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… 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… 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… 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… 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… 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,… Read more

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

Ben: One of the things your biography of Lewis could not be accused of is being hagiography. I have often wondered why exactly Americans have so often sought to polish the halo of Lewis including those who have written about him, and revere him to such a great degree, whereas by in large this is not true in the U.K. and never has been. I wonder if you have thought as to why the reception of Lewis in the U.K…. Read more

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

Ben: ‘Northerness’ is of course a topic that comes up again and again when it comes to Lewis’ developing imagination and later his fiction, but I have to say I found it strange to hear about Norse mythology lumped together with things Germanic like Wagner!! Wagner was about as Norse as me, and if Wagner’s fantasy world was a major influence shouldn’t one call it ‘Southerness’ compared to the geographical locales of Lewis? Alister: Point taken – but maybe you… Read more

Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis– A LIfe— Part Three

Ben: One of the keys, you suggest, to Lewis’ intellectual survival during his WWI service was his ability to compartmentalize things, and to continue to have and protect his ‘inner life’ and imagination without being unduly traumatized. Could you say more about this? Was Lewis retreating into some fantasy world to protect himself from being deeply wounded by his experiences in France? Alister: It’s very difficult, and probably quite unwise, to try and reconstruct someone’s mental defences. None of us… Read more

Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis a Life— Part Two

Ben: Why do you suppose it is that so little attention has been paid in the past to Lewis’ Irish background and upbringing, especially when it comes to his religious background, growing up in an environment where the Lewis’ and the Tolkien’s of this world were unlikely to fraternize or be friends? Alister: It’s partly because previous biographers weren’t really familiar with it. Nor had Lewis’s full correspondence – which makes clear the importance of his Irish identity, especially in… Read more

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