The words appear in C.S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy."
Graham Heslop offers two short helpful meditations:
John McWhorter - English is weirder than pretty much any other language
Jim Geraghty - Bobby Jindal's amazing accomplishments in Louisiana. Why didn't people pay attention?
Victor Davis Hanson - The Debacle that is the contemporary American university
Hillsdale College offering: A free 9 week online lecture series on C.S. Lewis
The Atlantic - What ISIS really wants
Any reader of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia will find Dr. Michael Ward's lecture fascinating. He sets forth insights and perspectives of enormous stimulation. Ward delivered this lecture, "Narnia, C.S. Lewis, and Classical Cosmology," at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, April 10, 2010. Dr. Ward is author of the book Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis and The Narnia Code: C.S. Lewis and the Secret of the Seven Heavens. Dr. Ward thinks profoundly, writes elegantly, reads widely, and seemingly has digested everything written on, and by, C.S. Lewis such that his book, Planet Narnia, stimulates with every line. This lecture provides a terrific entree into that book.
No individual has had a more profound effect on my thinking than C.S. Lewis. In saying that, I realize I am but one of thousands of people who gladly say the same. Michael Gerson, former speech writer for George W. Bush, penned a good piece on Lewis today. It sparkles. I urge you to click through and read it. In the course of his article he links to Lewis's essay "The Poison of Subjectivism," a profound short essay which I have reread many times over the years. Gerson titles his piece, "C.S. Lewis, our guide to the good life."
- John Stonestreet of Breakpoint has penned several excellent pieces on Lewis and his writings this week. Check out "Narnia's Got it All: The World According to C.S. Lewis." For the audio: Listen Now | Download
- Stonestreet interviewed author and Lewis aficionado, Professor Joe Rigney, who explains "How to Live Like a Narnia." It's a 24 minute audio interview. Listen Now | Download Rigney wrote "Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis's Chronicles.
My own previous posts on Lewis can be found here: http://muddlingtowardmaturity.typepad.com/my_weblog/c_s_lewis/
Note: Breakpoint has been featuring C.S. Lewis all week:
Quote of the day -
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased. - from a 1952 letter
But it’s not enough to simply feel something in response to the objective reality of the world. You must also feel rightly and proportionately to the way the world is….
Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought [The Abolition of Man, p. 26].
These three realities form the foundation of true education. They also shape the aim of education….
The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful [p. 26-27].
Following Plato, Lewis believed that we ought to initiate the young into these right responses, even before they are able to rationally understand or explain what they are feeling. The goal of such inculcation of right responses is that, when a child raised in this way grows up and encounters Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, he will welcome them with open arms, because he has been prepared for, and indeed, resembles them already.
Which brings us, finally, to the function of the Narnian stories in Lewis’s vision of education. The Narnian stories display through imaginative fiction and fairy tale the way that the world really is. Here is courage and bravery in its shining glory. Here is honesty and truth-telling in its simplicity and profundity. Here is treachery in all its ugliness. Here is the face of Evil. Here also is the face of Good. A child (or adult) who lives in such stories will have developed the patterns of thought and affection that will be well-prepared to embrace the True, the Good, and the Beautiful (that is, to embrace Jesus Christ) when he finally encounters them (Him!). Like John the Baptist, Lewis and his cast of Narnians will have prepared the way.
I just learned (a bit late) that live- streaming was available for the "Desiring God" Minneapolis conference this weekend on "The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis." But the good people at "Desiring God" have made available for late-comers like me free audio and video internet recordings of the plenary sessions. Wow. Topics and speakers look terrific. Have a look:
2:00 - 2:45 PM N.D. Wilson
Myth Wars: C.S. Lewis vs. Scientism (audio available)
3:00 - 3:45 PM Colin Duriez
The Friendship of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (audio available)
4:00 - 4:45 PM Lyle Dorsett
C.S. Lewis and the Care of Souls (audio available)
5:00 - 5:45 PM Joe Rigney
Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles (audio available)
8:30 - 9:30 PM, John Piper
The Central Story of Lewis’s Life: Why We Call Him a “Romantic Rationalist” (audio and manuscript available)
10:00 - 11:00 PM, Shane & Shane
Evening of Worship
10:00 - 11:00 AM, Philip Ryken
Inerrancy and the Patron Saint of Evangelicalism: C.S. Lewis on Holy Scripture (audio available)
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Doug Wilson
Undragoned: C.S. Lewis on the Gift of Salvation (audio available)
2:45 - 3:45 PM, Kevin Vanhoozer
In Bright Shadow: C.S. Lewis on the Imagination for Theology and Discipleship (audio available)
4:15 - 5:15 PM, Panel Discussion
Alcorn, Piper, Ryken, Vanhoozer, Wilson (audio available)
8:30 - 9:30 PM, Randy Alcorn
C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God’s Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering (audio available)
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM, John Piper
What God Made Is Good — And Must Be Sanctified: C.S. Lewis and St. Paul on the Use of Creation (audio and manuscript available)
Why are C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia" - especially their showcase opener, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" - so popular, fifty years after their author's death? Many answers might be given, from the obvious fact that they are stories well told, to the suggestion that they call us back to a lost childhood. But perhaps there is something deeper going on here.
