Retro: April 24th – 30th

April 24th – 30th

The following is part of a weekly series reflecting on the life of C.S. Lewis. This is done by summarizing various events or happenings during his lifetime for the noted week and may include significant events related to him after his death.

This was a relatively quiet week over the years in the life of Lewis. However, as with anything he wrote, there is significant materials to highlight as April raps up. One item, “The Grand Miracle” gets to be noted for the second time within a few weeks. It was first a sermon at St. Jude on the Hill Church on April 15, 1945. During this week it was published the same year on the 27th in The Guardian. You can see what I said about it in the April 10th – 16th essay or can checkout an interesting YouTube video featuring an audio version with live animation that helps you understand the material. You can read the essay in God in the Dock.

On the 29th in 1952 Lewis spoke before another audience, but this time it was part of the meeting of the Library Association at Bournemouth. “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” is best found in On Stories and it’s curious to note that it was given before all seven Narnia stories had been published. Since that time, Lewis’s fame in children’s literature has risen to greater heights. We find Lewis suggesting two good of three possible ways to write for children. The bad way is to give kids what you think they want. One of the better motivations is to write ” a children’s story because a children’s story is the best art-form for something you have to say.” Also within the talk Lewis defends the use of fantasy in stories for kids.

Also on the 29th, but in 1944 and not a speech, Lewis wrote again for the “Notes of the Way” column in Time and Tide. When it was reprinted in Present Concerns the essay was called “Democratic Education.” Among the points Lewis makes is that while democracy is useful in the political and economic realms it has shortcomings when applied to education. Even if you don’t agree with is points regarding this, his predictions on the negative results from educational decisions being based on the likability of courses adds to his credibility of predicting some trends.

A couple of pieces not yet mentioned that were actually in monthly publications are “Will We Lose God in Outer Space” and “On Church Music.” The former was first in the April, 1958 issue of Christian Herald before being retitled “Religion and Rocketry” in The World’s Last Night. Lewis first observes how two opposing arguments have been used to disprove a Creator and then he examines the possible implications of space travel and finding life on other worlds. The more down to earth essay was published in 1949 in English Church Music. While confessing his lack of expertise in music, Lewis nevertheless offers useful insight in this piece now found in Christian Reflections. Among them is this observation and suggestion: “Where both the choir and the congregation are spiritually on the right road no insurmountable difficulties will occur. Discrepancies of taste and capacity will, indeed, provide matter for mutual charity and humility.”

Finally, the only book published during his life that had a co-author happen on the 27th in 1939. Cambridge Professor E.M.W. Tillyard shared authorship with Lewis on The Personal Heresy: A Controversy. It’s a collection of six essays between both of them on the topic of whether or not “all poetry is about the poet’s state of mind.” Lewis believed it wasn’t. The weekly for February 5th – 11th details a debate the two had on this issue.