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23036Re: [mythsoc] Joshi on C. S. Lewis

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  • David Bratman
    Mar 27, 2012
      I read Joshi's _God's Defenders_ along with David Berlinski's _The Devil's
      Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions._ Somehow I'd gotten the
      impression that Berlinski cut through some of the scientific problems in the
      current religion/atheism debate, but he doesn't. Berlinski is a philosopher,
      not a scientist; he knows nothing about science, and like everybody on both
      sides of this debate, is aggressively and belligerently ignorant about what
      he doesn't know. He starts out by punching straw men and ends up espousing
      incomprehensible nonsense.

      Joshi is actually more learned than most of the professional atheists out
      there, though like most of them he has an unexplained desire to run around
      kicking what he sees as people's crutches out from under them. His
      explanation for religious belief? "People are stupid." Accordingly he has,
      it seemed to me, some trouble pinning Lewis, who wasn't stupid, to the mat,
      and his knowledge of Lewis's total oeuvre is not as secure as he thinks; but
      it's great fun watching him demolish twaddle from the likes of T.S. Eliot
      and William F. Buckley, smart enough guys on their own grounds whose only
      mistakes were thinking they knew something about religion and then
      publishing it. I don't recall, at this distance in time, specifically what
      he says about Chesterton.

      _The Four Loves_ certainly isn't literary criticism. I'd classify it as a
      moral study, akin to the apologetics though not specifically religiously
      disputational as the earlier apologetics is. _Reflections on the Psalms_,
      though more explicitly religious than _The Four Loves_, classifies similarly

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "John Rateliff" <sacnoth@...>
      To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 11:21 AM
      Subject: [mythsoc] Joshi on C. S. Lewis

      Last week while looking for something else I ran across a book I'd not heard
      Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi (Prometheus Books, 2003), which devotes a
      chapter to C. S. Lewis (and another half-chapter to G.K. Chesterton). Has
      anyone else seen this? I've now read about half the essays (the ones on CSL,
      GCK and T. S. Eliot, Jerry Falwell, and Wm F. Buckley; I'm reading the one
      on Wm James now) and was a bit surprised that he's harder on Chesterton than
      on Lewis -- he attacks Lewis's ideas with typical (for Joshi) ferocity but
      at least takes them seriously enough to rebut; GKC he seems to find just
      smoke and noise. I think this is probably the most negative piece I've ever
      seen on Lewis, and I'm surprised not to have heard about it before now,
      almost a decade later.

      Two small queries for the group: Joshi at one point refers to Lewis's
      "devout friends", giving Barfield and JRRT as examples. Tolkien, yes, but I
      wdn't have characterized Owen Barfield that way. Also, when distinguishing
      between CSL's "distinguished works of literary criticism" (which he admires)
      and his Xian apologetics (which he disparages), he lists THE FOUR LOVES
      among the former, not the latter -- wd you agree w. that classification?

      Not a book Lewis fans wd enjoy reading, but one Lewis scholars shd probably
      know about.

      --John R.
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