Saturday, November 23, 2013

Remembering the unforgettable C.S. Lewis

In addition to marking the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's assassination, yesterday was also the anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis (as well as of Aldous Huxley, who wrote Brave New World, which is one of those books that should be read along with Orwell's 1984, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Chesterton's The Ball and the Cross, and Benson's Lord of the World). While I posted a lot on Facebook concerning Lewis, it occurred to me this morning that I did nothing here. An oversight that needed to be corrected.

Before I was in my mid-to-late 20s I had never heard of C.S. Lewis. Once I knew about him, I quickly read several of his so-called apologetics works. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I read Til We Have Faces, which remains my favorite among his fictional works. I have read his Space Trilogy and, as of about a month ago, having received them all in one nicely bound volume last Christmas, I finished reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time, which I read out loud to my son, Nate, something we did over a number of months.



Culture is not only important, but unavoidable. I did not grow up in a culturally refined milieu, but that does not mean I was lacking culture. So, those books, films, and television shows, as well as the music I experienced shaped and formed me. This is why I am not terribly concerned about whether you like what I like, or whether I like what you like. Nonetheless, I remain open to new things, like reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time in my late 40s, or opening myself to Chesterton's fiction. For example, a year ago I would not have included his novel The Ball and the Cross in the list at the top of this post.

In The Weight of Glory, Lewis wrote the following:
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited

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