Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

C. S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

C. S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination

Article excerpt

C. S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination. Edited by David Hein and Edward Henderson. (Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2011, Pp. x, 149. $18.00.)

The purpose of this brief volume of essays is to explore the relationship of faith, imagination and reason in the writings and the lives of C. S. Lewis and a few contemporary authors in his circle of acquaintance. The overarching theme of the essays is that, while the relationship of imagination, reason, and faith might be complex, it is never contradictory. And all three are essential to the linking of truth with meaning.

In his essay exploring the inner world of C. S. Lewis, Peter J. Schäkel argues that, while Lewis loved imagination from childhood, he grew to trust reason more as he matured as a thinker. With a lawyer father, a mathematician mother and his famous tutor, W. T. Kirkpatrick, the "Great Rationalist" according to Lewis, perhaps this evolution was inevitable. Lewis' own teaching career drove him to take reason more seriously during the 1920s. Nevertheless, through the persuasion of Tolkien and others, Lewis came to see that he needed both imagination and reason to complete his spiritual journey to faith in Christ. In a 1939 essay, Lewis declared reason the "organ of truth" while imagination was the "organ of meaning." Christianity was the "myth that really happened" and that myth could not be personally appropriated without the aid of imagination. Schäkel shows that Lewis was more comfortable with apologetics and reason in his earlier writings like The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperOne, 1915), Miracles (New York: HarperOne, 1915), and the Broadcast Talks (London: G. Bles, 1942). When Lewis finally affirmed the value of the imagination he had always loved, his writings blossomed into a full appreciation of myth (1950s) with works like the Narnia Chronicles (New York: Harper Collins, 1950-56) and Til We Have Faces (New York: Harcourt, 1956).

In his essay on "The Sacramental Imagination" of Austin Farrer, Edward Henderson argues that Farrer saw imagination as the means by which God's gracious action takes visible effect in the world. Jesus' life is the personification of Old Testament images, a personification that transforms those images by breaking them on the hard rocks of reality and giving them new meaning. Farrer, like Lewis, saw Christianity as the "myth that actually happened" and argued even more thoroughly for the historical authenticity of this myth. …

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