30 May 2007

Dr. Root on Lewis

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down with a couple of friends and Dr. Jerry Root from Wheaton College. We met up at the Billy Graham center. Dr. Root is a foremost expert on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis. Jerry was doing a podcast for a leadership team that I am a part of. He had some inspiring things to say. Obviously Lewis was an amazing man. We mostly discussed the book, Surprised by Joy. Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

• Lewis was fleuant in about 8-10 languages.

• Lewis had an incredibly difficult upbringing: boarding schools, family life, school difficulties and fitting in... all of these things shaped him for who he was going to become and what he would do in the future.

• Lewis refers to the Arthurian torso and discusses the one of the first problems of life... how do you fit stone in the shell? He takes the words from the Wordsworth poem called "the prelude". The stone represents reason/the head and the shell represents the romantic longings (for God).

How do you fit robust intellectual thought with a heart that has passion for God? There are a lot of Christians that have amazing passion, but their heads are in dishwater; they are just not thinking. There are also a lot of Christians that have hard thinking; but they they have no heart... no heart for others, they are just interested in correcting others, they are rigid. Lewis says you need to bring the two together; head and heart. He tries to bring head and heart together in Surprised by Joy, in fact, he thought that the Christian faith could bring head and heart together.

• Lewis is haunted by our human longings and wondering about their meaning. He reasons through the morass of atheism and materialism. Lewis writes quite about this journey. He comes to believe in the existence of the supernatural, he then wrestles with religious questions... which God, which religion... Lewis becomes a theist and uses rich images and analogies.

Prior to knowing God Lewis writes about how he didn't think he could know God personally; anymore than Hamlet could know Shakespeare. A few years later Lewis becomes a Christian. He revisits this analogy in Surprised by Joy (you have to read the footnotes). He realized that the analogy was a good one, but it could have never depended upon Hamlet the character. Hamlet the character could have never broken out of the play and met Shakespeare the author; but Shakespeare the author could have written himself into the play as Shakespeare the character to make the introduction of Shakespeare the character and Hamlet the character. Which, in fact, is what happened in the incarnation... the God who loves us did not abandon us, he knows us, but he forgives us and loves us still. He comes to us as a testimony of His great love for us. He does all for us and expects our all in return.

I am still processing the weight and magnitude of the hour spent soaking this all up.


Earl Thornton said...

Great post Erik. I look forward to reading it again and pursuing all the connections you've provided.
You have some amazing connections as well.

Glenda said...

I wish I could have met Dr. Root. It sounds like he not only has a passion for the works of C.S. Lewis, but for the ways we can see God through his writings. Great stuff!