Dec 11, 2012

In the end, Lewis more-or-less turned his back on self-scrutiny. He ceased to find himself interesting as a subject for reflection — something his friends often noted about him.

Lewis thought of this loss of interest in the Self as a gift that emerged from his religious conversion: in his autobiography Surprised by Joy he wrote, “If Theism had done nothing else for me, I should still be thankful that it cured me of the time-wasting and foolish practice of keeping a diary.” The connection between Theism and the abandonment of a diary may not seem obvious, but apparently Lewis thought that once one believes in God, then God becomes the chief proper object of one’s contemplation; and if one believes in the Christian God, then one’s neighbor becomes the second proper object. People occupied in the hard task of loving God and neighbor don’t have much time left over for constant self-scrutiny. (So Lewis believed; many committed journal-keepers will no doubt disagree.)

All of which leads me to think: how sad it was for Wallace, trapped in those endless “loops” of self-consciousness, and struggling most of his life between faith and unbelief. There’s a chicken-egg question here: Did he get caught in the loops because he couldn’t find his way to secure faith? Or was he unable to achieve such faith because he was caught in the loops? Presumably each experience fed and strengthened the other — it is one of the more vicious of all vicious circles.

Alan Jacobs
My name is Wesley Hill. I am an assistant professor of New Testament at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.

I blog at

My book is here: Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.

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