To understand the deep appeal of Narnia, we need first to appreciate the place of stories in helping us to make sense of reality, and our own place within it. The "Chronicles of Narnia" resonate strongly with the basic human intuition that our own story is part of something greater and grander - something which, once we have grasped it, allows us to see our situation in a new and more meaningful way. A veil is lifted; a door is opened; a curtain is drawn aside; we are enabled to enter a new realm. Our own story is now seen to be part of a much bigger story, which both helps us understand how we fit into a greater scheme of things, and discover the difference we can make. [more . . . ]
* Me: This is a first rate article. Read the whole thing.
WV: C. S. Lewis, about whom you have now written a biography due out in March 2013, was quite a prolific author, but so are you. How do you manage to write so many books?
AM: There are two reasons. One is that I love reading. The other is that I genuinely like writing. So when I want to relax, others might go for a walk, but my instinct is to read or to write. I find it very easy to write books. I’m Irish and the Irish are supposed to have this innate ability to write. The other thing is that I read an awful lot of stuff that I find very stimulating and I want to share what I am learning. One reason why I wanted to write this biography of C. S. Lewis is, and you know this, he is simply fascinating. I thought there were some connections I could make that perhaps had been overlooked and tell the story in a fresh way.
WV: You have certainly done that. I noticed one thing about your book that was different than the other biographies of Lewis was that you had set him in context, the context of intellectual ideas that were current during his lifetime, as well as setting his life in the context of world events.
AM: It’s a rounded picture I think. But there’s more that needs to be done. I just thought this book would get the discussion underway.
WV: So when did you first read C. S. Lewis?
I don't think gender-neutral toys have much of a future, personally, but my opinion won't stop the gender equality engineers from attempting to deconstruct "masculine" and "feminine" as qualities that run deeply throughout the created order. Anna Molin writes in the Wall Street Journal:
That vision of gender-neutrality in toy-buying is coming to life in Sweden, where Top-Toy Group, a licensee of the Toys "R" Us brand, has published a gender-blind catalog for the Christmas season.
On some pages, girls brandish toy guns and boys wield blow-dryers and
cuddle dolls. Top-Toy, a privately-held company, published 12 million
catalogs and owns the BR Toys chain, with 303 stores in Northern Europe. . . . [more . . .]
On the issue of "masculine" and "feminine," the thoughts of C.S. Lewis prove intriguing. A blogger writes:
Perelandra is the second of his “Space Trilogy” and occurs on the young
planet of Venus where a creation story similar to that of Earth’s is
transpiring. Near the end of the volume Ransom, the hero of the trilogy,
encounters two angels, or eldils, as they are called in the fantasy,
"Both bodies were naked, and both were free from any sexual characteristics, either primary or secondary. That, one would have expected. But whence came this curious difference between them? He found that he could point to no single feature wherein the difference resided, yet it was impossible to ignore. One could try – Ransom has tried a hundred times – to put it into words. He has said that Malacandra was like rhythm and Perelandra like melody. He has said that Malacandra affected him like a quantitative, Perelandra like an accentual, metre. He thinks that the first held in his hand something like a spear, but the hands of the other were open, with palms toward him. But I don’t know that any of these attempts has helped be much. At all events what Ransom saw at that moment was the real meaning of gender. Everyone must sometimes have wondered why in nearly all tongues certain inanimate objects are masculine and other feminine. What is masculine about a mountain or feminine about certain trees? Ransom has cured me of believing that this is a purely morphological phenomenon, depending on the form of the word. Still less is gender an imaginative extension of sex. Our ancestors did not make mountains masculine because they projected male characteristics into them. The real process is the reverse. Gender is a reality, and a more fundamental reality than sex. Sex is, in fact, merely the adaptation to organic life of a fundamental polarity which divides all created beings. Female sex is simply one of the things that have feminine gender; there are many others, and Masculine and Feminine meet us planes of reality where male and female would be simply meaningless. Masculine is not attenuated male, not feminine attenuated female. On the contrary, the male and female of organic creatures are rather faint and blurred reflections of masculine and feminine. Their reproductive functions, their differences in strength and size, partly exhibit, but partly also confuse and misrepresent, the real polarity… Malacandra seemed to him to have the look of one standing armed, at the ramparts of his own remote archaic world, in ceaseless vigilance, his eyes ever roaming the earth-ward horizon whence his danger came long ago. “A sailor’s look,” Ransom once said to me; “you know… eyes that are impregnated with distance.” But the eyes of Perelandra opened, as it were, inward, as if they were the curtained gateway to a world of waves and murmurings and wandering airs, of life that rocked in winds and splashed on mossy stones and descended as the dew and arose sunward in thin-spun delicacy of mist." (Perelandra 200-1)
From the National Catholic Reporter interview: (HT: Sept/Oct 2012 Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis Society)
Lewis didn't expect his books to survive long after his death, so he would have been surprised by the films, as would Tolkien. As for the films themselves, these lack subtlety and have too many special effects. I think [director] Peter Jackson did a much better job with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, combining a vision with great talent. Whereas Jackson generally stuck to what Tolkien wrote, the Narnia producers just changed the stories as they wished.
I was consulted, especially about the character of Aslan. It was always Lewis' proviso that Aslan must be handled very carefully. He represents the Son of God, so you can't blaspheme with him. I've read many screenplays of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, however, and almost all have portrayed Aslan as a comical character. Lewis would also have disliked the way human persons are placed inside his animals. He'd seen Walt Disney's Fantasia and would have been thrilled to see what can be done now with computer-generated images. But it's the scripts which always let us down. They should stick to what Lewis wrote, as with Shakespeare.
I agree with Hooper.
