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C. S. Lewis on the Campaign Trail

This report appeared at the end of an article in The New York Times online today:

“Who is your favorite author?” Aleya Deatsch, 7, of West Des Moines asked Mr. Huckabee in one of those posing-like-a-shopping-mall-Santa moments.

Mr. Huckabee paused, then said his favorite author was Dr.
Seuss.

In an interview afterward with the news media, Aleya said she was somewhat surprised. She thought the candidate would be reading at a higher level.

“My favorite author is C. S. Lewis,” she said.
Perhaps Aleya should be running for president.

Prince Caspian Trailer

The Prince Caspian Trailer is now available to view online. Click here: http://www.narniaweb.com/news.asp?id=1355&dl=14478175.

To read about some atheists who were outraged by this trailer appearing before a showing of The Golden Compass, click here: http://comicsnexus.insidepulse.com/articles/72400/2007/12/08/atheists-outraged-by-film-trailer.html.

With all the hullabaloo about Philip Pullman's Golden Compass, Christians practically boycotting the film, and now atheists complaining about the Narnia trailer showing prior to the film, it makes me wonder why more parents don't show the same sense displayed by C. S. Lewis's parents. Albert and Flora Lewis had many books in their home and their sons were allowed to read anything they wanted. In the case of those two boys, such freedom to read and be exposed to different ideas doesn't seem to have harmed them.

The Fields of Boyhood

At the very end of the last book C. S. Lewis wrote, during the last year of his life on earth, he said to his fictitious correspondent Malcolm:

". . . but don't run away with the idea that when I speak of the resurrection of the body I mean merely that the blessed dead will have excellent memories of their sensuous experience on earth. I mean it the other way round: that memory as we now know it is a dim foretaste, a mirage even, of a power which the soul, or rather Christ in the soul (He went to 'prepare a place' for us), will exercise hereafter. It need no longer be intermittent. Above all, it need no longer be private to the soul in which it occurs. I can now communicate to you the fields of my boyhood--they are building-estates to-day--only imperfectly, by words. Perhaps the day is coming when I can take you for a walk through them." Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Letter XXII
Let me go on record here as saying that I want to be one of the first to g…

The Fall

Here are the discussion questions on the chapter on "The Fall" from Mere Theology:

How does Lewis's view of the Fall story in Genesis 3 as myth affect your view of the doctrine of the Fall?What do you think of Lewis's view that political equality is necessitated by the Fall?How does Lewis's view of death as punishment, mercy and/or safety device impact you?Do you agree or disagree with Lewis's arguments against total depravity? Why?How did you appreciate Lewis's treatment of the Fall in Perelandra and The Magician's Nephew? I look forward to hearing your thoughts. . . .

New Book In Print

My second book is now in print and may be ordered from most of the online booksellers or your favorite bookstore. To read more about it visit: http://www.willvaus2.blogspot.com/ or www.willvaus.com/my_father_was_a_gangster.

C. S. Lewis Meets N. T. Wright

On October 26, 2007 I delivered a paper at a C. S. Lewis conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The title of that paper was: C. S. Lewis Meets N. T. Wright: The Trilemma Re-Visited. In that paper I considered Lewis's statement in Mere Christianity about the divinity of Christ:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; o…

Creation

Here are the discussion questions for the chapter on Creation in Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. I look forward to your responses and discussion. . . .
If the creation story in Genesis was derived from earlier Semitic stories how does this affect your view of the creation story?How does Lewis's illustration of creation ex nihilo in The Magician's Nephew affect you?What do you think of Lewis's perspective on the purpose of human creation by God? Do you agree or disagree with Lewis's view of Genesis 1 and Lewis's theistic evolutionary stance? Why? What do you make of Lewis's view of science and scientism? What do you think about the way Lewis rings the changes on the theory of evolution?

God's Sovereignty & Human Responsibility

This chapter was the first piece I wrote which eventually became Mere Theology. It was originally given as a Lenten lecture to the Anglican Society of Columbia, South Carolina. After refining it a bit, I delivered this chapter as a paper at a C. S. Lewis conference at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and it was originally published in the bulletin of the New York C. S. Lewis Society. Thus, this chapter has had a long and varied life so far! If I were writing it over again today I might put a few things differently, but that's another story.
Here are the questions for discussion. I look forward to hearing your responses. . . .
What do you think of Lewis's answer to the question: Why did God give free will to human beings?What do you think Lewis means when he says in Perelandra that predestination and freedom are identical?How does Lewis use the concept of God being outside of time to explain the apparent contradiction between predestination and free will? Is this expla…

The Three-Personal God

We are up to chapter 3 in our discussion of Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. Here are some discussion questions to get us started on this chapter on the Trinity:
Do you think Norman Pittenger's criticism of Lewis's teaching on the Trinity was fair or not?Does Lewis's explanation of how the doctrine of the Trinity developed seem reasonable?Which one of Lewis's Trinitarian analogies best helps you to understand and embrace the Christian doctrine of the Trinity: the cube? the prayer closet? the books? the relationship between imagination, image and will? love? or the Great Dance? Why?What do you think of the Trinitarian images in Lewis's fiction? Do these images make the Trinity more attractive or understandable to you? Feel free to chip in your thoughts apart from these questions, or raise a question of your own.

Severe Mercy Movie Web Site

Origin Entertainment now has a web site up for A Severe Mercy, the movie. You can visit the web site by clicking here: http://aseveremercythemovie.com.
Or to learn more about the author and original book click here: http://www.willvaus.com/sheldon_vanauken .

The Company They Keep

I have just finished reading The Company They Keep by Diana Pavlac Glyer. This is the definitive treatment to date of the literary group known as the Inklings--that group of writers and friends who gathered around C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien beginning in the 1920's and 30's in Oxford, England and continuing on, in some fashion, until Lewis's death in 1963.

Glyer is professor of English at Azusa Pacific University in California, having received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Therefore, as one might expect, this is an academic book reflecting the highest level of scholarship. The chapter endnotes are a feast in and of themselves for every reader fascinated not only with the Inklings but every reader intrigued by the study of literary influence and how writers can positively effect one another and the world when they work together in community.

Glyer attacks head-on the common assumption about the Inklings, Lewis and Tolkien in particular. Tha…

Scripture

Well, we haven't kept to our one chapter per week schedule. Sorry about that! Hopefully the discussion participants who were away from their computers are back now, and the lurkers will make themselves known! We welcome the participation of all--those new to Lewis as well as those who have been reading his stuff for a lifetime. There are no bad comments--only comments shared or unshared. We prefer the ones that are shared!

Here are the discussion questions for chapter two of Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. I look forward to hearing your responses. . . .
What do you make of C. S. Lewis's assertion that many of the stories in the Old Testament are mythical? (Be sure to remember Lewis's definition of myth before you answer this question.)What do you think of Lewis's proposition, as a literary critic, that the Gospels are not legends?Why does Lewis reject the idea of biblical inerrancy? Do you agree or disagree with him? Why?What objections does …

Defending the Faith

Here we go with week 2 of our discussion of Mere Theology. This week we get into the meat of the book and talk about Lewis's work as an apologist. I look forward to hearing your responses to these questions, as well as hearing questions of your own. . . .
Do you agree with the statement: We cannot prove the existence of God?Why or why not?Have you experienced sehnsucht? If so, describe the experience. Do you think the experience of sehnsucht is an echo of our human longing for God? Many people today say they do not believe in any kind of absolute right and wrong. Do you think this belief can be held consistently?Do you think that some sort of belief in ultimate Reason is necessary to science or clear thinking in general? Why or why not? What do you think of Lewis's evaluation of various world-views? Do you think they hold water, or are they too superficial? What about Lewis's argument that Jesus was either a madman, something worse, or the Son of God? Is this argument cre…

