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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday, 15 January: Comfortable chats with CS Lewis

What do I do for 'last minute 'nite time reading' when I am feeling a little overwhelmed by my responsiblities as I have during the past week? I trot over to the booklined guest room and take down a slim volume or two of CS Lewis. It may be Mere Christianity (which is not mere at all to Lewis or to me) or The Problem of Pain. It may be to journey with Clive Stapleton along the path of beauty and joy to finally find God on top of a London bus in Surprised by Joy. It may be to chuckle and squirm a little while reading The Screwtape Letters (am I really as mean and small-minded as that?) or to shed a silent tear reading once again, A grief observed.

Now I admire many great authors - their powers of imagination, dialogue, description and plot - but they don't make me feel like settling in a comfy wingback chair and saying, 'Oh, Sir, do you know I just feel the same as you!" Or "Could you explain the Trinity or predestination again to me, just using easy, everyday words?" Or " Won't you tell me once again what happened when Aslan sang creation into being or when the wardrobe door opened that very first time?"

Most of you, I am sure, have seen the bittersweet movie, Shadowlands, with Anthony Hopkins playing the slightly awkward English bachelor and Oxbridge don transformed by unexpected love. Or Debra Winger playing the ascerbic Joy Davidman, the doomed heroine. I have seen it twice, wept and decided that the love of that unlikely pair far surpasses that of Iseault and Tristran, Romeo and Juliet, Heathcliff and Catherine. But I sometimes wonder what CS would have said about the saccharine subtitle on this movie poster and his great love reduced to a blockbuster celluloid? Probably he would have chuckled, sucked on his pipe and made a dry and witty comment.

The scene in which Aslan is put to death, offering himself up of his own accord, bound and tied down in his majesty by the screeching denizens of the White Witch never fails to move me. And of course, his wonderful resurrection and great leap of triumph. And all this without irreverance or trivialising biblical truths!

Did you know that it was the character of Aslan, the imaginative type of the Lion of Judah (Rev 5:),that persuaded Joy Davidman, a self-declared atheistic communist of Jewish extraction, to become a Christian? Joy wrote: "God had been stalking me for a very long time...All my defences...went down. And God came in. When it was over, I found myself on my knees, praying. I think I must have been the world's most astonished atheist."

Now, if you will excuse me, I had a really hectic day. So I am going to settle down with CS and "The Four Loves" and just dip in here and there...


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Eleanor, I absolutely adore C.S. Lewis. His work is poingnant and meaningful, and yet it's like an old friend, very comfortable in converstation. I never tire of MERE CHRISTIANITY, and the movie "Shadowlanss" had me crying so hard that I could barely see the screen. We read THE FOUR LOVES for book club, and the discussion was lively as you can well imagine.

I might just follow your lead and take down a volume to enjoy today. I've got a long day ahead with a funeral and some other things, but this sounds like a good idea. Thanks for putting it into my head.

Sheila :-)

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Sorry about the typos. Argh!


Raph G. Neckmann said...

I read and loved all the Narnia books many years ago - must read them again soon! I also read some C.S Lewis science fiction - a trilogy - not sure I can remember the titles correctly. One was 'Voyage to Venus'.

When I have really loved a book I'm always a little wary of seeing the film, in case it tarnishes my inner 'vision' of the book! Therefore I've not watched Narnia or Lord of the Rings on film.

(I believe C.S. Lewis and Tolkien were friends.)

Becky said...

Hi Eleanor,
I loved this post. CS Lewis is one of my faves. Shadowlands is a wonderful movie....I'm thinking I need to watch it again! Screwtape makes me hang my head at my selfish, worldly self :)
Thanks for the reminder of the fantastic gift from God contained in the works (and life) of CS Lewis. He is timeless. Becky

Poetikat said...

Hi Eleanor!

I read "The Screwtape Letters" and it really had an impact on me. I often fall into the trap of those seemingly harmless behaviours that are really the Devil at work. I think of Screwtape and Wormwood and I check myself.

