Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why the next C. S. Lewis must be a geek


HT: Bob Prokop


David Marshall said...

There will be no new C. S. Lewis. There was Dr. Johnson, there was G. K. Chesterton, then there were Lewis and Tolkien. Before that, Justin, Clement, Augustine, author of Dream of the Rood, Dante, Milton, Wilhelm Grimm, Dostoevsky.

The wind blows where it will.

Watch Africa. Watch China. Watch Korea. Watch India.

B. Prokop said...

Perhaps the new C.S. Lewis is Pope Francis?

Chad Handley said...

am no CS Lewis (obviously) but I agree with the sentiment that the next generation of apologists must be culturally aware. A good portion of the mission field is on the internet, now. As a comic book geek, I've always been shocked at the casual acceptance of atheism and atheistic arguments among comic book enthusiasts. I think that message needs to be countered by creative artists on the devil's ground, as it were. That's the idea behind a comic book I'm writing, Theodicy, which is an attempt to meet the arguments of the New Atheists directly on one of the primary battlegrounds of geek culture. If we continue to surrender this ground to atheists as we've been doing for the past decade, we'll surrender the most dominant and most influential portion of the cultural intelligentsia.

Lapa Pinton said...

Lewis' religious works ultimately were the product of the innate human disposition towards woo. Thankfully, this tendecy is gradually being remedied and some of us [having received the quickening ray of science, logic, reason and empiricism]
have sloughed off the primitive thinking that leads to such superstitious supernaturalistic apologetical efforts.

As Aldous Huxley [who died on the same day as Lewis] said
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."

Here are some in-depth and sophisticated critiques of Lewis' apologetical works:

Lapa Pinton said...

Furthermore, a far richer quantum of knowledge is being produced by the afore-mentioned "geeks" in the realm of computer science than has ever been produced by theology. In terms of real explanatory power, arbitrarily adding in a “magic man” can never make a contribution to human knowledge, and that is why religion is on the run in countries which have tasted the fruits of the Scientific Revolution. [[Just a bit of persiflage, there, but not out of place, I think]]

Papalinton said...

I love the word, 'persiflage', Lapa Pinton.

Papalinton said...

Son: "Dad. What is Science?"

Dad: "I don't know. We're Christian."

BeingItself said...

Is Lewis really all that admired by Western Christians? If so, that is a sad state of affairs. Mere Christianity has more fallacies per page than any other book I have read.

B. Prokop said...

Being Itself,

Mere Christianity is actually one of Lewis's weakest books, in my opinion. Among his strongest are the three science fiction novels Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and especially That Hideous Strength (One of my all-time favorite books). Sticking to non-fiction, I personally prefer the various collections of shorter essays and speeches, such as God in the Dock (probably the best of them all), The Weight of Glory, and The World's Last Night.

All that said, although yes indeed, I consider Lewis to be among the most significant of 20th Century "Christian writers" (at least in the English language), on the whole I prefer his friend Charles Williams. If you've never read anything by Williams, I would recommend starting with either The Figure of Beatrice or He Came Down From Heaven.

Other 20th Century writers I admire at least as much as Lewis are Dorothy Day, G.K. Chesterton, Pope Benedict, Daniel Berrigan, and Simone Weil.

PatrickH said...

I would also recommend the last book Lewis wrote: The Discarded Image. Scholarship of the highest level, and beautifully written.

B. Prokop said...

Personal list of the 10 Christian writers most worth reading (outside of the New Testament), in rough chronological order:

Ignatius of Antioch (Letters)
Augustine (especially his Sermons)
Thomas Aquinas (the Summa)
Walter Map (The Quest of the Holy Grail)
Dante Alighieri (The Divine Comedy)
Anonymous (The Coventry Mystery Plays)
Chaucer (Canterbury Tales)
Dostoevsky (especially The Brothers Karamazov)
JRR Tolkien (Lord of the Rings)
Dorothy Day (The Long Loneliness, Loaves and Fishes, etc.)

Now we need for a 21st Century name to get on that list!

David B Marshall said...

Bob: I can't entirely agree with you there. Mere Christianity is deceptively simple, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Here's my list of Lewis' Top Ten; Victor may find this interesting, too:

Charles Williams never seemed quite in the same league to me. Maybe one has to be in the mood. Simone Weil seemed a little strange, admirable, maybe, but enjoyable or insightful, not so much to me. Chesterton, yes.

But I agree with most of your "top ten" list if we limit ourselves to literary figures, and may need to finally give Dorothy Day a chance. I'm not sure I don't prefer Solzhenitsyn to Dostoevski -- both would probably go on my list. And I might include Lin Yutang, if we're talking desert islands. But it's a grand list.

