Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy


Click to enlargeJon Kennedy's
'C. S. Lewis Overflow
'
Jon Kennedy's latest book is The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia, due in stores in March 2008, from Adams Media, F&W Publications. This series of articles is thinking inspired by readings in Lewis's work that didn't fit into the book. Click here for a list of all articles in the C.S. Lewis Overflow series.

Notes from the Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 2
Edited by Walter Hooper, Harper SanFrancisco, 2004, Part 3

See here for the introductory number of these notes, describing the perennial "cast of characters," etc.

1940

To Warnie, January 9, p 318: "a young man of undergraduate type and age who turned out to be a student training to be a mining engineer, and who, having tackled me on politics, the English character, propaganda, improvements in the everyman series, Hindu theology and so forth, exclaimed 'You must be a man of very wide interests!' — and, do you know, I never realised before the naivete with which we all think this, even if we do not say it, in such circumstances — i.e. the bland inference 'By gum! His interests are as wide as mine!'"

Same, referring to Harwood: "His children are now so numerous that one ceases to notice them individually, any more than a scuffle of piglets in a field or a waddle of ducks."

C. S. Lewis portriat by Val Craig MurraySame, p 319, "walker's anus" = the only reference on the Internet to the phrase is to this source! (Unless, unbeknownst to me, there's a better search engine than Google. MSN Live Search, for example, refers to Walker Texas Ranger.)

Same, p 322: "'thanking the Giver' which, by the way, is the completion of a pleasure/" This has a footnote referring to Lewis's 1958 book, Reflections on the Psalms: "We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment: it is its appointed consummation." Lewis had struggled initially in finding the theme of praising God in the Psalms, wondering why God "needed" endless praises from His creatures.

To Warnie, January 14, p 324: "I wonder does an extreme optimism result from being a schoolmaster — because you are always 'turning out' promising boys and never living among what they actually become when it's all over."

To Dom Bede Griffiths, January 17, p 327: a saint manquée = a failed wouldbe saint; simpliciter = simply (per se)

Same, footnote, explains Lewis's Latin phrase, Diabolus simius Dei, as a quotation from Tertullian, "the devil is the ape of God." Lewis made the antichrist figure — antiaslan — in The Last Battle an ape.

To Warnie, January 21, pp 329-30: Describing a competition to sound like "Johnsonians." "'Sir, you cannot have good talk without give and take. Now the wireless is all take and no give.' That certainly would have been his basic objection it it in fact, whether he had said it in that way or not."

Same, p 331, a reference to "guinness" suggests that Lewis was not a fan of Ireland's leading brand of brew.

Same, refers to "my Sunday roast" as though the Sunday meal was mainly roast beef or pot roast.

To Alec Vidler, January 25, p 332, editor's note quotes an article by Lewis in Theology (March 1939): "culture is a storehouse of the best (sub-Christian) values. These values are in themselves of the soul, not the spirit. But God created the soul. Its values may be expected, therefore, to contain some reflection or antepast of the spiritual values. They will save no man. They resemble the regenerate life only as affection resembles charity, or honour resembles virtue, or the moon the sun. But though 'like is not the same,' it is better than unlike. Imitation may pass into initiation. For some it is a good beginning, for others it is not; culture is not everyone's road into Jerusalem, and for some it is a road out."
A footnote on the excerpt (p 333) says the entire article, "Christianity and Culture," is reprinted in Christian Reflections.

To Warnie, January 28, p 334: "I begin to suspect that the world is divided not only into the happy and the unhappy, but into those who like happiness and those who, odd as it may seem, really don't."

To Warnie, February 3, p 338: "have you ever noticed what a fine line, crossed in a split second, separates the snugness of privacy from the vacuity of loneliness?" He quotes Milton in Paradise Lost, having Adam say, "'How can I live without thee, how forego Thy sweet converse and love so dearly joined To live again in these wild woods forlorn.' Isn't that real imagination?"

Same, p 340: "Between ourselves, too, I have a sort of faint hope that what I can put in with such as F.K. and old Taylor may be accepted as a kind of penance for my many sins against the P'daitabird: the blackest chapter in my life."

Same, p 342: "I had done just what the stupid vicar does when he upsets the faith of the congregation by answering difficulties they have never heard of before and will never again forget."

Same, "I — one of the few people left in the world who really admire innocence and modesty —"

Same, p 342: "The Inklings is now really v. well provided, with Fox as chaplain, you as army, Barfield as lawyer, Havard as doctor — almost all the estates! — except, of course, anyone who could actually produce a single necessity of life, a loaf, a boot, or a hut."

To Warnie, February 11, p 346: "I have at last, if only for once, seen a university doing what it was founded to do: teaching Wisdom. And what a wonderful power there is in the direct appeal which disregards the temporary climate of opinion — I wonder is it the case that the man who has the audacity to get up in any corrupt society and squarely preach justice or valour or the like always wins? After all, the Nazis largely got into power by simply talking the old straight stuff about heroism in a country full of cynics and buggers."

Same: "Do you know, he improves steadily? I don't mean he 'improves on acquaintance,' but that he really gets better. Christianity does have an effect."

To Warnie, Febuary 18, p 350: "I think ... that the world, as it is now becoming and has partly become, is simply too much for people of the old square-rigged type like you and me. I don't understand its economics, or its politics, or any dam' thing about it."

P 351: "a dreadful man called Karl Barth..."

Same: "Canon Raven (whom you and Dyson and I sat under at Ely) is sharply told in a review in Theology that 'it is high time persons of this sort learned that the enjoyment of a chair of theology at Cambridge does not carry with it a right to criticise the Word of God' — that's the kind of rap on the knuckles which has not been delivered for a hundred years!"

Same, Lewis says he is now persuaded "that a real red-hot Christian revival, with iron dogma, stern discipline, and ruthless asceticism, is very much more possible than I had supposed."

P 352 has a footnote quoting G. K. Chesterton from All Things Considered: "'Spiritualism': 'Praise [the gods]' or leave them alone; but do not look for them unless you know they are there. Do not look for them unless you want them. It annoys them very much."

P 353: "One interesting bit of information was that the Lutherans have bishops in Scandinavia, including Finland, but not in most parts of Germany — just as the existing bishops accepted Lutheranism or not at the time of the Reformation."

Same: "Did I tell you that someone wants to include that St. Mary's sermon of mine in a collection of (save the mark) Famous Sermons? I am divided between gratification and a fear that I shall be merely made a fool of by appearing in the same book as Bede, Latimer, Donne, Taylor etc. However, let's hope that I shall be divided from them by some good 19th century duds! — but I grow impious."

To Warnie, February 25, p 354, reviews a sermon he heard on the patriarch Joseph and speculates on why Potiphar didn't execute Joseph if he had attempted to rape Potiphar's wife as she accused. ",,,one must assume that Potiphar, though ignorant of the lady's intention to make him a cuckold, was aware in general ... that her stories about the servants were to be taken with a grain of salt — that his real view was 'I don't suppose for a moment that Joseph did anything of the sort, but I foresee there'll be no peace till I get him out of the house'?"

Same, p 357, discussing Edith Sitwell's poetic line, "the mirage of an eternal beauty that is not" should be understood by the Christian more correctly as "that is not here."

To Warnie, March 3, p 360 mentions that Tolkien, "on beling told of [Charles] Williams' Milton lectures on 'the sage and serious doctrine of virginity,' replied 'The fellow's becoming a common chastitute.'"

Same, p 362, raises a questions about the efficacy of petitionary prayer "a problem without an answer" that he later turned into a paper he gave at the Oxford Clerical Society and was later published in Christian Reflections.

To Warnie, March 17, p 367, mentions an article "of mine has appeared in The Guardian, which I suppose is a milestone on ones ecclesiastical career. I'm sure they take the Guardian at Glenmachan." This was the Anglican Guardian, in which his Screwtape Letters were serialized, not the leftwing Guardian UK newspaper of contemporary fame.

