Tag Archives: abstract

Meditations with C. S. Lewis: Trusting the Images

More on concreteness, abstraction, and language, this time in terms of theology, imagery, and mythology.

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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.[1]

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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GOD: Concrete or Abstract?

Here’s a good explication of C.S. Lewis’s understanding of God as Being and Personality and Reality, with reference to language in the senses of concreteness and abstraction:

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The "Trinity Knot": Three in One The “Trinity Knot”: Three in One

C. S. Lewis wants to combat the modern tendency to associate transcendent being with abstraction so badly that he boldly calls God “concrete.” If God is a spirit, this word cannot be meant literally in its normal meaning of tangible. But Lewis wants us to think of God as something more solid than physical reality, as something at the opposite pole from nebulous. He conveys this idea effectively in his portrait of heaven in The Great Divorce, where the grass pierces the feet of the spirits from the gray town. So if we take “concrete” metaphorically, it is one of Lewis’s more brilliant descriptions of God as the One who is ultimately real. There is nothing nebulous about Him; He has a definite what-ness. “He is ‘absolute being’—or rather the Absolute Being—in the sense that He alone exists in His own right. But there…

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Where truth exists — Daniel Taylor on abstractions versus relationships

“One must not be naive, however, about the nature of truth. Except at its lowest levels, it does not come as hermetically sealed packets of information or hard nuggets of gold which are the same no matter where they are found. Truth, as we know it at least, exists in a concrete setting in place and time in the midst of human relationships, which greatly effects its nature and function. The abstract statements that we often call ‘Truth’ have their place, but it is as these conceptions take shape in the quotidian world of personal experience that we see them for what they really are. And what we find is that we have the power to release truth or to destroy it depending on the way in which we use it.” — Daniel Taylor, in The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and the Risk of Commitment