Monday, November 30, 2015


Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at
   "One other thing that Arthur taught me was to love the bodies of books.  I had always respected them.  My brother and I might cut up stepladders without scruple; to have thumb-marked or dog's-eared a book would have filled us with shame.  But Arthur did not merely respect, he was enamored: and soon, I too.  The set up of the page, the feel and smell of the paper, the differing sounds that different papers make as you turn the leaves, became sensuous delights.  This revealed to me a flaw in Kirk.  How often have I shuddered when he took a new classical text of mine in his gardener's hands, bent back the boards till they creaked, and left his sign on every page.
   'Yes, I remember,' said my father.  'That was old Knock's one fault.'
   'A bad one,' said I.
   'An all but unforgivable one,' said my father."

From the last page of chapter 10, Surprised by Joy

A funny paragraph by Lewis, but I agree as well that the mishandling of a book is a serious thing.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


As we have started a new C. S. Lewis Society year, as we reckon our years, Kathy gave me a "New Year" gift.  A book by H. Dennis Fisher, As the Sun Has Risen: Scriptural Reflections on C.S. Lewis' Life and Literature. This book was published in 2015 and the publisher is Discovery House.  

My book review:

The edition I have is a cloth covered hardcover, with nice paper (feel and weight) - if you are into those particulars.  The title is taken from the famous ending to Lewis' "Is Theology Poetry?" a paper Lewis read to the Oxford University Socratic Club in 1944.  You can find this address in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, the book we just finished discussing.  Mr. Fisher has waded into crowded territory.  I believe I own five such books and I am pretty sure I have owned others over the years.  There are also a few volumes I know about that I paged through at the bookstore and passed on.  The crowded territory is the Daily Lewis Devotion/Thought genre.  One of my favorites is The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper.  What makes Fisher's volume stand out is that he uses all of Lewis for his daily readings.  Lewis the author of Narnia and the Space Trilogy, Mere Christianity and Miracles, personal letters and essays, and the often neglected (especially by me) academic works.  In addition to the full Lewis being used, each reading includes a scripture and guidance for further information, usually with the book and chapter listed, a very nice and helpful addition.  If you did not buy everything you needed on Black Friday, consider this book.

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but by it I see everything else."  

Friday, November 27, 2015


Today is Black Friday and below are some C.S. Lewis related items to add to your shopping cart:

C. S. Lewis' Top Ten, Volume 2 by Will Vaus - Just released, this volume covers George Herbert, William Wordsworth, and Rudolph Otto.  I am glad Will did the work for me.  When I read Otto I fall sleep, quickly.

C. S. Lewis 's "Mere Christianity": A Biography - that's right, a biography about a book.  This book is by noted historian George Marsden and will be released in March of 2016, by Princeton University Press.  HERE is a link to You Tube and a lecture about Mere Christianity Marsden recently gave.

The Tongue is Also a Fire: Essays on Conversation, Rhetoric and the Transmission of Culture . . . and on C. S. Lewis by James Como.  A new book by Lewis scholar James Como.  I love to read Como on Lewis and any topic: however, like reading Thomas Howard, my dictionary always needs to be close by.

Maybe a book is not what you want, but an experience.  Well, Max McLean and the Fellowship for Performing Arts have just the thing you are looking for in New York City.  A C.S. Lewis inspired play is going on now until February - be it The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, or the new C.S. Lewis on Stage: The Most Reluctant Convert.

If you are out shopping, stay safe.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


"We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is 'good', because it is good, if 'bad' because it works in us patience, humility and contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country."

From a letter to Don Giovanni Calabria from Lewis dated August 10, 1948

Monday, November 23, 2015


We will be taking our Christmas Break and not meeting again until Monday, January 25, 2016.  We will be discussing Peter Schakel's book Is Your Lord Large Enough?: How C. S. Lewis Expands Our View of God.  If you need a copy of this book send me an email:
I am charging $3 for a brand new copy!

Have a wonderful Advent and Christmas Season!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


A last minute reminder:

We will be meeting Monday, November 23rd at 6:15pm in the Community Room at the Library.  We will be discussing the last five pieces from The Weight of Glory.  

These five works are:

Is Theology Poetry?
The Inner Ring
On Forgiveness
A Slip of the Tongue

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Image courtesy of "neneo" at

"This is my endlessly recurrent temptation:  to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with my things temporal."