To Warnie, March 21 (Lewis dates it "Maundy Thursday"), p 367. Teasing his brother about either Warnie's or his own French, he concludes, "Got it, blockhead?"

Same, p 368, mentioning Spanish dictator Franco, proposes his "Papist side [might be] what Ulster Orangeism is on the Protestant side." He also says he "can never forget Tolkein's Spanish friend who, after having several colleges pointed out to him by name from the roof of the Radder [Radcliffe Camera, a tower of the Bodleian Library], observed with surprise 'So this was once a Christian country?'"

Same, pp 368-69: "Why should quiet ruminants as you and I have been born in such a ghastly age?" He laments that many people like "the 'stir,' the 'sense of great issues.' Lord! how I loathe great issues...."Dynamic' I think is one of the words invented by this age which sums up what it likes and I abominate. Could one start a Stagnation party — which at General Elections would boast that during its term of office no event of the least importance had taken place."

Same, p 369, referring to Mother Julian of Norwich (14th century) whom he'd been reading: "Very odd too is her doctrine of 'the Grand Deed.' Christ tells her again and again 'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.' She asks how it can be well, since some are damned. He replied that all that is true, but the secret grand deed will make even that 'very well.' 'With you this is impossible, but not with Me.'"

Same, p 370, still referring to Mother Julian's writing: "Imagine oneself as a flat earther questioning whether the Earth was endless or not. If you were told 'It is finite but never comes to an end,' one wd. seem to be up against nonsense. Yet the escape (by being a sphere) is so easy — once you know it. At any rate, this book excites me." (Later, Lewis recommends Mother Julian's writings to inquirers into the faith.}

To Mary Neylan (a former student of Lewis), March 26, p 372, writing about obedience: "The question whether persons to be obeyed should be democratically elected or otherwise (I personally am a democrat) leaves where it was the truth that in any human society there will have to be a lot of obeying."

Same: "No doubt, like every young science, it [psychoanalysis] is full of errors, but so long as it remains a science and doesn't set up to be a philosophy I have no quarrel with it — i.e. as long as people judge whatever it reveals by the best human logic and scheme of values they've got and don't try to derive logic and values from it. In practice, no doubt, as you say, the patient is always influenced by the analyst's own values."

Same, p 374: "This doesn't mean that it wd. be wrong to try to cure a complex any more than a stiff leg: but it does mean that if you can't, then, so far from the game being up, life with a complex, or with a stiff leg, is precisely the game you have been set."

Same, "Once [we] make the medical Norm our ideal of the 'normal' and we shall never lack an excuse for throwing up the sponge."

Same, p 375: "If you can stand serious faults of style (and if you can get them, they are long out of print) Geo. Macdonald's 3 vols of Unspoken Sermons go to the very heart of the matter. I think you wd. also find it most illuminating to re-read now many things you once read in 'Eng. Lit' without knowing their real importance — Herbert, Traherne, Religio Medici."

To Warnie, March 29, p 377, footnote describes the "'Lewis Pew,' now designated by a plaque" at the church he and Warnie regularly attended in Headington Quarry.

Same, p 378: "This week I received a letter from my former pupil Mrs. Neylan (the Dartington Hall mistress) who is trembling on the verge of Christianity....I felt almost overwhelmed by the responsibility of my reply, and naturally the more because the two other people whose conversion had something to do with me became Papists!" A footnote by the editor (Walter Hooper) identifies the two as Dom Bede Griffiths and George Sayer. (Hooper, though a Christian when he met Lewis, after being the executor of Lewis's literary estate and an Anglican curate for many years, also converted to Catholicism.)

To Warnie, April 11, p 390: "If one had Grandfather Hamilton's assurance of salvation, one cd. really be hungry for the end. I like to think there may be a moment in eternity from wh. we shall look back on all this as you and I have often looked back on Wynyard."
The Rev. Thomas Robert Hamilton was the Lewis brothers' maternal grandfather. Wynyard, their first prep school, was at the least a "vale of tears."

