Heaven is a city and a Body

In the tenth chapter, “Heaven,” from The Problem of Pain (1940), C. S. Lewis writes about the polyphonic choir of worshippers in heaven.

Each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently? And this difference, so far from impairing, floods with meaning the love of all blessed creatures for one another, the communion of the saints. If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note. Aristotle has told us that a city is a unity of unlikes, and St. Paul that a body is a unity of different members. Heaven is a city, and a Body, because the blessed remain eternally different: a society, because each has something to tell all the others—fresh and ever fresh news of the “My God” whom each finds in Him whom all praise as “Our God.” For doubtless the continually successful, yet never completed, attempt by each soul to communicate its unique vision to all others (and that by means whereof earthly art and philosophy are but clumsy imitations) is also among the ends for which the individual was created.

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4 thoughts on “Heaven is a city and a Body

  1. I read this today, and I thought of you and this blog post. It is from Leibniz’s Discourse on Metaphysics.

    “9. THAT EACH SINGULAR SUBSTANCE EXPRESS THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IN ITS OWN WAY

    Moreover, every substance is like a complete world and like a mirror of God or the whole universe, which each one expresses in its own way, somewhat as the same city is variously represented depending upon the different positions from which it is viewed. Thus the universe is in some way multiplied as many times as there are substances, and the glory of god is likewise multiplied by as many entirely different representations of his work. It can even be said that every substance bears in some way the character of God’s infinite wisdom and omnipotence and imitates him as much as it is capable.”

    Also, P.S. do you intentionally change certain sentences of your blog posts to be brown instead of black text?

    • Leibniz is notoriously difficult to interpret. Where he claims “every substance is like a complete world and like a mirror of God or the whole universe,” Lewis says: “Aristotle has told us that a city is a unity of unlikes, and St. Paul that a body is a unity of different members.” Do you think Leibniz is saying similar or different things than Aristotle and St. Paul?

      And yes, I highlight some text in a dark red font; it’s my “hot text,” the best of the best, so good that it gets extra attention.

  2. I agree that Leibniz is difficult to interpret. I am certainly on my toes when I read him. I think that he is at least saying something on par. Lewis and Aristotle are making different claims than Leibnniz in specifics. I do thing that all three are discussing microcosms and macrocosms. For example, Leibniz claims that each substance is a unique microcosm of the whole universe (the macrocosm). Paul says the body is a microcosm for the church (the macrocosm).

    • Aristotle and Paul say the parts belong to a whole (citizens belong to a polis, members belong to a body), whereas Leibniz seems to be saying something different: the part is the whole, which removes any differentiation. Is Joey Fayetteville? No. Is the arm the body? No.

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