The Problem of Pain

CSL-2013-05-17 The Problem of Pain CoverThis podcast covers one of the important and helpful theological books that C S Lewis wrote, entitled “The Problem of Pain”.  It was written to answer the intellectual problem raised by suffering and pain in world created by a good, all-powerful God.  As Lewis puts it

If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy.  If He were almighty, He would be able to do what he wished. But, obviously, the creatures are not happy.              Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both.

He goes on to say that if the common means of “almighty” and “good” are the best or the only meanings that can be assigned to these words, then the problem is unsolvable.  Therefore, he first addresses the meaning of almighty and how it should be understood and then  the meaning of “good” when applied to God.  Jack (Lewis went by the nickname of Jack) then discusses the nature of a world where persons with free will can make choices and the functions of pain in such a world.  He includes important discussions of the pains of animals and heaven and hell in this book.  As you can tell, it is well worth a read.

The show notes for this podcast can be found here.    Show Notes

Music Inspired By C S Lewis

This comes via a suggestion from Tim Parish, one of the folks who subscribe to our podcasts.

I am a regular listener of the podcast and had some encouraging news to pass on(in case you do not already know about this).

Heath McNease is a young Christian songwriter and performer that has an appreciation for CS Lewis, and has just released an album of songs based on various Lewis works. It is really cool to see a new generation taking up the banner…

Check it out at     http://heathmcneasemusic.com/music/weightofglory/

You can view various YouTube videos where he explains each of the songs and lyrics. And then the album can be downloaded as well.

Perelandra

This podcast covers Perelandra, the second book in the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis.  Many reviewers consider this the best of the three books, and some say that it is one of the top three books written by Lewis.

It continues the story that began in Out of the Silent Planet.  The protagonist is the same, Elwin Ransom, a professor of philology, and one of the same villains (Weston, the physicist) reappears.  However, the story takes place on Venus (called Perelandra in this novel) not Mars.  In this story as told by Lewis Perelandra is a paradise, an unfallen world that knows no evil.  Essentially the story is a re-telling of what happened in the first chapters of Genesis in the Garden of Eden.  Lewis begins by describing the paradise that exists and then tells how evil tries to corrupt this new world.  The story is a fascinating study of how free will and temptation work.

Let’s sketch the plot.  Ransom is brought to Perelandra by a mighty spirit, and arch-angel, that he met on Mars but is not told what he is expected to do there.  Ransom soon meets the Eve of that world, who is named Tinidril and is also called The Green Lady.  She walks completely with God and has free will, although she does not know it.  She begins to learn from Ransom, but shortly after they meet Weston arrives on the scene.  He begins to tempt her to prove that she has free will by disobeying God.  Ransom realizes what is going on and tries to counter Weston’s arguments.  Ultimately he realizes that he must prevent the temptations from continuing by physically attacking Weston so that Tinidril has some time and space to reflect and respond to the choice being offered her.  He does so, and kills Weston after a long hand-to-hand battle.  During the battle Tinidril decides to continue her walk with God, and Perelandra is saved from evil.  Tinidril meets the Adam of that world and together they assume their reign over the planet.  Ransom is then brought back to earth by the same arch-angel who carried him to Perelandra.

The book is worth reading to gain a new appreciation of what Heaven might be like, what humanity lost in the Fall in the Garden of Eden, and how a being with free will (like us) can be tempted to evil.

Out of the Silent Planet

This podcast is the first is a set of three that will cover the Space Trilogy written by C. S. Lewis, and it covers the book “Out of the Silent Planet”.  This trilogy is from the science fiction genre, a genre that Jack read and enjoyed all of his life.  (He even wrote several science fiction short stories as well as this set of three novels).   The three books are, in order, “Out of the Silent Planet“, “Perelandra“, and “That Hideous Strength“.  They are unified by their view of the universe, their presentation of good and evil, and the main characters.  The first two take place on Mars and Venus while the third takes place on earth.  Many consider “Perelandra” the best of Jack’s fiction, surpassing any of the Chronicles of Narnia.  I myself prefer “That Hideous Strength“, but they are all worth reading.

