So far as I can tell, virtually no has commented on the connections between C. S. Lewis and Emmanuel Levinas-one possible exception being Pope John Paul II, a great admirer of both writers (see Hooper xii; John Paul II 36). But the connections are profound and undeniable. I’ve found no evidence that Levinas read Lewis’s work, nor any that Lewis was acquainted directly with the thought of Levinas, though Levinas became an important figure in French philosophical circles following World War II. The affinity between Lewis and Levinas must be explained in some way other than direct influence.
There is something “perilous” about beauty and we are aware at some deep level of intuition or, better yet, at some vague awareness of a moral reality or “calling” that Beauty has within it the power to “change” us at some profound and ontological level of our existence. To follow a “trail’ that leads to “the Golden Wood” where one will knowingly encounter Beauty is one that requires courage and calls forth the essence of our character and reveals its flaws and weaknesses. It is here that we begin to acknowledge, again at some level, that Beauty contains within it the potential of great power and great goodness.
The first thing to note in reference to divine hiddenness is the fact that, for many, it is a deeply existential problem. The felt absence of God – for both believers and nonbelievers – may lead to hopelessness, despair, or indifference. Moving away from the existential dimension, however, we encounter the philosophical problem. The problem of divine hiddenness has generally been posed along these lines: If God exists, then the greatest possible good for an individual is that he or she relate to God in a loving relationship.
The body of C.S. Lewis’ work, from his essays to his fiction, plumbs key problems caused in higher education by Modernists. In both The Screwtape Letters and The Abolition of Man, he delineates the devolution of human souls deprived of meaning and dependent only on material fact. In the third book of his science fiction trilogy, That Hideous Strength, he creates vivid scenes of battle between two warring factions, the Progressives versus the obstructionists, at the fictional Bracton College. His essays and fiction consistently present his belief that the Modernist agenda is founded on a bankrupt philosophy for which its ultimate end is little more than a struggle for power.
The right of healthcare professionals to decline participation in specific procedures they believe to be immoral has been an unquestioned tenet of medicine for centuries. Since the shift in medical ethics in the past generation whereby patient autonomy has become the dominant principle, this right of conscience has been challenged. It has been most directly challenged by Opinion #385 issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in November 2007. This article reviews the pertinent history of medical ethics, focusing on the right of conscience, and the ethical issue of moral complicity.
In an age when technology has caught up with our literary imaginations, film makers are faced with many decisions about how to adapt works of fantasy for the silver screen. Since the beginning of story-telling, the quest for something greater than self has permeated our stories, infusing them with elements of the supernatural and the divine. As we seek a greater Other, we are also seeking ourselves and a deeper understanding of what it means to inhabit this earthly realm while longing for the numinous elsewhere.
In a short paper all I can do is whet your appetite, if you have a taste for philosophical investigations. In other words, the best I can do is tease you. By ‘a taste for philosophical investigations’, I mean a fascination with certain questions-questions about ultimate meaning, but whose meaning is, ultimately, the question. For example, “What is truth?”; “What is reality?”; “What is knowledge?”; “What is the self?”; “What is meaning?” These are philosophical questions, both because the answers we give to them will shape the way we live our lives (and in that sense are ultimately meaningful), and because they are questions whose meanings are themselves so puzzling.
All paths seemingly lead to despair as Harry Potter and his two closest friends sit in the drab tent they have been living in for several weeks, continually on the run from servants of the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry’s primary mission-to destroy Voldemort and his power over the wizarding world-seems impossible as he, Ron, and Hermione feel more alone than ever. Suddenly, they hear familiar voices on the radio, voices that belong to “those friends of Harry Potter’s who are suffering for their allegiance” (Deathly Hallows 441; ch. 22).
In his introduction to English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, C. S. Lewis thrashes the bushes searching out potential causes for the surprising efflorescence of brilliant literature that sprang up near the end of the sixteenth century. At the beginning of the century, “the prose is clumsy, monotonous, garrulous; their verse is either astonishingly tame and cold or, if it attempts to rise, the coarsest fustian. In both mediums we come to dread a certain ruthless emphasis; bludgeon work. Nothing is light, or tender, or fresh. All the authors write like elderly men. . . . Then, in the last quarter of the century the unpredictable happens.
A number of years ago a musician named George Benson wrote a beautiful song entitled, “The Greatest Love of All,” and these lyrics captured my attention. A few selected lines from the lyrics read as follows:
[…] Because the greatest love of all is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all inside of me
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.
At first these lyrics appear beautiful, especially with the lilting instrumentations; however, the lyrics run counter to Lewis’s ideas about love and knowledge as well as John Calvin’s theories of love and knowledge as defined in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This paper will articulate the numerous ways in which Calvin’s definitions of love and knowledge and the Imago Dei found in Calvin are reflected in Lewis’s fiction by focusing on Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
In many places, the Scriptures tell us that all the world is created and upheld according to a wise Creator’s plan. In Psalm 119, for instance, David tells us that all things are God’s servants, existing by his appointment (v. 91). Psalm 104 teaches that God made and ordered all things in wisdom and for a reason. (See also Job 38, 39; Ps. 139:13-14; Eccles. 3:11; Is. 45:18; Jer. 33:20; Col. 1:17; etc.) And the writer to the Hebrews declares that the Son of God continues to “uphold the universe by his word of power” (Heb. 1:3).
Although they lived two centuries apart, C. S. Lewis and John Wesley had much in common. Both were Anglicans associated with Oxford University, but more importantly, both were Evangelicals who took the Christian faith seriously and used similar metaphors to describe faith. For both of them, the things of God, although not visible to the natural eye, could nevertheless be seen with the eyes of faith.