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Old 01-21-2002, 11:22 AM   #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?

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Old 01-21-2002, 12:09 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, 03:41 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, 03:52 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, 02:03 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, 12:45 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, 09:46 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, 06:55 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, 07:16 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, 07:26 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, 11:21 AM   #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, 11:23 AM   #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, 03:57 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, 04:52 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, 08:32 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.

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Old 01-26-2002, 11:17 PM   #16
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Okay, certainly U2 isn't a "Christian band" in the sense that they appeal only to Christians or in the sense that the "Christian rock" community embraces them - or vice versa.

And, at the same time, Lewis' audience is not strictly Christianity - or maybe even primarily Christianity.

But I still think it useful to call both Christian artists, without the quote marks. It first of all seems to me to be a sign of respect, an acknowledgement that C.S. Lewis and at least three members of U2 are in fact legitimate Christians.

But beyond that, they are Christian artists because Christianity informs so much of their art. If I had to name what parts of their personalities most influence their art, I'd say that Lewis expresses himself as a rational Christian, and U2 as Irish Christians.

Essentially, the thread of Christianity run too fully in their work. You cannot separate the art from the faith that helped inspire it.


Anyway, returning to Tolkien, you make a legitimate complaint; some people do find the rambling, completist's style a bit hard to muddle through; some don't.

And my problem with Harry Potter is NOT the training of child wizards; it's the frivolity with which they are trained. Compare it to the seriousness taken in considering Anakin's fate in Star Wars Episode I. Or, if you've read it, compare it with Ender's Game. In all three cases, we have children being taught to use very deadly powers.

And yet, in Harry Potter, there's a certain frivolity and non-chanlance that has no business being there. The school is attempting to teach them very powerful things while allowing them to act like regular children, and that's conceptually irresponsible.


(Oh, and Lord of The Rings is meant to be taken as one book, not a "convenient" trilogy, though I wonder how exactly a series of three books is convenient.)

[This message has been edited by Achtung Bubba (edited 01-26-2002).]
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Old 01-27-2002, 12:28 AM   #17
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Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:


Anyway, returning to Tolkien, you make a legitimate complaint; some people do find the rambling, completist's style a bit hard to muddle through; some don't.

And my problem with Harry Potter is NOT the training of child wizards; it's the frivolity with which they are trained. Compare it to the seriousness taken in considering Anakin's fate in Star Wars Episode I. Or, if you've read it, compare it with Ender's Game. In all three cases, we have children being taught to use very deadly powers.

And yet, in Harry Potter, there's a certain frivolity and non-chanlance that has no business being there. The school is attempting to teach them very powerful things while allowing them to act like regular children, and that's conceptually irresponsible.


(Oh, and Lord of The Rings is meant to be taken as one book, not a "convenient" trilogy, though I wonder how exactly a series of three books is convenient.)

Interesting points about Harry Potter. I mainly just considered them fun reads, don't quite understand why they've turned into such massive successes. I think there's plenty of children's lit out there that is far superior.

About Tolkien, I guess it's a matter of taste--the thing I love so very much about his books, the thing that puts them ahead of all other fantasy for me is the world he creates. With most other fantasy worlds, at best, you think it's a neat creation, you can escape there for a while, but it's not real (I would make a definite exception for Le Guin's Earthsea.) But with Tolkien, it's not just fun escapism. I KNOW it's real, because there is such a mind-boggling amount of depth to it and he believes in it completely. But no, not everyone wants to know the full story of Beren and Luthien or the six names of Anduril, Flame of the West.

Anyone read Lewis's Space trilogy? Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength. I have read them but only liked parts. I don't really remember enough to make intelligent commentary but I would be interested to know what others think.

And how about Charles Williams? Another one of the Oxford "Inklings," along with Lewis and Tolkien. His Arthurian poems, Taliessin Through Logres and The Region of Summer Stars are very difficult but quite amazing too. I also read one of his "supernatural thrillers," War in Heaven but found it very creepy and didn't really enjoy it.

