More on concreteness, abstraction, and language, this time in terms of theology, imagery, and mythology.
When the purport of the images — what they say to our fear and hope and will and affections — seems to conflict with the theological abstractions, trust the purport of the images every time.
C. S. Lewis’s friend Owen Barfield once wrote of him that “what he thought about everything was secretly present in what he said about anything.” In the Lewis quote above, from Letters to Malcolm, we have a fine example of what Lewis thought about something that was at least secretly present, and often overtly present, in what he said about anything.
Lewis’s preference for images over abstractions, his deep satisfaction in image-rich language and distaste for image-deficient language, was something he described often in his writings. For example, in Studies in Words Lewis discussed the word bitch at some length, noting that in his time bitch was already well along the journey from…
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