Friday, October 17, 2014

C. S. Lewis's Baptized Imagination (Why I love C. S. Lewis)

In 1916, when C.S. Lewis was 18 (and still an atheist), he bought and read George MacDonald’s Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women. He writes about this in his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy:

That night my imagination was, in a certain sense, baptized; the rest of me, not unnaturally, took longer [...] I had not the faintest notion what I had let myself in for by buying Phantastes” (Surprised by Joy 172).

Years before he intellectually believed in Christianity and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he says his imagination was baptized by this book. Have you had this experience either before or after becoming a Christian?

The writings of C. S. Lewis have most certainly baptized my imagination. (Along with Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series, but this is about C. S. Lewis so I'll just have to talk more about L'Engle another time. =) )

I first read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as an assignment for school in the second grade. I loved it so much that my mom and dad told me there were six more books in the series, and they had them, and I could read them! I was so excited. I have read and re-read those books over and over again ever since. (Interestingly enough, I made the decision to be baptized a couple of years later when I was in fourth grade, so perhaps Narnia and Aslan really did prepare my heart in ways I wasn't even aware of!)

I read The Screwtape Letters in high school and made my first attempt to read Mere Christianity as well.

The next Lewis books to baptize my imagination were The Great Divorce and The Space Trilogy (better called, "The Ransom Trilogy"). I was introduced to these books in Dr. Charlie W. Starr's C. S. Lewis course in college. You see, I have always struggled with trying to keep everything on a more intellectual level. Lewis's fiction helps bridge the gap between my head and my heart via the imagination. He gets past my intellectual defenses just as he intended:

“I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralysed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. The whole subject was associated with lowered voices; almost as if it were something medical. But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday School associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.” - C. S. Lewis, “Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to be Said"

I hope to write more in a future post about The Ransom Trilogy and the ways in which it has deepened my faith via the imagination.

So what books (or other things) have baptized your imagination? Can you relate to what Lewis is talking about here?

In response to the 31 Day blogging challenge, I will be posting every day in October. You can read previous posts HERE. Follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter to be notified of new posts. You can also Subscribe to get posts sent to you by email. (There is a simple form towards the top on the right where you can do this.)

Feel free to comment with your own thoughts and questions!

Index of Posts (Highlights):
Day 2. C. S. Lewis on Longing (In "The Weight of Glory")
Day 3. C. S. Lewis on Sehnsucht (Longing and Desire in The Weight of Glory)
Day 6: C. S. Lewis: The Intolerable Compliment (The Problem of Pain)
Day 7: C. S. Lewis: What is "The Weight of Glory"?
Day 8: C. S. Lewis: The Great Divorce and The Weight of Glory
Day 9: C. S. Lewis: A Grief Observed
Day 12: C. S. Lewis and Postmodernism (Part 3 - Conclusion)
Day 13: C. S. Lewis: The Grand Miracle (Myth and Allusions)
Day 14: C. S. Lewis: Is Theology Poetry? (Part 1: More on Myth)
Day 15: C. S. Lewis: Is Theology Poetry? (Part 2: Metaphors, Symbols, and Science)
Day 16: C. S. Lewis and The Trilemma Argument in Mere Christianity

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