Almost Anything Might Be True

I keep listening to That Hideous Strength on my ipod shuffle when I go hiking with Sophia.  Its one of my favorite books.  This is a great passage in which Jane’s skepticism about God and Christianity begins to be undermined as she considers death:

It was likely, then, that this – this stumbling walk on a wet night across a ploughed field-meant death. Death – the thing one had always heard of (like love), the thing the poets had written about. So this was how it was going to be. But that was not the main point. Jane was trying to see death in the new light of all she had heard since she left Edgestow. She had long ceased to feel any resentment at the Director’s tendency, as it were, to dispose of her – to give her, at one time or in one sense, to Mark, and in another to Maleldil; never, in any sense, to keep her for himself. She accepted that. And of Mark she did not think much, because to think of him increasingly aroused feelings of pity and guilt. But Maleldil. Up till now she had not thought of Maleldil either. She did not doubt that the eldils existed; nor did she doubt the existence of this stronger and more obscure being whom they obeyed . . . whom the Director obeyed, and through him the whole household, even MacPhee. If it had ever occurred to her to question whether all these things might be the reality behind what she had been taught at school as “religion,” she had put the thought aside. The distance between these alarming and operative realities and the memory, say, of fat Mrs. Dimble saying her prayers, was too wide. The things belonged, for her, to different worlds. On the one hand, terror of dreams, rapture of obedience, the tingling light and sound from under the Director’s door, and the great struggle against an imminent danger; on the other, the smell of pews, horrible lithographs of the Saviour (apparently seven feet high, with the face of a consumptive girl), the embarrassment of confirmation classes, the nervous affability of clergymen. But this time, if it was really to be death, the thought would not be put aside. Because, really, it now appeared that almost anything might be true. The world had already turned out to be so very unlike what she had expected. The old ring-fence had been smashed completely. One might be in for anything. Maleldil might be, quite simply and crudely, God. There might be a life after death: a Heaven: a Hell. The thought glowed in her mind for a second like a spark that has fallen on shavings, and then a second later, like those shavings, her whole mind was in a blaze – or with just enough left outside the blaze to utter some kind of protest. “But . . . this is unbearable. I ought to have been told.” It did not, at that moment, occur to her even to doubt that if such things existed they would be totally and unchangeably adverse to her.

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