Oh, Minos, or Rhadamanthus, or Persephone, or by whatever name you are called, I am to blame for most of this, and I should bear the punishment. I taught her, as men teach a parrot, to say, ‘Lies of poets,’ and ‘Ungit’s a false image.’ I made her think that ended the question. I never said, Too true an image of the demon within. And then the other face of Ungit (she has a thousand) … something live anyway. And the real gods more alive. Neither they nor Ungit mere thoughts or words. I never told her why the old Priest got something from the dark House that I never got from my trim sentences. She never asked me (I was content she shouldn’t ask) why the people got something from the shapeless stone which no one ever got from that painted doll of Arnom’s. Of course, I didn’t know; but I never told her I didn’t know. I don’t know now. Only that the way to the true gods is more like the house of Ungit … oh, it’s unlike too, more unlike than we yet dream, but that’s the easy knowledge, the first lesson; only a fool would stay there, posturing and repeating it. The Priest knew at least that there must be sacrifices. They will have sacrifice—will have man. Yes, and the very heart, center, ground, roots of a man; dark and strong and costly as blood. Send me away, Minos, even to Tartarus, if Tartarus can cure glibness. I made her think that a prattle of maxims would do, all thin and clear as water. For of course water’s good; and it didn’t cost much, not where I grew up. So I fed her on words.
This is the Fox speaking, the beloved Greek tutor of Orual, the protagonist of C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces. These are among his last words in the novel.
I post them here in answer to a question I have been getting rather often lately. Some of my long-time readers have been wondering whether I have lost interest in writing (perhaps even in thinking) about theology. I have not; nor have I substantially changed any of my core beliefs. But I have come to suspect my own theological glibness. Indeed, I am generally prone to glibness, but if I’m glib about information technology or the merits of the anti-Stratfordian case, that doesn’t matter very much. Theological glibness is a more serious matter. I am not taking a sabbatical from thinking theologically, but I am taking one from writing about what I’m thinking. I am pursuing other interests — or rather, I am pursuing the same old interests with the explicit theological inquiries kept to myself, at least for a while to come. I am neither good enough nor smart enough nor wise enough to pontificate about many things I have pontificated about in the past. I need to back off and learn to be silent — if not about everything, or even many things, then about the most important things.