09 December 2009

Praise is Punch-Drunk Expressed

I continue with a section from Lewis from his chapter "A Word About Praising." In the previous post he spoke of the difficulty he had in understanding why we were told/commanded/exhorted to praise and how he came to understand there are good reasons to praise. Praise is simply a reflection of one's esteem for God. He continues illucidating us on praise here but states that our understanding of praise to God is too small. Lewis seems to believe that to praise God is the natural result of being punch-drunk in love with God.
I begin by re-posting the tail end of the previous post regarding the value of praising (anything). CS Lewis writes: "I think we delight to praise [in general] what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.   It is not out of compliment that lovers keep telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete until it is expressed."
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"It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with... This is so even when our expressions are inadequate, as of course they usually are. But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection-[to] utterly get out in poetry or music or paint the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts you? Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be.  If it were possible for a created soul fully (to the full measure conceivable in a finite being) to "appreciate," that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beautitude.
It is along these lines that I find it easiest to understand the Christian doctrine that Heaven is a state in which angels are now, and men hereafter, are perpetually employed in praising God.  This does not mean, as it can so dismally suggest, that it is like "being in Church." For our "services" both in their conduct and in our power to participate, are merely attempts at worship; never fully successful, often 99.9 per cent failures, sometimes total failures.
We are not [yet] riders but pupils in the riding school; for most of us the falls and bruises, the aching muscles and the severity of the exercise, far outweigh those few moments in which we were, to our own astonishment, actually galloping without terror and without disaster.
To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God-drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds.
The Scotch catechism says that man's chief end is 'to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify.
In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him."
  • C.S. Lewis from Refections On the Psalms