The plot is of Out of the Silent Planet is fairly complex.  It tells how two evil men kidnap a third man and travel to Mars to hand the third man over as a victim to one of the three races there, the Sorns.  The hero, named Ransom, escapes from them on Mars and encounters one of the other races, the Hrossa.  He is a specialist in language development and finds that the Hrossa are friendly and can speak.  He accompanies the strange creature to its village, where he stays for several months and learns their language and culture.  Ransom finds that all the 3 races on Mars are ruled by a spiritual being called the Oyarsa, and Ransom is summoned to meet this ruler, who can be thought of as an archangel.  He delays responding, and as a result, Hyoi, the Hross who found him, is shot and killed by Weston.  Ransom then goes to the Oyarsa and they have a long discussion about Mars and Earth.  The Oyarsa has the Hrossa capture the two villains and bring them to him so that he can speak with them also.  He finds that they are completely evil and compels them to take their ship and return to Earth, never to come back to Mars.  Ransom reluctantly goes with them.  When the spaceship lands,  the villains and Ransom abandon it, for it disintegrates as Oyarsa has promised.

Lewis seems to want to make three points in his story.  First, that the universe is not empty but full of life, light and spiritual beings.  Second, that three utterly different races can live together in harmony.  Finally, Lewis uses this story to repudiate the idea that humanity has the right to travel to other planets and colonize them, displacing the planet’s inhabitants if they are at a lower stage of cultural development.

 

 

 

Understanding Narnia: The Narnia Code

The narnia Code

In this podcast we look at The Narnia Code, a very interesting book and companion DVD that describes the overall plan or logic that C. S. Lewis may have used when he wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia“.  I used the word “may” because not all Lewis scholars are in agreement with the findings of this book.  However, it’s theory seems to solve at least two literary problems in the Chronicles and has considerable evidence to back it up.  In addition, studying the book and applying its principles to the stories in the Chronicles will significantly increase your enjoyment and understanding of the depth of Jack’s work.

Briefly stated, Michael Ward, the author of The Narnia Code (and also the larger volume Planet Narnia) believes that he has found the plan to Chronicles, a plan that was deliberately hidden by Jack as a prank or practical joke.  Lewis was a medieval scholar for all of his life, and he knew and appreciated the medieval view of the cosmos.  In this view, there are seven heavenly bodies that circle around the earth, and each body has certain characteristics or spirits that influence life on earth.  Each of the books in the Chronicles were written to illustrate the influences or spirits of one of the medieval heavenly bodies.  They are as follows:

  1. Jupiter, the King of the planets – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  2. Mars, the bringer of war – Prince Caspian
  3. The Sun, the source of light – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  4. Venus – The Magician’s Nephew
  5. Mercury, the messenger – The Horse and His Boy
  6. The Moon – The Silver Chair
  7. Saturn – The Last Battle

More information can be found at the Narnia Code website

The Narnia Code

Mere Christianity-3: Beyond Personality

Mere Christianity Book Cover

This is the final podcast in our three-part series on C S Lewis’ Mere Christianity. It covers the last Section of the book, Book IV, which focuses on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and how it relates to salvation.  Jack  has no problem getting into theology.  While he agrees that the experience of God is our primary goal, he points out that theological doctrines (like the Trinity) can function as maps or guides to this goal.

Salvation can be thought of in two ways.  First, as a change in status whereby we go from being sinners and guilty before God to being forgiven and guilt-free.  Second, as a process whereby our self-centered nature is replaced by God’s nature, that is, we are made fit creatures for Heaven.   Jack emphasizes this second approach in this part of Mere Christianity, although he would most certainly agree that the other approach is also true.  He discusses the nature of a super-personal God, a God that remains one and yet contains three personalities, and how we can actually participate in the life of this God, if we will it.   Lewis also points out that this does really costs us ourselves as we currently are but results in our real selves as God intended us to be.

Jack also adds a helpful chapter on God’s relationship to time.  (Essentially, how we get into difficulties by thinking of God as inside time as we are).  However, we did not have time to cover it in this podcast



The Last Battle – Part Two: Endings and Beginnings

The Last BattleThis is the second of two podcasts on The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis.  This book is the last in the Chronicles of Narnia and tells of the end of Narnia and the discovery of the real Narnia in Aslan’s country, Heaven.  From a theological point of view we cover the Last Judgment, Salvation, and Heaven as described by Lewis in this book.   The tale contains some of his most beautiful writing as well as some of his best insights about human nature and God.  Ultimately it is a message of renewal and hope.  Nevertheless, we have to concede that it is unflinching in its insistence that all countries except God’s own must come to an end someday, and that everyone must undergo the experience of death.

The show looks at the forebodings of the end, the examples of treachery and betrayal in the tale, how beings are chosen to enter Heaven, and  the salvation of a noble, God-seeking heathen who does not know Aslan.