To Dom Bede Griffiths, April 16, p 391: "the great serious irreligious art — art of art's sake — is all balderdash: and, incidentally, never exists when art is really flourishing. In fact one can say of Art as an author I recently read says of Love (sensual love, I mean) 'It ceases to be a devil when it ceases to be a god.'"

Same, "Surely one of the things we get from history is that God never allows a human conflict to become unambiguously one between simple good and simple evil?"

Same, "You and I are not, at bottom, so different from those ghastly creatures."

Same, p 392, "I have been reading Lady Julian of Norwich. What do you make of her? A dangerous book, clearly, and I'm glad I didn't read it much earlier."

To Mary Neylan, April 18, p 392: "The modern tradition is that the proper reason for marrying is the state described as 'being in love.' Now I have nothing to say against 'being in love': but the idea that this is or ought to be the exclusive reason or that it can ever be by itself an adequate basis seems to me simply moonshine."

Same, p 393: "because when that emotion dies down they conclude that their marriage is a 'failure,' tho' in fact they have just reached the point at wh. real marriage begins. Fourthly, it wd. be undesirable, even if it were possible, for people to be 'in love' all their lives. What a world it wd. be if most of the people we met were perpetually in this trance!"

Same, p 394: "if there is an eternal world and if our world is its manifestation, then you would expect bits of it to 'stick through' into ours. We are like children pulling the levers of a vast machine of which most is concealed. We see a few little wheels that buzz round on this side when we start it up — but what glorious or frightful processes we are initiating in there, we don't know. That's why it is so important to do what we're told (cf. — what does the Holy Communion imply about the real significance of eating?)

P 395: "Notice that in I Cor XI just after the bit about the man being the Head, St. Paul goes on to add the baffling reservation (v. II) that the sexes 'in the Lord' don't have any separate existence. I have no idea what this means: but I take it it must imply that the existence of a man or woman is not exhausted by the fact of being male or female, but that they exist in many other modes. I mean, you may be a citizen, a musician, a teacher etc. as well as a woman, and you needn't transfer to all these personalities everything that is said about you as wife qua wife."

P 396: "Thank you for taking my mind off the war for an hour or so!"

To Warnie, April 21, p 398: Christopher Dawson "distinguished between the ideal of 'Freedom' and the ideal of 'Democracy.' He points out that strict Democracy as envisaged by Rousseau and to some extent embodied in the French republic, is the assertion of the 'general will' or the community life against all individual aberrations: the ideal of Freedom, in the English sense, asserts individual conscience, honour and idiosyncrasy against the claims of the community, and its real parents are English Nonconformity and English Aristocracy. He draws the conclusion that modern Democracy in the strict sense and modern Dictatorship are the twin children of the Revolution — both asserting the community. It all seems to fit in quite well, doesn't it? That's why there is no exemption for conscientious objectors or even priests in France, while there is in England."

Same: "'freedom' (making the world safe for humorists!)"

To Warnie, April 28, p 403 "offal" = waste byproducts; discarded organs removed in butchering

Same, pp 404-5: "Even without being as apocalyptic as Barth one cd. imagine the enemy being allowed to win for the ultimate good of Europe — I mean a German revolution following a German victory — and the net result a united Europe. Not much fun for us in the meantime!"

To Warnie, May 4, "Your other question about loving our enemies has been very much in my mind lately, and it must be faced, every time we say the Lord's Prayer. No exemption seems to be allowed...."

In this letter Lewis "anticipates much of what became the subject of his The Four Loves (1960)." Footnote 251.

Same, p 409: "it has nothing in the world to do with trying to pretend that the enemy is 'not so bad after all' or that his sins 'don't matter,' or that he is really lovable. Not a bit. It's the old business about 'loving the sinner and hating the sin' wh. becomes alive to me when I realise that this is what I do to myself all the time."

Later he says we are not required to love the damned, but adds, "But we are not allowed to assume that this has taken place in any man still alive." Cf. Philip Pullman's critique of Lewis as consigning Susan (in The Last Battle) to be among the damned.

