On C.S. Lewis and My First “B”

I’m working on a few posts, and considering some big ideas, and trying to figure out exactly how I want to spend my time and exactly what I want to write about.  While I’m in this in-between space, I’ll try to leave you a little note or quote or story along the way. 
 

Today, I have a quote for you from C.S. LewisMere Christianity.  Southern Baptist university students drink the C.S. Lewis Kool-Aid in a major way, but I’ve always treated his writings with a little disdain.  Not a lot, mind you, but a bit.  I read all of the Narnias as a kid, but I didn’t really see Jesus in there — just a big Lion and frustrating time sequences and some incredibly whiny children.

And truthfully, my disdain for Lewis probably cost me my perfect 4.0 GPA in my undergraduate history major because in my very last class, American Christianity from 1950 (or something like that), our final exam included an essay on themes of forgiveness or something in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Sure, I answered that question because OF COURSE I read the book again [I really, honestly did] and tried to care about it, but seriously, I just don’t get the obsession. And I was about forty-eight hours from graduating and I just said what I really thought.

Result:  First B in a History Class ever.

Okay, wait:  I should probably read the books again, right?  I seriously hope that you all aren’t disowning me at this very moment.  Sometimes I fear that my blog will discredit me as an individual/intellectual/fun-loving gangsta, and this is potentially one of those moments, but full steam ahead:  I don’t always get C.S.  I actually really loved those Brian Jacques Redwall books and I think we should really get behind THOSE mice, because they are pirate warriors AND they drink wine.  Way cool.  [Seriously, this is a great gift idea for the people you love.  If you or them have not read these books, just do it.  So good.]

So, after college I decided I should really try to give Lewis a chance.  “Everyone” said that Mere Christianity was the best place to start, so I picked it up and got started.  Things were going along swimmingly until I got to the part where he was like “Oh, women are stupid and should really stop their whining” [paraphrase] and I was like “OH NO, C.S., you don’t know who you are talking to” and I stopped reading his book.  Because, seriously, that is the ultimate diss for deceased theologians.

This week I picked up the orange-spined paperback that was sitting on my bookshelf and gave it another shot.  I started in the chapter about Christian Marriage, and here’s what I found:

“Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused.  The Christian conception of marriage is one; the other is the quite different question — how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws.  A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one.  I do not think that.  At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine.  My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives.  There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage:  one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her own members.  The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.”

Interesting, huh?

Also, did anyone notice the reference to wine-drinking in this passage?  Another thing C.S. and I could totally agree about. 

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4 Comments

  1. Lindsay F.

     /  December 3, 2012

    Good post. Sorry for the B. DId I ever tell you how I didn’t ever defend my thesis because my professor said it “capsized to the right.” Yeah, so there’s that!

    I totally agree with the C.S. quote. It’s what I think now. However, I will say that Lewis is assuming that the “Parliament” and it’s decisions/values would not be forced upon the church. That’s where I would draw the line.

    Reply
    • Haha, Lindsay that is too funny! It’s weird how little pieces of college stick with us for so long.

      I’m not sure what keeping the church separate here really means, so I’m not sure if I agree. In America church and state can be surprisingly intertwined!

      Right now, couples can live together before (or without) marriage and can get many of the same benefits as couples who are married, as far as the government is concerned. After seven years of cohabitating, many couples are considered married under the common law by their states. This common law marriage is not forced on the church, but it is the legal state of that couple in all transactions with the church or church members.

      Pastors can choose not to perform the marriage ceremonies of these couples while they are cohabitating, and some do. I remember a time long ago where my father declined to perform such a marriage ceremony and that it caused very little shock in our community–the couple simply went elsewhere. Other pastors do not see it as a big issue and marry the couples anyway, for whatever reasons: church politics, public relations, an understanding of modern society, etc.

      Where do you see the line being appropriately drawn?

      Reply
  2. Lewis was quite the careful thinker. If you keep reading Mere Christianity, you’ll probably run into quite a few more things you agree with. I think the phrase “drink the C. S. Lewis Kool-Aid” is absolutely hilarious. I totally did (and do), of course. Loved The Great Divorce. What other writers do you enjoy?

    Reply
    • I think you are probably right. I find myself drawn to the faith in the oddest ways at this stage in my life, and giving Lewis another chance is one of those ways! I like to read thinking Christian writers, even when their thinking may be different from my own.

      My favorite writers: what a hard question! I love Thomas Hardy’s characters and how they struggle against society/cultural expectation (nerd alert). Lately I have been soaking up the meditations of some religious bloggers. I have a reading list a mile long, of books they recommend or stories they reference in their own faith development. I’m still finding my writer’s heart after a long law-infested graduate degree. :)

      Reply

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