C. S. Lewis Posts
April 4, 2013 by Jason Hood
From The Four Loves:
Mrs. Fidget very often said that she lived for her family. And it was not untrue. Everyone in the neighborhood knew it. “She lives for her family,” they said. “What a wife and mother!” She did all the washing; true, she did it badly, and they could have afforded to send it out to a laundry, and they frequently begged her not to do it. But she did.
There was always a hot lunch for anyone who was at home and always a hot meal at night (even in midsummer). They implored her not to provide this. They protested almost with tears in their eyes (and with truth) that they liked cold meals. It made no difference. She was living for her family.
She always sat up to “welcome” you home if you were out late at night; two or three in the morning, it made no odds; you would always find the frail, pale, weary face awaiting you like a silent accusation. Which meant of course that you couldn’t with any decency go out very often.
She was always making things too; being in her own estimation (I’m no judge myself) an excellent amateur dressmaker and a great knitter. And of course, unless you were a heartless brute, you had to wear the things. . . . For Mrs. Fidget, as she so often said, would “work her fingers to the bone” for her family. They couldn’t stop her. Nor could they–being decent people–quietly sit still and watch her do it. They had to help. Indeed they were always having to help. That is, they did things for her to help her do things for them which they didn’t want done. . . .
The Vicar says Mrs. Fidget is now at rest. Let us hope she is. What’s quite certain is that her family are.
April 2, 2013 by Jason Hood
Here are the final two paragraphs of Alan Jacobs’s magnificent biography of Lewis, The Narnian. There are some slight disagreements I would have with the agenda lays out, but they take no shine off the spectacular achievement this book represents. Obviously I highly recommend the book; and if you think you might read it, please don’t spoil it by reading what follows.
Jacobs chose a story that happened a few months before Lewis died:
In July, when Lewis was in the hospital after his heart attack and still passing in and out of delirium, one of his visitors was Maureen Blake, whom he had known since she was a little girl…After decades as a music teacher, she had had a recent turn of fortune.
Earlier that year a very distant relation of hers with the utterly magnificent name of Sir George Cospatrick Duff- Sutherland-Dunbar, Baron Dunbar of Hempriggs, had died at his estate in Caithness, Scotland. Sir George was unmarried. and the lawyers had some difficulty discovering who was to inherit the estate. Astonishingly, the heir turned out to be Maureen.
When she arrived at the hospital she was told that Lewis had not recognized any of his visitors that day. She entered quietly, clasped his hand, and said, “Jack, it’s Maureen. ”
“No,” he replied—unsurprisingly, given his condition. But he added, “It’s Lady Dunbar of Hempriggs.”
Maureen was stunned: “Oh Jack, how could you remember that?”
“On the contrary,” he murmured. “How could I forget a fairy-tale?”
February 12, 2013 by Jason Hood
I’ve begun Alan Jacobs’s gem, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, and all I can say is that I should’ve sprung for a hardback. I hate giving out nuggets–you should go get the whole bar of gold, or the whole unprocessed chicken breast, etc.–but here are some nuggets.
(1) Lewis’s mother had a calendar with daily quotations from Shakespeare. On the day of her death were lines from King Lear: “Men must endure Their going hence, even as their coming hither: Ripeness is all.” The first six words were inscribed on CSS’s tomb by his brother 55 years later.
(2) Early in the book Jacobs describes the remarkable degree of misery Lewis was experiencing when he began writing the Chronicles. The reality of intense family suffering and the psychological, social, and financial cost borne by Lewis in that season of his life is radically removed (and therefore all the more important) from the common portrait of Lewis as a prof who takes long walks, enjoys beers with the gang at the pub, and writes letters.
(3) I particularly appreciate @ayjay’s sensitivity to Lewis’s approach to education, which “is not about providing information so much as cultivating “habits of the heart”–producing “men with chests,” as he puts it in his book The Abolition of Man, that is, people who not only think as they should but respond as they should, instinctively and emotionally, to the challenges and blessings the world offers to them.” Thus stories and imagination are not optional; they are in fact vital.
(4) We find an important note along the same lines in Lewis’s Preface to Paradise Lost, which was dedicated to his friend Charles Williams, who had lectured on Milton at Oxford: “It is a reasonable hope that of those who heard you in Oxford many will understand that when the old poets made some virtue their theme they were not teaching but adoring, and that what we take for the didactic is often the enchanted.”
