Monday, 19 May 2014

CS Lewis

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”—CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Years ago someone gave me a box set of CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia (way before the movies came out). And I think he lent me a copy of The Screwtape Letters by the same author, which I am now realizing was a bit too "advanced" for me at the time—ie, it usually takes me a few readings before I get something, or the right frame of mind before I appreciate the more subtle aspects of a book. Good thing I'm a hoarder of books and/or have excellent memory for authors' names (though when it comes to linking names with faces I'm a real turnip).

Clive Staples Lewis (November 28, 1898-November 22, 1963) was a literary polymath and a lay theologian who never lost his humanity. Much of his writings are replete with keen insights into human nature, and, throughout, full of compassion and gentle honesty. He is not some distant "man of G*d" pontificating from on high "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots", but rather starts from where most human beings are psychologically and spiritually and uses reasoning (ie, personal experience) to cause one to reflect that there must be something to the message of the Christ's Gospel:

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. (Surprised by Joy)

There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy [ie, G*d]. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them. (Screwtape Letters)

A movie was made of him and his wife, Joy Gresham (nee, Davidman) called, The Shadowlands (1993) starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

Anthony Hopkins playing Anthony Hopkins: hesitating momently, squinting a bit to size up and weigh the words about to issue from his mouth—whether playing the role of Ptolemy, Adams, Hannibal or "Jack"—the true genius of the man, Hopkins...to my mind, he is CS Lewis.

It is said that Lewis only attended church to partake in communion and was put off by the caterwauling and "sermonizing" but felt comfortable (honoured) in the company of the working class whose simple faith he celebrates and articulates in his writings.

Jay

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