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…

Religion Without Dogma?

I am listening to C.S. Lewis’ God in the Dock this week and last, and I have to say that his essay “Religion without Dogma?” in the first section is fantastic.  His apologetics at their finest.  He gently but relentlessly tears to shreds an essay called “The Grounds of Modern Agnosticism” by Professor Price (whoever that is).  People who have never read any C.S. Lewis could read it as miniature representative of his apologetic approach as a whole, as in in books like Miracles and The Problem of Pain; those who are like myself Lewis fanatics like me will still…

Its Better to Repent

Repenting can be painful.  Self-deception is always easier than staring the undisguised, unexcused ugliness of your sin in the face, completely owning up to it, genuinely hating it, and actually turning from it.  But C.S. Lewis helped me see to today how the alternative is much more painful in the long run: “Does Christianity encourage morbid introspection?  The alternative is much more morbid.  Those who do not think about their own sins make up for it by thinking incessantly about the sins of others.  It is healthier to think of one’s own.  It is the reverse of morbid.  It is…

Out of the Silent Planet

I’ve been listening to Out of the Silent Planet this week.  Its not quite as good as the other two books in the space trilogy, I don’t think – but nevertheless its a lot of fun.  He makes a lot of profound points about the nature of good and evil by contrasting the human characters with the creatures of Malacandra (which is the planet Mars, with un-fallen, intelligent inhabitants).  Its also interesting to see how early certain themes had settled into Lewis’ writing (it was originally published in 1938). One thing I particularly noticed is how Lewis deconstructs the notion…

The Lewis-Anscombe Debate

Some C.S. Lewis scholars have popularized the idea that Lewis had a serious crisis of faith after a debate with Elizabeth Anscombe, a Roman Catholic philosopher, at the Oxford Socratic Club on February 2, 1948.  Anscombe, it is claimed, so demolished Lewis’ argument regarding naturalism and the possibility of human reason (advanced in chapter 3 of Miracles) that Lewis abandoned apologetics and turned to children’s literature for the rest of his career.  This view is advanced, for example, in the biographies of George Sayer and A.N. Wilson.  Sayer suggests that Lewis was humiliated, recognized that his argument was demolished, and…

The Purpose of Hatred

Listening to Perelandra this week.  My favorite part is when Ransom and the Un-man fight.  I especially love this scene, where Lewis describes the evil of the Un-man (the devil), and then Ransom finds new strength by discovering the purpose of hatred: “Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over (Ransom) – a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred came over him.  The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms…