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August 7, 2013 / CB

From C.S. Lewis & Friends

So, after rereading last week’s rather ham-handed review of C.S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination, it seemed painfully apparent that I did the book very little justice.  I had actually put off writing that particular post for some time, afraid of just that result.  For as long as I’ve been writing now, there are still times when the right words seem to slide around my ideas like quicksilver.  In my mind, they are wonderful, shining things, but taking hold of them and describing them sometimes turns them into lumps of lead.  Nevertheless, this is a great book with some profound thoughts about the interplay between faith and imagination, and I would hate for you to miss it because of me.  Thus, I present a handful of quotes which moved me in the hope that they will do the same for you.


“C.S. Lewis knew, however, that most of us are not creative artists.  Instead, we are listeners, observers and readers – in fact, ordinary mortals trying to make sense of our lives and of the world around us.  Fortunately, Lewis was primarily concerned not with imaginative producers but with imaginative receivers.  Thus he thought deeply and wrote carefully about ways to nourish imagination so that more people would be equipped to grasp essential truths for living.” ~ David Hein & Edward Henderson, Introduction


“As mediators of divine presence, images are sacramental.” ~ Introduction


“Lewis believed that the separations of this world…keep us from ever knowing something completely: ‘We can think about it; we can experience it.  We cannot do both simultaneously.’  In heaven, as Lewis thought of it, experiencing a thing and thinking about it ‘would be a single, simultaneous activity,’ but not in this world.” ~ Peter J. Schakel, writing about C.S. Lewis


“There is no possibility for the story [of God] to be proved true as a theory about reality.  It can only be proved in the life that responds to the demands it makes.  There is a long history of persons who have entered into life through the story and who have found in doing so that God has taken their lives into the divine life, accomplishing in them what they could not do for themselves, transforming them into persons who more truly love God and their neighbors and making them more truly themselves.” ~ Edward Henderson, writing about Austin Farrer’s belief that the story, the myth of God is not primarily the words in the Bible.  It is the lives which it records.  In other words, God writes his story not in words, but in people.  We are His language.


“There can be, Williams writes, ‘only two attitudes towards the sin of another towards oneself’….To entertain a grudge is to prolong the injury, to extend its life by nursing it with the feelings it feeds on….On the other hand, not to entertain a grudge is to invert Adam’s decision, to know ‘after the mode of heaven’, to re-identiy oneself with the good….forgiveness is not a matter of all fairness.” ~ Charles Hefling, writing about Charles Williams.  I love the Shakespearian cadence to this passage, and it reminded me especially of Othello III.iii.


“The images children ingest will provision their imaginations and inform their characters for years to come, for each person’s imagination is far less an individual achievement than a family of endeavor and a community enterprise.” ~ David Hein, writing about Rose Macaulay.


“Rare among modern writers, Tolkien understood that evil’s subtlest semblance is not with the ugly but with the gorgeous.” ~ Ralph C. Wood, writing about J.R.R. Tolkien


“Who of us can say that we have chosen the true path at every turning, or that we have deserved every disaster that has befallen us, so that our lives can be entirely explained by the decisions we have rightly or wrongly made?” ~ Wood.


“However much the night may seem to triumph, it is the gleaming star that penetrates and defines the darkness.” ~ Wood.


Sign at the Eagle & Child Pub, Oxford, commemorating the Inklings

Sign at the Eagle & Child Pub, Oxford, commemorating the Inklings. Photo by Doc Searls, via Wikimedia Commons


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