I blog about religious issues, so it might seem counter-intuitive to post something against religion. But no matter what good comes from religious people, and no matter how much I think about God-related stuff, I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking Blaise Pascal was right to say much strongly motivated evil stems from religious convictions. (Pascal had more depth, breadth, and nuance in his thinking than his famous Wager, taken by itself, might suggest.)
In our time, Bob Dylan seems to have the same idea as Pascal:
“Religion is a dirty word. It doesn’t mean anything. Coca-Cola is a religion. Oil and steel are a religion. In the name of religion, people have been raped, killed, and defiled. Today’s religion is tomorrow’s bondage,” Dylan once said, as quoted in Dylan: The Biography by Dennis McDougal.
h/t to J.D. Landis
Please also see Bob Dylan on Morality.
I just yesterday found this video, which includes Owen Barfield’s account of his friendship with C.S. Lewis. The occasion was Barfield’s Nov. 3, 1977, visit to Wheaton College’s Marion E. Wade Center, which is devoted to The Inklings, G.K. Chesterton, and Dorothy L. Sayers. (Barfield was at Wheaton to give a lecture, a piece of which is included in the below video.)
During the video, Kilby shows Barfield one of the Center’s prized pieces: the wardrobe from Lewis’s home. Barfield also talks about his first book, The Silver Trumpet, and its popularity among the children of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Please also see:
Rediscovered C.S. Lewis Christmas sermon: ‘we shall have to set about becoming true Pagans’
And, the short documentary “Owen Barfield: Man and Meaning.”
And, C.S. Lewis on … ashtrays.
And, an interview with Lewis scholar Don W. King on Ruth Pitter, an award-winning poet and friend of Lewis.
Plus, you can search this site for more notes, annotations, and posts about Lewis, Barfield, Tolkien, Charles Williams, and G.K. Chesterton.
Posted in Christian Humanism, Inklings, The Inklings
Tagged 1977, books, C.S. Lewis, Clyde Kilby, Clyde S. Kilby, Inklings, J.R.R. Tolkien, Marion E. Wade Center, Owen Barfield, The Silver Trumpet, video, Wheaton College, YouTube
While researching for her PhD thesis, Stephanie L. Derrick uncovered a forgotten C.S. Lewis article—forgotten in the sense that it that had not appeared in scholarly bibliographies of his work. Entitled “A Christmas Sermon for Pagans,” it reads in part:
“A universe of colourless electrons (which is presently going to run down and annihilate all organic life everywhere and forever) is, perhaps, a little dreary compared with the earth-mother and the sky-father, the wood nymphs and the water nymphs, chaste Diana riding the night sky and homely Vesta flickering on the hearth. But one can’t have everything, and there are always the flicks and the radio: if the new view is correct, it has very solid advantages.”
And then later:
“It looks to me, neighbours, as though we shall have to set about becoming true Pagans if only as a preliminary to becoming Christians. … For (in a sense) all that Christianity adds to Paganism is the cure. It confirms the old belief that in this universe we are up against Living Power: that there is a real Right and that we have failed to obey it: that existence is beautiful and terrifying. It adds a wonder of which Paganism had not distinctly heard—that the Mighty One has come down to help us, to remove our guilt, to reconcile us.”
Read Derrick’s article about unearthing this C.S. Lewis sermon along with an unlikely article he apparently wrote about cricket (under his pseudonym).
By the way, Derrick is turning her thesis into an upcoming book: The Fame of C. S. Lewis: A Controversialist’s Reception in Britain and America, to be published by Oxford University Press in July 2018 (that release date according to Amazon.com).
And while we’re talking Christmas, see what C.S. Lewis had to say about ritual, which included some thoughts about the holiday season.
Posted in C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, Christmas
Tagged articles by C.S. Lewis, books, C.S. Lewis, Christmas, holidays, paganism, pagans, rediscovered writings, research, ritual, scholarship, Stephanie L. Derrick
Written in 1992, resonant today:
“[B]y the end of the eighteenth century a whole new type of public figure had to be invented: individuals who could—as Mussolini would have it—make the trains run on time. Napoleon was the first and is still the definitive model. These Heroes promised to deliver the rational state, but to do so in a populist manner. The road from Napoleon to Hitler is direct. Indeed, most contemporary politicians still base their personas on this Heroic model.”
— John Ralston Saul, in his book Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, in a chapter entitled “The Theology of Power”
Posted in Christian Humanism, politics, reason, theology
Tagged Age of Reason, books, Donald Trump, eighteenth century, Hitler, John Ralston Saul, Mussolini, Napoleon, politics, populism, populists, rational state, reason, technocrats, Voltaire's Bastards
Having recently moved hundreds of my books into storage during some serious work on my house, I have questioned my judgment and my affinity for book-hoarding.
But somehow, even with the back strain of carrying cartons and boxes and bins of dead trees and ink — back strain that wouldn’t have existed if I had just had a bunch of e-books on a Kindle or Nook — the below graphics warm my heart.
(And I can’t wait to get all my shelves and books back into my office. As long as the floor holds up.)
Be sure to read the entire Book Reading 2016 report from Pew Research Center.
I recently wanted to read a book that I couldn’t afford to purchase at the time. I found it in e-book format through the university’s library and obtained a 14-day loan (yes, some e-books actually have a sort of timer on them). I read most of it on my phone, some of it on my tablet. Along those lines:
Posted in books, Christian Humanism, Pew
Tagged books, Books Reading 2016, cellphones, e-books, graphics, heart-warming, literacy, Pew Internet, Pew Research Center, print, quite literally hundreds, reading, research, tablets
Two of the most-clicked posts on this blog have been Paul Holmer: How literature functions and Umberto Eco on theory and narrative. The common theme between the two might be that storytelling is not only necessary, but also of greater value than systematized and abstracted knowledge. Granted, the structure of Eco’s quotation seems to give priority to theorizing, but Holmer argues that humans learn more broadly and deeply from stories than from abstract or systematic knowledge.
So a quotation from James K.A. Smith’s book Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, found in this recent review, was a welcome addition to the theme:
“We were created for stories, not propositions; for drama, not bullet points.”
In this context, it’s probably worth remembering that beloved storyteller C.S. Lewis warned against systematizing the Bible.
Posted in Christian Humanism, common grace, literature, philosophy, story, storytelling, theology
Tagged books, bullet points, C.S. Lewis, drama, James K.A. Smith, narrative, Paul Holmer, philosophy, propositions, stories, storytelling, theory, Umberto Eco
“He began crawling toward the dark hallway arch. Ozzie had never taught him or Diana any prayers, so he whispered the words of religious Christmas carols…”
From the novel Last Call (1992) by Tim Powers