Tag: C. S. Lewis

Quote of the Day: Friendship and Stories

 

“Those who cannot conceive of friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a friend.” – C.S. Lewis

Contemporary media and culture does not seem to understand friendship, which is a tragedy beyond measure.  A true friend is worth more than refined platinum.   There was the friend who picked me up in another state, the friend who prayed with me after I snapped and lost control of myself, the friend who asked me to be his best man, the friend I talked down from the brink of suicide, the friend I trained and hired for my job, the friend who taught me how to shoot, the friend who I introduced to his future wife.   All of these are men I care about and respect – my bros.   There are also close friends I have that are ladies whom I am not romantically involved with at all.  These are co-workers and old college friends, one of whom is like an adopted younger sister.  The idea that having a close friend actually means a desire to screw them is utterly disgusting to me, but society seems to aim that way.

Quote of the Day: Chivalry as “Art” Rather Than “Nature”

 

The medieval ideal brought together two things which have no natural tendency to gravitate towards one another.  It brought them together for that very reason.  It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson.  It demanded valour of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was as likely as not to be a milksop.

I can’t help thinking, when I read this passage from C.S. Lewis’s short essay, “The Necessity of Chivalry,” (now published as part of a collection titled Present Concerns), of a few of my favorite war movies, some of which feature heroes of extraordinary bravery and fortitude combined with a sense of “humility and forbearance,” and some of which feature everyday men and women engaging in, however small or local, acts of “valor.”  (The fact that these sorts of movies are my favorites probably explains why I’m not wild about movies that, start to finish, are nothing more than unremitting violent bloodbaths.)  As Lewis puts it:

If we cannot produce Launcelots, humanity falls into two sections–those who can deal in blood and iron but cannot be “meek in hall”, and those who are “meek in hall” but useless in battle–for the third class, who are both brutal in peace and cowardly in war, need not here be discussed. When this disassociation of the two halves of Launcelot occurs, history becomes a horribly simple affair. The ancient history of the Near East is like that. Hardy barbarians swarm down from their highlands and obliterate a civilization. Then they become civilized themselves and go soft. Then a new wave of barbarians comes down and obliterates them.  Then the cycle begins over again.  Modern machinery will not change this cycle; it will only enable the same thing to happen on a larger scale.  Indeed, nothing much else can ever happen if the ‘stern’ and the ‘meek’ fall into two mutually exclusive classes.  And never forget that this is their natural condition.  The man who combines both characters–the knight–is a work not of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium.

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In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to experiencing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction. [ . . . ][M]yth is the isthmus which connects the peninsular world of thought with that vast continent we really belong to. It is not, like truth, abstract; nor is […]

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Sure, All Saints Day Is Christian, but What About the Night Before?

 

Many Christians have problems with Halloween. There are many reasons for this, but I’ll mention two of the primary ones.

  1. Many Christians find horror and ghost stories and films objectionable. Surely Christians should be thinking about more pleasant things.
  2. In recent years, adults have made the holiday more of their own. With that has come the popularity of the “sexy” costume: “sexy nurse”, “sexy librarian”, “sexy mortician”, “sexy sexiness”, etc. The whole enterprise has become a dirty joke.

But the great apologist C. S. Lewis looked at these things a little differently. Both of these things can be seen as a reason to believe.

Screwtape Explains It All

 

The Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking ‘Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?’ they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them to make. As a result, while their minds are buzzing in this vacuum, we have the better chance to slip in and bend them to the action we have decided on. And great work has already been done. Once they knew that some changes were for the better, and others for the worse, and others again indifferent. We have largely removed this knowledge. For the descriptive adjective ‘unchanged’ we have substituted the emotional adjective ‘stagnant.’ We have trained them to think of the Future as a promised land which favoured heroes attain–not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is,

Your affectionate uncle
Screwtape

June 9 QOTD: The Cruel Humanitarian

 

The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it is not. If you leave out justice you will find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials “for the sake of humanity,” and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

How do our impulses (or passions, as they are also often called) go out of control? What makes us prone to skewing so far, and to persist long after the evidence shows the passion to be warped or misdirected? What makes a humanitarian ultimately cruel?

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I review a lot of children’s books for a website called Redeemed Reader. A common theme in children’s fantasy is “magic” as a lost element in a disenchanted world. The protagonist is born with some supernatural gift or sensitivity that no one appreciates, but once presented with a problem he (or she) forges fearfully ahead […]

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Continuing ruminations on C.S. Lewis quotes regarding good/evil apropos to lockdown (first post here) we come to the question, What is good?  Lewis’ writing is the product of a well-developed mind in a man who turned to Christianity in his thirties, which frames these brief thoughts on absolute good and the choice of good or evil: […]

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Lewis’s prognosis—or is it perhaps a prophecy?—is the stuff of great science fiction, often reminiscent of Huxley’s earlier Brave New World or Orwell’s later 1984 or other classic dystopian stories (as discussed in chapters 14 and 17 in the volume under review). Accordingly, those who love both C.S. Lewis and science fiction will rejoice that there is now an […]

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Quote of the Day: From a Devil

 

Screwtape: Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking “Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?” they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them to make.

Screwtape (a fictional character from C.S. Lewis) is a devil, a demon, a minion of Satan, a deceiver and tempter of men. Here he’s giving some advice to a younger devil on how to deceive. The devils want us to ignore genuine reason and commit fallacies. Like ad populum fallacies–appealing to the preference of a majority when the majority lacks knowledge.

Quote of the Day: “The Doors of Hell Are Locked on the Inside”

 

Eight days after I began work there, as the organization’s first staff member dedicated to supporting its personal computer users, the unionized employees at my local community hospital went on strike. It was February 1, 1990.