I also read "The Great Divorce" and loved it. If you listen to the Irish band, The Waterboys, their album Dream Harder has a song called "Wonders of Lewis" and another called "Spiritual City" - both can be traced back to C.S. Lewis.

I enjoyed "Shadowlands" as well - did you like Debra Winger in the role of Joy?


willow said...

Isn't C.S. Lewis wonderful? I think Anthony Hopkins and Degra Winger both did outstanding jobs in Shadowlands. I cry every single time I watch it.

Greyscale Territory said...

C. S. Lewis was a remarkable talent. He could reach the highest points of seer-like wisdom and still manage sincere, imaginative playfulness in a child's world! Just incredible!

And Shadowlands? What a stirring movie!

Barbara Martin said...

I adored the Naria series when younger, and later Mr. Lewis' science fiction series. I had tried reading "The Screwtape Letters" but was unable to get past the second chapter. I should try it again now that I'm much older, and will keep on reading a book until the end rather than putting it aside.

Raph, I enjoyed the first Narnia movie: it was a lovely return to see Mr. Tumnus (I chortled with glee when I saw him with his umbrella and scarf); and as for the Lord of the Rings...although there are portions missing, I feel the producers did an excellent job. I have the complete boxed set on my writing desk. If I'm stuck on a piece of plot, sometimes I put in one of the DVDs and watch awhile (often scenes with horses) until I can get back to rewriting my manuscripts.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I loved Shadowlands, even if it didn't perfectly reflect their life (after all, she did have TWO sons).

My favorite part of the Chronicles of Narnia movie is when Aslan talks about the White Witch knowing the laws but not the "deep magic" that enabled him to take the place of another.

I remember when my husband was reading that part to our then young daughter (about seven or eight years old) and as he read it, she yells out "Aslan is JESUS, Aslan is JESUS". She's a mom now and has kids almost that age.

They are reading through all the Chronicles. :)

Smilingsal said...

Enjoy your book; it's a good one.

Claire said...

so ironic... i was reading another friend's blog this morning who also posted about the four loves. it currently also assumes a place next to my bed for night time reading.

fridays are always special for me because it means the start of sabbath which means the end of a hectic week. hope you find rest as well.


KarenHarveyCox said...

CS Lewis, one of my favorite authors. I love this post Eleanor. How amazing it is to know that words written so long ago still are alive in Christ.

Blessings, Karen

Pam said...

O.K. Now you have me intruiged. I loved the Narnia books as a child, was spell-bound.In later years I learnt of the Aslan/Christ connection, and later still enjoyed the film.The other works of C.S. Lewis that you have mentionbed are unfamiliar to me and are obviously more about his philosophy and Christian beliefs. Off to the library for me, to do some chasing up.

Mary said...

Lovely post Eleanor. Shadowlands is one of my favorites too.

Hope you have entered my 500th post giveaway - perhaps I can deliver it by hand if you win - I WISH!!!! S.A. is on my travel list of course.

Cool hugs to warm you - it's been very cold here all weekend - I'm looking at your garden pics to feel the warmth.

Anonymous said...

Hello, my dear one. Such an eloquent and moving post. Thank you. I hope you are having a lovely day. I am being lazy, still need to shower and get dressed. Though I did run, but just had a leisurely breakfast and some chocolates. Wish my daughter was here. Heavy sigh.
Big loving hug ~

Peggy said...

Eleanor, I was nine years old when CS Lewis became my favorite author. Those first stories, of course, were the Narnia Chronicles. But I've read him voraciously ever since. Shadowlands was great, but I didn't like the Hopkins/Winger version as well as an earlier version I saw, which seemed less commercial, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. I think it was done in 1985.

Have you, by chance, read Sheldon VanAuken? He was a great friend of Lewis', and he and his wife went through the same sort of tragedy of untimely death. He wrote about it in "A Severe Mercy" and "Under the Mercy," both of which I highly recommend to CS Lewis fans. :-)