Inklings fans, take note: A recent episode of The Art of Manliness podcast featured an interview with Joseph Loconte, author of A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, & Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18.
The interview with Loconte taught me new things about the way Tolkien and Lewis viewed life and literature. I also was challenged to think more about my deeply held, Western-world belief in the supposedly inevitable outcome called progress.
Speaking of Inklings, you might also be interested in reading Charles Williams’s take on dogma—and watching a short documentary on Owen Barfield.
Posted in C.S. Lewis, Christian Humanism, The Inklings, Tolkien
Tagged Brett McKay, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Inklings, interviews, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joseph Loconte, literature, Owen Barfield, podcast, progress, The Art of Manliness
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
I think I might like Till We Have Faces as much as all other C.S. Lewis books combined.
How about you?
Here’s my brief review (of an old book!) from earlier this year.
This Owen Barfield quotation might strike some of you as interesting. I’m posting it just as food for thought:
“The extraordinarily intimate connection between language and thought (the Greek word λóγος combined, as we should say, both meanings) might lead one to expect that the philosophers at least would have turned their attention to the subject long ago. And so, indeed, they did, but with a curiously disproportionate amount of interest. The cause of this deficiency is, I think, to be found in the fact that Western philosophy, from Aristotle onwards, is itself a kind of offspring of Logic. To anyone attempting to construct a metaphysic in strict accordance with the canons and categories of formal Logic, the fact that the meanings of words change, not only from age to age, but from context to context, is certainly interesting; but it is interesting solely because it is a nuisance.”
— from Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning, which at least one book publisher described as “The seminal text that inspired Tolkien and C.S. Lewis”
One of my buds at the university has this excellent website called What Is It Like To Be A Philosopher? It’s devoted to interviews with contemporary philosophers, and the conversational blend of biography and perspective is always fascinating, at least to people like me. I’ve previously posted an excerpt from the interview with Michael Ruse.
In the latest interview, David McNaughton, who like Ruse is a philosopher at Florida State, talks about his love of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Both of these Inklings, especially Lewis, make appearances throughout the interview. (McNaughton doesn’t name Tolkien, but he names The Lord of the Rings as a favorite three times.)
Posted in Christian Humanism, Humanities, Inklings, philosopher, philosophy, The Inklings
Tagged books, C.S. Lewis, Cliff Sosis, David McNaughton, Inklings, interviews, J.R.R. Tolkien, philosophers, philosophy, The Lord of the Rings
Margaret Evans, writer and editorial assistant to the late novelist Pat Conroy, within her column “That’s So Conroy:”
Did you know Pat had lately become enamored of fantasy fiction? He was fanatical about George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series, and compared Martin to Shakespeare. He had also discovered C.S. Lewis late in life, and was so enthusiastic about him – and his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien – that he ran the idea by me, about a year ago, of getting a group together to travel to an Inklings weekend in Black Mountain, NC. (How I wish we’d done it.)
You might not know that Pat was very interested in God. Though he didn’t go to church much, he still considered himself Catholic, and he wrestled mightily. During our chats about the Inklings, he once told me he wished he had a writers’ group like that of his own. “Wouldn’t it be great?” he said. “For those guys, the question of God was always on the table. Maybe you struggled with the idea of God. Maybe you rejected it altogether. But the question was always on the table. It mattered, and it mattered a lot. So many writers I know today don’t even address the question. They’re not even God-curious. I still think that’s the difference between a great writer and a merely good writer. Great writers – whether they’re believers or not – are God-haunted.”
Pat Conroy was God-haunted. Maybe you didn’t know….
While out walking in the Cypress Wetlands last week – thinking about Pat, and how he adored this season – a cardinal zoomed across my path at warp speed, eye level, so close to my face I felt the wind on my cheek and heard its whoosh. His feathers may even have brushed my sunglasses; I’m still not sure. It was all so swift and sudden, so frightening and wondrous, I was left shaking as I watched the red bird disappear into the rookery.
They say a cardinal encounter is a visitation from a loved one who has passed….
Posted in Christian Humanism, Humanities, The Inklings, writers
Tagged C.S. Lewis, Catholics, God, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Evans, Pat Conroy, The Inklings, writers