To Arthur, May 9, p 413, he concludes, "Why doesn't the world end?"

To Warnie, May 18, p 417: he describes something he found ludicrous in the vicar's announcements at church and then, "(Damn it — now that I've written it down, I see that it's not so absurd as I thought. In fact I think I've been committing a P'daytism.)"

To Owen Barfield, June 2, p 419: "The real difficulty is, isn't it, to adapt ones steady beliefs about tribulation to this particular tribulation; for the particular, when it arrives, always seems so peculiarly intolerable."

Same, "Do you get sudden lucid intervals? islands of profound peace? I do, and though they don't last, I think one brings something away from them."

Same, "Macdonald observes somewhere that 'the approach of any fate is usually also the preparation for it.'"

To Owen Barfield, July, pp 420-21, a letter "exonerating" his three Anthroposophist friends, Barfield, and Cecil and Daphne Harwood. Editor Walter Hooper speculates that this may have been meant as a "ceasefire" in the "great war" between them about Steiner's religious philosophy, which began before Lewis's conversion to Christianity.

To Warnie, July 12, p 422: "The odd thing is that when I turn to Moffatt for the explanation of something unintelligible I find his version more poetical than the Prayer Book."

To Dom Bede Griffiths, July 16, "what an admirable thing it is in the Divine economy that the sacred literature of the world shd. have been entrusted to a people whose poetry, depending largely on parallelism, shd. remain poetry in any language you translate it into."

To Warnie, July 20, p 424: "'poetry' with the Eliots and Audens has become such a horror that the real thing now mainly survives in verse not intended to be fully serious — e.g. there is more real poetry in Punch now than in the high brow periodicals."

Same, p 426: "Before the service was over — one cd. wish these things came more seasonably — I was struck by an idea for a book wh. I think might be both useful and entertaining. It wd. be called As one Devil to Another and would consist of letters from an elderly retired devil to a young devil who has just started work on his first 'patient.'"
Thus was born The Screwtape Letters, Lewis's first widely popular work.

Same, p 428: "Fifth Columnist" = "a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group to which it is expected to be loyal, such as a nation," originated by a general in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s.

To Warnie, August 3, p 430: "One can't write a letter telling them sharply to keep their dog [on] their side of the hedge, for the excellent reason that we are quite unable to keep Bruce on our side."

To Warnie, August 11, p 432: "dogs are not much more reliable than dictators when it comes to treaty obligations."

To Warnie, August 17, p 434: "I actually have a uniform now and say 'as I look in the glass, it's one to a million that any civilian will look such an absolute ass.'"

Same, p 436: "at whatever hour you go out you always pass at least one mysterious and solitary person about every three minutes."

Same page has a footnote referencing a book published by Thomas Nelson, London.

Same, p 437: "all the beastliest traits of our intelligentsia have come to them from France."

To Eliza Marian Butler (a professor at Cambridge), August 18, this letter is a treatise on allegory and fantasy in literature.

In a footnote, p 438, he equates "symbolism" and "sacramentalism."

Same, p 439: "I probably don't make it v. clear, because I am far from clear myself on the whole subject."

To Eliza Marian Butler, September 12, p. 443: "One must in the long run, mustn't one, decide what one really believes."

To Eliza Marian Butler, September 25, p 444: "I also am an Ireishman and a congenital rhetician...."

Same, "most of those who call themselves agnostics have not really got rid of religion but merely exchanged civilized religion for barbarous religion — worship of sex, or the State, or the elan vital, or the dead, or Mystery as such."

Same, p 445: "You pays your money and you takes your choice."

To Br. George Every SSM, October 12, p 447: "I don't feel happy about 'leaving the moral implications to speak for themselves' — unless the critic is a v. great and good man; for surely that is just the method by which every little anti-clerical guttersnipe in the New Statesman manages to insinuate into the mind of the readers (without their knowledge) all sorts of positions wh. he wd. be quite incapable of defending if he were forced to come out into the open."

