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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #119

 “You all seem to believe that Jesus was, at the same time, completely a man – and completely God. In the name of common sense, how could he be? You Christians always take refuge in mysteries.” “Not at all,” I said. “We aren’t hiding behind a mystery in this, at least.” “Well,” said Richard, “explain it in a way that makes sense.” [...] “Look, Richard,” I said. “This afternoon Davy and I were talking about writing a novel of Oxford with the Studio in it, and us, and everybody. Now, assuming we could do it –” “Assuming you could do it,” said Richard, “I’d buy a copy. Not more than five shillings, though.” “Listen,” I said. “We’re talking about the Incarnation. Okay, suppose I write it – it’s too complicated with two authors – and I put myself in it. There I am, walking down the High, wearing a Jesus tie – in the book. And let’s say I make up a lot of characters, not using real people for fear of hurting their feelings. But I am in it, and I, the character, say whatever I would say in the various situations that occur in my plot.” “What about the incarnation?” said Richard. “That’s what I’m telling you [...],” I said with a grin. “Don’t you see? I am incarnate in my book. I am out here writing it, so I’m like God the Father. But it’s really me in the book, too, isn’t it? So that’s Jesus the Son, right? The me in the book speaks my words – and yet they are speeches that I’ve probably never made in real life, not being in those situations. And yet can’t you see that it’s really me?” “Um,” said Richard. “Yes, right. I see. Go on.” “Well,” I said. “All right. I’m out here, being ‘the Author of all things’ and I’m in the book, taking part in scenes of ‘drammer’. Incarnate in my book. Now, the me in my book: he’s all me, isn’t he? And he’s all character, too, isn’t he? Like the doctrine: All God and All man. It makes sense, doesn’t it? And one more thing: suppose the characters run away with the story – authors are always saying that happens. It might be necessary, whatever I had originally intended, for me to get killed – um, crucified ... Anyhow – you see?” “You win,” said Richard. “It does make sense that way. I’ll have to think about it.” “There’s something else, though,” said Davy. “The other characters – made-up ones. Invented ones. If Van invents characters, they’ll all, even the bad ones, have something of Van in them, won’t they? So, you see? We all have something of God in us – God’s spirit – but only the One, Jesus, is God Incarnate. But God’s spirit in us ... Well, that makes the Trinity, doesn’t it? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Actually, I’ve never seen it so clearly myself. More tea?” -Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy (1977), pp. 115-117

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