Prairie View

Friday, April 11, 2014

Nearly Perfect

"I could have listened to him all day," Nathan said, of Dr. Watney, who introduced us to C. S. Lewis in a lecture at Sterling College as the C. S. Lewis Day activities began.

Eleven Pilgrim students and I attended.  Homeschooled students associated with Pilgrim attended also, in family-sized groups.  Everyone came from Central Christian High, and schools came from as far away as Wichita.  I'm sure there were several hundred people present, in spite of the original plan having been to invite 50-100 people.

Being the theater illiterate that I am, I was unfamiliar with the term "black box" as a setting for a play.  As I understand it, essentially it refers to a performers/audience arrangement that is very different from the traditional stage-at-the-front one.  So at Culbertson Hall this morning, for the performance of The Great Divorce, the audience sat on the bleachers at the front of the stage, and in the "amen" corners.  The lack of cushioned seating was a little hard on skinny backsides--lasting, as it did, for about 90 minutes, with no intermission or change of position. In the comfort department, those who had to go to the balcony for lack of space had at least the advantage of cushioned seating.

The performers were literally only a yard away from the front row of the audience, at times, and never more  than 10 feet? away.  Every motion and expression was visible.  The performance format was apparently the choice of the college student who directed the play.

I'm embarrassed to say that I've never actually read The Great Divorce (TGD).  Now I really want to read it.

Dr. Watney's introduction to Lewis' view of purgatory was a great help in understanding the play.  Lewis' view on this was news to me.  Although Lewis said TGD was a fantasy--not intended as a theological expression, his personal belief and the story he wrote seem to coincide closely on the matter of purgatory.  Whatever the case, having a place between heaven and hell on which to focus the action of the play was a very convenient tool for illuminating a host of spiritual truths.

The story line begins with a group of people from hell paying a visit to a place (purgatory?) where they can see heaven.  One by one, they are invited to go to there.  When it becomes clear that doing so would necessitate departure from old habits and ways of thinking, all but one of them choose to continue with what is familiar, even though they know that hell awaits them.  It is during the conversation and interaction between heavenly messenger and sinner that many penetrating truths become clear.

Making the effort to go to this event was soooooo worth it.  Everything was nearly perfect-- nice weather, cooperative  and comfortable vehicle, people who welcomed us (Dennis Dutton and Dr. Watney both greeted me upon our arrival), good actors, schedule that worked out well, good student conduct, enthusiastic reviews in the van on the way home,  and good things to think about.  Thank you, God.


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