This 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.
They are impossible
They are improbable
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.
Two short audio selections of C S Lewis speaking have recently been posted to YouTube. These must have been given when he was broadcasting the talks that became “Mere Christianity” during WW II. I have included them as a link under Show Notes and as a link below. Note that some of the material is different from what appears in the book’s text, which is probably due to Jack’s revising the material before publication.
If you are aware of how the tapes were located and produced, I would appreciate knowing about that.
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:
Jupiter, the King of the planets – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Mars, the bringer of war – Prince Caspian
The Sun, the source of light – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Venus – The Magician’s Nephew
Mercury, the messenger – The Horse and His Boy
The Moon – The Silver Chair
Saturn – The Last Battle
More information can be found at the Narnia Code website
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.
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
This is the second podcast in a three-part series on one of C S Lewis’ most important books, Mere Christianity. In this section we cover Christian morality, how Christians ought to behave. (Of course this may be different from how they actually behave). Jack (C S Lewis was known as Jack) argued for the truth of Christianity in the previous sections, and now he assumes that Christianity is true and asks the question what implications that has for us.
Jack has organized this section as follows. First he defines the scope of morality or Christian behavior, and illustrates its three parts by the use of an image of ships in convoy. Next he looks at four principles or virtues that almost all people everywhere recognize as valid: They are
Prudence = common sense
Temperance = moderation in all our pleasures
Justice = honesty and fairness
Fortitude = courage
This done, Lewis addresses some controversial topics.
Sex and marriage
Politics and morality
Christianity’s relationship to psychoanalysis
Forgiving our enemies
Next, we look at the sin of Pride and the virtue of Humility, and finally Jack reviews the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Although this is intended for a Christian audience, it can be read with profit by folks from a variety of faith backgrounds, including those who have no faith at all.
This show can only give an overview of these topics, and I strongly recommend that you read the book yourself to get the complete picture.
This is the first podcast in a series of three on Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. This book is probably Jack’s most popular non-fiction work and it has been an important milestone in many people’s lives, including my own. It developed from a series of short talks that Jack gave on the BBC during WW II and is orientated towards a popular rather than academic audience. In it he describes the essence of Christian belief and why Jack thinks that Christianity is true.
The book is divided into four sections as follows
(1) Right and Wrong as a clue to the meaning on the universe
(2) What Christians Believe
(3) Christian Behavior
(4) Beyond Personality
We will cover the first two sections in this podcast. As always, I recommend reading the book to get the full force of Jack’s arguments.
In this podcast we attempt an almost impossible task – listing the “essential” books that you should read to get a comprehensive view of C S Lewis and his writings. This list is – of course – my opinion only, and others are welcome to put forth their own. When you have an author who has written over 60 books plus hundreds of essays and letters, there is such a wide field for disagreement.
I decided to restrict myself to three books of fiction, three of non-fiction, and three about C S Lewis or his writings, making a total of nine entries. I have tried to give a short description of each book and why I think it belongs in the list, as well as comments on other books that other C S Lewis fans may think should replace my choices. Emails and comments are always welcome, of course.
Here is my recommended essential C S Lewis reading list
This is the second of 3 podcasts about TheAbolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. In the last podcast we covered the trend in education towards basing ethical values on reason and feeling, and the denial that external events have any real value aside from the feelings they cause in the observer.
In this podcast we cover the existence and applicability of an external universal moral law, as discussed in the second chapter in the Abolition of Man. Lewis names this moral code the Tao, using a concept from Chinese philosophy, partly because he wishes to emphasize that this moral code is recognized by most people in most cultures and ages. This idea that there is one rule of behavior for everyone is difficult for us to accept, having been educated to almost worship diversity as the highest good.
Jack sets himself two tasks in this chapter. First, to show that the Tao exists and is universal, and second, to show that you cannot develop any basis for ethics unless you accept the Tao. (He succeeds in accomplishing both tasks rather well). Jack does not identify the Tao only with Christian beliefs – he emphasizes the universal code that underlies all religions.
This is the first of 3 podcasts about TheAbolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. Although it’s more than 60 years old, this book is surprisingly relevant to some of the major problems we see in our culture today. It tells us why we see so many people in all walks of life who seem to lack a sense of right and wrong, that is, they lack a “moral compass”. Lewis points out that this began when we abandoned the classic concept of an external, universal moral code and incorporated relativistic assumptions in our educational practices. Jack maintains that this produces “men without chests”, people who have a head (the ability to reason) and a belly (the ability to feel), but nothing that connects them (the chest). They have no way of determining when to act contrary to their feelings.
This is one of the shortest and most philosophical of Jack’s books. It won’t read quickly like a novel but is well worth putting in the time to consider what he says.