Category: C.S. Lewis (Page 3 of 6)

Imagination and C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis had an incredible imagination: the Narnia Chronicles and the Space Trilogy are two examples, but so are The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces. His imaginations started early: he and his brother Warnie had their own world, chronicled in Boxen, which was edited by Walter Hooper in 1985. Lewis was only 8 when the story was first written, complete with Lewis’s original illustrations.

Boxen is the name of a kingdom, united in Parliament with a Rajah of India and the King of the Animaland (Boxen, 61) Although Lewis seldom rewrote any of his works, there is “much to suggest that of all he wrote, published and unpublished, it was the Boxen stories that he and Warnie read most often” (19). The Boxen characters were to form a major part of his incomplete Encyclopedia Boxoniana.

William Griffin compiled and in 1977 published The joyful Christian: 127 readings from C.S. Lewis.

In the reading “Thought, Imagination, Language” (called “Horrible Red things” in other essay collections) Lewis asserts that thought is different from imagination, that the false images maybe mistaken for true ones and that “anyone who talks about things than cannot be seen, or touched, or heard, or the like, must inevitably talk as if they could be….” (109).

  1. C.S. Lewis: Image and imagination. Edited by Walter Hooper. Cambridge University Press.

Lewis has a chapter in the collection called “Old English Syllabus” (21-33) in which he says that literature is different from the other arts by using language, which means using words that have meanings (37).

Baggett, David, Gary R. Habermas and Jerry L. Walls, eds. 2008. C.S. Lewis as Philosopher: Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Chapter 15 is on “Lewis and Tolkien on the Power of the Imagination” and is by Gregory Bassham. The author notes that Lewis distinguished three kinds of productive imagination: 1) daydreaming with wish fulfillment; 2) creating an imaginative world that often includes a protagonist; 3) fantasy, which includes impossible things.

Barfield, Owen. 1989. Edited by G. B. Tennyson. Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis. Middletown, CN: Wesleyan University Press.

Barfield and Lewis had a close “literary friendship” that lasted from 1919 to 1925. After Lewis’s conversion thye “ceased to engage each other directly in philosophical exchange (xix).

In chapter 7, called “Lewis, Truth, and Imagination (90-103),” Tennyson follows Barfield in noting that Lewis not only used imagination, but also had a theory of imagination. Barfield and Lewis argued over the nature of imagination (revelation, subjective, objective?, p. 97) but Lewis’s later reticence to discuss it was, in Barfield’s opinion, partly due to how imaginative statements differ from those that are logical (99).

Bassham, G., and J. Walls, eds. 2005. The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, the Witch, and the Worldview. Chicago and LaSalle, IL: Open Court.

In Chapter 11 “Narnia and the Moral Imagination,” Gayne J. Anacker defines moralimagination as “the ability to consider our decisions, our values, and our lives from fresh and different perspectives” (130). This can be expressed in various ways, such as by beautiful scenery, a tragic accident, a song or a sermon, but the most powerful contributor to our moral development is by means of stories (131).

Bell, James Stuart, Compiler, with Anthony Palmer Dawson. 2004. From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers who Influenced his Spiritual Journey. Colorado Springs, CO: A Shaw Book, Published by Waterbrook Press.

“This volume doesn’t attempt to ‘figure out’ C.S. Lewis but to provide a smorgasbord of the content and style of those who have shone forth as messengers of light in his life….So I believe that from these readings we can obtain clearer insight into C.S. Lewis as well as feed our imaginations and intellects upon those whose talents produced works of theology and literature that contain timeless standards” (2). For example, Chapter 1 contains readings of Julian of Norwich, George MacDonald (two), Joy Davidman, Anders Nygren, John Bunyan and George Herbert.”

Carnell, Corbin Scott. 1974. Bright Shadow of Reality: C.S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co.

In Part III of his book, the theme of “The Baptized Imagination” is prominent, with the Inklings, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield and older literary works playing an important role in Lewis’s orientation and interpretation of biblical images. Carnell notes that “Lewis’ own highly imagistic style addresses the whole person” and that only Lewis and Archbishop Temple could fill the Oxford University Church to capacity (74).

Dickerson, Matthew and David O’Hara. 2009. Narnia and the fields of Arbol: The environmental vision of C.S. Lewis. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. [On my Kindle]

Introduction: Ecological crisis, environmental critique and Christian imagination.

“The authors examine the environmental and ecological underpinnings of Lewis’s work by exploring his best-known works of fantasy, including the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia and the three novels collectively referred to as the Space Trilogy. Taken together, these works reveal Lewis’s enduring environmental concerns, and Dickerson and O’Hara offer a new understanding of his pioneering style of fiction. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis deftly combined an active imagination with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, the first book-length work on the subject, explores the marriage of Lewis’s environmental passion with his skill as a novelist and finds the author’s legacy to have as much in common with the agrarian environmentalism of Wendell Berry as it does with the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien. In an era of increasing concern about deforestation, climate change, and other environmental issues, Lewis’s work remains as pertinent as ever.” (From Amazon)

Duriez, Colin. 2003. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The gift of friendship. Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring. Also: Paulist Press. (Includes a complete list of both of their writings.)

In his chapter called “Meeting of Minds and Imaginations: “Tolkien and I were talking of dragons….” (1926-1929),” Duriez comments that what emerged from Lewis’s rich background in reading was “a richness of thought, imagination, and writing that impregnated his later literary criticism, science fiction, children’s education, literary approaches to the Bible and Christian apologetics” (35)..

Glaspey, Terry W. 1996. The spiritual legacy of C.S. Lewis. Nashville TN: Cumberland House Publishing.

“What sets Lewis apart from them [Christian philosophers], and allows him to speak so effectively to so many varied people, is his ability to communicate in a way that is creatively compelling as well as intellectually satisfying. Lewis demonstrates the power of an imagination which has been captured for the cause of truth” (179).

Hannay, Margaret. 1981. C.S. Lewis. NY: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.

“C.S. Lewis should provide a starting point, a map of Lewis’s two worlds, that of his life and that of his imagination. Lewis emerges as a man haunted by longing, a man both passionately romantic and scrupulously logical, a man who, through love and suffering, progressed from dogmatism to gentleness” (xiii).

Margaret Patterson Hannay is Assistant Professor of English, Siena College, Loudonville, New York.

Hart, Dabney Adams. 1984. Through the open door: A new look at C.S. Lewis. University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press.

“This book focuses on Lewis as a teacher, how he opens doors by challenging 20th-century views… Two ideas run through and unify the book. The first is that in all his writing Lewis encourage ‘radical key’ to all Lewis’s critical and imaginative writings. Hart’s aim is to show that there is in Lewis a single, integrated, systematic theory of literature focused on the importance of imagination and language. “The book raises many of the right questions about Lewis and explores them in a stimulating and informative way.” (From Amazon)

Hein, David and Edward Henderson, eds. 2011. C. S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination. London: SPCK.

Introduction: Faith, reason and imagination by David Hein and Edward Henderson.

1) C.S. Lewis: Reason, imagination and knowledge by Peter J. Schakel.

2) Austin Farrer: The sacramental imagination by Edward Henderson.

“These essays helpfully remind us why imagination should matter to people of faith. The contributors make a compelling case that C.S. Lewis and his circle were not merely tellers of tales by theologians in their own right, whose stories and images advance faith’s search for understanding.” (From the back cover, quoting Kevin J. Vanhoozer)

Hillegas, Mark R., ed. 1969. Shadows of Imagination: The Fantasies of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

“Shadows of Imagination consists of essays by thirteen scholars who treat seriously the fantasies of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.”

Honda, Mincho. 2000. The imaginative world of C.S. Lewis: A way to participate in reality. NY: U. Press of America.

“In this book I want to make my point that Lewis’s intrinsic appeal lies in the fact that he is concerned not only with Christianity, but also with the whole objective Reality and that he perceives, participates in, and communicates that Reality with all his reason, oral consciousness and, above all conspicuously strong imagination” (vii, viii).

Mineko Honda is Associate Professor in English  in the International Politics and Economics Department at Nishogakusha University in Japan.

Khoddam, Salwa. 2011. Mythopoeic Narnia: Memory, metaphor, and metamorphoses in the chronicles of Narnia. Winged Lion Press.

“This book is primarily an attempt to secure a well-deserved place for C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in the history of the Western Imagination as product of the confluence of the classics and Christianity….The stories are a literary, and subtle form of what he had reiterated in his Broadcast Talks…and other apologetic and literary works (assuming one can separate the two), that the purpose of life is to live in imitation of Christ….” (i)

Salwa Khoddam, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of English at Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City.

Latta, Corey. 2016. C.S. Lewis and the art of writing: What the essayist, poet, novelist, literary critic, apologist, memorist, theologian teaches us about the life and craft of writing. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. [On my Kindle]

3) Entirely in the imagination.

13) Imagination and mere fancy.

27) My imagination seems to have died.

Lindsley, Art. 2005. C.S. Lewis’s case for Christ: Insights from reason, imagination, and faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

Lindsley outlines a number of reasons to study C.S. Lewis’s case for Christ: 1) more than anyone else in the 20th century, Lewis’s writings have had a tremendous effect; 2) his ability to combine reason and imagination; 3) his unbelieving past; 4) his breadth of knowledge and intellectual abilities; 5) his interaction with other top thinkers; 6) his personal qualities (23-24).

Art Lindsley is senior fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute in Springfield, Virginia.

Markos, Louis. 2012, A to Z with C.S. Lewis. Amazon Digital Services. [On my Kindle]

“Professor, apologist, novelist, literary critic, fantasy writer, philosopher, theologian, and ethicist, Lewis has exerted a profound influence on the way millions of people read literature, make moral choices, think about God, and live out the Christian faith. By means of a genial blend of reason and imagination, logic and fantasy, profound academic insight and good old common sense, Lewis has challenged the modern world to re-examine the claims of Christ, the Bible, and the Church, re-experience the goodness, truth, and beauty of literature, and re-expand its vision of God, man, and the universe. In each 600-word entry, Markos enlist Lewis’s aid in the study, both theoretically and practically, of a topic of perennial interest to humanity and of particular interest to the early 21st century.” (From Amazon)

Marsden, George M. 2016. C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: A biography (Lives of great religious books). Princeton University Press.

Marsden attributes “The lasting vitality of Mere Christianity” (the title of chapter 8) to a number of factors:

  • Lewis looks for timeless truths as opposed to the culturally bound
  • He uses human nature as the point of contact with his audience
  • Lewis sees reason in the context of experience, affections and imagination

*Marshall, Cynthia. 1991. Essays on C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellon Press.

“Studies that go beyond observations noting thematic connections between C. S. Lewis’ theological writings and his imaginative fictions to probe the basic foundation of Lewis’ conception of fiction and advance our understanding of the importance Lewis granted to the imagination in perceiving truth. Also, explores the role George MacDonald (who Lewis said “baptized [his] imagination”) played in the development of his theory of fiction. Walter Hooper and Ann Loades offer essays on questions of autobiography raised by A Grief Observed; Robert Holyer writes on the epistemology of Till We Have Faces; Frank Riga discusses dreams as conduits for the imagination; and Waldo Knickerbocker discusses Lewis’ sense of Christianity as “a true fairy tale.” (From Amazon)

McGrath, Alister. 2013. The intellectual world of C.S. Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

McGrath sees reason, experience, and imagination as Lewis’s apologetic method.

Mills, David, ed. 1998.  The pilgrim’s guide: C.S. Lewis and the art of witness. Eerdmans.

Chapter 7 “Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp: Myth and ‘Real Life’” is by Stratford Caldecott (86-97). He asks why imaginary tales are so fascinating and told universally. “Perhaps because it is just such a journey that gives meaning to our own existence” (88). Lewis takes us into realms of meaning through imagination and story.

Payne, Leanne. 1979. Real Presence: The Holy Spirit in the works of C.S. Lewis. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books and Eastbourne: Monarchy Publications.

10) The Whole Imagination I: Surprised by Joy.

11) The Whole Imagination II: The Two Minds.

“The book is written primarily for all who have loved and benefited from the writings of C.S. Lewis, but it is also for those who would like to step for the first time into Lewis’s unique world of understanding. One can only marvel at the Holy “Spirit’s use of Lewis’s talents—not only in the life of the individual believer, but in the ongoing renewal that the Church is experiencing today” (9).

Mrs. Payne has been active in the ministry of healing prayer for over thirty years. She is the founder and president of Pastoral Care Ministries.

Piper, John & David Mathis, eds. 2014. The romantic rationalist: God, life, and imagination in the work of C.S. Lewis. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Kevin Vanhoozer notes (in chapter 4) that “In bright shadow: C.S. Lewis on the imagination for theology and discipleship” (81-104) “Lewis’s own awakening, or at least the first stage of his awakening began with what he describes as the ‘baptism of his imagination’” (86). Vanhoozer maintains that Lewis taught him  that imagination dos not bring us to Christ, but helps us to abide there. “Lewis did nto but reason on the side of truth and imagination on the side of falsehood. No, but reason and imagination communicate truth….” (95) Imagination is an organ of theological meaning (98) in the respect:

  • It is a cognitive faculty for creating meaning through conceptual associations
  • It engages the will and emotions as well as the mind (the “metaphorical invitation” (99))

“Disciples need imagination to stay awake to the reality of what is in Christ. To be in bright shadow is to live in the shadowlands as people with eyes of the heart enlightened, alert to the mystery of grace in the mundane, awake to God in the ordinary” (104).

Puckett, Joe, Jr. 2012. The apologetics of joy: A case for the existence of God from C.S. Lewis’s argument from desire. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, Publishers. [Also on my Kindle]

The title of chapter 11, “Imagination and the heart’s deep need for a happy ending” sums up Puckett’s case.

Root, Jerry, Mark Neal and Stephen A. Beebe. 2015. The surprising imagination of C.S. Lewis. Abington Press.

Contents: Part 1 Imagination and the Literature of the Mind. Autobiography: 1) The book in the bookstall: Baptized imagination in Surprised by Joy. Religious Writing: 2) Hunting the wolly mammoth: Shared imagination in Mere Christianity; 3) The smell of deity: Satisfied imagination in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. Literary Criticisms: 4) Breaking out of the dungeon: Awakened imagination in An Experiment in Critism; 5) On the shoulders of giants: Realizing imagination in The Discarded Image. Part 2: Imagination and the Literature of the Heart. Fairy Stories: 6) Narnia and the North: Penetrating imagination in The Horse and His Boy; 7) A passionate sanity: Material imagination in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Science Fiction: 8) Discovering new worlds: Primary imagination in Out of the Silent Planet; 9) The magician’s bargain: Generous imagination in That Hideous Strength. Satire: 10) The hellish nature of projection: Transforming imagination in The Great Divorce; 11) The grey town: Controlled imagination in The Screwtape Letters. Poetry: 12) Searching for the hidden country: Absorbing imagination in Poems and Spirits in Bondage. Conclusion: Illuminating the path ahead. Appendix: Additional uses of the imagination as identified by C.S. Lewis.

*Sammons, Martha C. 2009. War of the fantasy worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on art and imagination. Praeger.

“Most scholarship about J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis describes their shared faith and academic interests or analyzes each writer’s fantasy works. War of the Fantasy Worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on Art and Imagination is the first to focus solely on their contrasting concepts of fantasy. The authors’ views of art and imagination, the book shows, are not only central to understanding the themes, value, and relevance of their fantasy fiction, but are also strikingly different.” (From Amazon)

Martha C. Sammons is Professor of English at Wright State University and a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A.) and the University of North Carolina (Ph.D.).

Schakel, Peter J. 1984. Reason and imagination in C.S. Lewis: A study of ‘Till we have faces’. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Contents. Preface. Section one—Till we have faces: the work itself. I. Introduction: The background; II. Part I, Chapters 1-2: Methods, motives, materialism; III. Chapters 3-5: Of divine mysteries and sacrifice; IV. Chapters 6-7: Love and longing; V. Chapters 8-11: Believing and perceiving; VI. Chapters 12-15: Seeing and knowing; VII. Chapters 16-20: Loving, hating, hiding; VIII. Chapter 21: The myth and the retelling; IX. Part II, Chapters 1-4: “Real life is meeting”. Section two—Till we have faces: The work in context. X. Poet of the teens and twenties: The struggling imagination; XI. Critic and story-writer of the thirties: Imagination as servant; XII. Apologist of the forties: Reason as master; XIII. Autobiographer of the fifties: Reason and imagination reconciled; XIV. Person writer of the sixties: Reason and imagination united. Notes. Table for converting page references to chapter numbers. Index.

*Schakel, Peter J. 2002. Imagination and the arts in C.S. Lewis. Columbia, MO: U. of Missouri Press.

“Peter Schakel begins by concentrating on the way reading or engaging with the other arts is an imaginative activity. He focuses on three books in which imagination is the central theme—Surprised by Joy, An Experiment in Criticism, and The Discarded Image—and shows the important role of imagination in Lewis’s theory of education. He then examines imagination and reading in Lewis’s fiction, concentrating specifically on the Chronicles of Narnia, the most imaginative of his works. He looks at how the imaginative experience of reading the Chronicles is affected by the physical texture of the books, the illustrations, revisions of the texts, the order in which the books are read, and their narrative “voice,” the “storyteller” who becomes almost a character in the stories. Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis also explores Lewis’s ideas about imagination in the nonliterary arts. Although Lewis regarded engagement with the arts as essential to a well- rounded and satisfying life, critics of his work and even biographers have given little attention to this aspect of his life. Schakel reviews the place of music, dance, art, and architecture in Lewis’s life, the ways in which he uses them as content in his poems and stories, and how he develops some of the deepest, most significant themes of his stories through them. Schakel concludes by analyzing the uses and abuses of imagination. He looks first at “moral imagination.” Although Lewis did not use this term, Schakel shows how Lewis developed the concept in That Hideous Strength and The Abolition of Man long before it became popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. While readers often concentrate on the Christian dimension of Lewis’s works, equally or more important to him was their moral dimension.” (From Amazon)

Sellars, J.T. 2011. Reasoning beyond reason: Imagination as a theological surce in the work of C.S. Lewis. Eugene, OR: Pickwick.

“Within C. S. Lewis studies, there is also a common conception of Lewis as a modern rationalist philosopher, i.e., a rationalist who thinks arguments (and his arguments in particular) are the last answer on the questions he undertakes. Reasoning beyond Reason attempts to take this view to task by placing Lewis back into his pre-modern context and showing that his sources and influences are classical ones. In this process Lewis is viewed through the idea that imagination and reason are connected in an intimate way: they are different expressions of a single divine source of truth, and there is an imagination already present upon which reason works. Lewis’s “transpositional” view of imagination implicitly pushes towards a somewhat radical position: the imagination is to be seen as theological in its reliance upon something more than the merely material; it necessarily relies on a transcendent funding for its use and meaning. In other words, the imagination is a well-source for what we might normally label “rational.”
“To the modern mind, reason belongs to the cold, objective stare of science. Imagination and story are mere ‘culture,’ of value only as escapism or entertainment. J. T. Sellars’s remarkable book shows how one of Christianity’s most learned but enduringly popular defenders, C. S. Lewis, belonged to a richer, classical world where reason is imaginative and the imagination is rational. I warmly welcome its publication.”
–Simon Oliver, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham.

Smith, Robert Houston. 1981. Patches of Godlight: The pattern of thought of C.S. Lewis. Athens, GA: U. of Georgia Press.

In chapter 6, “Imagination and the Mystical Ascent,” Smith writes that “One of the specific values of the imaginative approach to reality is that it allows for the expression of those dark, sensuous, awesome aspects that the prose of rationalism and abstraction seldom provides” (137) However, “Lewis was emphatic in his insistence that imaginativeness not be confused with creativeness (138). He did not see the latter as genuine on the part of humans. Further, “The concepts of the imagination and of the nature of the self’s journey toward the absolue are fundamental to Lewis’s thought” (163). Lewis “lived in the conviction that ultimate reality alone could provide hope, beauty, joy, and, in the final reckoning, meaning to life” (164).

Starr, Charles W. 2012. Light: C.S. Lewis’s first and final short story. Hamden, CT: Hinged Lion Press.

This story goes “Beyond Reason and Imagination” with a dramatic ending to a man who was born blind.

Sellars, J.T. 2011. Reasoning beyond reason: Imagination as a theological source in the work of C.S. Lewis. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications.

Sellars attempts to: 1) place Lewis’s work in a premodern era; 2) enlist others to show that Lewis views the imagination “as purely phenomenologically funded” (p. 5): 3) show how Lewis’s imaginative self developed; 4) examine the role of desire in Lewis’s work; 5) demonstrate that Lewis rejected a purely rationalistic approach; 6) explore his debt to MacDonald; and 7) connect his reasoning and narrative framework to theology.

*Thorson, Stephen. 2015. Joy and poetic imagination: Understanding C.S. Lewis’s “Great War” with Owen Barfield and its significance for Lewis’s conversion and writings. Hamden, CT: Winged Lion Press.

1) Joy and poetic imagination: The experience : Lewis and the experience of joy; Barfield and poetic imagination; Anthroposophy.

6) Joy and the importance of imagination: Barfield’s Poetic Diction: Imagination as knowledge; Lewis’s Summa: Imagination as spiritual awareness; The “Great War” Letters: imagination and truth; Post-conversion: Imagination in the Psyche.

7) The Holy Spirit and the role of revlelation: Barfield: Spirit is anterior; Lewis: The Holy Spirit is other; Barfield: Inspiration from within; Lewis: Revelation from without; Imagination and revelation.

Ward, Michael. : 2008. Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the imagination of C.S. Lewis. Oxford University Press.

Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles but of Lewis’s whole literary and theological outlook. Ward uncovers a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized, one whose central interests were hiddenness, immanence, and knowledge by acquaintance.” (From the dust jacket)

West, John G., ed. 2012. The magician’s twin: C.S. Lewis on science, scientism and society. Seattle: Discovery Institute Press.

Lewis was concerned ab out the importance of “elementary text-books” because there the “intellectual scaffold of scientism” took place. Lewis felt that we need to read good stories, re-sensitize ourselves to good and evil, recover objective beauty, re-build authentic subjectivity, rehabilitate the heart and cultivate silence so that the ‘moral imagination’ can take place.


Heaven and C.S. Lewis

Lewis, C.S. 1946. The great divorce. Seventh Printing 1955. NY: The Macmillan Company. Copyright renewed 1973 by C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.

In The Great Divorce (1946:64), Lewis remarks “The last thing I wish is to arouse factual curiosity about the details of the after-world” (viii). In his story, Lewis allows the reader to join a number of somewhat reluctant fellow-passengers who take a bus ride into an other-worldly place that is the abode of solid people and ghosts. It is at the border of heaven and some people don’t want to be there, so they discuss staying or leaving—going back on the bus. They are told that there is “No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at all. No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them. No atmosphere of inquiry, for I will bring you to the land of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God” (36). Only a few people are challenged to remain and Lewis summarizes what happens: “The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven; the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness” (64).

It seems incredible that people don’t want to leave the dreary life of earth and go to heaven. We have always thought that “everyone wants to go to heaven,” although I have also heard people say that they would rather go to hell because “all my friends are there,” as if there is going to be fellowship and good times in hell.

Our goals should be high, for as Lewis says “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither” (1955:104).

