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My Dear Wormwood,
You’ve read the old manual and are stuck in the old ways. We must constantly come up with new ways to guide our patients to their best end, and away from the designs of the Enemy. New times demand new ploys. I realize this idea is painful, reminding us too clearly that ‘newness’ is the one area in which we actually have no power, but hear me out. In the absence of that creativity-from-nothing trick of the Enemy’s, we still have tricks up our sleeves. Human beings are easily convinced that change itself, or novelty is ‘newness’. Our ace in the hole is that we can keep twisting things back and forth ad nauseum and they keep thinking every shift in what they see is some new thing! Probably they hate to suspend disbelief in magic because they don’t fully believe in the possibility reality could be more delightfully surprising. Whatever their problem, it’s to our advantage. [Read more…]
Gosh, I enjoy giving papers at C.S. Lewis Conferences! But it’s expensive. Most of those who do it have, it seems, college department budgets paying their expenses. For an amateur Lewis ‘scholar,’ it’s hard to get there from here. I’ve been lucky to have a C.S. Lewis studies class nearby so as to become a guest lecturer. That led to a couple of conference opportunities, but I can’t afford to contribute papers to more.
For this one, I extended Lewis’ thoughts about the development of epic form (from his Preface to Paradise Lost) into his own Space Trilogy – the form of epic in the shadow of the Cross. It was tremendously interesting to me, and I hope to write more about it in the future. Meanwhile, holler if you’re interested in hearing more about this paper.
Differences between the original myth of Cupid and Psyche, and C.S. Lewis’ retelling of the myth in Till We Have Faces have the effect of revealing new dimensionality in the Christian understanding of both myth and of the human person. The pre-Christian myth, like the pre-Christian person, is veiled in a darkness that constitutes a reduction from an ideal – a flattening of the fullness of story, or of person.
Lewis retells the myth in the inescapable light of the Incarnation, and in doing so, illuminates and revivifies the notion of personhood, as expressed through its characters. It’s fascinating to note that Lewis wrote this book at about the same time as his autobiographical Surprised by Joy. Peter Schakel, author of Reason and Imagination in C.S. Lewis, believed these two books actually tell one story:
Orual’s account of her life, like Lewis’ account of his own in Surprised by Joy, is retrospective, subjective, and selective. It is striking, then, that suddenly he is able to complete successfully two stories he had long sought to tell but had been unable to: his own story and that of Cupid and Psyche. …Each is a story of consciousness, and of the achievement of wholeness through sacrificial death; and each is the story of Lewis himself.
Add to all that a discussion of the imagery of the veil in the life of a woman – her need for modesty, for beauty, for privacy, for mystery, and for self-revelation to God, and you have one of my favorite talks to give!
Here’s my take on The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis.