The Landlord’s Laws

 The Pilgrim’s Regress is one of the first books that C.S. Lewis wrote after his conversion.  In a way, it is a record of Lewis’ own journey to the cross.  You’ve got to be a little knowledgeable about philosophy and history to catch some of the deeper images, but even if you’re not, the book is a most fascinating read. 

I like the part at the beginning where young John (the main character) learned about the Landlord of the region who was very good even though he had some very strict laws.  When John was young, one steward of the land told him that the Landlord didn’t take kindly to those who broke his rules.  In fact, said the steward, if you break even one of his laws,

“He’d take you and shut you up for ever and ever in a black hole full of snakes and scorpions as large as lobsters – for ever and ever.”

So little John set out to keep those laws because he didn’t want to face darkness with snakes and scorpions (imagine the terrors of that for a young boy!).

“At first he tried very hard to keep them all, but when it came to bed-time he always found that he had broken far more than he had kept: and the thought of the horrible tortures to which the good, kind Landlord would put him became such a burden that the next day he would become quite reckless and break as many as he possibly could; for oddly enough this eased his mind for the moment.”

It gets so bad that John’s tiny little rule card seems to morph into a list of endless laws.  Even more fascinating is the fact that the back of the card had rules on it as well, but the rules on the back are just the opposite of the ones on the front.  He was almost driven mad by these rules and counter-rules, so he left on a journey to escape the terror. 

You’ll have to read the book to hear about the rest of his journey and to put together some of the biblical imagery.  One little spoiler: his dialogue with Mother Kirk is intense – you won’t be bored with it!

shane lems