(5) Alan Jacobs thinks the Narnia stories aren’t as good as the Harry Potter stories!2 Comments
September 14, 2012 by Gerald Hiestand
For Irenaeus, we are only truly human in as much as we are being fashioned according the image of the one who is the true humanity–the Godman Jesus Christ. Salvation is not a return to Adamic perfection, but pressing forward toward that of which Adam was a type. Thus Adam at creation is not the finished product, but is “humanity in infancy” — possessing the potential to become all that God intended, but not yet all that God intended. While we are used to thinking of Christ as the only truly divine person, Irenaeus reminds us that Christ is also the only true human being. All other human beings are human inasmuch as they conform to his true humanity. A number of implications related to this:
For Hell. Irenaeus writes, ” Thus also, if any one take away the image and set aside the handiwork, he cannot then understand this as being a man, but as either some part of a man, as I have already said, or as something else than a man” (a.h. 5.6.1). Much like Lewis in his Problem of Pain, one can use Irenaeus’ logic here to argue that what is left in Hell post judgment is human remains– a “part” of human being, but not a true human being. Between the ages, some sort of trajectory argument comes into play (Lewis does this in his Weight of Glory), whereby humans living presently are on a trajectory toward either Heaven or Hell–toward true humanity or toward “human remains.”For Deification. Irenaeus’ argument makes being humanized the equivalent of being deified (which is essentially what he has in mind when he talks about partaking of the Holy Spirit, and being made in the image of Christ), and vice versa. To become truly human, one must be made like God. This underscores his insistence that Christ is the original human being–first in logical order, even if not in temporal order. “For in times long past, it was said that man was created after the image of God, but it was not [actually] shown; for the Word was as yet invisible, after whose image man was created,” (a.h. 5.16.2). Adam was created according to Christ’s image, not the other way around.
For the Redemptive Narrative. Most soteriological narratives run from perfection at creation, to fall, to atonement, to a return to perfection. But Irenaeus’ runs from infancy at creation, to fall, to atonement, to the final realization of the original trajectory. Thus for Irenaeus, the Fall detours a trajectory toward perfection, rather than upsetting an already existing static perfection. An analogy with Pinocchio: Pinochio is made after the image of a real boy. Yet he’s not a real boy. Thus what he is at his creation is not a fulfillment of his real destiny, but only a shadow of what he was made to be. Yet he’s not just a doll, either. He’s stuck between infancy and maturity. Thus the redemption story of Pinocchio (and Adam) is not a story about a return to an original condition, but rather a progression toward the realization of what he was intended to be all along, but was not yet at the beginning.5 Comments
May 2, 2012 by Jason Hood
Reflecting earlier this week on Lewis and Aslan and the Stone Table, I wound up tweeting, “It’s never dawned on me before today: Aslan’s stone *table* is a eucharistic thing (Low church = slow church I guess).” This garnered some discussion on my FB page. Some pointed out other ways in which the “table” should be interpreted, perhaps implying that more than one allusion wasn’t possible.
But “pictures are worth a thousand words,” not least because they can unveil more than one dimension. It’s often difficult for contemporary people to think or read in “layers,” and we must guard against “over-reading,” but Scripture (and Lewis) are probably best appreciated in this way.
This Sunday evening I’ll be preaching on Matt 28:16-20, which possesses not so much one OT allusion as a whole network of passages and concepts (Gen 1:26-28; 12:1ff; 49:8-10; Dan 7; etc.), in so doing providing a fitting conclusion to the OT story (1:1-17), of which the expanding reign of King Jesus is a great new stage.
I’d say that Lewis was probably also interested in multiple allusions. Clearly Lewis is interested in the destruction-fulfillment of Law in death, and the stone-as-Mosaic-law being broken. I think it’s possible that, in the midst of that allusion, he mentions table and in so doing doubles down on allusions. I find it hard to imagine that a high-church Anglican like Lewis would miss the chance to create a eucharistic association between table and sacrifice.
(Richard Hays has noted some “guidelines” for determining the likelihood of allusions, so as to limit the tendency to read allusions into a text which an author did not intend. In this instance, a google books search shows that Paul Ford and Bruce Edwards have also proposed the association; I am unaware of any “table of the law” theme in Lewis that would otherwise account for the use of the word “table”; he was “high church” Anglican; he is elsewhere interested in Eucharistic imagery; etc.)