‘Was C.S. Lewis Wrong to Allow Magic in Narnia?’ (2015)

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Edmund and the White Witch: Picture  Book (The Chronicles of Narnia): -: 9780007206063: Amazon.com: Books

I understand: C.S. Lewis was an academic, a scholar, he had all that learning that he wanted to use in God’s service, and over the years he’d gotten used to thinking like a college professor… because, after all, he was one. So it’s unlikely that this problem could have been avoided.

Was C.S. Lewis Wrong to Allow Magic in Narnia?

Well, his friend J.R.R. Tolkien warned him–all that “magic” stuff is going to turn some people off your books.

It makes me wonder: to what degree can a writer put himself in the reader’s shoes? And to what degree should he?

If you’re a writer, it’s a question that just will never let you alone.

Lee’s Homeschool Reading List (6)

That Hideous Strength (Literature) - TV Tropes

That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis (12 and Up–all the way up!)

This book blows my mind. Written in 1943, it only grows more applicable–and more alarming!–with each passing year.

Some of it will slide past you if you’re only 12 years old; but you won’t be 12 forever. There’s always more to this book, every time you read it. I’m 73 now and still learning from it–currently re-reading it, and still picking up tidbits I didn’t get the last time.

This is a story of Scientific Progress as performed by the Devil, featuring a sophisticated young married couple who have a lot of growing up to do but are very, very far from knowing it. Their desire to conform, to be with it, to hang out with the really cool people, almost kills them.

Science, higher education, government, bureaucracy, the whole academic world–Lewis just plain fricassees them all. He takes no prisoners.

His vision scares the daylights out of me. How did he see so clearly, so far into the future? There’s much in here to remind one of George Orwell’s 1984; only of course That Hideous Strength is a fantasy featuring a resurrected Merlin.

There is a bit of twaddle at the end; but maybe after another ten years I’ll find some merit in it. But 99% of the book is pure rocket fuel.

An Atheist No More

(Thanks to Susan for telling me about this.)

Jordan Peterson, former psychology professor and now best known as a mostly conservative commentator on news, social, and religious issues, might be called Canada’s own C.S. Lewis. Like Lewis, he is a former atheist who now airs a Christian message. He expresses it with a passion we can see and hear.

His wisdom, like our own, falls short of the wisdom of Scripture. I’m not holding him up as any kind of prophet. But the man used to be an atheist, and he isn’t anymore. That’s important. That’s something for us to rejoice in and look further into.

The video interview is 18 minutes long, but well worth hearing. Here is a man who heard Christ knocking at his door, and opened it to Him.

Our poor, fallen world is sorely in need of this.

‘How C.S. Lewis Predicted the Woke Nightmare’

246 C.S. Lewis Photos and Premium High Res Pictures - Getty Images

C.S. Lewis–he knew which way the wind was blowing.

[Thanks to Susan for the tip.]

We should listen to great writers, even fantasy writers, when they warn us off doing stupid stuff that will make bad things happen. They are very often right. But we hardly ever listen, do we?

Check out this essay by Jared Whitley in townhall.com, March 27: “How C.S. Lewis Predicted the Woke Nightmare” (https://townhall.com/columnists/jaredwhitley/2021/03/27/how-cs-lewis-predicted-woke-education-could-turn-democracy-into-dictatorship-n2586801). These predictions are to be found in “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” an addendum to Lewis’ famous The Screwtape Letters. If you haven’t read that yet, you really should.

Lewis realized that “the term democracy can be warped into destroying excellence, first in the halls of education and then to society at large, to make sure everyone stays ‘equal’.” Bingo! Bullseye!

And how do you water down excellence? Pass/Fail courses. Dumb down the curriculum. Meaningless stupid courses that stultify the brain. And, indispensably, “all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities”–because if practically everybody has one of those watered-down college degrees, what’s the degree worth?

“Corruption of language” is also important. Suddenly words mean anything you, personally, want them to mean–and no one can understand what anyone else is talking about.

It’s always easier to build down than to build up. We’ll never find a way to make everybody smart, but we can certainly make a lot of people stupid. Our whole system of public education is living proof of that.

The university was once the repository of humanity’s collective wisdom and experience.

Now it’s a moron factory.

Why does that make me think of another cautionary tale–The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G. Wells? Whose books, by the way, were a lot wiser than he was.


My Newswithviews Column, March 11 (‘History and… Fantasy’)

My new “Bell Mountain” book, The Wind from Heaven, ought to be coming out sometime this spring. But between now and then there’s a lot of nooze to cover: sort of like wading through a pestilential swamp.

So this week I’ve written about my books.

History… and Fantasy

Sometimes, by the end of the day, all I want to do is crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. The monsters are out there, ravaging our country. But you don’t win battles that way, and you certainly don’t win wars: and like it or not, we are in a war with Far Left Crazy–a war for the survival of our country, our freedom, and our way of life. They mean to take it all away from us.

Just now it seems we have nothing left but our prayers. They’ve nullified our votes, censored us off the social media. But if all we have is our prayers, then let’s use them. Pray often! Pray hard!

‘How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?’ (2013)

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The government insanities that scared C.S. Lewis in the 1950s are still here, still tearing at our freedoms. A stolen presidential election wouldn’t have surprised him.

But I’ll always been in awe of his art–and of his Chronicles of Narnia.

How Did C.S. Lewis Do It?

I’m sometimes asked how one learns how to write a novel. The only sound advice I can give is “Read, read, read–and then read some more!” C.S. Lewis was a professor of literature. He would have known what good writing looks like. So you read, you study, you imitate–and if you have the talent, the technique will draw it out.