Lewis, C.S. 1955. [1943, 1945, 1952] Mere Christianity. NY: The MacMillan Company. A revised and enlarged edition, with a new introduction, of the three books The Case for Christianity, Christian Behaviour, and Beyond Personality. Anniversary edition, 1981—page numbers are to that edition.

In his book about basic Christianity, Lewis does not say a lot about heaven, but the concept of immortality is often present. Because we are human, we can study and know what humans think. The moral law teaches us about what we should do (20). Christianity believes that “God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made up out of His head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world…and that God insists, and insists very loudly on our putting them right again” (33).

Book 1: Right and wrong as a clue to the meaning of the universe has five chapters: 1) The law of human nature; 2) Some objections; 3) The reality of the law; 4) What lies behind the law’ and

Book 2: What Christians believe includes: 1) The rival conceptions of God; 2) The invasion: “Goodness is, so to speak, itself; badness is only spoiled goodness” (38); 3) The shocking alternative: “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing” (43); 4) The perfect penitent; and 5) The practical conclusion.

Book 3: Christian behavior has 12 chapters: 1) The three parts of morality: “Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live forever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth othering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live forever” (63); 2) The ‘Cardinal virtues’: “The point is not that God will refuse you admission to his eternal world if you have not got certain qualities of character; the point is that if people have not got at least the beginnings of those qualities inside them, then no possible external conditions could make a ‘Heaven’ for them—that is, could make them happy with the deep, strong, unshakable kind of happiness God intends for us” (69); 3) Social morality; 4)Morality and psychoanalysis; 5) Sexual morality; 6) Christian marriage; 7) Forgiveness: “we Christians think that man lives forever. Therefore, what really matters is those little marks or twists on the central, inside part of the soul which are going to turn it, in the long run, into a heavenly or a hellish creature” (101); 8) The great sin; 9) Charity; 10) Hope; 11 and 12) Faith.

Book 4: Beyond personality: or first steps in the doctrine of the trinity has 11 chapters: 1) Making and begetting; 2) The three-personal God; 3) Time and time beyond: “God is not hurried along in the Time-stream of this universe any more than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel” (144); 4) Good infection; 5) The obstinate toy soldiers; 6) Two notes; 7) Let’s pretend; 8) Is Christianity hard of easy? 9) Counting the cost; 10) Nice people or new men; 11) The new men: “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in” (191). The appendices are: A) Answers to listeners’ questions (8 pages of notes, probably typed by Warnie); B) Social morality (two handwritten pages by Lewis); and C) The anvil (a panel discussion on the BBC, where Lewis responds to a number of comments and questions).

It is not surprising that Lewis has little directly to say about heaven I his broadcast talks or their revision in this book. Although he is writing about what Christians in general believe, he is not pursuing a doctrinal approach about topics like heaven and he is “not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in” (118).

He of course knows the theological arguments and positions on the topics he is exploring but he believes theology “is like a map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map” (132). But the map, as Lewis shows, is very experience because they are based on the experience of many people.

Lewis, C.S. 1949. The weight of glory. New York: The Macmillan Co.

Contents: 1) “The weight of glory” is the title of a sermon preached in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford on June 8, 1941. It was published first in Theology, November, 1941. Lewis believes that we are “half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who want to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased” (2). “if we are made for heaven, the desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object and will even appear as the rival of that object” (3). We need to wake up from our worldliness because the heaven of the Scriptures is far more than the imagery that comes to us (6); To be loved by God “seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is” (10). We cannot even imagine what God has in store for us—“Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass in through Nature, beyond her, into that spledour which she fitfully reflects” (13); As Lewis says, we will have a body because “The body was made for the Lord, and these dismal fancies [that our bodies are  ghosts or live in numbness] are wide of the mark” (14). 2) In Transposition” Lewis points out that although Glossolalia may be an embarrassment as a variety of Christian experience, it is also the “organ of the Holy Ghost” (17). The transposition from an earthly language to a heavenly one requires a different kind of vocabulary because “If you are to translate form a language which has a large vocabulary into a language that has a small vocabulary, then you must be allowed to use several words in more than one sense” (21). This is a transposition from something richer into something poorer; Our desire “for Heaven…was not simply a desire for longevity or jewelry or social splendours,” but , even if confused, towards a language with new and high values; Lewis also felt that the concept of Transposition “throws a new light on the doctrine of the resurrection of the body” (29). 3) “Membership” was an address given to the Society of St. Alban and St. Sergius and in it Lewis points out that the New Testament knew nothing of solitary religion; “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence and privacy; and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship” (31). However, the word membership has been taken over by the world and deprived of its meaning. When Paul spoke of members “he meant that what we should call organs, things essentially different from, and complementary to, one another; things differencing not only in structure and function but also in dignity” (33); “If there is equality it is in His love, not in us. Equality is a quantitative term and therefore love often knows nothing of it” (38); There will come a time when all is extinct, as far as generalities are concerned, but we have, as individuals, immorality promised to us, but “Nothing that has not died will be resurrected” (39). 4) “Learning in war-time” was a sermon preached by Lewis at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, in the Autumn of 1939; Lewis points out that life has never been “normal” that “Human culture has always lived on the edge of precipice” (44); “All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest; and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not” (48); Lewis rejects the idea that scholars and poets are more pleasing to God than scavengers and bootblacks” (49); He also points out that a person who has lived in many places and cultures is not as likely to be deceived as someone who has lived only in their native village; There are three enemies against the scholar: excitement (thinking only about the war and wanting favorable conditions), frustration (we don’t have much time to finish) and fear (death forces us to remember and prepare for it). 5) “The Inner Ring” was given by Lewis at King’s College, University of London in 1944 and is reprinted in a number of places. “There are no formal admissions or expulsions. People think they are in it after they have been pushed out of it, or before they have been allowed in” (57); “A thing [like the inner ring] may be morally neutral and yet the desire for that thing may be dangerous” (60).

Lewis, C.S. 1962. The problem of pain. NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.

Chapter 10 of this book is on “Heaven” (chapter 8 was on “hell” and there is also a chapter on “Animal Pain” (9).

Lewis notes that “a book on suffering which says nothing of heaven, is leaving out almost the whole of one side of the account” (148). The joys of heaven outweigh the sufferings of earth and “Your place in heaven will seem t obey made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand” (152). One of the things that is different than our life here on earth is that in heaven there is no ownership (154). “Heaven is a city, and a Body, because the blessed remain eternally different: a society, because each has something to tell the others…” (155).

Additional Random Thoughts: Heaven and Rewards

My thoughts for this study started out with the question, “How many heavens are there?” but it soon diverged quite widely (and wildly) into the matter of what heaven will be like for us and if we will be rewarded for the work we do while here on earth.

We probably all like stories of heaven and there are innumerable books and movies about it. Two more recent and popular books have pursued the theme of someone who has actually seen heaven and came back to earth: 1) Heaven is for real: A little boy’s astounding story of his trip to heaven and back (HIFAR Ministries, 2010) and 2) The boy who came back from heaven: A remarkable account of miracles, angels, and life beyond this world (Tyndale, 2010). Books like this sell, but both books turn out to be false and we should not be surprised.[1] Heaven is not transparent until we are resurrected and in God’s presence.

For example, although Paul mentions three heavens, he doesn’t tell us much about them. He doesn’t even know for sure if he was having a dream or actually space-travelled to the 3rd heaven. Here is what he said:

1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—4was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. (2 Corinthians 12.1-4)

Paul speaks about this man in the third person out of humility, but it is clearly himself who had this vision or revelation. It took him fourteen years to tell anyone about it although he must have thought about it many times. Why did he wait so long and why tell the Corinthians, of all people?

Fourteen years before this vision would be about A.D. 41-43 and this would have been during his second visit to Jerusalem (Acts 22.17). He had a “trance” at that time, in which he heard the Lord command him to leave Jerusalem and go to the Gentiles. From the very beginning of Paul’s ministry it wasn’t unusual for God to speak to him in a special way and it was apparently at this time that he saw the vision of the 3rd heaven and paradise.

