Any Lewis Fans in the Crowd?

Filed under:Authors,Cool — posted by Anwyn on December 5, 2006 @ 10:20 pm

I’ve long loved C.S. Lewis, though as I get older I gradually see that he is not the be-all, end-all fountain of Christian wisdom I may have believed while I was growing up. A book written by one of my college professors, Dr. John Beversluis, is being updated and will be reissued next year, and I await it eagerly. It purports to show that Lewis failed in his attempted rational defense of Christianity. Lewis’s premise was that nobody should accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him it doesn’t make sense. Beversluis’s book promises to show that it doesn’t.

Victor Reppert at Dangerous Idea notes the upcoming release and both reasonably anticipates arguing Beversluis’s points and also reminds us that if Beversluis isn’t 100 percent right, at least he’s “a good antidote” to anybody who’s willing to wrap themselves in wholesale Lewis. But he’s wrong about Beversluis as “consummate Lewis-basher.”

How do I know without reading the book? And why do I so eagerly await a book that purports to show that one of my childhood heroes failed in the object of his writings? Simply this: in college I took a class from John Beversluis, on C.S. Lewis. He did not use his own book as a teaching tool in the course (I didn’t know the book existed until last month), I didn’t know he was an agnostic rather than a Christian until many weeks into the course, and I think it was in private conversation that he revealed this, rather than in class. In other words, he set out to teach a course on C.S. Lewis, and Lewis was what he taught–not Beversluis. In this academic climate, that’s somewhat remarkable, and in addition, it makes me far more receptive to what he has to say about Lewis–now that I’m aware of the book, now that Dr. Beversluis is retired–than I would have been as a wide-eyed undergrad.

Update: Speaking of wide-eyed undergrads, I wrote like one last night when I attributed the opinion of Beversluis as “Lewis-basher” to Victor Reppert. He was observing that many people think of Beversluis that way, not that he himself does. He observes below in the comments that he doesn’t share that opinion of Beversluis but that passages in Beversluis’s book can come across that way. Apologies and welcome, Victor.

Required Reading from Xrlq

Filed under:History,Politics — posted by Anwyn @ 9:53 pm

On Dennis Prager:

…[Prager would] be hard pressed to name a single Western European country that does have a document similar to the U.S. Constitution. With prime ministers selected by Parliament and presidents serving largely ceremonial roles, the separation of powers as we know it is virtually unheard of. With no pesky First Amendment to worry about, states run television and radio, David Irving rots in prison simply for being an a-hole, and hate crime laws apply to what every American would consider protected free speech.

Quoting Prager:

What has made America unique is the combination of Enlightenment ideas with our underlying Judeo-Christian values.

How does that make us unique? We inherited both “Judeo-Christianity” and the Enlightenment from Europe. If a tradition of either hard-core religious tests of office or ceremonial deism is all it’s cracked up to be, then Europe has us beat hands-down. At the risk of sounding a bit too Prag-ish myself, I cannot name any Western European country that does not have a “Judeo-Christian” tradition combined with Enlightenment ideas.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace