For those who enjoyed Scott Stephens‘s visit to Perth for C. S. Lewis Week and want to keep the magic alive, or for those who weren’t able to make it and would like to get amongst it, here are some places to begin.
From the lecture
Scott’s lecture yesterday was based on C. S. Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man. Lewis says that schooling has created “men without chests”, people with no feeling for what’s good and right. More than that, our vision of the world as a bunch of blindly bumping atoms has left us unable to imagine that there’s anything more to life. The book was originally a series of lectures, so it’s brief and accessible – you could knock it over in an afternoon. The Internet Archive has it for free in a number of formats, or if you prefer a more traditional medium, it’s at Amazon.
To speak into this culture we need to tell better stories, Scott suggested, quoting from this brilliant article by Alan Jacobs. He also asked, where is the next C. S. Lewis? Who in our time can help us feel the world reverberating with divine love? Lewis was unique, Scott said, and so we thankfully read his work. Perhaps the better question is, who is the next Flannery O’Connor, who will shout for the hard of hearing, and draw large figures for the blind?
Scott briefly discussed this question in this interview, and suggested that the closest writer we have might be the wonderful Marilynne Robinson, whose novels illuminate the sacred nature of ordinary life. You’ve got to read Gilead.
Do you have any other suggestions of Christian novelists, poets, artist or film makers who are telling better stories? I would love to hear them on the Facebook page.
For more about Lewis’s life and work, Scott recommended Alan Jacobs’s introduction The Narnian. And Alister McGrath, who will visit Perth in February next year, has just written a new biography, C. S. Lewis: a life. He also wrote this short piece for Scott’s website, on why Narnia is still so popular fifty years after Lewis’s death.
C. S. Lewis often said that it was the Scottish minster and author George Macdonald who “baptised his imagination”. Macdonald’s novels helped Lewis feel what it’s like to be Christian, something that the Narnia Chronicles have done for so many of us. George Macdonald was C. S. Lewis’s C. S. Lewis. He particularly mentioned the affect the novels Lilith and Phantases had on him.
From the round tables
At Sunday’s round table, some of the conversation was shaped by Bonhoeffer’s first work (and doctoral thesis) Sanctorum Communio. If haven’t read Bonhoeffer before (why ever not?), his short book on Christian community, Life Together, will give you enough to get on with for the rest of your life.
Scott also recommended Sam Wells’s book God’s Companions.
Speaking about the challenges of speaking as a Christian into a journalistic culture characterised by Bulverism, Scott referred to his blazing response to some of Richard Dawkins’s most bigoted remarks on Islam.
Relive the memories
Yesterday Scott also spoke briefly about Lewis with ABC local radio (audio here).
And the lecture at UWA was recorded by the ABC. They say it will be broadcast on Radio National either next Tuesday, 14 May or next Thursday 16 May. I’ll post an update when we know for sure.
Our Unichurch minister Rory Shiner will give a lecture on C. S. Lewis’s conversion on this Thursday evening 9 May, 6pm in Fox Lecture Theatre (Arts), UWA (Facebook event).
A C. S. Lewis dinner, with readings, tweed, and hearty English fare, to celebrate his life, on Friday 22 November at St George’s College, UWA.
And Alister McGrath visiting Perth in February 2014.