What were the “inexpressible things” that he could not reveal and why couldn’t he give us just a hint as to what that heaven contained? Apparently, they were so unusual that no one would have believed him.

We think that Paul must have gone to the third heaven in a spiritual “body” or sense. If he had gone physically, his absence would have been noticed by others. Paul was always with people and had close associates, for example, Peter, Barnabas, Timothy and Titus, so it is unlikely that he was absent physically.

But Paul is even more mysterious about his experience. He relates it to being in “Paradise.” So is Paradise the 3rd heaven or a different layer of heaven? We remember that Jesus said to the believing thief on the cross “today you shall be with me in Paradise,” indicating either that it was a quick journey for Jesus or that “today” did not refer to the present time.

We know from Acts 16-11 that after the resurrection Jesus was taken up into heaven and the apostles saw it happen. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4.10 that “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.” It is clear that Paul is telling us something higher than the heavens exists, mainly the realm of God that covers “the whole universe.”

There is a lot of speculation about heaven: I read about an early commentator who thought that the three heavens were the air, the stars and everything beyond the stars. He did not have telescopes or space travel to prove otherwise.

The most prolific and often obscure visions of heaven are by the old man St. John, in Revelation, in the prophetic and highly metaphorical last book of the New Testament. John, who was exiled to the Island of Patmos (a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea), saw all kinds of weird things that were revealed to him through an angel. John believed “the time is near when all these things will happen” (Rev. 1.3).

When John had his vision there were still active churches around the Mediterranean, seven of them received a specific message. Today, the churches have all but disappeared and most of the area is now firmly in Muslim control.

For Christians destined for heaven, the way we get there is sometimes confusing. John tells us that Jesus is coming in the clouds and all the peoples of the earth will see him (Rev. 1.7). Paul also said this, reminding his churches that there will be the sound of God’s trumpet, the command of the archangel and Jesus will come down from heaven in a cloud. Those who died believing in Christ will rise first, then those who are left (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18).

Paul also ties God’s judgment to the coming of Christ: Jesus will appear with his angels to punish those who reject him and they will be separated from the believers (2 Thessalonians 1.7-10).

The exact sequence of these events seems at times conflicting: Are there still buried believers, those who have not gone to heaven, their souls “asleep” (as the Seventh Day Adventists believe)? Or is the soul of everyone immediately taken to heaven or hell, or somewhere else to await judgment?

Matthew 22.31-32 makes it clear that the prophets (and by extension saints) who have died are alive: “But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

On the Mount of Transfiguration, which we read about in Matthew 17, Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah, who had “died” but were now alive: “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” Dead men don’t talk and their souls are not asleep!

But, are we made for heaven? C. S. Lewis (1949:3-4) asserts that if this is so, “The desire for our proper place will be already in us, but not yet attached to the true object, and will even appear as the rival to that object.” And further, “The scriptural picture of heaven is therefore just as symbolical as the picture which our desire, unaided, invents for itself” (p. 6).

Lewis reduces the promises of Scripture to: 1) we shall be with Christ; 2) we shall be like him; 3) we shall have “glory” (to be loved by God is our “weight of glory”): 4) we shall be feasted or entertained; and 5) we shall have some sort of official position, like “ruling cities, judging angels, being pillars of God’s temple” (1949:7).

The story in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus is instructive. The rich man, who has refused sympathy and even scraps of food for the beggar Lazarus, dies and goes to hell. He is able to see Abraham, far away, in Paradise with Lazarus is at this side. The rich man talks to Abraham and asks for pity, but Abraham reminds the man that he had it good on earth and Lazarus didn’t. The roles are now reversed and the rich man wants the beggar Lazarus to just “dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in the fire” (v. 24).

Let us, for the moment, interpret the story literally: we see that both men are judged immediately by their actions on earth and go directly to their places of torment or rest. These are not immaterial opaque souls talking—in the case of the rich man, he has a body and he can feel pain. He is being punished for the way he lived and acted on earth.

There is no bridge from Hades to heaven, a great “chasm” is in place so that the inhabitants of Hades cannot visit heaven (Abraham’s location) and neither can those in heaven reach out and help those in hell. This doesn’t seem farfetched, although most commentators interpret it metaphorically. However, there is a lot of theology begging for explanation in the story.

C.S. Lewis (1949:39) summarizes the resurrection like this: “There will come a time when every culture, every institution, every nation, the human race, all biological life, is extinct, and every one of us is still alive. Immorality is promised to us, not to these generalities. It is not for societies of states that Christ died, but for men…. Nothing that has not died will be resurrected.

Some commentators see the rich man “praying” to Abraham, although he is obviously begging for help in his torment. The IVP commentary sees the nameless rich man as the representation and danger of wealth and could therefore be anyone. Lazarus represents the poor and crippled, the underprivileged. His sores make him unclean and he has to scrounge for food. But in the story he has nothing to say because he is at Abraham’s side and Abraham speaks for him.

It seems clear to me that if a poor beggar like Lazarus gets to sit by a great prophet such as Abraham, we will have some wonderful surprises in store when we get to heaven.

What will we be like? There are two variations of this in the Gospels, but in both cases we will be “like the angels in heaven.” Both Matthew and Mark note that at the resurrection (“when the dead rise” Mark 12.25) people will not be married, nor will they marry. Luke takes it a step further and says what should be obvious (20.36): “and they can no longer die.”

We also note that when Christians get to heaven, there will be rewards for the righteous, but none for the hypocrites, who “have received their reward in full” Matthew 6.1-2. We are not told exactly what the rewards will be, but they are directly attributable to the acts of righteousness (the labor or work) that we have done in His name. “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” Revelation 22.12.

The main aspect of our reward is “an inheritance,” being proclaimed co-heirs with Christ in his kingdom. It seems that in our relationship with him we share in his glory (Romans 8.17). We are heirs of all things, but especially “the gracious gift of life” (1 Peter 3.7).

The gift of life” doesn’t seem very tangible, so what about crowns? We read in James 1.12 that the person who perseveres under trial will “receive the crown of life.” This seems much like the inheritance of eternal life—very abstract— and, again, not very physical. When it is physical, like the crown of thorns put on Jesus, it was to mock him, not honor him like a crown should. Similar to the “inheritance of righteousness,” Paul anticipated the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4.8), which he promised to “all who have longed for his appearing.” In Revelation the crown is of gold (4.4) and indicates one who has been victorious.

On a practical level, God has also awarded us talents to use. Two Gospels (Matthew 25.14-30 and Luke 19.12-27) have parables that tell us about the distribution and purpose of them. The story was a message by Jesus to the people of Israel, who will live in the last days before the Lord returns. Those that endure to the end will be saved from the impending judgment.

A talent was a piece of silver that contained 3,000 shekels and a talent of gold was double the weight of a silver talent. In New Testament times the talent and denarius were used as currency. One talent was equal to 6,000 denarius, which would take a worker 16 years to earn. Entrusting a person with talents was with the goal that he would use it to realize additional talents. The parables about talents show the graciousness of God by providing them and his expectation that a talent will be multiplied in value when it is used properly. The foundation for the reward is based on how it is used, grounded on the resources God has given us. If it is wealth, he expects us to use it for his glory and the benefit of others.

The issue does, it seems to me, lead to the question of whether there will be different rewards in heaven—degrees of reward. We are all saved equally by the grace of God, but salvation is not the same as reward. We read in Matthew 16.27 that God, with his angels, will “recompense every man according to his deeds.” Other parables and passages in the Bible indicate the same thing. For example in Matthew 25.21-23 we read the story of servants who were faithful of a few things and the master subsequently put them in charge of many things. Is this an example of what it might also be like in heaven?

Rewards will be given for apparently insignificant actions: welcoming a prophet or righteous person (even a missionary?), providing a cup of cold water, visiting someone in prison, providing shelter and clothes—all of these, if done in the name of Christ, will receive a reward. We don’t know what the reward will be—exactly—but we get a hint by knowing that when we leave our mother, father or other relatives, we get others who take their place.

