Perelandara is one of my favorite books. It’s by C.S. Lewis (you know, the guy who wrote Chronicles of Narnia). This book is classified as science-fiction (which I usually don’t enjoy), but I like it for it’s spiritual depth.
Perelandara is the second book in a trilogy that focuses on the lead character, Ransom. In the first book, Ransom is taken to Mars against his will; the last book focuses on Earth. This book focuses on the planet Venus. Ransom is sent to Venus, by God, to complete a task. He is not told what this task is.
When Ransom lands on Venus, he finds the planet maily uninhabited. He eventually meets a woman (who is green); she is searching for her king. Through conversation, Ransom realizes that this woman and the king are the only inhabitants of this island. He has been sent to a planet that is at his beginning. This beginning almost directly parallels the garden of Eden. The green lady has been given only one commandment by God; she is not to ever sleep on the mainland, but rather spend her days on the ever-abundant floating islands. These islands are paradise. There is no shortage of food, nor water, and there are several species of animals that do her bidding. Although she is not allowed to stay on the mainland, she is able to visit it. Ransom and she go to the mainland, where Ransom discovers the man who had kidnapped him and taken him to Mars. This man is a ruthless scientist, who believes in the furtherance of the human race, no matter what the cost to other planets. Ransom feels the need to protect the green lady, so he convinces her to go back to an island.
Ransom and Weston have a long conversation. Weston relays his belief in a ‘higher power’ that is giving him strength and bidding him to explore new planets. Ransom tries to convince Weston that not all higher powers or spirits are good, and that it sounds like he’s working for the devil. Weston, in his attempt to prove his stance, calls the spirit to come fully into him. It is at this point that Weston changes dramatically. His movements become wooden, and artificial. His face has a weird expression; he never ‘looks quite right’. He is possesed.
What follows is an intense struggle as Ransom tries to counteract the lies with which the now possesed Weston, the Un-Man, tries to poison the lady of Venus. This continues for countless days and nights in which the Un-Man tries to convince the Lady to go to and stay on the fixed land. The Un-Man is very cunning and and nearly convinces the Lady to listen to him. My favorite part of this argument is when Ransom tries to explain the garden of Eden to the Lady to convince her that the Un-Man did not have her best interest at heart. The Un-Man tries to convince her that the Fall had its advantages by telling her that God himself came down as a man, and how could she not want that? Ransom lost his temper. “why don’t you tell her about that day when he died? why don’t you tell her how that made you feel? About how he defeated you and you no longer have the power you once did?!”
Throughout this time, Ransom is continually thinking to himself that this can’t go on. Then God confirms this in an almost audible voice. He feels God telling him to end this, to end the Un-Man. The devil’s only foothold in this place, was his invitation from Weston. If Weston were elminated, the problem would be too. He is of course, relcutant to do this. The Un-Man already made him nervous, the idea of touching it repulsed him. The idea of fighting it, trying to kill it, was almost too much for him to bear. He decided to disobey and beg for forgiveness later. There was no way he could handle this. Then from, the stillness of the night he hears a whisper, “It’s not for nothing you were named Ransom.” Being a philologist, Ransom always thought his name was a coincidence. He knew where it stemmed from; he could trace the history of the word. The thought that God ordained his name, even ordained how it would shape and change into a word that meant what it did, was an incredible thought to him.
“My name is Ransom too”.He heard the voice again. Then it occurred to him. If he did not end this, if the green lady gave in, a similar effect would occurr as did on earth (The Fall). And a similar redemption would occur. As he pondered this more and more, he started to see that not everything was the same here as the garden of Eden. Would then, perhaps, the redemption be different? Could it even be worse? Of course that must be it… How could he leave this task and ask his Savior to endure a second time? He set his mind to complete this task. God reminded him He would not leave him. So Ransom set out to kill the Un-Man…
This whole book is a reminder to me of God’s sovereignty. It’s also a good reminder of how important obedience is. I’m always so quick to ignore a command from God, knowing that I’ll be forgiven later. There are indeed consquences to our actions, much like Ransom was able to see when he heard from God. I love C.S. Lewis’ works. I always feel the need to read them over ad over again, because there is always something to be seen the second, third or even fourth time you pick up one of his books again. I recommend that you read Perelandara (even if you don’t want to read the whole series). The spiritual lessons that can be learned from this book are innumerable. The contrast between light and darkness is a recurrent theme in Lewis’ books, and, I believe, a very important thing to study.