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Old 01-21-2002, 12:22 PM   #1
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C.S. Lewis

Okay...

An honest inquiry of mine. I have heard lots and lots about how C.S. Lewis has influenced modern Protestant theology in the last year, and, as a Catholic, I must admit I am ignorant of what he believed.

So, if any of you could, I would like you to post his philosophy on Christianity. In typical "melon," I will likely ask more questions and criticize, so don't get offended, okay?

Melon

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"He had lived through an age when men and women with energy and ruthlessness but without much ability or persistence excelled. And even though most of them had gone under, their ignorance had confused Roy, making him wonder whether the things he had striven to learn, and thought of as 'culture,' were irrelevant. Everything was supposed to be the same: commercials, Beethoven's late quartets, pop records, shopfronts, Freud, multi-coloured hair. Greatness, comparison, value, depth: gone, gone, gone. Anything could give some pleasure; he saw that. But not everything provided the sustenance of a deeper understanding." - Hanif Kureishi, Love in a Blue Time
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Old 01-21-2002, 01:09 PM   #2
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It's so vast, I don't know where to start. I've only read The Great Divorce, God In The Dock and The Screwtape Letters. Why don't you pick up a cs lewis book, they're not usually thick. You could finish one in 3 days.

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Old 01-21-2002, 04:41 PM   #3
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Yes, check out Mere Christianity, it's a collection of "talks" he gave on the radio that outline his thinking. It's also apologetics (a general defense of Christianity), of course.
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Old 01-21-2002, 04:52 PM   #4
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It is really, REALLY hard to encapsulate C.S. Lewis in a brief paragraph or two, but I do agree that his non-fiction is usually short and (I find) easy to read.

For a breif introduction to his world, I too suggest Mere Christianity, which is his delineation on the beliefs common to all Christian denominations, and The Screwtape Letters, the "letters" from Screwtape the bureacratic devil to Wormwood, his nephew and new soldier in the war of seizing souls.

(Also, if you have a choice among editions of Screwtape, try to find one with Lewis' preface to the 1961 edition and "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", a separate short story using the same character.)

If that's not enough, I recommend:

* The Abolition of Man, in which Lewis expounds on the universal nature of morality, among other things.

* The Great Divorce, where Lewis paints a very vivid metaphor for the afterlife.

* The Four Loves, where Lewis talks about affection, friendship, eros, and charity, and how one is built atop another.
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Old 01-22-2002, 03:03 AM   #5
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Mere Christianity is, I believe, considered to be one of his most important works. I have yet to read it.
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Old 01-23-2002, 01:45 PM   #6
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You know, if I lived in the States, I would honestly mail you my copy of screwtape.

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Old 01-24-2002, 10:46 PM   #7
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C.S. Lewis is one of the best 'Christian' writers ever, and has been one of the most inspirational figures of literature ever, atleast to me.

Whether its his letters, essays, novels or poems, he always tackled themes that aimed to make the idea of God real within our world, and, now more than ever, his work has been of great spiritual help.

Not only were his philosophical views influential to the 'Christian' groups, but also to many different philosophical schools of thought that tried to tackle the problem of pain and suffering. Now, though he was not particularly concerned with WHY pain happens, as in the classical argument of humans having free will (you know, the argument of without free will we wouldn't be able to feel happiness or pain and therefore wouldn't be at all human) but his theories always tried to give pain and suffering meaning, hence helping people to find and accept God within the real world. Lewis strongly believed in the notion of giving pain meaning, that pain is what separated youth from maturity, and that pain was 'God's tool' to make us into better human beings.

While we're at it, Melon, and I hope you'll forgive me if you know this already and hence find my post condescending and pointless - I don't know how much you know, besides reading the aforementioned reading lists given to you, I recommend the excellent film (one of my top ten of all time) of Richard Attenborough's SHADOWLANDS starring Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis and Debra Winger as Joy Gresham, the woman who put his theory to the test. It is a beautiful movie, and all the more beautiful as it is true, and really gives you an insight on this fascinating man. It tells the story of how he falls in love with and eventually marries Joy (which in itself is an epic as he is rather repressed and intellectually arrogant) and eventually loses her to cancer.

At the beginning of the movie, he's sure of his convictions, that pain gives life meaning and makes us into better human beings, however, by the end he is not so sure, the pain is so great he questions everything about himself, his life and even God. As he says later on when responding to the 'God knows why'statement; "God knows but does God care?"

The film is beautiful, though, because it reiterates his greatest belief - the belief that God takes a boy and turns him into a man through the 'gift of suffering' - suffering is almost a redemption that takes one closer to God. Everytime I think of C.S. Lewis I think of that beautiful notion. Its a notion I've almost always believed in, but even more so now. My fiance also died of cancer and she also reminded me of Joy Gresham, the character C.S. Lewis falls in love with; the idea that pain is a lot more meaningful than our emotions give it credit for is a beautiful thought, at least to me it is.

Anyway, make sure you see that film if you haven't seen it already, it changed my life.

Ant.

PS - Oh, and read his NARNIA chronicles too, they beat the shit out of LORD OF THE RINGS. Not Harry Potter, but RINGS yes.


[This message has been edited by Anthony (edited 01-24-2002).]
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Old 01-25-2002, 07:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:
C.S. Lewis is one of the best 'Christian' writers ever, and has been one of the most inspirational figures of literature ever, atleast to me.
Forgive me for seeming belligerent, but why is C.S. Lewis a 'Christian' writer, and not a Christian writer?

That is, why the quote marks?
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Old 01-25-2002, 08:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:


PS - Oh, and read his NARNIA chronicles too, they beat the shit out of LORD OF THE RINGS. Not Harry Potter, but RINGS yes.



