Month: May 2017

The Brilliance of CS Lewis

Lately I’ve been looking for a single author to be my somewhat life study. I’ve considered John Piper, whom has greatly shaped my life. I’ve also considered Abraham Kuyper. From all I’ve read in biographies about Kuyper, I’m intrigued by his blending of Calvinism into public life. As an aside, Kuyper may be, at least for me, one that is best read in biographies rather than in his actual writings, as I’ve tried twice now to give his books a shot, and twice I have put them down.
So who to give my reading attention to?
Well today, I’m giving CS Lewis a try. I’ve dabbed in Lewis for his books on suffering and enjoyed them, and I know Tim Keller (who I deeply love) is greatly shaped by Lewis, so I decided to  try another Lewis work, perhaps one of lesser known works. I picked The Abolition of Man.

After sitting and sharing every page I just read with Julee, because I’m amazed at Lewis’ ability to see the deeper issues, I thought I should record two bits of his brilliance.
(Below, Gaius and Titius are pseudonyms of authors who Lewis is critiquing)

ON UNCONSCIOUS SHAPING

The very power of Gaius and Titius depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is ‘doing’ his ‘English prep’ and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all. The authors themselves, I suspect, hardly know what they are doing to the boy, and he cannot know what is being done to him.

Lewis, C. S.. The Abolition of Man (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis) (pp. 6-7). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The sum of it: Inconsequential ideas still have consequences, for they tread paths in our way-of-thinking that future (and perhaps much bigger) issues travel down.

ON DEFENDING AGAINST FALSE SENTIMENTS

I think Gaius and Titius [who Lewis is critiquing] may have honestly misunderstood the pressing educational need of the moment. They see the world around them swayed by emotional propaganda— they have learned from tradition that youth is sentimental— and they conclude that the best thing they can do is to fortify the minds of young people against emotion. My own experience as a teacher tells an opposite tale. For every one pupil who needs to be guarded from a weak excess of sensibility there are three who need to be awakened from the slumber of cold vulgarity. The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.

Lewis, C. S.. The Abolition of Man (Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis) (pp. 14-15).

The sum of it:  Protection against false loves is not done best by removing love altogether, but by being filled with right loves.