Just one word of warning: you’ll wind up writing what you read.

“‘National Health’ to Push “Stop Drinking” Pill’ (2014)

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One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small…  (Jefferson Airplane)

As C.S. Lewis once said, the robber baron robs you and then moves on; but the know-it-all meddler will never get enough of interfering with your life.

‘National Health’ to Push ‘Stop Drinking’ Pill

Britain’s National Health Service, always on the lookout for another choice to snatch away from people, came up with a pill that supposedly would make you stop drinking alcoholic beverages. I mean, really, c’mon–who wants all that free will jazz? When the government knows what’s best for you! Why should they just stand by and do nothing when you make wrong lifestyle choices?

And then, after poking and pushing and telling you what you can do and can’t do all your life, next thing you know, they’re bundling you into “end of life counseling” and trying to talk you into letting them kill you… They don’t want you hanging around as a “useless eater.”

What is wrong with us, that we would ever consent to stuff like this?

(P.S.–Would you  believe it? I left out the original post!)

‘BBC’s Old “Narnia” Series Was Better Then the Movies’

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I guess that next blockbuster Chronicles of Narnia movie isn’t coming, after all–even though they made a trailer for it, which is kicking around somewhere in the archives, I haven’t found it yet.

Those movies! I rooted so hard for them to be good, for them to succeed. But they never came close to matching the BBC Chronicles of Narnia from the 1980s.

BBC’s Old ‘Narnia’ Series Was Better Than the Movies

The movies spent a lot of money on special effects, but frittered it all away by cringing from C.S. Lewis’ story as he wrote it, in which “Aslan” clearly represents Our Lord Jesus Christ. Never mind what that bog-hopper Liam Neeson said about Aslan being Mohammed and Buddha, too. Really, sometimes I wonder what actors use for brains. Soggy cereal?

The old BBC series may have relied on unconvincing costumes, but one thing they did get right was the spirit of the enterprise.

It’s why so many of us keep going back to it.

Back to Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia, 7 Volumes: Full-Color Collector's Edition  -     By: C.S. Lewis
    Illustrated By: Pauline Baynes

Lately I’ve been bumping into quotes by C.S. Lewis in unexpected places. I took that as a sign that it was time for me to revisit his Chronicles of Narnia.

Aaah! That’s fine! The book we had is falling apart, so we ordered a boxed set (the one pictured above: you can find it at amazon, or Christianbooks.com) with colorized illustrations by Pauline Baynes. I was quite surprised by how heavy the box was, until I discovered the high quality of the books: strong, glossy paper.

But it’s what’s inside the books that counts. I’ve just finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a parable in which the great Lion, Aslan, stands for Jesus Christ. I can’t imagine there’s anybody here who’s totally unfamiliar with these books. Suffice it to say that these are Christian books, truth brought out through fantasy, that are just as well-loved now as they were when they first came out in the 1950s. They have stood the test of time; and if our civilization survives, they’ll be part of it.

Really, you have no idea what a relief it is to put away the nooze and pick up a Narnia book. I’m in The Magician’s Nephew now, watching in delighted astonishment as Lewis uses a mere few words to mow down all the self-important self-anointed bogus intellectuals who ever lived. Gee, I originally typed that as “self-imported.” Now I think I ought to let it stand. Self-imported they certainly are.

I love these books, and they have inspired my own. If you haven’t read Narnia yet, there’s a treat in store for you.

This Book Inspired Me

Dorothy and Jack: Dalfonzo: 9780801072949: Amazon.com: Books

Sometimes–well, really, a lot of times–I find myself saying, “I am not a better person for having read this book or seen this movie.” It gets tiresome after a while: two or three of those in a row is hard to take.

But here’s a book that I think I really am a better person for having read: Dorothy and Jack, by Gina Dalfonzo (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI: 2020), the story of the friendship between C.S. Lewis (he liked to be called Jack) and Dorothy L. Sayers. The one discovered Narnia. The other gave the world Lord Peter Whimsy. And both did even more important work than that, although Narnia and Whimsy are what they’re best known for.

They addressed each other as fellow dinosaurs. They read, critiqued, and encouraged each other’s work. Each acquired a profound understanding of the other: their friendship never stopped deepening. And both were one of a kind–true originals, if not eccentrics.

Both loved God with all their hearts and put their trust in Jesus Christ. Both were attacked for doing so. You and I, Sayers once said, in a letter to Lewis, “have committed the two unforgivable sins: you believe in God, and your books sell” (pg. 136). Even back in the late 1940s and early 50s, the academic world was hostile to Christians. Oxford University repeatedly denied Lewis promotions that he richly deserved. For a man who loved Oxford as passionately as C.S. Lewis did, it was a hard trial to bear.

How I would have loved to know these two! Dorothy and Jack spend a weekend at the shore with Patty and Lee–what talks we’d have!

Both knew how to stand against the tide. Both knew how to endure tribulation, of which there was plenty in their lives.

I can’t help wondering whether they would’ve liked my books. What I’ve read here suggests that yes, they would.

Alas for our culture and tradition, letter-writing is practically a lost art. Both Lewis and Sayers were assiduous, prolific letter writers: it’s from their collected letters that Ms. Dalfonzo gets much of her information. C.S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers, both master writers in their own respective fields, were also masters of the art of letter-writing. Future scholars who want to write about the 21st century–presuming that there are any–will be denied this resource. Unless they settle for Collected Text Messages of Cher.

These two stood up against all the baloney that this fallen world could throw at them: stood up for themselves, for each other, for art, for scholarship–and for Jesus. First of all, Jesus.

Can I stand up and cheer for a book?