Here's a wonderful listing of C.S. Lewis quotes, bibliographies, and articles about C.S. Lewis. How convenient and helpful! And speaking of C.S. Lewis, here's a site that gives us an audio recording of C.S. Lewis speaking over the BBC using the text that would later become part of Mere Christianity. The site also presents C.S. Lewis in his own voice reading the introduction to The Great Divorce.
Tilda Swinton played the White Witch in the latest movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In an interview she offers her perspective on how she sought to portray her character saying,
It's not always necessarily the most frightening thing for small children to be shouted at. Children shout and get hot themselves all the time, and in my experience it's actually a relief if you shout back at them. Whereas the thing that's really unfathomable for children is a kind of coldness and emotional detachment; that's the thing they don't do. So it occurred to me it would be more frightening to be faced with something really unaffectable. You can't affect the Witch; you can't appeal to her; she's incapable of any compassion. Someone who gets angry is emotional; I thought it would be fun to shake up that stereotype.
Note: I posted the above back on March 8, 2006. Jennifer, an alert reader, wrote me that the first link was broken. She supplied me with a link to the C.S. Lewis section of the Online University which I used as a replacement for the broken link. Anyone interested in C.S. Lewis will find an incredible wealth of material at the Online University website. Particularly astonishing to me is the availability of some of Lewis's full essays such as "Meditation in a Toolshed" (a must-read classic!!), "On the Reading of Old Books," "We Have No Right to Happiness" (posted on a Muslim Sunni website!), "De Descriptione Temporum," and a link to the additional following essays from God in the Dock: "Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State", "Man or Rabbit", "What are we to Make of Jesus Christ?" There are still many more essays available! Amazing!!
"Are we not our true selves when naked? In a sense, no. The word naked was originally a past participle; the naked man was the man who had undergone the process of naking, that is, of stripping or peeling (you used the verb of nuts and fruit). Time out of mind the naked man has seemed to our ancestors not the natural but the abnormal man; not the man who has abstained from dressing but the man who has been for some reason undressed. And it is a simple fact--anyone can observe it at a men's bathing place--that nudity emphasises common humanity and soft-pedals what is individual. In that way we are 'more ourselves' when clothed." - From The Four Loves, chapter 5
A friend emailed me wondering about the context for posting the CSL quote. The answer is simple and I probably should have offered an introduction before posting it. I am aware of "back to nature" types both historically and presently who think nakedness desirable, and a step forward toward a kind of stripped-down authenticity. I think the CSL quote addresses that notion insightfully and concisely.
Charles Colson does an excellent job sorting out the question:
This month, the final Harry Potter film had the most successful opening weekend of any movie ever. Among the fans who lined up for the opening midnight showing were Christians, many of whom see striking similarities between the story of Jesus -- with its sacrificial death, burial and resurrection -- and the story of Harry Potter.
But at least one atheist has also noticed these similarities, and he’s written a book about it. In the newly-released (and blasphemously-titled) "Jesus Potter Harry Christ," Derek Murphy makes the case that J. K. Rowling -- the author of the Harry Potter series -- achieved her success by tapping into some of the deepest and most ancient longings of the human heart. These same longings, Murphy argues, compelled first-century pagans to construct what he calls “the Jesus myth.”
Murphy writes, “Jesus and Harry Potter are both...fictional...characters which incorporate classical (pagan) spirituality and religious ideology...I start by using the similarities between Jesus and Harry to raise the question, ‘how can Jesus be historical if Harry is fictional?'"
Murphey points to similarities between the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ virgin birth, His passion and His return from the grave with the myths of pagan idols like Isis, Sarapis, Horus and Apollo, Murphy hopes to convince his readers that Jesus -- just like the gods of mythology -- is fiction. In fact, he believes that Jesus is just an amalgam of history’s best myths.
Well, Murphy is certainly right in recognizing a common thread through pagan religious beliefs. As C. S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, the heathen religions are full of “...those queer stories...about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men.”
But what Murphy misses -- and Lewis got -- is the fact that the human longings for sacrifice, resurrection and redemption are stamped on our hearts for a reason: They point us straight to the God who stepped into history to fulfill them!
From Justin Taylor's Between Two Worlds:
This one-man show by David Payne gives a good feel for C.S. Lewis as a man and as a thinker.
The setting is 1963 (the last year of Lewis’s life), with Lewis addressing in his home a group of writers from America. It’s an hour and a half in length:
Justin Taylor adds:
The first two are from the BBC:
Beyond Personality: The New Men (14:05 mins)
March 21, 1944
(This talk later became a part of Mere Christianity.)
An Introduction to The Great Divorce
Date: May 9, 1948
Length of clip: 1:58
On this site you can hear a few samples from his lectures on The Four Loves:
You can also order The C.S. Lewis Recordings, which contains the following material:
The Four Loves – In this rare recording of C.S. Lewis’ own voice, Lewis examines the four classical Greek terms for love: storge, philia, eros and agape. Recorded in 1958 in London by the Episcopal Radio-TV Foundation, it was first heard in the United States on the Episcopal Series of the Protestant Hour radio program, now known as Day1.
C.S. Lewis Speaks His Mind – This rare recording contains Lewis’ lecture on Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Lewis’ adaptation of his famous Cambridge lecture known as “The Great Divide,” his introduction to his book The Great Divorce, and his critique of works by author Charles Williams.