We have experienced that in our own lives. We never realized that an Australian couple—Tom and Elsie Hibberd—would become our surrogate parents. We left our real parents in America and were not able to even attend their funerals. God provided others to take their places in our lives. We are often unaware of the gifts and rewards that God is providing for us until we contemplate them. God does not owe his children anything for their fine efforts—the rewards are a gift.

The ultimate reward, however, is that we please God and, without faith “it is imposable to please God” (Hebrews 11.6). Those who did, in faith, obey God often lived as foreigners and strangers here on earth. They were looking for another (better) country and that was heaven. They were tested, but through faith they quenched flames, escaped death, put up with chains and imprisonment. Although many were also killed, God had planned something better for them—they would be made perfect in heaven (Hebrews 11.40).

C.S. Lewis wrote often of his feeling of “longing,” summarized by Glaspey (1996:70) as “the sense of the numinous, of a reality that lay beyond the material realm we can experience with our senses.” According to Lewis, at present we are on the wrong side of the door, trying to get in, but someday, God willing, we shall get in and our souls “will put on its glory, or rather the greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch” (1949:13).



Alcorn, Randy. 2004. Heaven. Tyndale House Publishers.

Glaspey, Terry W. 1996. The spiritual legacy of C.S. Lewis. Nashville TN: Cumberland House Publishing.

Graham, Billy. 2012. The heaven answer book. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Hooper, Walter, ed. 1984. The business of heaven: Daily readings from C.S. Lewis. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers.

Neal, Mary C. 2011 To heaven and back: A doctor’s extraordinary account of her death, heaven, angels, and life again: A true story. Colorado Springs, Colorado: WaterBrook Press.


[1] Some books about heaven do stick more strictly to the Bible for their information, so they are worth reading. For example, Randy Alcorn and Billy Graham have written popular books about heaven. There are also accounts about heaven by “authorities” that seem true, but have no real proof, such as by Neal (2001). Hooper (ed. 1984) put together daily readings by C.S. Lewis and a number of them deal with heaven.

Education and C.S. Lewis

In this section I briefly outline some of the things Lewis said about education, as well as what other scholars noted he said about learning related topics.

C.S. Lewis had a privileged education: he attended private schools, had personal tutoring and graduated from a great university. He enjoyed the benefits of parents who read widely and encouraged him to do the same. Despite all of his advantages, Lewis saw education quite differently than some of his peers, who were more interested in social status and advantage than educating the common person.

However, Lewis was not elitist. His advice to Sarah (his godchild) was practical. His counsel about language was that someone was not either “good” or “bad” at them and if she ever wanted to read something badly that wasn’t in English “you’ll find you can learn a foreign language all right” (37) and to someone named Joan he gave some hints on writing:

  • Make sure you know what you mean and use clear language to say so
  • Prefer plain direct words to long, vague ones
  • Don’t use abstract nouns if concrete ones will do
  • Don’t use adjectives instead of telling something about the item
  • Don’t use words too big for the subject, e.g. “infinitely” when you mean “very”

C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children, 1985, edited by Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead and published by MacMillan. (64)

  1. The abolition of man: Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools. NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Chapter 1, “Men without Chests, is a critical and negative review of a small book on English intended for upper grade high school students. “ The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals. This gives them the chance to say that he who attacks them attacks Intellectuals…. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so” (25). “We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful” (26).

In Chapter 2, “The Way,” Lewis continues his assault upon what he calls “The spirit of The Green Book,” which is “to produce certain states of mind in the rising generation….” (28). He calls the authors Gaius and Titus and points out their skepticism of traditional values and their reliance on obeying “instinct” to explain how one ought to live. Lewis believes that certain values should be self-evident and that if nothing is such then “nothing can be proved. Similarly if nothing is obligatory for its own sake, nothing is obligatory at all” (40). Lewis reminds us of “Natural Law or Traditional Morality” and says that the “effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory” (43). And further, that the human mind cannot invent new values.


In Chapter 3, “The Abolition of Man,” Lewis analyzes the conception of our culture that claims Man has an increasing power over Nature. He asks if this is the “final stage in the conquest” given all that Man has done (59). However, it “is not that they are bad men. They are not men at all…they are artifacts. Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man” (64). And whereas once “we killed bad men: now we liquidate unsocial elements” (74).

The Appendix, “Illustrations of the Tao” is divided as follows: 1) The Law of General Beneficence, with both negative and positive examples; 2) The Law of Special Beneficence, with special regard to the young; 3) Duties to Parents, Elders, Ancestors; 4) Duties to Children and Posterity; 5) The Law of Justice, with quotes about honesty, sexuality and court;  6) The Law of Good Faith and Veracity; 7) The Law of Mercy, especially towards the poor; 8) The Law of Magnanimity, concerning courage in particular. Notes.

The following summary of the appendix is taken from Hooper, 1996:329-341: Background: I: “The Hegemony of Moral Values”; II: The Riddell Memorial Lectures. Summary: I: The Problem; II: The Educational Predicament. III: ‘Real; or ‘Basic’ Values. IV: An Appeal to ‘Instinct’. V: How Does Instinct Help Us Find ‘Real’ Values; VI: Which Instinct Should We Obey? VII: Where is there an Instinct to ‘preserve the species’? VIII: The Tao the Sole Source of All Value Judgments. IX. Is Progress in Values Possible? X: The Power of Earlier Generations over Later Ones. XI: Moulding the New Men. XII: What Motivates the New Creators of Motives? XIII: The Rule of Nature. XIV: How Man Brings About His Subjection to Nature. XV: From Science the Cure Might Come. Reviews.

Hooper noted that Chad Walsh, in his review, said “This quiet little book is uniquely calculated to infuriate John Dewey’s disciples and all other moralists who want to pick and choose from among the scraps of universal morality, who what to have their cake and eat it too” (Hooper, p.341).

  1. The weight of glory: and other essays. New York: The Macmillan Company.

In this small book, with a chapter called the same as the book’s title, Lewis explores heavenly glory which results in God’s commendation to us as a servant and the brightness we received in our glorified body. He sees that the Christian “is in much the same position as this schoolboy,” 2), one who has to begin with the basics so that he can enjoy the proper reward for his study, because “enjoyment creeps in upon the mere drudgery” but it begins with a desire to learn (3). However, in the sense of pleasing God, “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door” (13).

Lewis makes a valid and important note about translation: “If you are to translate from a language which has a large vocabulary into a language that has a small vocabulary, then you must be allowed to use several words in more than one sense” (21).

  1. God in the Dock: Essays on theology and ethics, edited by Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

“What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects—with their Christianity latent. You can see this most easily if you look at it the other way round. Our Faith is not very likely to be shaken by any book on Hinduism. But if whenever we read an elementary book on Geology, Botany, Politics or Astronomy, we found that its implications were Hindu, that would shake us. It is not the books written in direct defense of Materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic assumptions in all the other books. In the same way, it is not books on Christianity that will really trouble him. But he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the market was always by a Christian. The first step to the re-conversion of this country is a series, produced by Christians, which can beat the Penguin and the Thinkers Library on their own ground. Its Christianity would have to be latent, not explicit: and of course its science perfectly honest. Science twisted in the interests of apologetics would be sin and folly” (93).

  1. Fern-seed and elephants and other essays on Christianity. Edited by Walter Hooper. Collins Fount Paperbacks.

Published as chapter IV in 1949, based on a sermon preached in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, autumn, 1939. Lewis warns us that there are always distractions against learning and that the only people who achieve much “are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable” because “[f]avourable conditions never come” (36). Even though knowledge and beauty can be pursued for their own sake, it “does not exclude their being for God’s sake” (33). Those who are educated need to protect the uneducated who have “no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen” (34).

