American Mythology– You Can Be Whatever You Want to Be

When I was young (and foolish), I wanted to be Spiderman, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. I even once leaped off a large dollhouse in the backyard of a neighbor, to impress a girl. I broke my arm. It was a crystalizing moment for me at nine years of age. I realized there were limits to what I could be despite the Army poster then in vogue with the slogan 'Be All You Can Be'. There were various things I couldn't be, and one of them was Spidey, the old webslinger. Some fantasies … [Read more...]

Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life: Part Eleven

Ben: One of the upshots for me of reading your engaging book is that it confirms that I am a literary dinosaur fixated on close reading of primary sources, and a man of Renaissance reading habits, since I underline and star etc. real books still with regularity, including yours. I am wondering what you think Lewis would say to our Internet surfing and Googling students of theology were he asked to comment on this increasingly ubiquitous phenomena even in seminaries and doctoral programs? Have … [Read more...]

Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life– Part Ten

Ben: I was a bit surprised to hear your analysis on p. 300 of Lewis being something of a Platonist, following, you suggest, the author of Hebrews. I don’t really think that works as an analysis of Hebrews since both the shadows and substance transpire on earth, and the really real is on earth and also in heaven. For instance the death of Christ is on earth as the sort of antechamber to heaven where Christ applies the blood and intercedes for us. What happens in this world is not a mere shadow o … [Read more...]

Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life— Part Nine

Ben: Lewis makes an important distinction between the imaginary and the imaginative and insists his fiction is of the latter sort. Help us to better understand what he means by this, and why he also says you can look at his fiction as a spectacle, or as a set of spectacles through which we see the ‘real’ world in a new way.Alister: Lewis saw the imagination as operating according to some deep principles, which meant that it had the potential to lead us to the source of our hearts’ desire. He … [Read more...]

A.D. The Bible Continues– Episode Six

At the very end of episode 5 of A.D., we were introduced in a most effective manner to Saul of Tarsus, present at the stoning of Stephen. In this episode, Saul takes center stage. It is easy, too easy, especially for Protestant to ignore or forget about the man Paul was before Damascus Road. At a minimum various texts tend to be glossed over in the rush to making Paul the Proto-Protestant and hero of the Reformation spirit. It's in order then to remind ourselves of Paul's own testimony about … [Read more...]

Mother’s Day– a Methodist Invention

Anna Marie Jarvis was in many ways a remarkable woman. Born near the end of the Civil War (in 1864), she grew up in a staunch Methodist Episcopal family in West Virginia, born in Webster, and later in childhood living in Grafton. One of 13 children, of which four survived to adulthood, her life revolved around church and her mother, to whom she was utterly devoted. Anna Jarvis, like many Methodist women after the Civil War was an activist in both her Andrew ME Church, and in the community, and … [Read more...]

Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life— Part Eight

Ben: Lewis has often been touted as the great Christian apologete of the 20th century. What struck me in reading your discussion of this is that you were certainly well positioned to critically evaluate the merits of what he wrote and said of this nature, since you’ve done a fair bit of apologetics yourself. Now that we are in a more post-modern and post-Christian era in the West, in what ways does Lewis’ approach look dated, and in what ways still helpful? (N.B. It has struck me as very odd tha … [Read more...]

Alister McGrath’s: C.S. Lewis: A Life– Part Seven

Ben: 6) Chronological snobbery is a phrase we find at various points in Lewis’ work. It seems that this concept is even more relevant now than ever in the age of rapid technological turnover where the latest is the greatest and the newest is taken to be the truest. How does Lewis’ approach help us to combat historical and theological and even literary amnesia?Alister: This is a critically important point, given our culture’s obsession with novelty and the “latest research” – which is so oft … [Read more...]

Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life– Part Six

Ben: I was reading along on p. 70, and read these lines from Lewis “Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills”. A line you give in the context of discussing his war poems. I have to say this certainly corresponds with my own experience when we suddenly lost Christy our eldest child at 32 to a pulmonary embolism. My way of coping was to write a poem about this, and then reflections on grieving entitled ‘When a Daughter Dies” which apparently has he … [Read more...]