From "A Slip of the Tongue"

Friday, November 20, 2015


"A Slip of the Tongue" will be the concluding work from The Weight of Glory to discuss at our November meeting.  This was the last sermon Lewis preached.  Preached at the college chapel of Magdalene College, Cambridge at Evensong on January 29, 1956.

Below is a picture of a plaque at/near the chapel entrance.  I took this picture on a visit in 2008, thus the unprofessional nature of the picture.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


A quote from "On Forgiveness"

The piece is very short and I picked this short line because I wanted to get on my soapbox with regards to Lewis Quotes and the internet.  A few days ago a member of our group sent me a line their pastor quoted from Lewis on a Sunday.  I had to inform this individual that Lewis did not write that.  I am not Social Media savvy - no Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc, though I do try to keep this blog active.  The picture/quote above is from a simple internet search using the sentence from Lewis.  I suppose one can easily create a graphic with available software on the market.  I have found some visually striking graphics with Lewis quotes on the internet.  Yet I also have been collecting these graphics and way too many are not actual Lewis quotes.  The fact that Lewis' name is out and about is a good thing.  The quotes are usually close to the original.  The quotes will hopefully encourage one to look for the quote in a Lewis work, this is good.  But to me it is just laziness and (old man in me talking) a sign of our times - instant everything and no desire to really trace something back to the root (which requires work).  The quote on forgiveness is accurate, except a comma is missing.  Since the quote is on forgiveness one must acknowledge that mistakes happen.  Earlier in this same paragraph there is a misprint in my copy.  I looked to a newer copy (not the latest) and the misprint is still there.  I have another collection with the piece in it and the misprint has been corrected (that particular collection was printed in England, so that explains it).  The misprint is also on my Kindle edition.

Anyway, off the soapbox, below are two places addressing this topic:

What Lewis Never Wrote - William O'Flaherty

A Modest Proposal for Folks Inclined to Forward (Likely) Inaccurate Quotations Attributed to C.S. Lewis by Bruce Edwards

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


"On Forgiveness" will be the next piece we discuss in November.  

I will quote Walter Hooper:

"On Forgiveness" was written at the request of Father Patrick Kevin Irwin (1907 - 1965) and sent to him on 28 August 1947 for inclusion in Father Irwin's parish magazine of the Church of St. Mary, Sawston, Cambridgeshire.  However, Father Irwin was transferred to the Church of St. Augustine, Wisbech, before it could be published, and I first heard of the essay in 1975 when members of the priest's family deposited the manuscript in the Bodleian Library.  It was first published in Lewis's Fern-seed and Elephants and Other Essays on Christianity

From the Introduction to The Weight of Glory

Such a story boggles my mind, a well known author writes an essay for a parish magazine and the priest is moved to another parish, and with him the essay, most likely never to see the light of day for another 25 years.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


"A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion; to ignore the subject may be fatal cowardice for the one as for the other.  But if either comes to regard it as the natural food of the mind - if either forgets that we think of such things only in order to be able to think of something else - then what was undertaken for the sake of health has become itself a new and deadly disease."

From "Membership"

Friday, November 13, 2015


"Membership" was read to the Society of St. Alban and St. Sergius, Oxford, on February 10, 1945.  The Society of St. Alban and St. Sergius is still in existence today. The address was later published in Sobornost, no. 31 (June 1945).  Sobornost is still in publication and on their website you can order or download a copy, no. 31, with Lewis' essay included.  This will be the third piece we read in November.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


"When you invite a middle-aged moralist to address you, I suppose I must conclude, however unlikely the conclusion seems, that you have a taste for middle-aged moralising.  I shall do my best to gratify it.  I shall in fact give you advice about the world in which you are going to live . . . And of course everyone knows what a middle-aged moralist of my type warns his juniors against.  He warns them against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.  But one of this trio will be enough to deal with today.  The Devil I shall leave strictly alone.  The association between him and me in the public mind has already gone quite as deep as I wish; in some quarters it has already reached the level of confusion, if not identification.  I begin to realise the truth of the old proverb that he who sups with that formidable host needs a long spoon.  As for the Flesh, you must be very abnormal young people if you do not know quite as much about it as I do.  But on the World I think I have something to say."

