The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis by Robert MacSwain



My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is not a light read as it comprises a series of chapters written by ‘academics for academics’. It is not inaccessible but a fair amount of background knowledge of a wide range of fields is assumed. There are a number of chapters that deal with Lewis’s professional works in English studies. I think some of the strongest chapters were when authors critically engaged with works that the public still read: on love, violence, suffering, heaven and hell.



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John 5: 24-30 The hour is coming and now is

Truly, truly I tell you that the person who hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has resurrection life, and will not come under judgement but has passed from death to life.

Truly, truly I tell you that the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

For just as the Father has life in himself, in the same way he has given to the Son the right to life in himself.

And he gave authority to him to act as judge, because he is the Son of Man.

Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out: the ones who have done good things to resurrection for life, and the ones who have done evil things to resurrection for judgement.

I am able to do nothing by myself. As I hear, I judge. And my judgement is just. because I do not seek my will but the will of the one who sent me.

O Love, O God who created me, in your love recreate me.
O Love, who redeemed me,
fill up in me whatever part of your love
has fallen into neglect within me.
O Love, O God, who first loved me,
grant that with my whole heart,
and with my whole soul,
and with my whole strength,
I may love you.

Gertrude the Great

Angels according to CS Lewis

Fra Angelico’s angels carry in their face and gesture the peace and authority of heaven.

The Annunciation: Fra Angelico

Later come the chubby infantile nudes of Raphael,

Detail from Sistine Madonna: Raphael

finally the soft, slim girlish and consolatory angels of nineteenth-century art, shapes so feminine that they avoid being voluptuous only by their total insipidity – the frigid houris of a tea-table paradise.

Detail from the Adoration of the Magi: Edward Byrne Jones.

They are a pernicious symbol. In Scripture the visitation of an angel is always alarming; it has to begin by saying ‘Fear not’. The Victorian angel looks as if it were going to say ‘There, there.’

CS Lewis – Preface to 1961 Screwtape Letters

Talent

“What looks like talent is often careful preparation.
What looks like skill is often persistent revision.”

James Clear

Suffering

The problem is that psychotherapies took practices from ancient religions (Stoicism, Buddhism, Christianity), but ditched their idea that life is suffering. Instead, suffering became disorders, disorders became ‘epidemics’ which must be eradicated, therapies became industries…

Jules Evans on Twitter

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry – John Mark Comer

John Ortberg described one of his books as ‘Dallas for Dummies’, this book is ‘Ortberg for Millennials.’ Ortberg graciously provides a foreword to a book that takes its title from something Dallas Willard said to Ortberg. Ortberg rightly says that it almost unthinkable for modern people to adopt Jesus’s teaching to hurry and busyness. Comer then picks up the baton and shows how a. modernity is obsessed with achievement at speed b. how Jesus’s approach was very different c. how he amongst others has made a resolution to slow down.

The strength of this book is Comer’s own personality and intention to follow Jesus in his context. This is very much a book by a West Coast millennial for his people. The book is full of very specific references that will connect with his peers. He is self-revealing (we are told about his Myer’s Brigg temperament, how many books he reads a week and how he only answers email once a week…) But he has put into practise (with his family) a slower pace of life. He is honest that is probably much easier for him to do as senior pastor. This strength is of course partly a weakness: the writing style is often irritating (he has Ortberg’s weakness for jokey asides), many of the best observations are quotations from other people (especially Willard and Ortberg) and some of the cultural references are just baffling to ‘outsiders’. Good to read quickly (!) and be challenged by, but hard to recommend to the general reader.

Simplicity

The English designer William Morris offered a good rule of thumb: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

On Matthew 11

In this truth lies the secret of the easy yoke: the secret involves living as [Jesus] lived in the entirety of his life—adopting his overall life-style. … Our mistake is to think that following Jesus consists in loving our enemies, going the “second mile,” turning the other cheek, suffering patiently and hopefully—while living the rest of our lives just as everyone else around us does. … It’s a strategy bound to fail.

Dallas Willard