To Eliza Marian Butler, October 14, p 449: "I embraced the excitement of polytheism or demonology when I happened to want it, but became a materialist if some old nursery fears, in darkness and solitude, threatened to make that sort of stuff a little more exciting than I wanted. I was nearly religious when that mood offered comfort, and sternly sceptical if it threatened to impose any obligation."

To Sister Penelope, October 24, footnote on p 451 (presumably by Hooper, not Lewis): "Origin reacted strongly against the literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and according to his theory of Apocatastasis the punishments of the damned come to an end and they are saved. It was condemned by the Church in AD 543."

Same, p 452: "I am going to make my first confession next week, wh. will seem odd to you, but I wasn't brought up to that kind of thing. It's an odd experience. The decision to do so was one of the hardest I have ever made...."

To Sister Penelope, November 4: "Isn't Phantastes good? It did a lot for me years before I became a Christian, when I had no idea what was behind it. This has always made it easier for me to understand how the better elements in mythology can be a real praeparatio evangelica for people who do not yet know whither they are being led."

1941

To Canon Oliver Chase Quick, January 18, p 461: "praise without criticism is rather like an egg without salt."

Same, p 464, post script: "the Christian view that all the Affections have to be re-directed from the egocentric to the theo-centric, from Stoicism or Buddhism in wh. they have to be annihilated." He quotes a John Donne prayer that our affections not kill us, but that they not die, either.

To Brother George Every SSM, February 4, p 469: "I've read The Zeal of Thy House. It is pretty bad." It was a play be Dorothy Sayers.

To Dr. James W. Welch (a producer at the BBC), February 10, p 470: "It seems to me that the N.T., by preaching repentance and forgiveness, always assumes an audience who already believe in the Law of Nature and know they have disobeyed it. In modern England we cannot at present assume this, and therefore most apologetic begins a stage too far on. The first step is to create, or recover, the sense of guilt."

To Douglas Bush, at the BBC, March 28, p 475: "the magician and the scientist both stand together, and in contrast to the Christian, the Stoic, or the Humanist, in so far as both make Power their aim, believe Power to be attainable by a technique, and in the practice of that technique are ready to defy ordinary morality."

Same, in a footnote, the editor quotes Lewis's definition of the Renaissance: "now 'the renaissance' can hardly be defined except as 'an imaginary entity responsible for everything the speaker likes in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.'"

In the following page (476) he refutes the feeling of some that the "Copernican revolution" was anything comparable to the upheaval brought about through Darwin or Freud. A footnote quotes another Lewis source: "Ecclesiastical authority gave pagan writings a place in education which the modern liberal would never dream of giving to religious works; and it was mainly churchmen who copied and preserved the ancient authors for often ungrateful men of the Renaissance to 'discover.'"

To Mary Neylan, April 30, p 482: "Every human being, still more every Christian, has an absolute claim on me for any service I can tender them without neglecting other duties."

Same, referring to his confessor, Fr. Walter Frederick Adams, "If I have ever met a holy man, he is one."

Same, p 483: "I'm afraid for a few years I just took the line of being as nasty as I could and saying everything that cd. hurt. God forgive me."

Editor's note, p 483, gives details of Lewis's charitable giving of the proceeds for his articles and books, tax problems resulting from his failure to realize the royalties were taxable, and his working out of a charitable trust with Owen Barfield to disburse future income from his works.

To Mary Neylan, May 9, p 484: "I'm sure you're doing right and that God is leading you and bringing you in pretty fast too. I shall never forget your reply 'It looks like it' when I suggested jealousy as one of the troubles — I never hope to see the human ship take a big wave in better style!

"Continue to pray for me. I need it all: and may [I] say in general that if I were to tell you as much about myself as you have told me (wh I shan't!) the record wd. be much blacker than your own."

To Arthur, May 25, p 487: "So far our mutual positions are exactly the reverse of those we occupied in the last war: you are seeing it, and I am in a back area. While it lasts, Oxford is really nicer than ever at present. I am feasted on friendship and good talk (ranging from religion to bawdy) and kindness and cherriness all day long." Belfast was being bombed by Germany because of its vital shipbuilding industry.