Mere Theology--Introduction

Here we go! This is the beginning of our discussion of Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. The plan is for each of us to read one chapter of Mere Theology every week and then discuss it. Each week or so I will offer a few questions to get us started on each new chapter, starting this week with the Introduction to the book. We may go slower than a chapter a week if a lot of discussion is generated. So here are the questions for the first week:
How were you introduced to the work of C. S. Lewis? What Lewis books have you read?Why do you think Lewis denied being a real theologian?What do you think of Lewis's definition of theology as "the science of God"? Do you think theology is more like science or more like art? In what ways does Lewis approach theology like a science? In what ways does he treat theology as an art?Do you agree with Lewis that theology is like a map? If so, is it a helpful map? Why or why not? Do you agree with Lewis that the goal of…

Mere Theology Discussion

A few of the members of our Harrisonburg C. S. Lewis Society have expressed a desire to discuss my book: Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis. So, with this blog I hereby announce the forthcoming discussion.

We will discuss one chapter per week. This should take about 27 weeks! I will post a few questions each week dealing with each chapter, just to get the discussion going. Then you can join in by posting a comment on that question.

It would be helpful to know how many Lewisians out in cyberspace would like to join in, so you can let me know by posting a comment on this blog.

If you need to purchase the book I would recommend doing one of two things. Click on the link to order from Amazon.com: http://www.willvaus.com/mere_theology or, if you would like a signed copy, send a check for $25 (covering the cost of the book plus S&H) to:

Will Vaus
P. O. Box 581
Monterey VA 24465

and I will send you an autographed copy.

Any questions?

C. S. Lewis on Church Attendance

A friend's blog written yesterday (http://wesroberts.typepad.com/) got me thinking about C. S. Lewis's experience of the church. I wrote this in a comment on Wes Robert's blog:
It is interesting to note that C. S. Lewis attended the same small church for over thirty years. The experience was nothing spectacular on a weekly basis. For most of those years Lewis didn't care much for the sermons; he even sat behind a pillar so that the priest would not see the expression on his face. He attended the service without music because he so disliked hymns. And he left right after holy communion was served probably because he didn't like to engage in small talk with other parishioners after the service. But that life-long obedience in the same direction shaped Lewis in a way that nothing else could.
Lewis was once asked, "Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?"
His answer was as follows: &q…

C. S. Lewis's Parish Church

The first time I visited Oxford, in 1982, the porter at Magdalen College didn't even recognize the name--C. S. Lewis. I had asked him if he could give me directions to Lewis's former home in Headington Quarry. Obviously, he could not and did not. (Directions to Lewis's former home are now much easier to obtain. Just click here for directions and to arrange a tour: The Kilns.)
Things have changed a lot since 1982. Now Lewis is remembered all around Oxford. At the pub where the Inklings met, at Magdalen College, and not least--at his parish church--Holy Trinity Headington Quarry. The first time I visited the church I only saw the outside and Lewis's grave, shared with his brother Warnie.
Since that first visit I have returned to Holy Trinity a number of times and worshiped there. Father Tom Honey is a real gem. Under his leadership the congregation has grown and now includes a number of young families. I was overwhelmed by the number of children who came into the sanctuary…

C. S. Lewis on America

Every Fourth of July I wear some article of clothing in remembrance of the losing side in America's War for Independence. This year I wore a Union Jack pin on the collar of my T-shirt. Yes, I am a certifiable Anglophile.

As such, I got to wondering: "What did C. S. Lewis have to say about America?" Here is one answer:

"Columbus, a man of lofty mind, with missionary and scientific interests, had the original idea of acting on the age-old doctrine of the earth's rotundity and sailing west to find the east. Lands which no one had dreamed of barred his way. Though we all know, we often forget, that the existence of America was one of the greatest disappointments in the history of Europe. Plans laid and hardships borne in the hope of reaching Cathay, merely ushered in a period during which we became to America what the Huns had been to us. Foiled of Cathay, the Spaniards fell back on exploiting the mineral wealth of the new continent. The English, coming later and d…

Book-Signing

Book signings are always fun events for a writer, at least for a writer who is as new to the profession as I am. Such events are enjoyable for the obvious reason that they are flattering to the ego but also for some less obvious reasons.* I enjoy the people I get to meet, like those I met this week at a book signing in my home town of Monterey, Virginia.

