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

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

 

 

On Obstinacy In Belief – Faith and Evidence

This podcast covers one of my favorite essays by Lewis, titled “On Obstinacy In Belief“.  It’s original title was “Faith and Evidence” and actually I like that better, but we’ll use the published title in podcast.  It has been included in several collections of essays by Lewis and is well worth your time to read.  It covers differences between faith, belief and knowledge and it was written to answer the question why Christians hold on to their beliefs in the face of strong contrary evidence.

The essay was originally delivered to the Oxford Socratic Club in 1953 under the title Faith and Evidence and then was republished in 1955 under the current title.  Since the “target audience” was a group of Oxford professors and students, Jack included several allusions and quotations in languages other than English (such as French, Italian, and Latin).  Fortunately we do not have to know these languages to get the main points of this essay.  In addition, a gentleman in the Netherlands has compiled a helpful explanation of these allusions and you can obtain that via the link below.

http://www.lewisiana.nl/essayquotes/index.htm

 

The show notes for this podcast are found here.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Screwtape Proposes A Toast

This podcast covers the essay “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” which is found as an appendix to the current edition of “The Screwtape Letters”.  It is a thought-provoking essay, written some 18 years after The Screwtape Letters were composed, and I felt that it deserved its own podcast.  Screwtape is a senior devil in Hell, and this essay is his speech delivered at a dinner in honor of the recent graduates of Hell’s Tempter College.  Since the speaker is a devil, we must remember that what is back to us is white to him, and what is bad is good.

In Jack’s vision of Hell, the devils can feed upon the outraged personalities of the souls that are sent there.  Screwtape’s theme is that modern society is now turning out souls that are, for the most part, failed humans.  They are hardly fit to be dammed to Hell.  While this may be disappointing to the devils from a gastronomical view, overall it is a good thing for Hell, and Screwtape goes on to explain why it is good and how this feat was accomplished.

This essay is really an attack on modern education and mass culture.  It is a companion piece to “The Abolition of Man”, and “That Hideous Strength”, both written by Lewis.

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.

The Screwtape Letters: An Introduction To a Devil

In this podcast we cover “The Screwtape Letters“, one of the most popular books that C S Lewis ever wrote.  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 is on his first post.  He is assigned to tempt a man on earth, and Screwtape, being an experienced senior devil, advises him on how to proceed.  Since it’s 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.   A reference to “Our Father’s house below” is a reference to Hell, and “the Enemy” refers to God.  This reversal helps you see things in a new and different way, and is one of the attractions of the book.

This book was written during WW II.  There are 31 letters in all,  and they were originally published one a week in an Anglican magazine.  They were so popular that they were re-published as a book in 1942, and have remained popular ever since.  The letters are short, direct, and written in the same informal style as “Mere Christianity” .  Jack covers the man’s conversion, the temptations that Wormwood uses,  why Hell wants humans, the devil’s view of war and suffering, and the man’s falling in love (among other things).  No matter how often you re-read the letters, you’ll learn something new.

Currently there is a play based on “The Screwtape Letters” touring the country after a successfu l off-Broadway run.  It’s a one-an play, basically, starring Max MacClean, and has r eceived excellent reviews wherever it has run.  You can find out more informati on by following the link below.

http://www.screwtapeonstage.com

Here’s the link to this show’s podcast.

Link To More Show Notes

 

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

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.