Early that morning, as instructed, I drove across a picket line for the first time in my life, showing up for work in blue jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers. I was handed a mop and bucket, and along with several dozen others, I suffered through a fifteen-minute in-service on the “right way” to clean a patient’s room. Then I was put in charge of a housekeeper’s cart and I spent the next 57 days scrubbing up the Labor and Delivery Unit. This was in the days before the hotel-like “birthing rooms,” where family members gather and watch Mom in extremis, surrounded by flowers, floofy bedding, snack trays, and piped-in music. This was in the days when Mom was wheeled off to the “delivery room” to have the baby, into a forbidding and sterile environment with four gurneys in each room (the hospital had two of these rooms), klieg lights overhead, lots of sharp-edged stainless steel, with no rounded corners on anything, and not a bit of floofery in sight. The floor of each of these delivery rooms was, I can testify, having mopped each of them twice a day (and more, in the case of messy emergencies) for almost two months, about the same square footage as that of an NFL football field.

I enjoyed my time in housekeeping, actually (perhaps mostly because I knew it would not be my life’s work). I got plenty of exercise, and I got to know a side of hospital operations that folks who work in non-patient care areas rarely see. Because I was new to the organization, and because it was a welcoming place, I made lots of friends very quickly. Meals and breaks in the cafeteria (which was also affected by the strike, and where the cooking and serving were also done by non-unionized staff) were social occasions and the source of much dark humor and enjoyment of our mutual plight.

Quote of the Day: On Forgiving

 

Such is the course of my life at the moment that the subject of forgiveness has been running like a river through it. On that particular subject, you might say I’ve hit the jackpot. The big one. The forgiveness challenge to end all forgiveness challenges. A lollapalooza, in fact. Can I do it? I don’t know. But I’m thinking about working my way up to an endeavor in which I make the attempt to try. Maybe.

To help me sort things out, I turned to a writer I have loved since childhood. One I knew would have something to say, and whose clear and lucid prose always surprises me, if not always with joy, at least with illumination and understanding: My friend, Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis.

Group Writing: Advice from C.S. Lewis

 

I’m that strange breed of engineer that likes words and likes writing. I relish the exercise of formulating a thought and laboring to fashion it in a manner that makes a concept accessible to others. I wrote poetry when I was young, Bible studies in my 20’s, and a wide variety of technical and policy documentation throughout my career. Some years ago, I even started blogging out of an innate need to write, for myself and anyone willing to suffer as my audience. Of course, practical considerations (e.g. life) have relegated this craft to my “I’ll get back to it someday” bin of unfulfilled wishes. But I digress.

Writing creatively and succinctly was never really a focus during my student years. While I believe I am suitably proficient in the use of language and vocabulary, I find that getting beyond words as commodity to words as art to be a difficult chasm to span in my compositions. Bridging the gap between formulations that are essentially disposable to those that weave vibrant tapestries of expression is no small feat, and frequently seems beyond my humble capabilities. Yet, I still have aspirations.  So, when I come across what I consider sound writing advice, I hold onto it for review. Such it is with a letter that C.S Lewis once wrote to a young fan, that includes some interesting suggestions for writers.

Quote of the Day: A Grief Observed

 

“I will not, if I can help it, shin up either the feathery or the prickly tree. Two widely different convictions press more and more on my mind. One is that the Eternal Vet is even more inexorable and the possible operations even more painful than our severest imaginings can forbode. But the other, that ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’” — C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (embedded quote from Julian of Norwich)

A couple of weeks ago, I watched, for the umpteenth time, one of my favorite movies. It’s Shadowlands, the somewhat fictionalized account of C.S. Lewis’s romance with, and marriage to, Joy Davidman Gresham, the divorced, former Communist, Jewish then atheist then Christian, American poet he married “in a matter of friendship and expediency,” (so that she could stay in the UK, sort of a British version of a “green card” marriage in the US) in April 1956, and then again, in the eyes of God, and for real, in March 1957.

By that time, Joy had been diagnosed with cancer, and the marriage took place at her hospital bedside. By that time, in addition to the marriage being “for real,” both of them had realized that the relationship was “for real,” as well.

A World of Trumpkins

 

Are we living in a world of Trumpkins? (Before anyone panics about banned words, I’m referring here to Trumpkin the Red Dwarf in Prince Caspian, the second book in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. This post has nothing to do with the President or his more exuberant fans.) In our world of believers and non-believers, who does Trumpkin represent, and what does this mean for the future? These are the questions I’ve found myself asking, and now will pass on to you.

There’s probably not any need to put a spoiler alert on a book published 60 years ago, but … yes, this will go into detail about both this story and the others in the series. 

Quote of the Day #2: Heavy Stuff

 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may someday be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.” — C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”

C.S. Lewis put defensive lineman-sized muscles on the bones of “love thy neighbor” in his 1941 address to the congregation at Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. I find myself coming back to this in times of personal or work conflict and in encounters with frustrating, infuriating, or inconvenient people. Lewis did not counsel against mirth, rather he advocated for laughter that is not hurtful.

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It’s $10. Click the image to see the Amazon page. The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis’s masterpiece in ethics and the philosophy of science, warns of the danger of combining modern moral skepticism with the technological pursuit of human desires. The end result is the final destruction of human nature. From Brave New World […]

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Member Post

 

The works of C. S. Lewis are pretty fertile territory for discussion, and I’ve read quite a bit of his varied writings. Of course, as a good young Baptist boy I read the Chronicles of Narnia. Then as I got older I read more of his work: Mere Christianity, the Space trilogy, The Screwtape Letters, […]

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