The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #130: A C.S. Lewis Overview

A note: You may notice a marked difference in tone between the General Introduction and the rest of the episode. This is because they were recorded on two different days. We had a lot more energy on the Thursday afternoon when we recorded the introduction than we did on the Friday afternoon when we recorded the rest. So if we sound a bit exhausted, that’s why.

General Introductiontumblr_inline_moe1letjjW1qz4rgp
– (I know I need to re-record the intro. It’ll happen next week.)
– The gang’s all back together!
– Printing emails
– Listener feedback
Postmodernism and the Lego Movie
A Ghostbusters oral history
Star Trek as utopia

Lewis’s Biography and Conversion
– Grubbs rides an elevator
– Lewis’s boyhood
– Rigid dialectic
– Anthropological atheism
– Beauty and sense as weak spots
– Chronological snobbery
– Idealism, Theism, Christianity
– An intellectual conversion

The Chronicles of Narnia
– The resistance to allegory
– Sloppy allegories
– Mrs. Beaver’s sewing machine
– The enduring popularity
– Child proxies

The Space Trilogy
– David fills us in
– Visiting physically and relationally
– “Worldviews”

Apologetics Works
Mere Christianity
– The perks of a state religion
– The argument from morality
The Abolition of Man
– Comparative religion
– Ideas, milk, wine, and whiskey
– Lewis the careful thinker

Literary Criticism
– Dismissing allegories
– Prepping you for the Middle Ages
– Uninteresting titles
– Professor Lewis and Jack
– The Golden Age

Lewis and Evangelicals
– Smoking and drinking
– A Christian humanist
– Relevance vs. recalling
– Doctrinal issues
– In which we rag on Francis Schaeffer for awhile
– Replacing the conversation

Enduring Ideas
A gateway drug for Christian humanists
A Grief Observed
– Veiled universalism
– The true myth

Our theme music this week is Poor Old Lu’s “Where Were All of You” from their album Sin. It was the best I could do.

12 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #130: A C.S. Lewis Overview

  1. Another great episode! It was wonderful to have Grubbs back,
    even as I do look forward to the Sectarian Review.  I enjoyed the comments on the fiction, the
    apologetics, and the scholarly stuff. 
    I’m glad to hear that Medieval and Renaissance folks are still reading
    Lewis!  Here are a few thoughts that
    occurred:
    Regarding Mere Christianity, one thing that’s stuck with me
    is how accessible an argument based on morality is.  Some of the other arguments that are making
    their way around require a fair amount of hard science or philosophy to follow
    in their particulars (e.g. the teleological argument, or the cosmological
    argument).  Nearly everyone, however, has
    experienced “moral” feelings though, and so I think a moral argument
    has a lot more popular resonance that a scientific approach lacks.  I don’t suppose that makes conservative
    freshmen less annoying, but so be it.  On
    a side note, I listened to a lecture recently that claimed that Lewis’s
    argument in Mere Christianity is informed to a great degree by his reading of
    Kant.  I’m not competent enough to say
    that’s right, but if Lewis could turn Kant into such lucid prose, that itself
    is no small miracle!
    Regarding his fiction, one work that you did not mention was
    “Till We Have Faces.”  This is
    a later work by Lewis, and one of my favorites (not surprising, I suppose, as
    I’m a classicist).  The novel is a
    reworking of the classical tale of Cupid and Psyche; it’s set sometime after
    the classical Greece’s heyday, in an imagined border-kingdom of barbarians. I’d
    warmly recommend it, and note that it’s Rowan William’s favorite of Lewis’s
    fiction.
    Dominus sit cum Dauid! (May the Lord be with David!)
    Alex

  2. Enjoyed the show this week (been awhile since I’ve heard the most recent episode so soon after it came out). Lovely to have David Grubbs back.
    Back when I was writing my honours thesis on the Church of England’s 1547 Book of Homilies, I had reason to spend a fair amount of time in C.S. Lewis’ English Literature in the Sixteenth Century. It always saddened me that Lewis considered it the “drab age.” I think part of what makes that particular book of Lewis’ more difficult to enjoy is the fact that he himself wasn’t enamored of the era’s literature (the Book of Common Prayer excepted). While he was working on it, Lewis himself referred to the book as “O HEL” (Oxford Handbook of English Literature—but I think you catch Lewis’ secondary meaning).
    Love the Space Trilogy, so I was glad to hear David discussing it so well. Always thought it interesting how the three books seem to follow different genres: the first, relatively straightforward science-fiction (with mythic overtones, of course); the second, straight up allegory; and the third, a Charles WIlliams-esque spiritual thriller. (I also note Alex P’s earlier comment regarding Till We Have Faces. Lewis himself considered it his best fiction, so it’s worth discussing when considering his legacy).

    Thanks for the (as always) thought provoking episode.

    Mathew Block

  3. Alex P I second “Till We Have Faces”.  Great story!
    Unrelated, but does anyone here use Chrome with this site?  I notice that typed text in the comment box is unreadable (almost the same color as the background), but it’s fine with Firefox.

    1. I tried for a while this morning to fix that to no avail. I’ve just now sent an email to LiveFyre tech support to see if they can help me set those comment-modification problems right.

  4. So, on reviewing this episode, I am aghast to discover that I mashed up Eustace Scrubb and Digory Kirke. Mea culpa!

  5. You all agreed that there is a problem with the notion of universal morality. It’s been a while since I read Lewis, and you didn’t exactly expound on this much. Can you explain a little more about what he thought and the issue you take with it?

  6. I return to note that I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook of Alister McGrath’s recent biography of Lewis “C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet.” This was an excellent and engrossing survey of Lewis’s life and works. I heartily recommend it to all CHP listeners!

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