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C.s. Lewis


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C.S. Lewis wrote a great book that it sounds like you would enjoy. The Great Divorce. It's tremendously funny and humbling.

 

I was going to start this thread yesterday but decided sleep would be good. I'd like to thank Cynthia for bringing up CS Lewis' name which reminded me.

 

For the past 6 years I've had innumerable progressive Christians, when I've asked what books they would recommend to help me find Christianity again, recommend "anything by CS Lewis".

 

So, this Christmas, as a gift to myself, I bought Mere Christianity and Problem with Pain. I haven't read them yet because I've been reading Marcus Borg and now I'm reading Rabbi Harold Kushner.

 

Since I bought them, I've come across a dozen comments on this board and others and in books that CS Lewis was VERY conservative.

 

An example would be that he says, in essence, that if Jesus wasn't God, that would make Jesus either a liar or a lunatic because of the comments Jesus made.

 

So my question is:

 

If CS Lewis is as conservative as many make him out to be, WHY do so many progressive Christians read and recommend him?

 

I'm very much looking forward to reading him. I find his humor refreshing.

 

Aletheia

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Take a look at PBS on line under the title "Question of God". They are currently discussing a book by Armand M.Nicholai,Jr.,"The Question of God". The author teaches a course at Harvard where he contrasts the views of C.S.Lewis and Sigmund Freud. The book is a statement about the views of God of each of these seminal figures and should give you an inkling why people read both of them these days.

 

Jeep

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I love to read C.S. Lewis. Although our views on the nature of, or perhaps the rigidity of belief about, Jesus differ, he offers very poignant and well-spoken ideas and commentary that is very consistent with my beliefs. I see him as a true/non-hypocritical/honest/intellectual conservative christian. He doesn't say lunatic by the way, I believe it is something close to: He (Jesus) is either God or on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg. Hilarious. I don't agree, but I can enjoy and benefit from good-natured, christian minded discourse about differences of theology.

 

enjoy your books! The Great Divorce and Screwtape Letters are my favorites.

 

Cynthia

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He (Jesus) is either God or on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg.

 

It must have been my husband's interpretation of that quote. I think he's the one who actually said "lunatic" and not CS Lewis.

 

On beliefnet, I think, someone called it the "liar, lunatic or lord" theory.

 

His humor is great isn't it?

 

Anyone else have anything to add about CS Lewis? Anyone read Chronicles of Narnia? I bought that at Christmas too.

 

Aletheia

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Well in my very liberal/radical church in Chicago we had a discussion group on Chronicals of Narnia. I was personally a bit annoyed by the blatant hit you over the head Christian symbolism (at least he is very upfront about that), the non-childlike children, etc. However, I was maybe the only one in the group that was. OTOH, I mighta been disappointed about how unHarry Potter it is with the lack of humor, plays on words, identifiable characters, etc.

I prefer Tolkein to CS Lewis in writing fantasy.

 

BTW, I think many in the group were not used to readign fantasy and were quite struck by the walking into the warddrobe. Being quite familiar with reading sci-fi and fantasy, I thought if followed a long and quite familiar pattern. I prefer the phone booth or platform 9 3/4.

 

But some of the group did like the books very much.

 

--des

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As I understand it the Chronicles of Narnia was written to be obviously Christian.

 

What I mean is, CS Lewis never intended that the Christian message in Narnia not BE obvious.

 

Narnia, written oh so very long ago, was a way to introduce the concepts of Christianity to children and non-Christians.

 

Harry Potter (whom I just LOVE) doesn't have anything to do with Christianity. As I understand it, Potter is about bigotry, prejudice, being different and being of "mixed blood" (mudblood).

 

Do you have the new book on pre-order yet? :)

 

Aletheia

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I understand that the message in the Chronicles was supposed to be obviously Christian. But to me he bats you over the head with it, so I don't like it, even if he MEANT to bat one over with it. He certainly succeeds. :-)

 

As I said, some of this liberal group did like Chronicles, but I found the characters to be flat,

the dialogue typical of the era and stiff, and the fantasy less than interesting. I have read a lot more fantasy/sci fi than others in the group.

 

No, I realize that HP is intended to be entertainment with underlying messages of bigotry,

etc. I feel there are Christian themes, like self-sacrifice but I don't know if they were intended as Christian. (There are others as well, even though JKR has gotten into many problems with fundamentalist sects.) As JKR has never talked about it, afaik. Tolkein did talk abouthis intended Christian themes but the times were different, and some feel that intending to draw criticism away from himself since he was writing about wizards, etc.

I believe that both JKR and Tolkein are/were Anglicans. I see some themes in Tolkein.

 

No, I haven't ordered. I plan to go in person at 12 Am and get my copy. I might pre-order when the bookstore puts up a sign that they are taking orders. I know what I will be doing that night, anyway.

 

--des

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I wondered if there were any fellow PotterHeads here!

 

I've read Narnia several times (as a kid mainly). I'm about to read them to my kids since the movies are being made. I recently read "The Magician's Nephew" on my own, though. It contains one of the most moving scenes of Creation that I have ever encountered. I grew up on C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, and George MacDonald. As an adult, the religious allegory is pretty obvious, but as a kid it is not...although it was always clear to me as a child the Aslan represented God. I am grateful to Lewis for introducing such a loving image of God. Also, in Narnia, the children are co-creators with Aslan (pretty progressive thought). I'm not sure that I would consider Lewis, strictly speaking, conservative. In some ways he is brutally so, but in others he is not. I would call him a strong-minded, free thinker.

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Hey fatherman!

 

I'm looking forward to reading Narnia. I've read the first chapter and I'm captivated by Lewis' storytelling. His humor is so dry. I just love it.

