The Terror of Goodness, Pt 2

fearPreviously, I wrote about the difficulty directors and writers often have in displaying true goodness.  One of things that accounts for this is the “terror of goodness.” I also mentioned that Lewis does a good job of capturing this by depicting Aslan as a lion.  Recently, I reread Lars Walker’s novel Wolf Time in which the protagonist (a history professor) encounters an angel, and the description struck me as coming close to describing the terror and shock of encountering such goodness.  As a late Christmas gift to you, I share that passage:

“A moment later Martell [the protagonist] found himself on his face in the snow.  He’d read Biblical accounts where people who saw angels collapsed in fear. He’d never understood why until now. It was as if he’d had the chance to view history as it happened, and to compare it to his own articles [on history], discovering for the first time all the ways he’d been wrong.  The very existence of this being made the ground beneath his feet unstable.  Its height denounced his values.  The set of its shoulders was a reproach to his character.  If this was an angel, a messenger from God, then almost nothing he had ever valued or counted on was of any moment.  He’d paid out the budgeted coin of his life for grimcrackeries.  No wonder prophets had responded to theophanies by abasing their bodies and wailing over sins.”

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