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Jack in Retrospect: April 3rd – 9th

April 3, 2013

The following is part of a weekly series reflecting on the life of C.S. Lewis. This is done by summarizing various events or happenings during his lifetime for the noted week and may include significant events related to him after his death.

Retro Weekly 4-3The concluding BBC broadcast in the fourth and final series for Lewis stands out as the most noteworthy for the week. On the 4th in 1944 “The New Men” talk was heard from a recording made the previous month. It is the only surviving recording from the Beyond Personality  series. The book version contained four additional chapters not heard on the radio and these are also found in Mere Christianity. Because of the expanded material, what was actually heard that night is somewhat different than what is in the book. For the sake of simplicity I will treat the material from the book as if it was what was presented that day.

In this final chapter Lewis uses the familiar concept of Evolution as a tool to express how transforming being a Christian is by suggesting that the “next step” in Evolution has occurred in Christ. He is careful to note how very different this “next step” is from that popular expression (that he is not endorsing). Among the five ways it is different includes that it is voluntary and occurs at a different speed (the concept of time is viewed uniquely). A quote that summarizes part of his point is this: “To become new men means losing what we now call ‘ourselves. Out of our selves, into Christ, we must go.”

Also on the 4th this month, but a year later (in 1945), Lewis had an essay entitled “The Laws of Nature” published in The Coventry Evening Telegraph. It dealt with the topic of prayer in relation to, or how some people view it, as opposed to the laws of nature. The article opens with a comment made by a friend at the start of a day before Lewis’s first student arrived. The friend expressed disagreement with something another said about her prayers being the reason her son was not killed by a bullet that nearly missed him. Before being interrupted the person concluded it “was simply due to the laws of Nature” and not prayer that it happen that way. Later when Lewis reflected on the matter he developed his argument for why upon careful analysis it isn’t just that simple. You have to consider the source behind these laws, something science is not able to explain. The essay is best available in God in the Dock.

Two other of Lewis’s shorter works were publish this month (but not on a particular day). Both appeared in The Review of English Studies and are reprinted in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature by Lewis. The first is “A Note on Comus” in 1932. It dealt with examining five manuscripts of this poem by John Milton and the alterations between them and what can be learned as a result. In 1936 “Genius and Genius” came out in the monthly periodical. It explored the dual role of “Genius” in The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. It is interesting to note another term discussed here and Lewis’s use of it in Out of the Silent Planet.

A series almost finished around this time was the weekly “Who Goes Home? or The Grand Divorce” in The Guardian.  On the 6th, the twenty-second installment that became part of the thirteenth chapter of  The Great Divorce was published. In it was a reflection on the what was observed between the Tragedian and the lady. Specifically, the question of why those in Heaven don’t try to go down to Hell and do whatever possible to make them happy is addressed. In answering this we also find out how small Hell is.

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