  1. Present concerns: Ethical essays. Edited, with a preface by Walter Hooper. London: Collins [Fount Paperbacks].

Chapter 4, “My first school,” gives some of Lewis’s recollections of his difficulties at Wynyard where the headmaster turned out to be insane. He learned to live by hope at the school—hope for and pleasure in something better.

In Chapter 5, Lewis asks the provocative question “Is English doomed? “ Not quite—the “death-warrant is not yet signed, but it has been made out” (27). Despite all the great things that have been written about and in English, he believes the “Board of Education… [is] resolved to sink us” (31). However, the public should be made aware of what is going on.

Lewis’s chapter on “Democratic education” (6) could speak as well to American education today. In a desire to make everything equal for students and for there to be no advantage. Yesterday it was Latin, tomorrow it will be mathematics. And, of course, English grammar. “Democracy demands that little men should not take big ones too seriously; it dies when it is full of little men who think they are big themselves” (36).

Abate, Michelle Ann and Lance Weldy, eds. C.S. Lewis: The Chronicles of Narnia. Palgrave Macmillan, a division of St Martin’s Press, New York: NY.

Chapter 3, “Moving Beyond ‘All that Rot’: Redeeming Education in The Chronicles of Narnia” is by Keith Dorwick. The author points out that Lewis’s own negative classroom experiences influenced his concerns about education and learning as given in the Chronicles series. Lewis was firmly against simply knowing something without any moral judgment of the contents. In Lewis’s comments on the Experiment House, he has much to say about bad pedagogy (60). In summary, “mere memorization of facts is nothing compared to the ontological task of becoming more and more like Christ” (67).

“I believe it is safe to say that this community of Narnia participants actually consists of a combination of both the first [the nostalgic, oneiric one] and second [problematic, sexualized]. As the essays in this New Casebook suggest, there are as many doors to enter the study of Narnia as there are critical perspectives and textualities, and who is to say that a scholar cannot also be a fan? (10).

Michelle Ann Abate is Associate Professor of English at Hollins University; Lance Weldy is Associate Professor of English at Francis Marion University.

Keith Dorwick is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Aeschilman, Michael D. 1983. The restitution of man: C.S. Lewis and the case against scientism. Eerdmans.

Contents: Foreword to the Reissued Edition. Foreword by Malcolm Muggeridge. 1) Common Sense and the Common Man; 2) Scientism vs. Sapientia; 3) Scientism: The Current Debate; 4) C.S. Lewis and the Two Cultures; 5) The Abolition of Man. Afterword. Notes. Index.

“Concerned as Lewis was with the destructiveness of science without ethics or conscience…he was always aware of a converse danger and temptation. If we are most in danger of ‘deifying’ science, we can also be seduced into ‘defying’ it, as does the neo-romantic ‘New Age’ movement, a variant of the Gnosticism that Lewis understood and opposed in the occult quest of W.B. Yeats and the anthroposophy of his own close friend Owen Barfield” (84).

Michael D. Aeschliman is associate professor of education at Boston University and lecturer in English at the University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano.

Heck, Joel D. 2006. Irrigating deserts: C.S. Lewis on education. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

“For the frequent reader of C.S. Lewis, we will traverse rather familiar territory, though only the territory that has relevance for Lewis’s educational views. We will gain insights into the Oxbridge system of education. We will see various references to education gathered widely from the Leis corpus into one place. We will begin to see a Lewis whom most have seen only in glimpses” (12).

Irrigating deserts is the most comprehensive book I have read on the educational and scholastic career of C.S. Lewis. It outlines what Lewis felt was the purpose of education and what the curriculum should include. It provides detailed insights into Lewis’s life as a student and teacher, with quotations and personal recollections throughout. Heck’s book can be summarized as follows:

Contents: Permissions and Acknowledgments and an introduction, called “The Mind of C.S. Lewis,” which quotes Lewis as saying “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts,” hence the title for the book (from The Abolition of Man, p.7).

Part I: “C.S. Lewis on Education”: too little reading of literature and too much reading about literature (23); Chapter 2, outlined C.S. Lewis on the “Purpose and Practice of Education,” which was basically to teach students to think. He was against dumbing down education to suit the “dunces and idlers” (40), but it was not to indoctrinate the student. Chapter 3 is entitled “C.S. Lewis on the Curriculum of Education The purpose should be to have “concrete knowledge combined with abstraction, practical education combined with literary appreciation, the ability to think theologically, rhetorically, and legally” (50).

Part II: “C.S. Lewis as Student,” reviews his education, including (in chapter 5) “The Early Education of C.S. Lewis” 6) C.S. Lewis at Oxford;

Part III: reviews Lewis as teacher, Oxford Fellow, at Cambridge and his role as tutor and lecturer; Chapter 10 outlines a number of lessons we can learn f. Lewis:

  • He taught students to think creatively—the purpose of learning
  • He demonstrated the role of questioning, encouraging and commitment
  • He demonstrated teaching, scholarship and service
  • He wrote in favor of the liberal arts and objective truth

Appendix I: Books C.S. Lewis Read 1922-1927—an imposing list of poets, philosophers, drama and opera, and many others!

Appendix II: The Norwood Report, from a committee studying the secondary school examinations.

Appendix III: The Green Book, which he comments on in The Abolition of Man.

Appendix IV: Orbilius, referring to E.G. Biaggini, who authored the Green Book.

Appendix V: The Colleagues of C.S. Lewis: Fellows of Magdalen College Oxford, the English fellows of Oxford University, the Fellows of Magdalene College, Cambridge, the English Fellows of Cambridge University, and other fellows of both universities.

Appendix VI: closes the book with an “Educational Timeline of C.S. Lewis,” followed by a glossary, notes and a bibliography.

Joel D. Heck (born 1 October 1948) is Professor of Theology at Concordia University Texas and Executive Editor of Concordia University Press.

Markos, Louis. 2003. Lewis Agonistes: How C.S. Lewis can train us to wrestle with the modern and postmodern world. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.

Contents: Preface. The Education of Lewis Agonistes: 1) Early Days: The War of Reason and Intuition; 2) Schooldays: Building a Wall of Reason; 3) Oxford: Breaking Down the Wall; 4) Christian Apologist: The Marriage of Reason and Intuition; 5) The Last Battle: Wrestling with Love and Pain. Wrestling with Science: 6) Unpacking the Modernist Paradigm; 7) The things That Could Not Have Evolved; 8) It’s Your God Who’s Too Small. Wrestling with the New Age: 9) The Return to Paganism; 10) The Medieval Net Was Wider than Our Own; 11) Rehabilitating the Medieval Model; Wrestling with Evil and Suffering: 12) The Problem of Pain; 13) God’s Free Will Experiment; 14) Suffering into Wisdom. Wrestling with the Arts: 15) The Death of Language; 16) The Aesthetics of Incarnation; 17) The Sub-Creator at Work. Wrestling with Heaven and Hell: 18) The Deconstruction of Heaven and Hell; 19) The Psychology of Sin; 20) Our Desires Are Too Weak for Heaven. Conclusion: Seeing Past the Lines.

“It is my firm belief that if Christians of today are to make full use of Lewis’s legacy in taking up the specific challenges of their moment in history,  then they will need a resource that does three basic things: 1) explains in lay terms exactly what the challenges in modernity-postmodernity are and how these challenges surface in various areas; 2) forges the arguments, illustrations and overall vision of the fictional and nonfictional writings of C.S. Lewis into weapons with which the Christian can do battle 3) encourages and enables its readers to become participants themselves in the agon, or wrestling match of the twenty-first century” (xii).

Louis Markos, Ph.D., is professor in English and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University and holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities.

Markos, Louis. 2010. Restoring beauty: The good, the true, and the beautiful in the writings of C.S. Lewis. Biblica.

Part III: Men Without Chests: 13) Losing the Tao; 14) The Dangers of a Values-Free Education; 15) From Tao-less Students to Tao-less Citizens; 16) The Scientist and the Magician’ 17) The Chest-less Tyrant; 18) The Death of Language.

Epilogue: Know Thy Enemy: Screwtape’s Millennial Toast; Lewis on Education and the Arts: A Bibliographical Essay.

Markos, Louis. 2015. C.S. Lewis: An apologist for education. Camp Hill, PA: Classical Academic Press.

Contents: Introduction. 1) The education of C.S. Lewis: The loss of Joy and the Inner Ring; Three new mentors; The great war; Tolkien and the myth made fact; Broadcast talks, Oxford Socratic and the Inklings; Cambridge to the rescue and the return of joy; 2) C.S. Lewis on education: Putting on the knights’ armor; Envy and egalitarianism; Men without chests; How to be a good reader; 3) What educators can learn from C.S. Lewis: C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer; C.S. Lewis University. Bibliography. Annotated bibliography of works by Lewis; Annotated bibliography of works about Lewis; Questions for discussion.

McGrath, Alister. 2014. If I had lunch with C.S. Lewis: Exploring the ideas of C.S. Lewis on the meaning of life. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

6) A Love of Learning: C.S. Lewis on Education.

McGrath asks his readers to imagine they are having lunch with C.S. Lewis, a formidable leap of faith and imagination, not only because most of Lewis’s discussions took place in the evening, but also because one must know so much to even talk to him. Here McGrath comes to our rescue: He helps us by discussing what Lewis would have said by quoting or paraphrasing him on the topics of friends, stories, faith, apologetics, education, pain and suffering, heaven and, of course, Aslan.

Pike, Mark A. 2013: Mere education: C.S. Lewis as teacher for our time. The Lutterworth Press.

“The word ‘mere’ is used in the title of this book in its Middle English sense as an adjective ‘nothing less than, complete’. This book is about schooling for a fair and vibrant society; it is about an education of hope, education that completes a person. In ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ (1955), the first in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, Digory and Polly are dragged back through time into a world that is “devoid of life and barren of vegetation”. Such a world is not a safe place for children and young people. When C.S. Lewis wrote that the task of the modern educator is ‘to irrigate deserts’ he was making the point that it is teachers who ‘inculcate just sentiments’ (Lewis 1978/1943, p.13) and enable the moral sense of their students to flourish. Mark A. Pike supports C.S. Lewis’ belief in the role of educators and has written ‘Mere Education’ to show how we might go about it so that ‘the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose’ (Isaiah 35:1).” Contents:

Part 1: The Hinge of the Wardrobe Door: Core Values, Character and Christianity
1. Character Education: Learning for Life
2. Christian Education: Liberating Faith, Hope and Love
3. Spiritual Education: Why you need a Map when you walk on the Beach

Part 2: The Furniture of the House: Educating Children
4. Liberal Education: Living Well in a Liberal Society
5. Sex Education: Self-Control and Sales Resistance
6. Biblical Education: The Basis of Liberty

Part 3: Professor Lewis: Cultural Interpreter for Educators
7. Cultural Education: Understanding the Foundations
8. Citizenship Education: Molding Minds
9. Democratic Education: How to Avoid ‘dumping down’

Part 4: The Professor’s House: Leading on School Ethos and Excellence in Teaching
10. Teacher Education: How to be an Excellent Teacher
11. Leadership Education: How to be an Excellent Leader
12. Future Education: A Prophecy

Schakel, Peter J. 2002. Imagination and the arts in C.S. Lewis. Columbia, MO: U. of Missouri Press.

“Peter Schakel begins by concentrating on the way reading or engaging with the other arts is an imaginative activity. He focuses on three books in which imagination is the central theme—Surprised by Joy, An Experiment in Criticism, and The Discarded Image—and shows the important role of imagination in Lewis’s theory of education.

Schultz, Jeffrey D. and John G. West Jr., eds. 1998. The C.S. Lewis Readers’ Encyclopedia. Zondervan. Foreword by Christopher Mitchell.

“To begin with, the C.S. Lewis Readers’ Encyclopedia (CSLRE) is designed chiefly to help the reader to get more out of his reading Lewis—to gain a deeper and richer understanding of Lewis’s own work and thinking….The CSLRE helps facilitate this wider investigation by offering entries on hundreds of relate and interconnecting facets of Lewis’s intellectual and literary interests along with bibliographies directed toward further study” (8).

In two columns on education (149), Carolyn Keefe notes several items on Lewis’s view:

  • He disliked the continual changing variety and depth of subjects added to the curriculum
  • He believed that values should be taught to the students
  • He believed the laws and duties common to cultures for centuries should be passed on
  • He foresaw the government power to issue directives about education and a lowering of educational standards
  • He was not fond of vocational studies to provide mental and spiritual growth
  • He believed English would be (and was) taught by those not really qualified

Walker, Andrew, and James Patrick, ed. 1998. Rumours of heaven: Essays in celebration of C. S. Lewis, Guildford, Surrey: Eagle, an imprint of Inter Publishing Service. Originally published by the C.S. Lewis Centre as A Christian for all Christians.

“This book is a reissue of a collection of original essays written for the C.S. Lewis Centre and first published in 1990 as A Christian for All Christians: Essays in Honour of C.S. Lewis (Hodder & Stoughton, 1990). The C.S. Lewis—1987-1994—was a Christian educational trust under the patronage of the Archbishop of Canterbury…In 1994 it merged with Gospel and Culture under the presidency of Bishop Lesslie Newbigen while still retaining the Archbishop of Canterbury as it patron. Since the summer of 1997 Gospel and Culture has become part of the work of the Bible Society” (ix).

“The essays in this volume are arranged in a ‘family resemblance’ or ‘cluster’ approach, beginning with biography and apologetics, and moving on to literary and personal influences of Lewis” (x, xi).

James Patrick is Provost of the College of Saint Thomas More in Fort Worth, Texas and …is a Roman Catholic theologian; Andrew Walker is at present [1998] director of the Centre for Theology and Culture at King’s College, London.

West, John G., ed. 2012. The magician’s twin: C.S. Lewis on science, scientism and society. Seattle: Discovery Institute Press.

Chapter 11 is on “The education of Mark Studdock: How a sociologist learns the lessons of The Abolition of Man.” In chapter 12 we read of what Lewis thought of scientism and the battle of the books, which is followed in chapter 13 on scientism, and the moral imagination.

Lewis was concerned ab out the importance of “elementary text-books” because there the “intellectual scaffold of scientism” took place. Lewis felt that we need to read good stories, re-sensitize ourselves to good and evil, recover objective beauty, re-build authentic subjectivity, rehabilitate the heart and cultivate silence so that the ‘moral imagination’ can take place.


C.S. Lewis on Prayer

C.S. Lewis thought deeply and carefully about prayer and many of the questions he raises have concerned Christians through the ages. The following summary includes not only what Lewis said about prayer, but also what others gleaned and reported that he said about prayer. I begin with quotes or comments from his own writings and then move on to other authors.

  1. [1955, 1958, 1959, 1960]. The world’s last night: And other essays. NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. [From articles and essays published elsewhere.] Pp. 3-11.

Chapter one is on “The efficacy of prayer,” which was later published in Fern-seed and Elephants (and other essays on Christianity), edited by Walter Hooper, Collins Fount Paperbacks (1975:96-103). It was first published in Atlantic Monthly, January, 1959. The page numbers that follow are from the 1975 version.

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C.S. Lewis on Modern Bible Translations

Lewis, C.S. 1970 [1947]. “Modern Translations of the Bible.” In God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (pp. 229-333), edited by Walter Hooper and published by Eerdmans. Also published in First and Second Things, edited by Walter Hooper (Fount Books, 1985).

In 1947 J.B. Phillips published his Letters to Young Churches: A Translation of the New Testament Epistles (later the whole N.T. was published) and C.S. Lewis was asked to write an introduction to the Epistles. He reminds us that “sincerely pious people in the sixteenth century shuddered at the idea of turning the time-honored Latin of the Vulgate into our common and (as they thought) ‘barbarous’ English” (229).

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