Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity and CS Lewis

One of the reasons why I chose Turkish Delight as my literary entry in the Historical Food Fortnightly, is because we have recently read a couple of his books in literature, when we studied World War II. The quintessential story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe makes for excellent dialectic/logic fare. Set in Great Britain during WWII, four children are sent away from London due to the bombings from the German Luftwaffe. They are sent to safety in the country, at a large estate home where they are given free run of the grounds.  While playing hide-n-seek they stumble upon a fascinating wardrobe, which at times becomes an entry part to another world...
While my daughter and I were working with the sugar in making the Turkish Delight, I had a realization for how beguiling this confection was in tempting Edmund.  Edmund came from a world where WWII existed...where there was food rationing...and sugar rationing. The sugar alone might have been a delight that tempted him. On top of that, Turkish Delight has a unique consistency which could be why CS Lewis chose this as the confection to tempt Edmund. That is purely speculation though. 
My kids read The Chronicles of Narnia a few years ago and talked their non-reader Dad into reading them. I have only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe myself, but hope to read the rest of the series soon.
For our rhetoric studies during WWII, we read The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity. I'm amazed that Lewis wrote these heavy theological masterpieces shortly after he became a Christian. I think this is the hallmark of his deep intellect. It's obvious that he knew the Bible and his logical reasoning flows quite well, though I did not agree with one or two points, but they are quite minor and mostly about child baptism and one other topic. Yet do not let me deter you from reading his books! They may have deep theology but part of the genius is that they are  not too difficult to understand, nor are they beyond the scope of our everyday life...hence their placement on the Great Books list of Classics. Nevertheless these books do give much to ponder.)
The Screwtape Letters are satire. Through the absurd Lewis helps us think through how Christians are tempted, because the book is written entirely from the viewpoint of Screwtape, in charge of younger demons in charge of causing Christians to err and fall.
Mere Christianity are a collection of essays Lewis read on the air at a radio station during WWII. His premise was to stay away from the arguments that divide denominations and focus on the basic points of the Christian life as taught in the Bible. As I read reviews of his radio broadcasts, they were described as "legendary."
CS Lewis, the renown intellect and literary genius, was at one time an atheist.  In time he turned to God and became a Christian. He was heavily influenced by Christians George MacDonald and GK Chesterton. I'm a bit new at studying Lewis, MacDonald and Chesterton, but a friend pointed out that Chesterton can almost be heard in Lewis' writings.
Here are some great webistes I found for further study:
The Official Website of CS Lewis
CS Lewis and George MacDonald
Site on Chesterton-My friend suggested to me that understanding Chesterton opens the door to understand Lewis more.
The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton-The previous pdf link allows one to read the book that CS Lewis read, causing him to move from atheism to Christianity.
The Inklings Literary Club including Lewis and JRR Tolkein (actually it seems like many influenced Lewis)

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