David B Marshall said...

Also Milton.

HyperEntity111 said...

Paps posted:

''Son: "Dad. What is Science?"

Dad: "I don't know. We're Christian."''

Son: ''Dad. What is a fact?''

Papalinton: ''I don't know. I'm Papalinton.''

Dan Gillson said...

I love the fact that lapa pinton is trolling our resident troll, but s/he needs to work on making his/her posts less grammatically coherent.

B. Prokop said...

Oops! I neglected to footnote in my last posting that "Walter Map" is almost certainly NOT the author of the 13th Century Quest of the Holy Grail, although he is listed as such in the earliest manuscripts still in existence. The only work definitely attributable to Map is the 12th Century De Nugis Curialum (which is not in the least worth reading).

But since I wanted to avoid listing two "anonymouses" (What is the plural of anonymous? Anonymi? And haven't we had this conversation once already?), I went with Walter.

B. Prokop said...


Yes, Solzhenitsyn could easily fit on that list - especially his Gulag Archipelago. I did consider including him. But if I were forced to chose only one of those two (which is what I decided to do), I'd go with Dostoevsky.

Also, I did not say Mere Christianity wasn't worth reading. Far from it! But if I were to recommend one and only one Lewis book to a person who had never read anything by him, that wouldn't be it. I would pick either God in the Dock or The Great Divorce. (Or, if he were a science fiction fan, his Space Trilogy.)

Mr Veale said...

Can you get Papa Linton T-Shirts?
"Dangerous Idea" just wouldn't be the same without him, would it?

Dan Gillson said...

I have never understood the fascination with C. S. Lewis. I read The Problem of Pain, The Four Loves, and I started The Great Divorce, but I couldn't bring myself to finish it. It's not that I thought ever thought he was bad, but perhaps his writing just didn't speak to me in the same way that Martin Luther's or William James's did.

David Marshall said...

Bob: I noticed you mentioned Gulag in your self-intro, along with Milne and Dao Dejing. What a great combo! I had my son read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich as a young man: better than that crap they feed them in high school, and teaches him a bit about the world. My favorite though is First Circle. I think my review on Amazon is one of my best there.

B. Prokop said...


The First Circle is also my favorite among his fiction works. It's one of those rare novels that you just can't get enough of. Hard to pick a favorite part, but I'd like to call attention to the Stalin chapters, as well as the scene where Rubin is musing about his fantasized "Civic Temples" as a substitute for Orthodoxy.


I guess not every writer speaks to everyone. Everyone always raves about The Great Gatsby, but when I finally got around to reading it about two-three years ago, I failed to see what all the fuss was about. Did nothing for me.

I however am never disappointed by Charles Williams (I especially like his poetry), whereas other commenters on this site (to include Victor, I believe) don't care for him at all.

I could also list a few writers whom I greatly admire and love to read despite having really serious theological differences with, such as Milton (whom David mentioned), Bunyan, Thomas Cranmer, and George Herbert.

Dan Gillson said...

I think I'll add First Circle to my reading list. Thanks, Bob and Dave.

Victor Reppert said...

I've read and enjoyed Williams a great deal, though I haven't read much of him lately.

B. Prokop said...


If you do indeed get around to reading it (and I very much hope you do), keep in mind that the "framing story" (concerning the development of Soviet enciphered speech at the sharashka) is actually true. It happened exactly as described.

When you're done with it, let us all know what you thought of it.

B. Prokop said...


I stand corrected. Must have been thinking of someone else.

Hal said...

Sinc we are all gushing over who we love to read, I'd have to say that Graham Greene and Flannery O'Connor would be my favorite Christian writers. Greene's "The Power and the Glory" and O'Connor's short stories can, I think, be equally enjoyed by religious and nonreligious alike.

Also, Huston made a very good movie adaptation of O'Connor's "Wise Blood."

Among Jewish writers, my favorite is Philip Roth.

B. Prokop said...

Never read Philip Roth. I do love Herman Wouk, however.

I agree with you about Greene's The Power and the Glory. It would do Paplinton some real good to get away from Wikipedia and read that book if he genuinely wants to understand Catholicism.

Papalinton said...

"Greene's The Power and the Glory. ..."

Oh I've read it. Great book. I've also read Dan Brown's "The Davinci Code", another book on Catholicism. :o)

Persiflage, Bob, persiflage.

But one thing we both know for certain, although based on real places, they are both works of fiction. Not unlike the Bible; in great part borrowed, sequestered or appropriated from a range of myths at the times of its writings.