Who said a prophet hath no honor in his home town? I felt very honored indeed. I had the privilege of meeting a woman who was both a lawyer and a theologian--following in the great tradition of John Calvin, no doubt. There was also another person present at the signing who began reading C. S. Lewis in the 1940's. There were others who shared my interest in travel and the desire to get to know the life setting (the sitz-em-leben) behind the works of a beloved author; in fact, one other person present at the signing had been to Oxford and seen the grounds of The Kilns, Lewis's home.

All that to say, if you invite me to d…

Tea with C. S. Lewis

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger lately. Actually, I've been a non-existent blogger. One of the reasons is because I have been working on editing my new book. To read more about that click on the My Father Was a Gangster link to the right. So, I'm sorry for leaving all of you, my friends in blogland, high and dry. Forgive me. I will try to do better in the future.

Also, last Sunday I had tea with C. S. Lewis . . . sort of. Actually what my wife and I did was to invite the Harrisonburg C. S. Lewis Society over to our house for an English Tea and a viewing of the documentary--C. S. Lewis: Dreamer of Narnia. We feasted on scones, hot out of the oven, the only way to eat scones. We munched on cucumber sandwiches, of course; how can one have an English tea without cucumber sandwiches? We also delighted in delectable Eton Mess. What is Eton Mess you ask? It is the dessert traditionally served for Parent's Day at Eton College, every June 4, I believe. Eto…

C. S. Lewis Society

There was a fine newspaper article today in the Daily News Record of Harrisonburg, Virginia about our Harrisonburg C. S. Lewis Society. Ray Schneider, pictured above, was one of the members of our group interviewed by Luanne Austin of the Record. To read the article click here: Daily News Record. To learn more about our C. S. Lewis Society click here: C. S. Lewis Society.

The Old Inn

As a follow-up to my last blog about the C. S. Lewis Trail I thought some of you, who might consider a trip to Belfast, would like to see some more photos of the Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, County Down. C. S. Lewis once said that his vision of heaven was of Oxford picked up and set down in the middle of County Down, so that should give you an idea of how beautiful the countryside is. I think I would have to agree with CSL. The Old Inn is the place where Lewis took his wife Joy on their honeymoon and it is set in a lovely part of the county.

To my mind, Ulster (Northern Ireland as a whole) is the best kept secret in Ireland, at least among Americans. During our visits there we were struck by how few Americans we met along the way. Many from Europe have discovered the beauties of Northern Ireland, but I think many Americans are put off by memories of "The Troubles" in the news. Our experience in touring Northern Ireland was that it was a peaceful and breathtakingly gorgeous …

The C. S. Lewis Trail

The C. S. Lewis Trail is a path around the environs of East Belfast, and beyond that to Crawfordsburn, which takes the walker and/or driver around the major sites associated with C. S. Lewis in Northern Ireland. Maps of the C. S. Lewis Trail may be obtained from St. Mark's Church, Dundela. Click here for more info: C. S. Lewis & St. Mark's Church.

I have been "on the trail" on three occasions: by myself in 2002, with my wife in 2003, and with my children in 2004. The photos above are from my visit in 2002. Clockwise from top left are photos of: The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn; the blue plaque at Lewis's birthplace, a view of Belfast, the childhood home of Arthur Greeves (no longer standing), Campbell College (the boys' school Lewis attended for a brief time, the C. S. Lewis sculpture by Ross Wilson in Strandtown, the sign near Dundela Flats (where Lewis was born).

My wife and I especially enjoyed our stay at the Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, where Lewis often s…

A Severe Mercy--The Movie

Great news! I just read today that a company has purchased the rights to develop A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken into a film, and someone is beginning to work on a script for the movie. To read more about it click here: A Severe Mercy.
A Severe Mercy is one of my favorite books of all time. I was blessed to correspond with Sheldon Vanauken and meet him twice during the last year of his life. To learn more about him and the book click here: www.willvaus.com/sheldon_vanauken.