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Old 01-27-2002, 09:16 AM   #18
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Achtung Bubba, I am sorry but I don't see what is more respectful about calling either U2 or Lewis 'Christian', ESPECIALLY the former, who countless and countless of times have been quite explicit about being seen as a 'Christian' band, how, if I may quote Larry 'I have more in common with non-Christians than with Christians, I'm not ashamed to say that'.

I'm sorry, but I don't think it would be particularly respectful to call them a 'Christian' band, why not be more respectful and call them a 'Human' band, concerned with very human values reflecting the human condition?

As for Lewis, I can understand your arguments and I can almost agree with them. I guess that I just think of him more as a proper artist. I dislike limiting the credibility of artists by placing names before them. It would be like calling Salvador Dali a 'fascist' artist, because of his political leanings, it would be like calling Picasso an 'erotic' artist because of some of his works - these labels ignore the bigger picture.

As for your Harry Potter arguments, again I don't see your point. I don't see why they should be learning about the dark side of their powers to destroy; if you'll recall they're being taught how to DEFEND themselves from the dark arts, just the SAME way the jedis are taught how to defend themselves, NOT to delve into the 'dark side'. As for 'the power to kill', you forget that the wizard world has a lot in common with our world in the sense that not all of us are trained to kill. You seem to want the kids to learn magical powers to kill others, when human children, if I recall properly from Home Economics class, are never taught how to use a gun.

I don't see where you're coming from; just admit that you don't like Harry Potter because of the style its written in and the audience its directed to, the whole argument about logic values and uniform notions in a book about magic baffles me.

If you're going to start with practicality, we will never end in the ridiculous world of Jedis and Wookies, and Orcs and Hobbits. All of these worlds are inspiring to different people, but they are all united under the same blanket of incredibility.

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Old 01-27-2002, 12:12 PM   #19
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I'm not going to "just admit that (I) don't like Harry Potter because of the style its written in and the audience its directed to", because that ISN'T it!

Since you didn't respond to the comparison to "Ender's Game", I'll assume you haven't read it and limit myself to Star Wars.

Look at the SERIOUSNESS with which the Jedi Council considered training Anakin Skywalker, a boy that was both very gifted and very succeptible to the Dark Side. Look at the seriousness Yoda demanded of Luke, the "most serious mind" that the training requires and the fact that Luke was told he must complete his training.

The Jedi are trained like soldiers, samurai, and preists - and they SHOULD be. Why? Because the skills they are learning are very dangerous, and with these powers comes great responsibility.

From the Quidditch game to the race for points for your group, there is NO such seriousness - at very least, none that I have seen in the film; to be honest, I haven't read the books, but I have asked my girlfriend, who has, whether my complaint has any validity.

It seems to me that the kids at Hogwart's are allowed to act like children. That WOULD be fine, but they're learning to use powers that most adults lack. With those powers they SHOULD be taught rigorous discipline, and it doesn't look like they are.

Environment aside (Orcs, wookiees, wizards, etc.), the reason I prefer the Star Wars galaxy and Middle Earth over Hogwart's is the fact that the behavior in the former STILL makes sense in context.


Now, to a more important topic, one that I should have covered earlier.

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.

Yes, in this situation, life IS black and white, despite any reluctance to say that somebody else is wrong.

The reason is this: unlike Socrates or Confucius, Christ claimed to be the Son of God.

THE SON OF GOD.

If you are a normal human, claiming this status - the status of beign equivalent to God Himself - is as ridiculous as asserting, "I am a cabbage."

Christ said that He was God, there from before the beginning of the universe, all-powerful, all-knowing, unchanging, and everlasting.

He was either insane, demonic, or right.

One CANNOT honestly ignore His claim to the throne of God and say, "Well, he's still a good teacher."

It is that black and white. There are no other alternatives.
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Old 01-27-2002, 01:13 PM   #20
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Just so people know, I am reading this thread, so if people do have comments on C.S. Lewis, I am reading them. Thanks to those who have commented on him already.

As for the side debate, I'm letting it run it's course.

Melon

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