 

My hubby and I went to B&N yesterday to return a book I had bought on Kabbalah. I was going to get "Screwtape Letters", but they didn't have it.

 

My husband picked up "Stealing Jesus" because it caught his eye. He laughed when I told him how many on this forum are reading it. My husband isn't spiritual or religious but he's quite interested in religious history.

 

I ended up buying Philip Yancey's "Reaching for the Invisible God". I'd always passed him by before because I thought he was a fundamentalist. Something made me pick up the book and by the time I'd finished my coffee I was hooked. Anybody else read Yancey?

 

Aletheia

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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His books are great too! He is, somewhat like CS Lewis... he has an exclusivistic belief, but is not easily pegged into a category. He understands grace. What's So Amazing About Grace is an excellent book that many conservative christians have a very hard time reading.

 

There is a video interview with him on Beliefnet. I think it is a link on the home page.

 

Cynthia

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C.S Lewis is a fascinating and yet sometimes quite irritating author -- my cousin dosn't like him much -- calls him an English schoolteacher, which is what he was, actually.

 

I wouldn't tell anybody to read anything by Lewis -- the last five books of the Narnia series simply don't have magic of the first two.

 

By the way, Aslan is a Persian word -- it means "lion" ;-)

 

The Great Divorce is one very good book -- but I think the Screwtape Letters is somewhat overrated.

 

Nobody mentioned Shadowlands -- I haven't read it myself, but the movie, with Anthony Perkins as Lewis is one really worthwhile movie.

 

Regrds

Chuck Cliff

Denmark

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  • 1 month later...
For the past 6 years I've had innumerable progressive Christians, when I've asked what books they would recommend to help me find Christianity again, recommend "anything by CS Lewis".

 

I think I share the opinion of a lot of fellow posters here, that C.S. Lewis is both fascinating and frustrating. Where a progressive would find agreement with him, I think, is in his insistence that Christianity is a myth. They would disagree with him that it also happens to be historical-literal fact. But for Lewis, while the historical nature of the myth is part of what vindicates its truth, it is pure myth at the level of its meaning. In other words, e.g. Yes, Jesus was literally raised from the dead, but the meaning of that dying and rising is the same as it is in every other religious tradition. The difference is that in Jesus, it actually, historically happened.

 

So Lewis's opinion of Paganism is much, MUCH different than that of contemporary conservative Christianity, though of course, he doesn't just accept it uncritically (nor do I). Christianity, for Lewis (as well as Augustine and the ancient Church Fathers, for that matter), completes and corrects the Pagan worldview, which is the closest approximation to the truth that humanity can achieve on its own effort. Hardly the view of today's fundamentalists, who portray Pagans as more or less goat-slaying devil-worshippers. From what I've seen in your other postings, I might imagine that your experience has been similar (though not theologically): a disenchantment with Paganism as practiced, and yet a deep sense that it is profoundly on the right track, and for some, in fact, the surest path to Christ.

 

On that note, Crossan in his Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, makes the most astonishing observation about the Matthew birth story, one that I had never heard before. While clearly basing the narrative structure on the birth of Moses, Matthew adds the ironic twist that Mary and Joseph must flee to Egypt to escape Herod's wrath, rather than away, as Moses to escape Pharaoh's. Combined with the attendance of the Pagan wise men at the manger scene, the idea seems clear: perhaps at this moment in time, under these historical circumstances, that which is spiritually alien is more open to the birth of the Christ-child than his own native antecedent with its legalistic trappings.

 

Fascinating.

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a disenchantment with Paganism as practiced, and yet a deep sense that it is profoundly on the right track, and for some, in fact, the surest path to Christ.

That was perfectly stated, thank you!

 

... clearly basing the narrative structure on the birth of Moses, Matthew adds the ironic twist that Mary and Joseph must flee to Egypt to escape Herod's wrath, rather than away ...  Combined with the attendance of the Pagan wise men at the manger scene, the idea seems clear: perhaps at this moment in time, under these historical circumstances, that which is spiritually alien is more open to the birth of the Christ-child than his own native antecedent with its legalistic trappings.

Whoa! :o I cannot wait to share that with my husband! Fascinating is an understatement.

 

PS: What CS Lewis books might YOU recommend?

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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PS: What CS Lewis books might YOU recommend?

 

My personal favorite is one of the less-travelled ones (big surprise). :) It's called The Weight of Glory, and is actually a collection of shorter essays. "The Weight of Glory" and "Transposition" are especially thought-provoking. As with any Lewis, you'll probably come in contact with a lot of unusual ideas, but those aren't always bad. ;)

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Have any of you read the faery romance, "Phantastes", written by George MacDonald? C. S. Lewis introduced me to this book in his own book "Suprised by Joy" many years ago. Lewis claimed to receive his sense of *holiness* from this book. At any rate, its an excellent read and the entire text is available on-line. I re-read "Phantastes" every now and then when I want to rest my head. It's a lovely and imaginatively written book. I highly recommend.

 

lily

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Yesterday when I was in B&N I picked up "The Weight of Glory" to look at it, but got sucked into McLarens "Generous Orthodoxy" and never got back around to Lewis. LOL.

 

I just looked up Transpositions on Amazon. $82.00! Used! (And only 3 available.)(Recommend a cheap book to me why don't ya?) If you have a copy and need some cash quick, you could always list yours on Amazon for cheap. Hmmm. I wonder who would buy it? Hmmm. :P

 

Lily: I hadn't heard of Phantastes, but have now added it to my mile long reading list. <_<

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I just looked up Transpositions on Amazon. $82.00! Used! (And only 3 available.)(Recommend a cheap book to me why don't ya?)

 

The "Transposition" essay is (should be? I think?) one of the essays in The Weight of Glory. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

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