I'd rank LOTR first (way ahead of the others), then Narnia (and I do love those books--Tolkien couldn't stand them though CSL loved the Rings) and Harry Potter some distance behind Narnia. But sorry, I'm changing the subject

I did think Shadowlands was a great show, very moving.



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Old 01-25-2002, 08:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by scatteroflight:


I'd rank LOTR first (way ahead of the others), then Narnia (and I do love those books--Tolkien couldn't stand them though CSL loved the Rings) and Harry Potter some distance behind Narnia. But sorry, I'm changing the subject
Ditto. Actually I wouldn't put Potter in the category at all. Give it 30 to 50 years and if it's still around then, maybe.
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Old 01-26-2002, 12:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Forgive me for seeming belligerent, but why is C.S. Lewis a 'Christian' writer, and not a Christian writer?
That is, why the quote marks?
Not that I don't think that your question is rather pedantic, however, if you must know its because at heart Lewis is far more concerned with the subject of humanity as a whole, the God he spoke of isn't exclusively for 'Christianity'. Sure, he wrote in Christian-like parables, spoke a lot about Jesus and wrote a lot in parallel with the New testament, but I believe these as more of types of medium he used, I don't think he was merely concerned with Christianity.

To me, he means far more than a mere messenger of Christianity, he was pretty much concerned with everybody's relationship with God.

Ant.


[This message has been edited by Anthony (edited 01-26-2002).]
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Old 01-26-2002, 12:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by scatteroflight:

I'd rank LOTR first (way ahead of the others), then Narnia (and I do love those books--Tolkien couldn't stand them though CSL loved the Rings) and Harry Potter some distance behind Narnia. But sorry, I'm changing the subject
I did think Shadowlands was a great show, very moving.
LORD OF THE RINGS is the most unreadable piece of literature I have ever read (or triwed to). I do not wish to discredit Mr. Tolkien, he had one hell of an imagination and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie adaptation of his plot, however, his novels are thoroughly unreadable; his style was very off-putting for me.

As for Narnia, I'm sorry... Potter rules.

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Old 01-26-2002, 04:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony:
Not that I don't think that your question is rather pedantic, however, if you must know its because at heart Lewis is far more concerned with the subject of humanity as a whole, the God he spoke of isn't exclusively for 'Christianity'. Sure, he wrote in Christian-like parables, spoke a lot about Jesus and wrote a lot in parallel with the New testament, but I believe these as more of types of medium he used, I don't think he was merely concerned with Christianity.

To me, he means far more than a mere messenger of Christianity, he was pretty much concerned with everybody's relationship with God.
But, Lewis WAS a Christian, writing to resolve the rest of creation to Christianity, not water down Christianity to fit everything else.

He spoke about Jesus, not only as a historical figure (or a "wise teacher", which Lewis contends cannot be honestly done; Christ was either right, a madman, or an evil deceiver).

He spoke about Jesus as the Son of God.

Hence, his works aren't parallel to Christianity but subserviant to it.


Oh, and Tokien *is* better than Harry Potter. If no other reason will do, LOTR didn't try to do anything as incongrous as a happy little boarding school where children learned to wield godlike powers.

My question is: how is Tolkien so unreadable?

[This message has been edited by Achtung Bubba (edited 01-26-2002).]
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Old 01-26-2002, 05:52 PM   #14
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you know who else i enjoy reading that people often call a "Christian" writer (and i also ask, why the quotes?)

Madeleine L'Engel.

She offers some really interesting things.
I liked her Walking on Water when i was struggling with some things.
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Old 01-26-2002, 09:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
But, Lewis WAS a Christian, writing to resolve the rest of creation to Christianity, not water down Christianity to fit everything else.

He spoke about Jesus, not only as a historical figure (or a "wise teacher", which Lewis contends cannot be honestly done; Christ was either right, a madman, or an evil deceiver).

He spoke about Jesus as the Son of God.

Hence, his works aren't parallel to Christianity but subserviant to it.


Oh, and Tokien *is* better than Harry Potter. If no other reason will do, LOTR didn't try to do anything as incongrous as a happy little boarding school where children learned to wield godlike powers.

My question is: how is Tolkien so unreadable?
[This message has been edited by Achtung Bubba (edited 01-26-2002).]
I don't dispute the fact that he was a Christian, but I negate the concept that he wrote exclusively for the Christians, the same way I wouldn't call U2 a 'Christian' band - I wouldn't label them as such. In fact, I wouldn't label them at all. People can attach whatever label they wish to U2 or Mr. Lewis, but to me he will always mean something more than a mere promoter of Christianity.

And also, your entire logic surrounding Jesus MUST have been either a 'madman', 'right' or an 'evil deceiver' is highly convoluted in my judgement - life is NEVER as black and white as that, just because your faith might be.

WHY is Tolkien so unreadable? I'll tell you why. Because he can't construct sentences without going into the world of Middle Earth non-stop and without describing every last irritating detail. 'The dwarves walked around for about an hour and sang songs, they also ate bacon and tomatoes... they did this and they did that... they met Some Strange Fellow Called Something Unpronouncable, who spoke of Another Person With An Unpronouncable Name, who in return gave them more tomatoes and sausages - after which they sang songs of the Old Country and grew to be fond of each other under the firelight. ALL OF THAT IN ONE BLEEDING SENTENCE. The man is very monotonous, atleast to my liking.

And what on EARTH is wrong with child wizards leaning their craft? I don't see it any more 'incongruous' as Tolkien's oh-so convenient world, not to mention the fact that it takes them three bloody books to get to Mount Doom, when on the maps its relatively close.

Ant.
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