Back to School!… for summer? YES!

Dearest Clive-o-philiacs,

I’m very excited to be announcing the resumption of our Wednesday meetings, starting in just two days! 6/17 marks our reunion and the end of a 4 week break. How we’ve got along without one another, I do not know.

Now, we’ve only got 4 classes left:

1. 6/17: THIS WEEK! The Debater, the Engager: Apologetics and the Socratic Club (reading: “Christian Apologetics”)
2. 6/24: The Inkling, the Friend: The Company He Kept (reading: The Abolition of Man, Ch. 1)
3. 7/1: The Poet, the Narnian: A Spirit in Bondage, a Son of Adam (reading: The Abolition of Man, Ch. 2)
4. 7/8: Jack and His Legacy: Living & Longing Under the Weight of Glory (reading: The Abolition of Man, Ch. 3)

We’ve finished our biographical sketch of his life, and now we’ll be addressing more topical issues, as well as digging into the texts for more of the class. I believe I mentioned that in addition to “Christian Apologetics” (this week’s essay), I’d make another brief essay available, “God in the Dock”; well, instead of having you read the whole thing, I just want to pass on the most important paragraph of the piece (the essay otherwise is a summary of “Christian Apologetics”). So, even if you read nothing else, ponder these words before class:

“The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the Bench and God in the Dock.”

These few sentences depict an acute understanding of the task for the modern Christian (including us today). If Lewis is correct, we have a lot to reflect on about how we think about God, and about how the world we are commissioned to serve thinks about God.

I’m looking forward to our discussion this Wednesday. In many ways, it will be one of our most important.



Officially on Break!

Next class is on Wednesday 6/17.
Everyone read their Lewis. And love it. Catcha later.

Beyond Personality – The Surviving BBC Audio

Beyond Personality (Book 4 of Mere Christianity)

Beyond Personality (Book 4 of Mere Christianity)

The other night before class I played one of the only surviving audio clips of C.S. Lewis’ radio addresses.

The BBC website on CSL has the only remaining BBC session, spoken on March 21, 1944, which eventually became Beyond Personality, and further became Book Four of Mere Christianity.

Great listen. Not word for word what appears in BP or MC – so an interesting listen while reading along. I’m still working on checking how it all refers, but he starts with pretty much the exact content from “Time and Beyond Time” in both BP and MC.

Listen here.

Good Reads and Revised Syllabi (v2.0)

Good Reads

Yodles. I read Lewis’ “Talking About Bicycles” today and in so doing, learned a little more about myself. Spectacular. Also notable: “Equality” – I think a good read for anyone looking for a little more to go along with “Membership” which is now available on the “Essays for Discussion” page. Come to think of it, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” is also quite fantastic, and on topic with Membership and Equality. I’ll see if I can get these up on the site so folks can do some extra background reading (of course not required) for some more hashing out the ideas.

And this is where Clivey Jack gets even a little more controversial. Do you like democracy? Do you like equality? Do you know what they mean? (Or, at least, what Clivey thinks they mean/imply???) YERINFERATREAT!!

Syllabus, reflecting recent changes

CSL Syllabus v2.0

The Structure of “Learning in War-Time”

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford

I think I’ll make the outline for “Learning in War-Time” available much sooner this week. I’ve gone paragraph-by-paragraph, just like I did for “The Weight of Glory” last week.

What is so lovely about this piece is that it’s hardly about “Learning in War-Time” at all. It seems like the war (WWII in this case) was just a good stopping point for a scholar to consider life’s meaning, and how his own vocation fits into that. I’m very excited to hear about everyone’s thoughts on this one.

Here’s the outline:
learninginwartime outline

Audio is Up!

Great class last night discussing Lewis’ conversion to Christianity. Some myth, a gust of wind, long conversations, plumes of tobacco pipe smoke, and of course, the sidecar. Tolkien’s lovely quote sums it up for me:

Friendship with Lewis compensates for much, and besides giving constant pleasure and comfort, has done me much good from the contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual—a scholar, a poet, and a philosopher—and a lover, at least after a long pilgrimage, of Our Lord.

Admin stuff:

1. Audio from the three first classes is posted under “Lecture Audio” above.

2. I’m also working on getting some tunes that have been inspired by Lewis available as well. More to come on that stuff.

3. I updated the “Structure of the Weight of Glory” below with the detailed outline I created. It’s not too interpretive, but I’m interested in hearing from others on “the upshot” of TWOG.

4. Read some Lewis!

5. Read some Sayers! (on the sort of education that Lewis enjoyed – based on Medieval educational principles)

6. Read my thoughts on Sayers and Lewis on education

The Structure of “The Weight of Glory”

I wanted to offer some really brief thoughts on the structure of “The Weight of Glory” – the essay we’re discussing this week in class (5/6). And though it might seem forced or tedious, I’d like to go through the entire essay together in class. (UPDATE 5/7 – see outline below)

Pulpit at St. Mary's

Pulpit at St. Mary's

I’ll spend the first 20-30 minutes chatting about Lewis’ conversion (really, it was a “reversion”) to Christianity, which was really just a hop skip and a jump away from his decade-long dive into theism.

Then, we’ll spend the rest of the class on this essay, which some have found a little challenging for our first piece out of the gates.

Here are some ideas to consider if you’re interested:

  • 1. Lewis is a man driven by reason and logic; his addresses are structured and his arguments are ordered.
  • 2. “The Weight of Glory” can be divided into two main sections: pages 1-8 are about “desire”; pages 8-15 are about “glory”.
  • 3. In both of these sections, the themes are developed gradually. At each paragraph, he’s furthering his point in an important way. Try summarizing each paragraph for your self and recording it to make a basic outline – then read through your outline, and you’ll get a high-level perspective of his message here.
  • 4. The thought he starts with is not left unanswered; the thought he ends with brings the sermon full circle.
  • After having gone through it patiently, taking note of the ordered progression in thought, I am even more compelled by his beautiful message in this address. I’m looking forward to what everyone else is thinking as well. Maybe after class we can continue discussion here on the blog…
    structure of the weight of glory