George Sayer

In 1997 my wife and I led a C. S. Lewis Tour to England. George Sayer, C. S. Lewis's former student, friend and biographer, helped us plan what we would do for our visit to Great Malvern, the English country town where Lewis attended preparatory school between the ages of 12 and 15. Sayer told us just what we should see and even where we could go on one of Lewis's favorite walks. To top it all off, Mr. Sayer met with our group and gave us a delightful lecture on Lewis and his work, followed by a tour of Malvern College, where Lewis had been a student and Sayer himself taught English, in more recent years.

To my great joy I discovered today that Dick Staub posted an interview with George Sayer on The Kindlings web site. I listened to the first part of the interview earlier today and felt like I just had a visit again with Mr. Sayer. My one regret about that visit to Great Malvern was that we had so little time together. I told Mr. Sayer that I wished we could spend a lot more …

St. Mark's

Above is my scrapbook page of St. Mark's, Dundela, Belfast, the church where C. S. Lewis was baptized and in which he had his early training in the faith. (The picture below shows the baptismal font in the center.) Lewis's maternal grandfather was the first rector of St. Mark's, and thus Lewis's mother, Flora, grew up in the Rectory (above left). Lewis could see the tower of St. Mark's (above right) from the third floor window of Little Lea, the window at the opposite end of the house from the Little End Room.


Lewis wrote the following about his early church experience in Surprised by Joy:


"If aesthetic experiences were rare, religious experiences did not occur at all. Some people have got the impression from my books that I was brought up in strict and vivid Puritanism, but this is quite untrue. I was taught the usual things and made to say my prayers and in due time taken to church. I naturally accepted what I was told but I cannot remember feeling much int…

Little Lea

One of the greatest joys of my life has been touring C. S. Lewis's Ireland and England, so I thought I would share a bit of that tour with you here in this blog, starting with Lewis's childhood home, Little Lea, on the outskirts of Belfast. Lewis writes of that home in Surprised by Joy:

"In 1905, my seventh year, the first great change in my life took place. We moved house. My father, growing, I suppose in prosperity, decided to leave the semi-detachd villa in which I had been born and build himself a much larger house, further out in what was then the country. The 'New House', as we continued for years to call it, was a large one even by my present standards; to a child it seemed less like a house than a city."


The key phrase in that last paragraph is: "to a child". What Lewis tells us in Surprised by Joy is told from a child's perspective. The house is large, but not so large as Lewis makes it sound. But to a child it would have been huge. I&#…

Fantasist, Mythmaker & Poet

Volume 2 of C. S. Lewis: Life, Works & Legacy focuses on Lewis's work as fantasist, mythmaker and poet. It contains thirteen chapters with essays by various Lewis scholars on subjects ranging from Lewis's Cosmic Trilogy to Narnia, and Till We Have Faces to Screwtape.
One feature of this volume I especially appreciate are the essays by Don King on Lewis's poetry. King is undoubtedly the world expert on this aspect of Lewis's work. I found King's third essay on what he calls Lewis's "topical" poems quite helpful. Rather than surveying Lewis's post-conversion poetry in chronological order, King leads us through, what I consider to be the best of Lewis's poetry, in a topical manner. King concludes with an evaluation of Lewis's explicitly religious poetry. King calls this "perhaps the finest body of poetry he [Lewis] produced."
I would have to agree with King's assessment. Of these religious poems one of my favorites is The A…

C. S. Lewis: Life, Works & Legacy

Volume 4 of C. S. Lewis: Life, Works & Legacy focuses on Lewis as "Scholar, Teacher & Public Intellectual". One of the most helpful essays in this volume for people wanting to learn more about Lewis and his work is entitled C. S. Lewis Scholarship: A Bibliographical Overview by Diana Pavlac Glyer and David Bratman. This essay is an excellent, up-to-date survey of secondary Lewis literature.

Of course one of the reasons why I like this essay is because Glyer and Bratman have such nice things to say about my book, Mere Theology: A Guide to the Thought of C. S. Lewis! Glyer and Bratman write:

"In general, the best books on Lewis's theology do not attempt to argue his point; they explain his views or place them in a wider context.