From Letters to an American Lady -
“I have a notion that, apart from actual pain, men and women are quite diversely afflicted by illness. To a woman one of the great evils about it is that she can’t do things. To a man (anyway a man like me) the great consolation is the reflection “Well, anyway, no one an now demand that I should do anything”. I have often had the fancy that one stage in Purgatory might be a great big kitchen in which things are always going wrong — milk boiling over, crockery getting smashed, toast burning, animals stealing. The women have to learn to sit still and mind their own business: the men have to learn to jump up and do something about it. When both sexes have mastered this exercise, they go on to the next.” . . .
-- written at Magdalene College, Cambridge, 31/7/62
“My idea of the Purgatorial kitchen didn’t mean that anyone had lately been “getting in my hair”. It is simply my lifelong experience — that men are more likely to hand over to others what they ought to do themselves, and women more likely to do themselves what others wish they would leave alone. Hence both sexes must be told “Mind your own business”, but in two different senses!”
-- written at The Kilns, Headington Quarry, Oxford, 3 Sept 62
Downing is a recognized C.S. Lewis scholar whose works include Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis's Journey to Faith, Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C.S. Lewis, and Planets in Peril: A Critical Study of C.S. Lewis's Ransom Trilogy.
Now he has written Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel, which carries the following Amazon product description:
It is 1940, and American Tom McCord, a 23-year-old aspiring doctoral candidate, is in England researching the historical evidence for the legendary King Arthur. There he meets perky and intuitive Laura Hartman, a fellow American staying with her aunt in Oxford, and the two of them team up for an even more ambitious and dangerous quest.
Aided by the Inklings-that illustrious circle of scholars and writers made famous by its two most prolific members, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien-Tom and Laura begin to suspect that the fabled Spear of Destiny, the lance that pierced the side of Christ on the cross, is hidden somewhere in England.
Tom discovers that Laura has been having mysterious dreams, which seem to be related to the subject of his research, and, though doubtful of her visions, he hires her as an assistant. Heeding the insights and advice of the Inklings, while becoming aware of being shadowed by powerful and secretive foes who would claim the spear as their own, Tom and Laura end up on a thrilling treasure hunt that crisscrosses the English countryside and leads beyond a search for the elusive relics of Camelot into the depths of the human heart and soul.
Weaving his fast-paced narrative with conversation based on the works of the Inklings, author David Downing offers a vivid portrait of Oxford and draws a welcome glimpse into the personalities and ideas of Lewis and Tolkien, while never losing sight of his action-packed adventure story and its two very appealing main characters.
Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online published an intriguing interview with Downing.
Judging from Denise M. Roper's review (below), this book sounds like a wonderful introduction to the personalities (and wisdom) of the Inklings served up in a gripping adventure.
Ben Witherington reposted on his blog a solid interview with Professor Sandra L. Richter on the relevance of the Old Testament. After reading the excellent interview, I went to Amazon to investigate her book, The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament. I browsed the "search inside this book" feature and copied the following two insightful paragraphs.
On the Old Testament concept of the "love of God," and especially in Deuteronomy, Dr. Richter writes: (my underlining)
William Moran wrote an important article “The Ancient near Eastern Background of the Love of God in Deuteronomy,” CBQ 25 (1963): 77-85 Here Moran demonstrated that the word love in ancient Near East treaty documents (and by extrapolation in the book of Deuteronomy) was political terminology having to do with covenant loyalty—not any sort of sentimental or emotional posture toward the covenant partner. In light of this, consider Rom. 9:13: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Gallons of ink have been spilt over this passage! Could the resolution to this difficult language perhaps be found in covenant terminology? In other words, rather than this passage communicating that God has despised Esau and his offspring, perhaps ‘love’ and “hate” were intended to communicate something akin to: ‘Jacob I have chosen as Isaac’s heir and therefore heir to Abraham’s covenant; Esau I have not chosen as heir.' Note 19. p. 240
On the sacrifices brought by people in ancient Israel she writes:
W.S. LaSor, D.A. Hubbard and F.W. Bush offer a helpful summary of the various categories of Mosaic sacrifice in Old Testament Survey, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), p. 83. It is important to realize that out of the eight categories listed, only one involved the complete holocaust of the sacrificial victim. In contrast to what most Christians typically imagine, the bulk of the sacrificed animal was normally returned to the worshipper so that he and his family might feast together in God’s presence. In other words, the act of sacrifice was usually a time of joyous fellowship with one’s family and one’s God at the holy site. These holy days were truly “holidays.” In fact, throughout the law code of Deuteronomy, which is focused on proper worship of Yahweh at the central holy site, the repeated command is to ‘eat’ and to ‘rejoice’ in Yahweh’s presence (Deut 12:7, 12,18; 14:26; 16:11,14; 26:10-11; 27:7). God was not interested in taking from these people the little they had; rather, he was interested in them bringing a portion of what he had given them into his presence so that he might enjoy their joy with them.” (p. 250)
This reminds me of some pages I read years ago in C.S. Lewis's Reflections on the Psalms. In chapter 5, "The Fair Beauty of the Lord," Lewis wrote:
The recording lasts just shy of two minutes, but if you've never heard C. S. Lewis's voice, here's your opportunity.
This is another of the "lost posts" accidentally deleted yesterday. It's not the same post, which vanished into cyberspace, but the Lewis quote is the same. In a sex saturated society, it's useful to sample the thought of C.S. Lewis, one of the wisest of men, who is worth consulting on most any subject. (See his book, The Four Loves, and the chapters "Sexual Morality" and "Christian Marriage" in Mere Christianity). In answer to an in quiry on masturbation, Lewis writes:
"For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always
Here's an interesting article about Joy Davidman, the American woman C.S. Lewis married at age 56.
