with them. How different from the modern desire to hide death behind hospital curtains, extending its sterile solitude with fluid flowing down tubes. For medievals, death was the culmination of life—the launching or entrance into the eternal world. All this was explained in an important late-medieval genre: the plentiful manuals teaching the “art of dying well”—the Ars Moriendi.
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- Quote of the day: "Scripture is like a river . . . broad and deep, shallow enough here for the lamb to go wading, but deep enough there for the elephant to swim."
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- On how, and why, whole sectors of modern work were birthed from the heart and mind of the Christian church
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- New issue of Christian History fights back against the church’s modern amnesia
- Book Review: The Artist and the Trinity
- Another testament to the “earthiness” of medieval culture
- Death, Desire, and the Sacramental Function of Humor in Lewis and His Medieval Sources – or, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Self-Denial – part III
- Death, Desire, and the Sacramental Function of Humor in Lewis and His Medieval Sources – or, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Self-Denial – part II
- Death, Desire, and the Sacramental Function of Humor in C S Lewis and His Medieval Sources – or, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Self-Denial – part I
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- Christian vocation in a “secular” world – part 2 – Gregory the Great
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- Two Modern Mistakes About the Material World – and the Medieval Truth that can Save us from Them
- Getting medieval on modern Christianity: Announcing a June 2017 conference
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- Medieval scholastics’ use of Scripture: Explaining what can be explained, but no more
- Interview on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog
- How was C. S. Lewis influenced by the medieval era?
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- Medieval stupidity? Works-righteousness? Monastic uselessness? Getting beyond the caricatures
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