Sinful, Scandalous C.S. Lewis, Joy, and the Incarnation

Sinful, Scandalous C.S. Lewis, Joy, and the Incarnation

LewisSmokingA couple years ago at a wedding reception, I was asked what I write about and I mentioned that I had co-authored a couple books on CS Lewis.  A woman at the table responded by asking me what I thought of his personal life.  In particular, she wanted to know if I was bothered by the fact that he lived with a woman much older than he was, and likely had a sexual relationship with her.

The woman involved in this juicy affair was Mrs. Moore, the mother of an army friend of Lewis’s named Paddy Moore.  He and Lewis made a pact that if either of them was to be killed in the war the one who made it out alive would take care of the surviving parent of the one who lost his life.  Well, Paddy Moore was killed in the war, and true to his word, Lewis allowed Mrs. Moore to move in with him and he took care of her the rest of her life.  She was at the time an attractive middle aged woman, and there is reason to believe Lewis had a romantic relationship with her, not unlike the notorious relationship depicted in “The Graduate” between Dustin Hoffman’s character and “Mrs. Robinson.” Continue reading

Anfractuosity: The Case against Christianity as Wish Fulfillment

200px-TheProblemOfPainA common criticism levied against religion generally and Christianity specifically is that it is simply wish fulfillment, a human invention to help us manage our anxiety in the face of a chaotic world and eventual death.  Wanting something to be true doesn’t make it true.  And Christianity is just whistling in the dark to keep our hopes alive.

Some answer such arguments by saying that just because we desire it to be true, doesn’t mean we are inventing it.  Starving people didn’t invent the idea of food.  Human longing could be an indicator of truth as opposed to falsehood.

Others counter that advocates of wish fulfillment desire Christianity to be untrue and therefore, using the same criteria, their position can equally be falsified as wish fulfillment.

To my mind, the most satisfying answer to this objection, an answer that honestly deals with the objection rather than obfuscate or accuse, comes from C.S. Lewis’s work The Problem of Pain.  Continue reading

A Report from the CS Lewis Memorial Service

On November 22nd, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of his death, C.S. Lewis was honored with a memorial in the celebrated Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. I had the privilege of being present – knowing that this Memorial and its attendant Symposium were events of international, and lasting, significance for Lewis studies, English letters, and Christian apologetics.

The Poets’ Corner Memorial was a labor of love by Dr Michael Ward, whose idea this was and who led the effort from the beginning, including being in charge of the fundraising: every penny of the £20,000 required for the Memorial and Service was raised through private donations – and every individual and institution who donated, no matter how big or small the amount, is listed in the records of the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society, archived in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, so that future Lewis scholars will be able to see the global reach and depth of Lewis’s readership. Dr Ward attended to every last detail to the final minute; he joined with many others in doing their part to make this Service something that would truly honor this great man, C.S. Lewis. A proud moment for HBU!

Fortunately, I can now share photos, audio recordings, text, and even a bit of video for those who couldn’t be there in person – read on!

CSL Memorial Unveiling

Continue reading

God and the Art of Lawn Mower Maintenance

mowingSummer in Houston can border on unbearable.  As a friend of mine once said, “It’s like living on the surface of the sun…under water.”  One result is that mowing one’s lawn becomes a dreaded ordeal to be avoided at all costs.  One additional obstacle for me has been the lawn mower itself: slow to start, running rough, and in general disagreeable all summer.  I initially thought it was aping the attitude of its owner like a pet.  But I became convinced that the lawn mower was on its last leg and would need to be replaced.  Continue reading

C. S. Lewis as an Imaginative Apologist

Why was C.S. Lewis so successful as an apologist? Why does he continue to be so influential?

One of the reasons C. S. Lewis was successful as an apologist because he recognized the necessary place of the imagination in the defense of Christianity – and because he was able to draw on his work as a literary scholar and literary critic in his apologetics work. In these short interview podcasts, HBU Apologetics faculty Dr. Michael Ward and Dr. Holly Ordway explore some aspects of Lewis’s imaginative apologetics.

Dr. Holly Ordway discusses Lewis’s essay “Is Theology Poetry?”  and in another essay chat, Lewis’s famous essay “Sometimes Fairy Stories Say Best What’s to Be Said.”

And, Dr. Michael Ward talks about Lewis’s important contribution to English literature, in this interview about the Lewis Memorial in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey.

Enjoy!

The Legacy of CS Lewis: Michael Ward on the Lewis Memorial in Westminster Abbey

On November 22, 2013, the 50th anniversary of his death, C.S. Lewis will join a 600-year-old fellowship of the greats: Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, London. He will join Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Austen and other figures of worldwide literary and artistic fame – a significant recognition of Lewis’s contribution to English letters.

cs-lewis-1Dr Michael Ward, director of HBU’s C.S. Lewis Centre, is the lead organizer of the C.S. Lewis in Poets’ Corner Memorial. He was recently interviewed by Lancia Smith about this Memorial and why it’s important.

What is Lewis’s legacy? 

Michael Ward: “It’s too big and too varied to speak about in just a short answer.  You only need to look at the huge numbers of books and articles that are published about Lewis every year to see the size of it.  Some people dislike Lewis intensely.  Some people simply disagree with him.  But the vast majority of those who engage with him seriously, find him stimulating, helpful, even inspiring in a number of different ways, as a scholar, as a thinker, and as a writer.

“I think that, as time goes by, people are coming to realize that Lewis, whether you happen to agree with him or not, is a very substantial figure who needs to be reckoned with.  His combination of intellect, imagination, and faith is rare.  It’s influential.  At the very least, it’s interesting.  Continue reading

CS Lewis on Reason and Imagination in Science and Religion – Dr Michael Ward

HBU Apologetics is delighted that Dr. Michael Ward has joined our full-time faculty as Professor of Apologetics and director of HBU’s new CS Lewis Centre in Oxford, England. Based primarily in Oxford, Dr Ward will teach online and travel to Houston regularly, as he did this spring to teach on “CS Lewis and Imaginative Apologetics”.

On route to Houston, he stopped in New York to do a lecture for Cornell University, on “CS Lewis on Reason and Imagination in Science and Religion.”

From the description of the talk:

Although he was a literary historian, not a scientist or a theologian, C.S. Lewis has much to say of interest regarding the interface between science and religion because of his scholarly study of the sixteenth century and, in particular, of the imaginative effects of the Copernican revolution. He regards science, properly speaking, as a subset of religion. He believes science to be a fundamentally imaginative enterprise. He argues that scientific statements, because they tend to be univocal and strive to be verifiable, are actually rather small statements, all things considered. He argues that there is always a mythology that follows in the wake of science and that both scientists and non-scientists should take care not to put excessive weight on particular scientific metaphors. We should hold our scientific paradigms with a due provisionality, because new evidence may always turn up to overthrow those paradigms. Even the best and most long-lasting paradigm is merely a lens or linguistic stencil laid over reality, not reality itself. This humility in relation to the facts about the physical universe is a virtue similar to the one we should exercise before the mystery of God.

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