"The finest of these books is Mere Theology by Will Vaus, which offers a systematic catalog of Lewis's religious thought on a wide variety of subjects: scripture, the trinity, the fall, the Holy Spirit, the church, prayer, hel…

Apologist, Philosopher & Theologian

Here is that wonderful photo of C. S. Lewis which I mentioned in yesterday's blog--a photo I have never seen before. It is on the cover of Volume III of C. S. Lewis: Life, Works & Legacy, edited by Bruce Edwards. The third volume in this stupendous series of scholarly essays treats Lewis as apologist (defender of the faith), philosopher and theologian.

I have only had time to take a quick dip into this volume, but what immediately attracted my eye was the chapter on The Sermons of C. S. Lewis: The Oxford Don as Preacher by Greg Anderson. Preaching is a much neglected aspect of Lewis's work, and so I look forward to learning more from Anderson's article. As Anderson points out in the essay, Lewis was not known for being a biblical expositor. In his sermons he never takes just one text to flesh it out for his hearers. But one wonders: "Is biblical exposition the only way to preach biblically?" After all, Jesus himself seldom if ever exposited a text of …

It's Here!

My copy of the four volume series, C. S. Lewis: Life, Works & Legacy, edited by Bruce L. Edwards, arrived today. And what a handsome set of hardback books it is! As a true bibliophile I love not only the content of my favorite books, but also the way they look on the shelf, the way they feel, the way they smell. This beautiful collection is a delight on all counts. One added bonus is that the photo on the cover of volume 3 is a photo of C. S. Lewis which I have never seen before. I will have to share that in a future blog.

For now I say bravo to Bruce Edwards and to all the contributors. I can't wait to dive in and wade through all the contents. I imagine it will be as much of a delight reading all the essays as it was writing the four biographical essays which I was honored to contribute to the first volume.

If you want to enjoy these books for yourself and can't afford the $300 price tag, let me encourage you to urge your local library to purchase this true encyclopedia…

The Writer's Knife

On 2 May 1935 C. S. Lewis made the following statement in a letter to The Times Literary Supplement regarding the determination of the most accurate text of Shakespeare's plays:

"We cannot even say that those changes which Shakespeare agreed to reluctantly (supposing we can identify them) are corruptions: no man, perhaps, ever finishes a work of art without omitting much that he would gladly have retained, nor does the knife always hurt less in the author's own hand than in another's."

(Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III, p. 1529)

That, to me, is a fascinating statement about one writer from the pen of another writer. And I feel the truth of that statement very keenly right now as I am working on editing my second book. There is much that I will have to omit which I would have gladly retained, and wielding the knife myself hurts no less than having it wielded by my publisher!

For more on my next book you may visit my other blog at: http://willvaus2.b…

Grieving the Loss of Father

Having lost my own father through death ten years ago, I found very touching the following letter from C. S. Lewis written just after his father's death. The letter is written to the nurse who cared for Lewis's dying mother twenty-one years before. This wonderful lady apparently wrote a note of sympathy to C. S. Lewis upon the death of his father. . . .

Magdalen College,
Oxford
Sept. 29th 1929

My dear Nurse Davison,

Excuse me. I cannot address you by any other name. Remember you? I should think I do. Do you remember the night Warnie and I came home very late and got into trouble and were sent to bed without supper, and you brought us in bread and jam in our little room -- opposite my father's bedroom? Do you remember the night you went to the Mikado with Warnie and I wasn't allowed to go? Do you remember the first night before my poor mother's operation when you both sat and talked about operations and I said 'Well you are gloomy people.' And now it has all h…

Easter Sunday

"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!'"

Luke 24:1-6

"It is very important to be clear about what these people meant. When modern writers talk of the Resurrection they usually mean one particular moment--the discovery of the Empty Tomb and the appearance of Jesus a few yards away from it. The story of that moment is what Christian apologists now chiefly try to support and sceptics chiefly try to impugn. But this almost exclusive concentration on the first five minutes or so of the R…

Holy Saturday

"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison . . ." 1 Peter 3:18-19

"'Only the Greatest of all can make Himself small enough to enter Hell. For the higher a thing is, the lower it can descend--a man can sympathise with a horse but a horse cannot sympathise with a rat. Only One has descended into Hell.'

