Reflections on Mere Christianity

I’m looking back through Mere Christianity these days, one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Some miscellaneous thoughts: 1) Lewis’ appeal to mere Christianity was not tantamount to doctrinal minimalism, as some people have suggested. His metaphor for a hall (Christian orthodoxy) with many rooms (Christian denominations) on it at the end of the preface makes it clear that he focuses on the broad essentials of Christianity because he is introducing his listeners (and now readers) to the Christian faith, not because he thinks the broad essentials are all people need to subsequently accept. He is…

A Review of Orwell’s Review of That Hideous Strength

On August 16, 1945, just days after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, George Orwell, author of the dystopian novel 1984, wrote a review of C.S. Lewis’ similarly dystopian novel That Hideous Strength. He acknowledges various admirable qualities of the book and – interestingly – the plausibility of the plot Lewis envisages. “There is nothing outrageously improbable in such a conspiracy. Indeed, at a moment when a single atomic bomb – of a type already pronounced ‘obsolete’ – has just blown probably three hundred thousand people to fragments, it sounds all too topical.” Orwell faults the…

The dry and choking places

Picking up in my previous post, here’s a crucial passage in the depiction of Mark’s redemption. Its such a creative literary presentation of the conviction of sin: There were no moral considerations at this moment in Mark’s mind. He looked back on his life, not with shame but with a kind of disgust at its dreariness. He saw himself as a little boy in short trousers, hidden in the shrubbery beside the paling to overhear Myrtle’s conversation with Pamela, and trying to ignore the fact that it was not at all interesting when overheard. He saw himself making believe that…

Hugeness

One of my favorite things to do these days is to go on a long hike in the mountains with Sophia and listen to either That Hideous Strength or Till We Have Faces on my iPhone, my two favorite C.S. Lewis books. I especially love That Hideous Strength these days –  I come back to it again and again. I think people don’t like it as much because its so different from the first two books of the Space Trilogy, but on its own its such a great story. I love the way both Mark and Jane experience redemption in…

Like a Solid Thing

Here’s another favorite passage from That Hideous Strength.  A few good characters are searching for the historical Merlin, come back from the dead.  One of them, Dimble, a scholar, is more aware of their danger than the others, and is reflecting on the significance of the person they are about to meet.  Its a great description of the medieval world: Out here, with only the changing red light ahead and the black all round, one really began to accept as fact this tryst with something dead and yet not dead, something dug up, exhumed, from that dark pit of history…

Almost Anything Might Be True

I keep listening to That Hideous Strength on my ipod shuffle when I go hiking with Sophia.  Its one of my favorite books.  This is a great passage in which Jane’s skepticism about God and Christianity begins to be undermined as she considers death: It was likely, then, that this – this stumbling walk on a wet night across a ploughed field-meant death. Death – the thing one had always heard of (like love), the thing the poets had written about. So this was how it was going to be. But that was not the main point. Jane was trying…

Joad and Lewis on Natural Evil

About a year and half ago I stumbled across C.S. Lewis’ treatment of the problem of the suffering of animals before the human fall in chapter 9 of his The Problem of Pain, titled “On Animal Pain.”  In it he suggests (as he also suggests in Miracles) that the fall of angels may have corrupted the natural world prior to the creation of humanity.  I’ve been helped by this possibility.  I know that for some, this whole issue is a strange one to even think about, but for me, the problem of natural evil is a serious one that calls…