Lyle Dorsett's biography is titled, And God Came In: The Extraordinary Story of Joy Davidman. Don King edited the valuable, Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman.
See also Davidman's book dedicated to C.S. Lewis, Smoke on the Mountain: An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments.A list of C.S. Lewis's publications may be found here.
How tonic Beethoven is, and how festal--one has the feeling of having taken part in the revelry of giants.
Me: I find that stunning, an apt illustration of what makes Lewis so attractive to so many: a mind alert, vigorous, and colorful, ready at a moment's notice with the perfect analogy or metaphor.
Coming this Christmas: (HT: Between Two Worlds)
I confess I am not a fan of these movies. I think they would be far stronger if the movie makers would stick more faithfully to C. S. Lewis's actual stories. Christianity Today, ("Will the 'Dawn Treader' Float?") suggests this new one will be an improvement over Prince Caspian. May it be so!
I found the following short essay profound and penetrating. First published in March, 1943, it comes from Lewis's posthumous collection of essays, Present Concerns. I came across it on the web at the C.S. Lewis Institute's May "Reflections." (I took the liberty to subdivide Lewis's first long paragraph into three short ones.)
The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.
In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade,” “in school” and “out of school.”
But the third class is of those who can say like St. Paul that for them “to live is Christ.” These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple
Of the making of Bibles there seems no end. This week I learned (from the Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis Society) that something called the "C.S. Lewis Bible" will be released October 26, 2010. No, this will not be a Bible of Lewis's own making, but apparently a Bible with "thoughts from Lewis" strewn here and there. The statement reads,
This New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible includes additional readings comprised of selections from Lewis's celebrated spiritual classics, a collection that includes Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed, The Weight of Glory and The Abolition of Man, as well as letters, poetry, and Lewis's less-familiar works. Each reading, paired alongside relevant passages in the Bible, offers C.S. Lewis as a companion to a reader's daily meditation of scripture.
Me: My first reaction was "oh my goodness, this is going a bit far." On the other hand, it will be interesting to see what the publishers come up with.
Speaking of C.S. Lewis, readers might enjoy perusing the "Into the Wardrobe," a website where, among other things, one can find a number of online academic papers that look interesting. The site also has numerous forums and links to various online resources, including the C.S. Lewis Institute. There one can access numerous lectures and papers on Christian thought from many sources. The numerous legacy recordings, in particular, caught my attention.
- Last night I read the last few pages of C.S. Lewis's fantasy, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (one of the books from the stupendously popular series, The Chronicles of Narnia). The concluding pages tell the story of the valiant little mouse, Reepicheep, setting off in his little "coracle" for Aslan's Country. It's obvious that "coracle" refers to a little boat of some kind, but the word was new to me and I needed to find out more. My first stop was "dictionary.com" which produced this definition:
a small, round, or very broad boat made of wickerwork or interwoven laths covered with a waterproof layer of animal skin, canvas, tarred or oiled cloth, or the like: used in Wales, Ireland, and parts of western England.
I had trouble visualizing that description. So I went to other dictionary websites for further help. One site gathered definitions from several websites and put Flickr thumbnail photos at the bottom of the page. "Now," I thought, "we are getting somewhere!!" Two more definitions:
noun A small rounded boat made of waterproof material stretched over a wicker or wooden frame.
noun A fisherman's boat used in Wales and on many parts of the Irish coast, made by covering a wicker frame with leather or oil-cloth; a kind of bull-boat.
Here are two photos of a "coracle." The one above shows the rib construction and the one below shows a man carrying a coracle on his back. These illustrate the typical size and demonstrate its light weight.
Adding considerable interest is a wonderful, short old-time newsreel showing construction of a coracle in Ireland. - http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=4622
Fascinating! Now I know what a "coracle" looks like. Apparently the boat is familiar to everyone in Great Britain since C.S. Lewis used it to refer to Reepicheep's little bark in his children's book.
This means, as Joe Carter points out, free online access to the more than 160,000 hours(!) of television footage. Carter helpfully suggests:
Check out some of the videos of First Things‘ editors Richard John Neuhaus, Joseph Bottum, James Nuechterlein; FT contributors Mary Eberstadt, Alan Jacobs, and Yuval Levin; and FT board members Hadley Arkes, James Burtchaell, Eric Cohen, David Dalin, Midge Decter, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Suzanne Garment, Robert George, Mary Ann Glendon, Russell Hittinger, Glenn Loury, George Marsden, Wilfred M. McClay, Gilbert Meilaender, David Novak, Michael Novak, George Weigel, William Burleigh, and Peter Thiel.
Happy days are here again!
Since I am currently reading Alan Jacobs' The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis (as I mentioned before), I enjoyed watching and listening to Jacobs discuss his book at the Cambridge Forum. In his brief talk (followed by a Q&A), he mentioned the impact Lewis had on one of his students, Kenneth Tynan, who would go on to excel as a dramatist, a screenwriter, a critic, an essayist, a director, and a theatrical impresario, a man given to "pushing boundaries" (he was the director of the first all-nude musical, "Oh Calcutta!"). His "peacockish" (Jacobs' term) flamboyance might lead us to suppose his relationship with Lewis would be rocky, but it wasn't. Tynan struggled
Maybe it's because Lewis has no problem juxtaposing the likes of John Milton with Beatrix Potter. I find enchanting the following paragraphs from Alan Jacobs' The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis:
You can see Lewis's love of children's stories in the oddest places and in the most charming ways. In one of his most learned and scholarly books, A Preface to "Paradise Lost" -- and "Paradise Lost" is as sober and serious and adult a poem as one could imagine -- Lewis quotes his eighteenth-century predecessor at Magdalen College, Joseph Addison: 'The great moral which reigns in Milton is the most universal and most useful that can be imagined, that Obedience to the will of God makes men happy and that Disobedience makes them miserable."