The opening of this address is pretty humorous and placing myself in the crowd, any misgivings about this "middle-aged moralist" would have been eased and I might have been open to what he had to say.  Above is the cover of Time magazine, September 8, 1947, with a very Screwtape-like figure on his shoulder.  Lewis found himself on the cover almost three years after he delivered this address, but he is able to assume his audience's familiarity with himself and Screwtape, published two years earlier.

An Amendment:  I put together a few posts in a row and had them pre-set for publication, so to me it was one continuous thought on one particular subject.  Therefore I neglected to include the fact that the above quote is from "The Inner Ring", one of the pieces we will discuss at our next meeting - Monday, November 23rd at 6:15pm in the Community Room at the library.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


"The Inner Ring" was the Commemoration Oration given at Kings College, University of London, on December 14, 1944.  This will be the second piece we discuss on Monday, November 23rd, our next meeting.  This is the second piece not specifically Christian in its content, the other "Why I am Not a Pacifist."  Though the address was given at a college with a religious heritage.  According to Kings College website the college "was founded in 1828-9 by a group of eminent politicians, churchmen and others. They wanted a Church of England alternative to what later became University College London (UCL, founded in 1826), known as 'the godless college in Gower Street'. King's was granted a royal charter by King George IV on 14 August 1829."  University College London was founded as a secular school.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

The last sentence from "Is Theology Poetry?"

I could not find a better line to post from this essay.  It is often quoted, but I have no qualms about adding it to the internet again.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


   In January of 1942 the Oxford Socratic Club had its first meeting.  The president of this club was C.S. Lewis.  About the Socratic Club, Lewis wrote:  "Socrates had exhorted men to 'follow the argument wherever it led them':  the club came into existence to apply his principle to one particular subject matter - the pros and cons of the Christian religion."  Lewis served as the president from its founding until 1954, when he began teaching at Cambridge.  
   Lewis delivered a handful of lectures at the Socratic Club that later ended up in collections of his writings.  A great resource for anyone interested in a history of the club is Walter Hooper's essay "Oxford's Bonny Fighter", over sixty pages documenting the club and Lewis' involvement. The piece ends with a few pages outlining every meeting between 1942 - 1954, with the date, topic, and speaker(s) listed.  This essay can be found in Remembering C.S. Lewis: Recollections of Those Who Knew Him, edited James Como.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


The first address from The Weight of Glory we will be discussing at our November meeting will be "Is Theology Poetry?"  Lewis gave this address at Oxford University Socratic Club, Michaelmas Term, 1944, November 6th.

The last two posts were about Lewis and Cambridge.  Above is a picture of Oxford.  Lewis lived outside of Oxford his entire adult life and was a tutor at Oxford for the majority of his career.

Reading Lewis one will come across terms we Americans are not as familiar with.  The school terms in England are unique and I find interesting compared to our prosaic names in the American school system.  The first address we will discuss in November was delivered during Michaelmas Term in 1944.  In Surprised by Joy Lewis writes, "In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."  In reading Lewis it is good to be familiar with the terms.

Current academic year dates:
Michaelmas 2015  Sunday, 11 October Saturday, 5 December
Hilary 2016          Sunday, 17 January Saturday, 12 March
Trinity 2016          Sunday, 24 April         Saturday, 18 June
From Oxford's Website

Michaelmas refers to the festival of St Michael - 29 of September.
Hilary refers to the fest day of St Hilary of Poitiers - 13 of January
Trinity refers to Trinity Sunday, which is the Sunday after Pentecost.

Things you too may find interesting!

Sunday, November 1, 2015


Photo Credit

Nov 1st 54

Dear Mary Willis -

. . . Did I tell you I've been made a professor at Cambridge?  I take up my duties on Jan. 1st at Magdalene College, Cambridge (Eng.).  Note the difference in spelling.  It means rather less work for rather more pay.  And I think I shall like Magdalene better than Magdalen.  It's a tiny college (a perfect cameo architecturally) and they're so old fashioned, & pious, & gentle and conservative - unlike this leftist, atheist, cynical, hard-boiled, huge Magdalen.  Perhaps from being the fogey and 'old woman' here I shall become the enfant terrible there.
   It is nice to be still under the care of St. Mary Magdalene:  she must by now understand my constitution better than a stranger wd., don't you think.  The allegorical sense of her great action dawned on me the other day.  The precious alabaster box wh. one must break over the Holy Feet is one's heart.  Easier said than done.  And the contents become perfume only when it is broken.  While they are safe inside they are more like sewage.  All v. alarming.



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