P 490: A footnote mentions a "valuable work" that consists of an interview with Lewis by Ashley Sampson, "Lewis's discoverer." Sampson was Lewis's publisher on behalf of Geoffrey Bles Ltd., which put out The Problem of Pain and other works.

To Mary Neylan, October 2, p 492: "(a map of my 'missionary journies' wd. be as complicated as those maps of St. Paul's wh haunted our childhood)...."

Same: "Cold Virtue has to assimilate the hot dragon...."

Same, p 493, referring to his Broadcast Talks which became Mere Christianity: "they contain nothing you don't know already."

To Sister Penelope, October 9, p 493: quotes Milton's line from Comus, "That power/Which erring men call chance."

P 494: "canter" = no contextual definition has been found, all sources insisting the word refers only to a horse trot. Lewis may have meant "cantor," as a figure of speech for "chanting" or "lecturing" the theme or crux of a book before its publication.

To Sister Penelope, November 9, p 494: footnote 103 reports that Sister Penelope sent Lewis a picture of the head of the Shroud of Turin and that he "had it framed, and it hung on his bedroom wall for the rest of his life."

Same, p 495: thanks the nun for the picture from the shroud, that "It has grown upon me wonderfully," adding: "I don't commit myself to the genuineness."

Same, p 496: "Dogs don't relapse. Cats do, and go wild. I'm a cat."

Same, "Have you room for an extra prayer? Pray for Jane if you have. She is the old lady I call my mother and live with (she is really the mother of a friend) — an unbeliever, ill, old, frightened, full of charity in the sense of alms, but full of uncharity in several other senses. And I can do so little for her."

To Sister Penelope, November 19, p 497: "there's really nothing I so much dislike as religion — that it's all against the grain and I wonder if I can really stand it! Have you ever had this? Does one outgrow it? Of course there's no intellectual difficulty. If our faith is true then that is just what it ought to feel like, until the new man is full-grown. But it's a considerable bore."

To Joseph Dowell, November 30, p 498: "orthodox Methodism." (This is the only reference I've seen in Lewis's work to this movement in which his paternal great-grandfather had been a minister.)

To Patricia Thomson (editor and teacher), December 8, p 500: "Fear isn't repentance — but it's alright as a beginning — much better at that stage than not being afraid."

To Patricia Thomson, December 11, p 500: "Christianity is true or false. Remember, if you think it false you needn't bother about all the things in it that seem terrible. If you decide it is true, you needn't worry about not having faith, for apparently you have!"

To Dom Bede Griffiths, December 21, p 501: referring to his friend Charles Williams, "He is an ugly man with rather a cockney voice. But no one ever thinks of this for five minutes after he has begun speaking. His face becomes almost angelic. Both in public and private he is of nearly all the men I have met the one whose address most overflows with love. It is simply irresistible. Those young men and women were lapping up what he said about Chastity before the end of the hour. It's a big thing to have done."

Same: "Williams, Dyson of Reading, and my brother (Anglicans) and Toklien and my doctor, Havard (your Church) are the 'Inklings' to whom my Problem of Pain was dedicated. We meet on Friday evenings in my rooms: theoretically to talk about literature, but in fact nearly always to talk about something better. What I owe to them all is incalculable. Dyson and Tolkien were the immediate human causes of my own conversion. Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?"

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

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Today's chuckle

My broker called me this morning and said, "Remember that stock we bought and I said you'd be able to retire at age 65?"
"Yes, I remember," I said.
"Well," my broker continued, "your retirement age is now 108."


Thought for today

If there is an eternal world and if our world is its manifestation, then you would expect bits of it to "stick through" into ours. We are like children pulling the levers of a vast machine of which most is concealed. We see a few little wheels that buzz round on this side when we start it up — but what glorious or frightful processes we are initiating in there, we don't know. That's why it is so important to do what we're told.

C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)


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