A few sentences later Lewis responds to a fellow literary critic, E. M. W. Tillyard, saying:
"It is, after all, the commonest of themes; even Peter Rabbit came to grief because he would go into Mr. McGregor's garden."
To which Alan Jacobs comments:
This is as delightful as it is wise: any literary critic who can, in the course of a few sentences, take us from the great Milton's account of the Fall of Humanity, in twelve books of stately and heroic blank verse, to Beatrix Potter's rather humbler account of Peter Rabbit's rather humbler troubles, is a critic of (to put it mildly) considerable range. And the naturalness with which he achieves this! -- clearly it never occurs
C.S. Lewis College announcement: (HT: VirtueOnline)
The C.S. Lewis Foundation has long envisioned establishing a C.S. Lewis College in the U.S. as a fully accredited Christian institution of Great Books and Visual and Performing Arts. That vision is now about to become a reality as plans move forward to launch C.S. Lewis College on the beautiful campus in Northfield, Massachusetts, recently acquired for this purpose from Northfield Mount Hermon School. This property has been purchased for the use of C.S. Lewis College by Hobby Lobby, a privately held retail chain of arts and crafts stores based in Oklahoma City, OK.
Subject to securing all appropriate approvals, C.S. Lewis College currently plans to commence instruction in Fall 2012.
Comments offered at the press conference:
Phantastes, by George MacDonald; The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton; The Aeneid, by Virgil; The Temple, by George Herbert; The Prelude, by William Wordsworth; The Idea of the Holy, by Rudolf Otto; The Consolation of Philosophy, by Boethius; Life of Samuel Johnson, by James Boswell; Descent into Hell, by Charles Williams; Theism and Humanism, by Arthur James Balfour.
The list appears in Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis: A Companion & Guide (p. 752) and originally appeared in The Christian Century (6 June 1962).
Me: This is a great quote. A bombshell, really. So many people assume that their "feelings" tell them truths about the universe and about ethics. Not so. Anyone who absorbs the message and insights of "The Abolition of Man" will find themselves at revolutionary odds with the insanity of contemporary Western culture.
If you don't yet regularly visit, "Between Two Worlds," you will unquestionably miss valuable stuff. Here are some items from recent posts that I am glad to know about:
- Matt Harmon: How Did We Get Out Bible and Has It Been changed? (Terrific 12-page study sheet)
You can hear a few samples from his lectures on The Four Loves on this site
Beyond Personality: The New Men (14:05 mins)
March 21, 1944
(This talk later became a part of Mere Christianity.)
An Introduction to The Great Divorce
Date: May 9, 1948
Length of clip: 1:58
1977 saw the publication of a book that rocked the evangelical world and beyond. I am referring to Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy. The book is still in print, as well it should be. The current edition carries this descriptive blurb on the back cover:
That's not bad, but better and more complete is this description (from the Amazon.com website):
While studying at Oxford, Sheldon and Davy develop a friendship with C.S. Lewis, under whose influence and with much intellectual scrutiny they accept the Christian doctrine. As their devotion to God intensifies, Sheldon realizes that he is no longer Davy's primary love--God is. Within this discovery begins a brewing jealousy.
Shortly after, Davy acquires a fatal illness. After her death Sheldon embarks on an intense experience of grief, "to find the meaning of it, taste the whole of it ... to learn from sorrow whatever it had to teach." Through painstaking reveries, he comes to discover the meaning of "a mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love." He learns that her death "had these results: It brought me as nothing else could do to know and end my jealously of God. It saved her faith from assault. ...And it saved our love from perishing."
The book had a powerful impact on me as it did on thousands of others. I recently discovered that three of C.S. Lewis' letters to Vanauken have been placed in the public domain and are available on the internet. They originally formed part of a small booklet, titled "Encounter with Light," which Vanauken published with C.S. Lewis' permission. Much of that booklet was eventually incorporated into Vanauken's larger work, A Severe Mercy. The text of "Encounter with Light" is available here. It chronicles in brief compass Vanauken's intellectual journey to belief in Christ, and offers the context of Vanauken's correspondence with Lewis. The C.S. Lewis letters are reproduced below.
Dallas Willard, in his soon-to-be-published book, Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge, writes in the Preface: ". . . many people now believe you do not need to think deeply and carefully to follow Christ. C. S. Lewis has a very penetrating comment to make about this matter:
A year ago I put up the following post. I think it is worth re-posting for those who might be interested:
For any who have not yet been introduced to Dorothy L. Sayers' wonderful dramatic sketches of the life of Christ (originally produced for BBC radio in 1943) titled The Man Born to Be King, this might be a good year to indulge yourself. C. S. Lewis himself said, "I have re-read it in every Holy Week since it first appeared, and never re-read it without being deeply moved."
An Amazon.com reader wrote the following:
After reading this play cycle, you'll never look at the Gospels in the same way again. . . I've been a Christian for many years, and I can still say that this book changed my life. If you have questions or doubts about Jesus of Nazareth, please give it a try.
"For all she did and was, for delight and instruction, for her militant loyalty as a friend, for courage and honesty, for the richly feminine qualities which showed through a port and manner superficially masculine and even gleefully ogreish--let us thank the Author who invented her."
(For those bibliographically inclined, Lewis's comments on Dorothy L. Sayers can be found in C. S. Lewis On Stories and Other Essays on Literature edited by Walter Hooper.)
** Note: There's a preview of The Man Born to Be King available online from Google Books.
I stumbled this evening on the following short article by Philip Yancey subtitled, "How C.S. Lewis has shaped my faith and writing."
I was attending college in the late 1960s, just a few years after Lewis's death. I ordered more of his books from second-hand bookshops in England because many had not yet made it across the Atlantic. I wrestled with them as with a debate opponent and reluctantly felt myself drawn, as Lewis himself had, kicking and screaming all the way into the kingdom of God. Since then Lewis has been a constant companion, a kind of shadow mentor who sits beside me, urging me to improve my writing style, my thinking, and my vision. (more . . .)
In several places C.S. Lewis offers thumbnail sketches of how he views Christianity vis-a-vis other world religions. The following is taken from a talk he gave to Anglican clergy and youth workers, and published as "Christian Apologetics" in God in the Dock.
John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley each represented a distinctive worldview (secular humanism, Christianity and Eastern pantheism, respectively). It's remarkable that they all died on the very same day, Nov. 22, 1963.
Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, understands well the respective worldviews each man held. Kreeft wrote a fascinating and highly entertaining imaginative book about the three meeting and conversing after death. It is titled Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley. I read the book years ago and it has recently been re-issued.
Now Peter Kreeft talks about the book in a National Review Online podcast.
Does that sound like a contradiction? It did to me . . . until I read something by Charles Williams (1886 - 1945), the esteemed friend of C.S. Lewis, and a member of the famed "Inklings." A couple of weeks ago I happened to dip into Williams' book, The Forgiveness of Sins, and came upon these shocking words:
Must we, for example, consent that men, the other men, shall be killed and maimed? The answer to that is simple-- we must.
We may do it by ourselves inflicting death and torment on others (by bombs or however), or we may do it by abandoning others to death and torment (in concentration camps or wherever), but one way or the other we have to consent by our mere acts. To call the one war and the other peace does not help.
He goes on:
This--whichever it is--is certainly, in part, the result of what we do. Is there any direction? Even to quote "Thou shalt not kill" does not finally help, for we have been taught that consciously to abandon men to death is, in fact, to kill. To hate is to kill; to kill is to kill; and to leave to be killed is to kill. . .
Me: I am still pondering these words. Do others have responses to offer?
(The quotes above are from chapter VI, "The Technique of Pardon.")
From Christianity Today... beginning with Christopher W. Mitchell on "My 5 Top Books by the Inklings and Friends" Click through for more "top 5" recommendations on world history, atheism, China, apologetics, and many other topics.
Bill Kristol tells us that Tony Snow was an avid reader of C.S. Lewis. How marvelous! No doubt Lewis offered significant underpinning to Tony's exuberance, gratitude, and joy -- all qualities emphasized and illustrated in Lewis's own life and writings. Although it had not crossed my mind that Tony Snow was a reader of Lewis, I should have guessed it.
. . But I’ll remember Tony Snow more for his character than his career. I’ll especially remember the calm courage and cheerful optimism he displayed in his last three years, in the face of his fatal illness...
Tony was one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet — kind, helpful and cheerful. But underlying these seemingly natural qualities was a kind of choice: the choice of gratitude.Tony thought we should be grateful for what life has given us, not bitter or anxious about what it hasn’t.
I am on a one-year introductory subscription to the Wall Street Journal (at a fabulous savings). I enjoy and profit from the general interest stories fully as much, or more so, than the economic articles. I missed reading Rudyard Kipling when I was growing up and articles like this one tempt me to pick up a Jungle book on my next trip to the library.
"The defining quality of great children's literature is persistence: It stays with the reader with undiminished vitality into adulthood."
That quote from the Kipling article reminds me of C.S. Lewis's astute comment:
"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty--except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all."
(From "On Stories" in "Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories)
- Update 5/17/08 - Frederica Mathewes-Green thinks the movie improves on the book! She lists other books that have fared better as movies as well. You might want to see if you agree with her! - Thomas Hibbs laments alterations the film makes from the book.
- Michael Ward, author of Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis, offers the following commentary:
"Caspian" is a fantasy, of course - but also a war story. Indeed, it's the tale of a just war: Prince Caspian's fight to return Narnia to its natural, Aslan-given order by driving the tyrant Miraz from power and bringing back and restoring the rights of talking animals, fauns, dwarves and other magical beings.
The tale is full of military events, councils, knights. Aslan gives a great war cry to summon and inspire his troops ("The Lion Roars"). Miraz is defeated in single combat, after which "full battle" is joined.
In fact, "Caspian" is centered on the theme of Mars, god of war.
Lewis wrote the Narnia Chronicles so that they would express the qualities of the seven heavens of the medieval cosmos, which he deemed "spiritual symbols of
I posted earlier today about the C.S. Lewis Society of California. I might note for those interested, that a conference on C.S. Lewis is scheduled for October 26 and 27, 2007 on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Invited speakers include Walter Hooper, James Como, and Bruce Edwards, all well known to Lewis aficionados. Professor Bruce Edwards has a personal website with a link to his blog, Further Up and Further In.