"'And will He ever do so again?'

"'It was not once long ago that He did it. Time does not work that way when once ye have left the Earth. All moments that have been or shall be were, or are, present in the moment of His descending. There is no spirit in prison to Whom He did not preach.'

"'And some hear him?'

"'Aye.'"

C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1945, p. 114.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for descending…

Good Friday

"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last."

Luke 23:44-46

"God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing--or should we say 'seeing'? there are no tenses in God--the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath's sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a 'host' who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploi…

Maundy Thursday

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'

"In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'" Luke 22:19-20

"I do not know and can't imagine what the disciples understood Our Lord to mean when, His body still unbroken and His blood unshed, He handed them the bread and wine, saying they were His body and blood. I can find within the forms of my human understanding no connection between eating a man--and it is as Man that the Lord has flesh--and entering into any spiritual oneness or community . . . with him. And I find 'substance' (in Aristotle's sense), when stripped of its own accidents and endowed with the accidents of some other substance, an object I cannot think. My effort to do so produces mere nursery-thinking--a picture of something like very rare…

Wednesday of Holy Week

"Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’"

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1952, p. 155.

I went to the dentist the other day, and to my chagrin, discovered that the tooth which was bothering me didn’t merely need a new filling, it needed a root canal and crown. But when the dentist got to work on my tooth a week later he said, "I don’t think it needs a root canal after all. Let…

Tuesday of Holy Week

"Then he [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.'"

Mark 8:34-35

"Now the proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator--to enact intellectually, volitionally, and emotionally, that relationship which is given in the mere fact of its being a creature. When it does so, it is good and happy. Lest we should think this a hardship, this kind of good begins on a level far above the creatures, for God Himself, as Son, from all eternity renders back to God as Father by filial obedience the being which the Father by paternal love eternally generates in the Son. This is the pattern which man was made to imitate--which Paradisal man did imitate--and wherever the will conferred by the Creator is thus perfectly offered back …

Monday of Holy Week

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When d…

Passion Sunday

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:5-11
"The perfect surrender and humiliation were undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man. Now the Christian belief is that if we somehow share the humility and suffering of Christ we shall also share in His conquest of death and find a new life after we have died and in it become per…

The Inklings

In January 1963 C. S. Lewis clarified what "The Inklings" was all about in a letter to the editor of Encounter:

"I have ben reading John Wain's Sprightly Running, and find there a good many references to myself. Many of them are extremely kind, and all are inoffensive: but there is one passage which I must contradict on merely factual grounds. Whether the matter it deals with is at all worth recording, is doubtful: but if it is to be recorded, let us get it right.

"On page 183 Mr. Wain is talking about a very informal club that used to meet in my rooms, and says he was 'surprised by the alliances it was capable of forming.' He thinks Dorothy Sayers was an ally 'because she was a Christian and liked Dante'; Roger L. Green, 'because he was an authority on fairy tales'; and Roy Campbell, 'because he was a Roman Catholic' and 'anti-socialist.'

"The truth is:
Dorothy Sayers, so far as I know, was not even acquainted w…

Dependence

On 10 December 1962 C. S. Lewis wrote to Mary Willis Shelburne:

"One must get over any false shame about accepting necessary help. One never has been 'independent'. Always, in some mode or other, one has lived on others, economically, intellectually, spiritually. Who, after all, is less independent than someone with 'a private income'-- every penny of which has been earned by the skill and labour of others? Poverty merely reveals the helpless dependence which has all the time been our real condition. We are members of one another whether we choose to recognise the fact or not."

Collected Letters, Volume III, 1390

These wise words of C. S. Lewis reminded me today of the words of a poem often quoted by my father. I do not know the name of the author. . . .

One by one He took them from me, all the things I valued most,
until I was empty-handed, every glittering toy was lost.
I walked earth’s highways grieving, in my rags and poverty,
until I heard His voice invi…