THE TERRIFYING COSMOS
A Man, given by God a sharp mind and gift of drama, once created a Christian saint from written history and was successful in society by authoring an admired dramatic production. His hero wrestled with his own conscience in the complicated face of possible execution, and in the process he chose death. But dealing with the complexity of vivid word pictures of the world of King Henry VIII in England, the drama caused the author to reveal that he himself had faced what he called “God and Devil nakedly at war.” He expressed it in his preface as: “That larger concept we all inhabit, the terrifying Cosmos. Terrifying because no laws, no sanctions, no mores obtain there: it is either empty or occupied by God and Devil nakedly at war. The sensible man will seek to live his life without dealing with this larger environment, treating it as a fine spectacle on a clear night, or a subject for innocent curiosity. At most he contemplates his own relation to the Cosmos, but will not try to live in it; he will gratefully accept the shelter of his society.”*
The main character in his historical drama contributed to history by influencing King Henry VIII in England to hunt William Tyndale throughout Europe for many years until Tyndale finally was betrayed, seized and returned to England to be burned at the stake for the “crime” of translating early manuscripts of the Bible into English.
Not long after Tyndale was executed, King Henry VIII began changing his mind about translating the Bible, which was the answer to Tyndale’s dying prayer.
Of such is our dark abrasive World.
And the task of carrying a tender heart
in the Light of Heaven, despite the dark.
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:
be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
* Page xiv of Preface to A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt
(Vintage Books, 1962).