On July 27th, Edwards posted reviews on his blog of some new books related to C.S. Lewis. Of The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Pavlac Glyer, Edwards wrote:
Diana Glyer’s impressive achievement immediately supersedes in scope and authority all previous treatments of the Inklings in extant biographies and encyclopedia. . . This volume so surpasses in wisdom and cogency the late Humphrey Carpenter’s "The Inklings," I would urge you to sell your copy back to the used bookstore from whence it may have come, take the proceeds, and buy this one. It is a model of responsive, responsible, lucidly written scholarly work worthy of Lewis’s own high standards. It both educates and entertains. Selah
Well, it so happens I bought a copy of Carpenter's book The Inklings years ago and just may take Bruce Edward's advice and turn it in! (Though I probably won't, since I find it hard to part with books).
He also reviews Teaching C. S. Lewis by Richard A. Hill and Lyle Smith. This book looks really interesting. I am always wondering how to teach or structure a class on C.S. Lewis. Edwards says it's
a very fine, compact volume that will help Sunday School teachers, novice and advanced readers, pastors, and campus faculty to plan and teach C. S. Lewis courses in their respective venues. Its value is in offering insight in how to teach and engage varied audiences interested in Lewis’s fiction and apologetics. Questions and assignments accompany each chapter focused on a single work of Lewis’s.
Edwards also calls attention to the Summer 07 edition of The Christian Scholars Review which is on “C. S. Lewis and Gender.”
Edwards is a leading scholar of C.S. Lewis and helpfully makes available online his articles and book contributions. He also provides links to other C.S. Lewis sites and to Inkling resources such as The Tolkien Society, The Charles Williams Page, The Dorothy L. Sayers Society, George MacDonald resources, the GKC Website and The American Chesterton Society. Notable also is the Mythopoeic Society.
Those who know me readily recognize my great debt to C.S. Lewis. Another time I must write about the many writers he has introduced me to, including George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Williams, Austin Farrer, and others.
But for now I will write once again about C.S. Lewis. I have posted various items related to C.S. Lewis before. Today I discovered the website of the The C.S. Lewis Society of California. There I learned the schedule of "Chronicles of Narnia" film production. I only knew it vaguely before.
With the enormous success of the first of these new Narnia films, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has grossed more than $740 million worldwide. The next film, Prince Caspian, is scheduled for release in mid-2008, with Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" planned for a mid-2009 release and The Silver Chair scheduled for release in mid-2010. In addition, other novels by Lewis are being made into films, including The Screwtape Letters which is underway for release in theaters for Christmas 2008, and efforts are being pursued for a film based on The Great Divorce. . .
For those unfamiliar with Lewis's work, the website offers a useful list of some of his books.
The scope of Lewis’s work is quite remarkable, including philosophy and theology—The Abolition of Man, Christian Reflections, Mere Christianity, The Four Loves, The Problem of Pain, Miracles; literary history and criticism—The Discarded Image, The Allegory of Love, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century; fiction—The Screwtape Letters, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, The Great Divorce, Till We Have Faces; autobiography—Surprised by Joy, A Grief Observed; current affairs—God in the Dock, Present Concerns; poetry—Narrative Poems, Poems; and much more.
Not mentioned in the list above (among others) I note the omission of Reflections on the Psalms, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, and A Preface to Paradise Lost -- all of which have been important to me.
The website offers a list of interviews with a great variety of people (not always about C.S. Lewis) including Francis Collins, Dallas Willard, Armand Nicholi, Jr., J.I. Packer, Rodney Stark, and many others. Particularly stunning are the essays and articles. Again, many are about CSL, but many others are on a variety of subjects. The number, scope ,and quality of these articles blew me away. I will return to this webpage again and again. Do check it out!
Finally, the C.S. Lewis Society of California has collected comments on C.S. Lewis from various notables. I offer a sample from a much longer list.
“Rarely is so much learning displayed with so much grace and charm.” “Lewis combines a novelist’s insights into motives with a profound religious understanding.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Lewis’s words appear often in my Mitford stories—where would the Christian thinker be without Lewis? He is pivotal.”—Jan Karon, author of The Mitford books
“Somebody pointed me towards C.S. Lewis's little book called Mere Christianity, which took all of my arguments that I thought were so airtight about the fact that faith is just irrational, and proved them totally full of holes. And in fact, turned them around the other way, and convinced me that the choice to believe is actually the most rational conclusion when you look at the evidence around you. That was a shocking sort of revelation, and one that I fought bitterly for about a year and then finally decided to accept.”—Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Human Genome Research Institute; author, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
“Learned, brilliant and lively, Lewis was always an artist with words, whether as a professional academic writing for colleagues in his own field; as an author of novels, fantasies and tales for children; or as a composer of didactic expositions, apologetic discussions, and journal and newspaper articles by the bushel, all seeking to commend and consolidate Christian faith. He was fastidious and fair-minded (while sometimes satirical), probing and thoughtful, logical and magisterial, orthodox and arresting, and clear and compelling. . . . In short, he was never less than a first-class read. . . . The two lobes of our brain, left for the logical and linear and right for the romantic and imaginative, were both thoroughly developed in Lewis, so that he was as strong in fantasy and fiction as he was in analysis and argument. There is always a didactic dimension to his spiritual-life writing, just as there is always a visionary dimension to his apologetics. The combination made him in his day, and makes him still, a powerful and haunting communicator in both departments.”—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College