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Showing posts from April, 2007

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…