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.
Thanks for visiting my historical playground!This blog contains over 700 posts as of May 2017 (also over 417,000 views from 143,000 unique visitors and 1,140 comments since inception in June 2010). If you read something you like, odds are there are at least one or two other posts dealing with similar topics. Which is why there's a search box right below this message. :)
Find posts by search term(s)
What folks are reading most lately
- How can John Wesley help us find social forms geared to human flourishing?
- Martin Luther's Anfechtungen--his own dark nights of the soul, and how they affected his teaching and ministry
- The comforting voice of God and C S Lewis's favorite mystic Julian of Norwich
- C S Lewis on mercy and healing, and the paradox of Christian attitudes toward the body
- C S Lewis and his homeboy Boethius – two “public intellectual” peas in a pod
- Fundamentalism since the 1970s: An in-depth article
What we’ve been talking about lately
- Christian vocation in a “secular” world – pt 3 – John Wesley
- Christian vocation in a “secular” world – part 2 – Gregory the Great
- Can we find Christian vocation in the “secular” world of work?
- 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
- A last-minute Christmas gift suggestion :)
- 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?
- Young, restless, and immediate: The future of evangelicalism
- Medieval stupidity? Works-righteousness? Monastic uselessness? Getting beyond the caricatures
- Medieval wisdom and the case for tradition
- The material world: good, bad, or . . . ?
- The book is out! So here’s a link to a whole website about it, and an interview clip introducing it . . .
- 10 Things You Don’t Know about the Clapham Sect
- Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nightcrawler – parable for a broken marketplace
- Next steps and resources in faith, work, & economics for church leaders
- Where do we begin to understand our work in the light of our faith? Building a foundation for economic wisdom
- Let’s get practical: faith-and-work pointers for pastors and lay leaders
- Pastors and lay leaders, start where many of your people live: burnout and the “suckiness” of work
Browse a category with this dropdown list
- African-American Christianity Anglicanism apologetics Aristotle asceticism Augustine Augustine of Hippo Authorized King James Version Benedict of Nursia Bible biography black church Boethius Catholic Church Charles Williams Christ and culture Christian history Christian History magazine Creation C S Lewis Dante Dante Alighieri Dorothy L Sayers Dorothy Sayers Early Christianity early church economics education embodiment emotion ethics Eucharist evangelicalism faith and reason Francis of Assisi G K Chesterton Gregory the Great healing hospitals Incarnation John Wesley Jonathan Edwards J R R Tolkien literature Martin Luther medicine Medieval Methodism Middle Ages missions monasticism morality moral philosophy Moravianism new monasticism Pentecostalism philosophy Pietism poverty prayer Protestantism Roman Catholicism Saints sanctification scholasticism science sin social justice Spirituality Theology the poor Thomas Aquinas Tradition vocation work
- 455,869 hits