Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Inner Ring

C. S. Lewis has a wonderful sermon called 'The Inner Ring' about the tendency in the human heart to want to be 'in the know', 'one of them', to be welcomed inside by a thousand little glances and gestures. Inside: into the inner ring, some little group of 'you and me and Matt and Steve - us...' The desire for acceptance is insatiable, for there are always more rings to get inside, and while outside I am filled with that yearning expectation that as long as I fit in and learn to speak just so, and pass over those topics in the silence of disdain, and chuckle approvingly at those comments, then maybe, perhaps, I just might get the nod.

Most inner rings are relatively small and informal. Today I think I experienced one of thirty-eight.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that reflection Byron - I found it very convicting. I've noticed myself trying to be in the inner ring a lot, especially since being at College.

I haven't read 'The Inner Ring' but Lewis makes a similar point in the Screwtape Letters.

Can you tell us more about this inner ring of 38 so that we can give a knowing nod and chuckle?

michael jensen said...



byron smith said...

Oh, we all know all about it.

byron smith said...

Actually, Lewis is careful to say that in themselves the existence of such rings is a good thing, friendship is a gift and it's not the case that we need to pretend we're equally close to everyone and we all have the same in common. What he is warning against is the desire to be in.

Of course, the 'solution' to this issue is found in that beautiful passage in 'The Weight of Glory' about divine approval, being welcoming in by the one who is the glory and the terror of the universe.

Anonymous said...

I love that essay! Especially the bit at the start:

And of course everyone knows what a middle-aged moralist of my type warns his juniors against. He warns them against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.

But one of this trio will be enough to deal with today. The Devil, I shall leave strictly alone. The association between him and me in the public mind has already gone quite as deep as I wish. In some quarters it has already reached the level of confusion, if not of identification...

As for the Flesh, you must be very abnormal young people if you do not know quite as much about it as I do.

But on the World I think I have something to say.

Mister Tim said...

What he is warning against is the desire to be in.
Actually, that's only part of what he warns agsint. I think his warnign is bigger - being also about inner rings that aren't based on friendship, i.e. exclusive work, club or politic rings that exist not because of natural friendship, but out of a specific desire to exclude others.

byron smith said...

Yes, good point.