A couple of Lewis quotes from Mere Christianity that lend us to thankfulness…
“As Dr Johnson said, ‘People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.’ The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles…” (Mere III.3.1)
“We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed…” (Mere IV.2.4)
Being reminded is important. A student must be reminded of his/her assignments. Children and husbands must be reminded of their chores. At Thanksgiving, we should remind ourselves of the blessings we have been given. We often live in cultures of griping and complaining. Certainly the current economic crisis (it is NOT a downturn) is bringing great hardship to families worldwide… But there is still the godly inclination to help and to give… as a farm in Colorado did… thousands turned up to glean the fields (click here for the full story)… so we need to be reminded to be thankful for what we have. Be reminded to be willing to give what we can… and reminded to help where we are able, where ever we are.Happy Thanksgiving
[(Mere III.3.1) means book three, chapter 3 and paragraph one – this is a system I devised to use with students as they have varying editions of the book in class and thus the page numbers are not uniform, this way we can find and discuss a given quote…]
Much of Lewis’ life was lived in Oxford. All of his adult life, really. It has been my good fortune to have been to Oxford for visits over a dozen times. This last summer I was at an apologetics conference in Lewis name and lived for a week at Oriel college… But Lewis was a fellow and tutor at Magdalen College. I spent my last afternoon in Oxford at Magdalen and here is a quick film I made for a look at where Lewis lived and worked for much of his adult life…
In this short, you will see St. John’s chapel where Lewis worshiped nearly every morning of the school term, the green that is surrounded by the cloister of the original college, the New Building (18th c.) in which his rooms were found, and a bit of the Deer Park. In a place like this, it is no wonder that he was inspired to do so much writing…
During C. S. Lewis week (which is Thanksgiving week in the USA, so, presumably, we in the USA have more time for the celebration), so, it would be good to see a film. Thus, I reccomend the film Shadowlands. It is about the later life of Lewis when he meets Joy and she turns his life around. The direction is great, the cast is amazing, a great deal of it was shot in Oxford where it takes place, and this film gives a pretty accurate picture of his life as a fellow at Magdalen College… click here for the trailer.
Lewis was a fellow at Magdalen for many years… I spent an afternoon there this summer, here is a minute view…
I thought that on day two I would think about the writing of Lewis (nickname Jack) that I have found helpful. The first one that comes to mind is the book I talk through with my students every year – Mere Christianity. This is not one but actually four books in one. This had its origin in radio talks during WW2 which were transcribed and edited and then in 1952(?) combined into one volume. I know college courses which use it for teach logical argument (presumably the five chapters of book one) but I find that the practical section of book three is most thought provoking. Within book four one finds theological musings. Two specific lessons that I can quickly offer from this book are “we need more reminding than teaching” and “pride is the great sin.” Probably one of the most famous things from Mere is the “Liar, Lunatic, Lord” theory.
Screwtape Letters would be next in my list because Lewis makes me think about my life in practical terms. I think the main thing that I remember from this work is that fact that one of the Enemy’s best tools is distraction. And he (the Deceiver) knows that if he can get me a little off course from God, it is easier and more sustainable than trying to get me way off course… “cards are better than murder, if cards will do the trick”
The Space Trilogy has much to be offered, but the one point I would take from it is that we are “bent.”
The Chronicles of Narnia are great to read. I read them through a couple of summers ago and found that they were amazingly full of spiritual lessons thorugh this rich story telling. Yes, they are great for kids, but man do they read chock full of theological musings.
The Weight of Glory is a sermon transcribed and turned into essay which then becomes a title for a group of essays and sermons. This is ‘thicker’ reading than what I have mentioned above. Once this small volume has been consumed, the next step up is God in the Dock which is even ‘thicker’ both in size and in depth of writing.
The last book I would mention (this is not meant to be exhaustive) is Till We Have Faces which is an interesting retelling of a Greek myth.
Last year I read the Collected Letters (3 thick volumes) which do as advertised, give a window into the soul. But this is for those who wish to invest time into a more serious understanding of the heart amd mind of Jack.
So that is what I think are some of the more (though I would never presume to claim that I know better than others, these are just my entries in line with C S Lewis week) helpful writings of C.S.Lewis.
Forty-five years ago today, C. S. Lewis died at the age of 64. 110 years ago next Saturday he was born. So, my posts in the next week will be about C.S.Lewis. If one needs details of his life because you don’t feel you know enough about him, I have, over on my teaching website a couple of accurate collections of information, click here for that. Herein, I wish to think about why he is so important via the consideration of his impact on my own thinking as a follower of Jesus.
Because Lewis’ journey was from adolescent (I refer to his age) atheism. Lewis moved from a pretty pronounced atheism (as his letters of that era clearly demonstrate) into a more agnostic approach. Then through the influence of friends into a theism and then into a full faith in Jesus. This resonates with me as I rarely thought about God as an adolescent, only to reject the very few attempts at including me in church, but as a young adult, I warmed to it and was fascinated by the religions I saw during my four years in Asia while in the Air Force. I enjoyed visiting all kinds of temples and wondered at them in my early twenties. And similarly, as it was his friends who pointed him to Jesus, I made a friend who pointed me to Jesus. As I have read Lewis, it seems that the Gospel just made sense to him and he awoke to it. My own experience was like that, I reasoned through the Gospel being challenged by my friend Dave with the juxtaposition of life offered in Col. 3. I resonate with Lewis, because I see in his life a somewhat similar path of awakening to the reality of Jesus. As his spirituality developed, Lewis sought the higher church experience, he was a frequent confessor – for a good while seeking the regular spiritual direction of his pastor and he sought the solace found in the communion and chapel nearly every morning. Could one say he had mystical tendencies? Looking at the reasoning and logic of Mere Christianity, one might say no, but when one realizes that his heart came through his fiction, the space trilogy and the Chronicles, I would say that the “baptized imagination” that he talked about had some clearly mystical tenants. This resonates with me as well, a baptized imagination with tendencies toward the mystical in the worship of Jesus… in both head and heart.