The Funeral of a Great Myth

The Book  that contains this essayThis podcast is a review of one of the wisest essays that C S Lewis wrote, The Funeral of a Great Myth.  He looks at the “Grand Myth” of evolution, that is, evolution not as a theory of biological change but as an over-arching explanation of how the universe works.  Lewis does not have any quarrel with the idea of biological evolution, as far as I can tell, but he strongly disagrees with extending that as a principle behind everything.  In this Great Myth mode, evolution is extended to explain how everything in the universe came about, and how there always must be endless progress “onwards and upwards”.  Lewis discusses how this idea developed and became entrenched in the imagination prior to the publication of The Origin of Species by Darwin.  He then discusses the fatal flaws of this Great Myth and why it is still lingering on.

C. S. Lewis Letters to Children

C S Lewis Letters to Children

This podcast covers a delightful and informative little book, C. S. Lewis Letters to Children.  As Lewis became a well-known author, he started receiving letters from all kinds of people, and he felt obligated to reply.  When he began publishing the Chronicles of Narnia, he began to receive and to reply to letters from children.  This book is a collection of some of these letters.  In addition, Jack (Lewis went by the nickname Jack) was a godfather to Sarah, the daughter of one of his pupils, and some letters from Lewis to Sarah are included in this collection.  The letters in letters in the book begin in 1944 and end the day before Jack’s death in 1963.  They were never intended to be published, so they show Lewis as he really was, with “his guard down”, as it were.  They provide insights into his living conditions as well as into the Christian life, and are quite often amusing.  This is a short book but well worth your time reading.

The show notes for this podcast are found at this link – Show Notes

 

 

That Hideous Strength

That Hideous StrengthThis podcast covers the last book in C S Lewis’ space trilogy, That Hideous Strength. It is the most complex and, I think, the most enjoyable book in the space trilogy.  While the story shares some common ground with the other two novels, it also has some new elements in it, especially elements from the legends surrounding King Arthur.  This is probably due to the influence of Charles Williams, one of Jack’s best friends.  (See this link – Charles Williams in Wikipedia).

The book is the story of an evil assault on nature and humanity by the demons who are temporarily in control of the earth.  It tells how Ransom (the hero from the first two books) and a small band of followers thwarted that assault with the help of Merlin the magician from King Arthur’s time.  At the same time it is the story of the temptation and conversion of two young English intellectuals, Mark and Jane Studdock.  One of the most enjoyable (and perhaps most instructive) parts of the book are its character portraits of the villains, Dick Devine, Augustus Frost, and John Wither.  Our podcast gives us an overall view of the plot and then looks at some of the character studies Lewis has given us in this novel.

The notes for this show are here.

 

 

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.

The Screwtape Letters: Temptation, Church, and Prayer

This is the second podcast on “The Screwtape Letters”, one of the most popular books and most unusual books that C S Lewis wrote.  To review, it is a set of letters from one senior devil (Screwtape) to a junior devil (Wormwood).  Wormwood has just graduated from Hell’s Tempters College and posted to tempt a man on earth. Screwtape,  a successful tempter, advises Wormwood on how to proceed.  Since the book is written from a devil’s point of view, it is a work of inversion or reversal in that what is black to us is white to them, and what is bad is good.

In this podcast we take a look at three of the major subjects that Lewis covers, temptation, church, and prayer.  More show notes for this podcast can be found by clicking here.

Miracles:A Preliminary Study

Miracles by C S LewisThis podcast covers one of C S Lewis’ most import books, “Miracles“. Today many people who have been brought up in our rational culture have trouble believing in anything miraculous, for the claims that Christ walked on water or was born of a virgin or raised the dead seem to go against everything that science teaches us.  If you are one of these people, then you may find Jack’s book quite helpful.

His book is sub-titled “A Preliminary Study” and is intended to help the reader objectively evaluate whether or not miracles, especially those recorded in the Bible, did or did not occur.  It covers some of the same issues and makes some of the same arguments as found in “Mere Christianity” but this book is a more academic and philosophical work both in tone and approach.

Lewis points out that we must settle some basic philosophical questions about miracles in general before we review the evidence for any particular miracle.  If we don’t we will always conclude that the miracle did not happen, for that will be our belief going into the review.

Therefore, most of the book answers the three most common objections to miracles.

  1. They are impossible
  2. They are improbable
  3. They are improper for a divine Being

Having addressed these questions in detail, Lewis then looks at some of the miracles recorded in the New Testament as to what we can learn from them about our world and about God’s nature.

This podcast is intended as an introduction to the book, not as a thorough study and  I hope it leads you to read “Miracles” for yourself.  This book has been an important element in my faith journey and perhaps it will also assist you.


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

The Four Loves – Part 2

This is the second The Four Lovesand final podcast on the book The Four Loves by C S Lewis.  Lewis organized his book around the four types of human love, using the Greek words for them.  They are

  • Storge – affection
  • Philia – Friendship
  • Eros – the love of other, which is distinct from sexuality
  • Agape – Charity,the love of God.

In this podcast we cover the last 3 types, friendship, eros, and the love of God.  Here we must note two things to avoid misunderstandings.  First, Eros does not mean mere sensuality or sexuality, a part of our nature that we share with the animal kingdom.  Eros is the intense, almost jealous love for another person.  Second the love of God can be interpreted in two ways;  the giving love of God which flows to us, and our devotion for God that God’s love calls forth in response.  Lewis discusses both variations and we cover them in the podcast.

Again, as before, Lewis describes each type of love and suggests how they mirror some aspect of the divine love, and how the unaided human love can go wrong.

God in the Dock

God in the Dock

This show covers God in the Dock, a collection of essays and letters by C.. S. Lewis.  The title (God in the Dock) is taken from one of the essays and refers to the place where the defendant stands in the English court system.  The essays cover a wide range of topics and show the scope of Jack’s work.

There are essays on theological topics, such as miracles, essays on ethics and essays on what the editor calls “semi-theological topics”.  For example, the essay God in the Dock describes the difficulties that Lewis had (and the we still have) in presenting the Good News of the Christian religion to an audience of unbelievers.  There are also interviews as well as some letters that Lewis wrote in response to questions and criticisms of his writings.  All of them are very good, and you are sure to find several essays that appeal especially to you.

Since there is no theme or development in the book, we cover three of the essays in order to give you a sample of what they are like and what subjects they cover.  We cover “God in the Dock”, as well as “Miracles” and “Work and Prayer”.   You are sure to find others that appeal to you as you read the book.


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