'C. S. Lewis Overflow'
Jon Kennedy's latest book
is The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia,
now in stores, 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.
the Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3
Edited by Walter Hooper, Harper
SanFrancisco, 2007, Part 2
Jonal entry 1042 | March 12 2008
has been a very hectic week, so my reading was not as extensive as I'd like and
my writing time even more shortened, leaving this week's page a relatively short
one. I did, however, cover the ground missed last week, pages 38-65, and have
added the notes for that section to last week's page, between the "dashed
lines." To read that section, click
To Vera Mathews,
March 27, p 103: "I have just got your letter of the 22nd containing the
sad news of your father's death. But, dear lady, I hope you and your mother are
not really 'trying to pretend it didn't happen.' It does happen, happens to all
of us, and I have no patience with the high minded people who make out that it
'doesn't matter.' It matters a great deal, and very solemnly. And for those who
are left, the pain is not the whole thing. I feel v. strongly (and I am not alone
in this) that some good comes from the dead to the living in the months or weeks
after the death. I think I was much helped by my own father after his death: as
if our Lord welcomed the newly dead with the gift of some power to bless those
they have left behind; His birthday present. Certainly, they often seem just at
that time, to be very near us. God bless you all and give you grace to receive
all the good in this, as in every other event, is intended you."
"As to beefit's an ill wind that blows nobody any good: I expect the
bulls enjoy roaming the Argentine plains and really like that better than being
eaten in England!"
To Warfield M. Firor, March 27, p 105, referring
to the harsh winter in England when coal was in short supply: "many people
have to spend most of their leisure at the cenema because it is the only warm
Same, referring to the passing of Mrs. Janie Moore: "She
died without apparent pain after many months of semi conscious existence, and
it wd. be hypocritical to pretend that it was a grief to us."
"The whole difficulty with me is to keep control of the mind and I wish one's
earliest education had given one more training in that. There seems to be a disproportion
between the vastness of the soul in one respect (i.e. as a mess of ideas and emotions)
and its smallness in another (i.e. as central, controlling ego). The whole inner
weather changes so completely in less than a minute. Do you read George Herbert?...He's
a good poet and one who helped to bring me back to the Faith."
Halmbacher, March, p 106: "The question for me (naturally) is not 'Why should
I not be a Roman Catholic?' but "Why should I?' But I don't like discussing
such matters, because it emphasizes differences and endangers charity. By the
time I had really explained my objection to certain doctrines which differentiate
you from us (and also in my opinion from the Apostolic and even the Medieval Church),
you would like me less."
To Sheldon Vanauken, April 17, p 106, responding
to Vanauken's report that he had become a Christian: "My prayers are answered."
"Be busy learning to pray and (if you have made up your mind on the denominational
question) get confirmed." I read Vanauken's A Severe Mercy in 1994
because it contained letters he had received from Lewis, and it became a favorite
book immediately and the best true love story I ever read.
To Mary Van Deusen,
April 18, p 107, mentioning that he had been writing "about 40 letters with
my own hand: so much for Ivory Towers."
Same, p 108: "Strictly
between ourselves, I have lived most of it (that is now over) in a house which
was hardly ever at peace for 24 hours, amidst senselss wranglings, lyings, backbitings,
follies, and scares. I never went home without a feeling of terror as to
what appalling situation might have developed in my absence. Only now that it
is over (tho' a different trouble has taken its place) do I begin to realize quite
how bad it was." He is, of course, referring to Mrs. Moore's machinations.
And the "differnet trouble," editor Hooper says in a footnote, is "Warnie's
To Sister Madeleva CSC, April 18, p 109: "I always
tell my pupils that a 'convention' appears to be such only when it has
To Miss Breckenridge, April 19, p 109, "if God forgives
us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves
as a higher tribunal than Him."
To Dom Bede Griffiths OSB, April 23,
p 111: "All the beauty of nature withers when we try to make it absolute.
Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first
and we lose both first and second things."
Same: "As to
Man being in 'evolution,' I agree, tho' I wd. rather say 'in process of being
Same, p 112: "Also, I've had enough of it on the opposite
flank lately, having fallen amonga new type to mebigoted and proselytizing
Quakers! I really think that in our days it is the 'undogmatic' and 'liberal'
people who call themselves Christians that are most arrogant and intolerant. I
expect justice and even courtesy from many Atheists and, much more, from your
people: from Modernists, I have come to take bitterness and rancour as a matter
To Warfield M. Firor, April 23, p 112: "And now to
business...I feel twice the man I have been for the last ten years."
Colin Hardie, April 24, p 114: "I think I told you before of the advice which
old Macan gave me long ago, 'Don't put off writing until you know everything or
you'll be too old to write decently.'"
To Mary Van Deusen, April 30,
p 114: "I'm a terrible skeptic about all public affairs. I am inclined to
think that your MacA [General Douglas MacArthur] and our Montgomery are specimens
of a new, dangerous, and useful type thrown up by the modern situationbut
it's only a guess."
To Mary Margaret McCaslin, May 25, p 117: "There
is a great element of chance in fame."
To George Rostrevor Hamilton,
May 17, p 117, agreeing to write an introduction to one of his favorite science
fiction novels, The Worm Ouroboros (first published in 1922): "one
doesn't always write best on what one most keenly and spontaneously enjoys. One
writes best on the authors who are one's acquired tastes (as happy love
produces fewer great poems than mess and fuss like Donne's or obsession like Catullus!)"
Mary Van Deusen, May 25, p 118: "As Macdonald says, 'No one loves because
he sees reason, but because he loves.'"
Same, p 119: "God loves
us: not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to
receive but because He delights to give."
Same, "My mind tends
to move in a world of individuals not of societies."
To Nathan Comfort
Starr, May 29, p 121, referring to the notorious firing of advanced faculty members
at a Florida College so the young new president could make a "clean sweep":
"The events at Rollins College seem to me to concentrate into one filthy
amalgam every tendency in the modern world which I most hate and despise."
"God help us all. It is terrible to live in a post-civilised age."
Sister Penelope CSMV, June 5, p 123: "My love for G[eorge] MacDonald has
not extended to most of his poetry. I have naturally made several attempts to
like it. Except for the Diary of An Old Soul, it won't (so far as I'm concerned)
Same: "I realise that until about a month ago I never really
believed (tho' I thought I did) in God's forgiveness. What an ass I have been
both for not knowing and for thinking I knew. I now feel that one must never say
one believes or understands anything: any morning a doctrine I thought I already
possessed may blossom into this new reality. Selah!"
To Martyn Skinner,
June 11, p 125, critiquing a work by Skinner, on the latter's request, on King
Arthur and Merlin, "like the fig-leaf in sculpture, rather emphasizes than
conceals the want."
To Mary Van Deusen, June 11, p 125: "My job
has always been to defend 'mere Christianity' against atheism and Pantheism: I'm
no real good on 'inter-denominational' questions."
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