The only thing I didn’t like about A Prayer Journal was its brevity. The main theme of these prayers is her longing for Christ–or even her longing for a longing for Christ. And within her precious prayers we find now and then a profound comment about her craft:
To maintain any thread in the novel there must be a view of the world behind it & the most important single item under this view of the world is conception of love—divine, natural, & perverted. It is probably possible to say that when a view of love is present—a broad enough view—no more need be added to make the worldview.
Walton’s insights concerning the purpose of Genesis 1 are profoundly helpful–if for no other reason than to refocus our attention on the author’s purpose in writing it. It’s more helpful than that, though, in positioning Genesis 1 among other Ancient Near-Eastern stories of cosmic origins. They help us to see a more functional orientation to the idea of creation in Genesis 1, and that the chapter recounts the establishing of the cosmos as God’s temple, where he will take up residence and rule. Walton didn’t go much farther with his interpretation, so we get to do that work on our own, thinking about how Moses might have used that in his shepherding of Israel.
However, I was frustrated by Walton’s assertion that because Genesis 1 focuses on God’s establishing functions in order to arrange his temple, it therefore says nothing about material origins. I don’t see how that necessarily follows. Walton uses that conclusion to argue that we can withdraw our discussion of Genesis 1 from our discussions of material origins of the universe and of mechanisms that God might have used (evolution) in bringing the material cosmos to the state it needed to be in before he did his six days of assigning functions in Genesis 1. And I marveled that he could say such beautiful things about God taking up residence in his temple, and being intimately involved with all of the material universe and everything that happens–and yet science can function and discover truths about the material world with no reference to God.
If you read the book, you may also want to take a look at Vern Poythress’s review in World Magazine, then at Walton’s response, then at Poythress’s response to his response, and so on.
I’ve never had much success reading P. G. Wodehouse’s “non-Jeeves-and-Wooster” books. I’ve tried a few, made it through some, gave up on more than one, and loved the golf stories (perhaps as much as the Jeeves stories). Laughing Gas was a bit of a chore to read at first. When I got to the part where the soul of the main character switches bodies with a child actor while both are having dental work done, the surrealness of it tempted me to cast it aside. But I decided to carry on, and the book turned out to be readable and lightly enjoyable. Nothing I would return to, though, and only a few gems of Wodehouse’s incomparable similes.
Prince Caspian was a pleasure to read again. As I read it I noticed how Lewis portrays the Christian life–its hardships and joys, the hard work of it, the courage, the faith, the companionship, and the forgiveness. He makes the life of the disciple real and rich and deep–even in a “children’s story.” It’s no wonder that one of my favorite seminary professors, the late Dr. Knox Chamblin, so often told stories of Narnia to teach us Romans and Galatians.
Dr. Chamblin loved C. S. Lewis and taught him well. You can enjoy his lectures on itunes university.
Of the famous men who died on this date fifty years ago the one I most appreciate is C. S. Lewis. In his honor I’ll be reading some of his writings (which I do on many other days than this one). And I recommend that you read his justly famous sermon, The Weight of Glory.
Once upon a time I had an “Aslan is on the Move” bumper sticker on my 1970 FJ40 Landcruiser. Those were the days! But that has nothing at all to do with this post….
I have no idea how The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe sounds to a child, because I didn’t even know it existed till I was in college. I liked it then. I liked it when I read it to Nicholas and Karen. I liked it when I read it to Kristian and Ethan. And I liked it this past week when I read it to … myself. But on this reading I stopped at the end of the last chapter to think about the Elizabethan-esque dialogue of the kings and queens of Narnia, and wondered for a minute how youngsters would receive that. And I finally decided that if it was any trouble for them, then they simply didn’t have enough Mallory and Shakespeare in their diet. (What do they teach children in school these days?)
This time I also admired Lewis for the way he handled the death and resurrection of Aslan–such dignity. The quietness of the Lion being led to the table and bound by the monsters (like a lamb before its shearer); the untrammeled joy of the Lion and the Daughters of Eve on the morning after! Nothing sentimentalized here. Better than many hymns and songs….
And I tried to watch some of the 2005 film version, but found so little Lewis in it that I decided the book would be more than enough for me.
So, on to Prince Caspian! The book, that is…
I found Brian Godawa’s blog post analysis of Gravity helpful. You can read it here.
One more comment on Letters to Malcom: Since I was a teenager I have admired the genre of the personal letter. The first Christian book I read (at age 17 or 18) was Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, which, though it is a work of fantasy, is a collection of letters. Lewis’s mastery of the personal letter was so great that I read his first collection of letters, his letters to children, and the 500 pages of his letters to his best friend (spanning about 50 years).
Letters to Malcolm, written near the end of Lewis’s life, hardly feels like a work of “fiction.” His letters are not merely essays (though they are certainly topical and well-reasoned); they include snippets of everyday life and personal asides that give the impression that we really are eavesdropping on a personal conversation. So the book never feels like a manual of prayer or a theology of prayer–it’s more like counsel from an old friend–a wise old friend.
It looks like I bought my copy of C. S. Lewis’s Letters to Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer around 1980–lots of foxing, a slightly cocked spine, and plenty of my pencil marks–including a letter-by-letter summary I created in the back. I’m savoring it again, as I do every ten years or so. And although I love it, it isn’t a book I’d give someone to help them get started with prayer. It’s more of a mature reflection (it’s one of his last books) by someone who has been praying many years. And he admits in the letters that his approach is specific to someone who was converted as an adult from the intelligentsia.
I don’t at all agree with everything Lewis says. But what would be the point of only reading the ideas that are already my own? Lewis stretches me–and even makes me want to raise an objection or two. But he also opens my eyes and shines some clarifying light on my cloudy mind. (more…)