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Repressed Angels and Lewis

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  • Cai Cherie
    I just want to say that I really like how Wendell s Wag (sounds like a good pub, dosn t it? -- hope the shorting does not offend,) states his opinion on our
    Message 1 of 4 , Feb 11, 2006
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      I just want to say that I really like how Wendell's Wag (sounds like a good pub, dosn't it? -- hope the shorting does not offend,) states his opinion on our various comments on Lewis. Right on the mark. A very sane take on a subject where people (me included) can get very silly, very fast.

      I would also add I came upon a interesting, perhaps corallary comment in a book by or about Vicktor Frankl (I'm weeding my libraries psych collection and my normally mixed-up sense of sources is now completely scrambled by flipping through hundreds of books a month.) Anyway -- its about the idea of the repressed angel. Just as most of us have a suppressed (hopefully not repressed) devil knocking about somewhere, Frankl postulated that if we deny our essentially and existentially religious nature as humans, ( hmm, actually, Eliade, and Chesterton said something similar too,) we have hell to pay with the ruckus kicked up by our repressed angel. Frankl had noted how nonsensical anti-religious rhetoric can get and thought that the more hysterical the protests, the more likely it was that the repressed angel was trying to get out, causing the person to need to repress it even more loudly and crazily.

      This makes sense, since the virtous, moral aithiests I've run into tend to be very considerate and considered about their objections to religion. They don't make silly arguments. They are also respectful of others' belief systems, just as they hope others are respectful of theirs -- a practice that would behoove all of us to emulate, well, IMTTBHO. Very very different from the sort of aithiest who feels his belief system is somehow more privilaged than that of others'.

      I also like how Wag respected Wilson's gifts as a writer. I didn't know Wilson was pressured into writing a book he wasn't really inspired to write, and may have found spiritually troublesom to write -- but, for me, that makes sense of the book that resulted.


      "I think that the book is also an example of a general problem with much
      critical writing about Lewis, the tendency of both his fans and his
      detractors to
      write as if the status of Christianity in the present-day world stood
      or fell
      solely on the quality of Lewis's writings.

      (This made me giggle, too true, silly us.)


      This causes Lewis's fans
      to
      overpraise his writings, to read their own views into them, and to
      assume that
      Lewis's body of work is a _Summa Theologica_ for the modern world with
      statements about all essential aspects of Christianity. Something
      similar happens
      to detractors of Lewis. Wilson was losing his Christian faith at the
      time he
      was writing the biography. He often seems to be attacking Lewis not
      for
      Lewis's own virtues and faults but for Wilson's objections to
      Christianity. I
      think that this may explain Philip Pullman's "moral insanity" in his
      wildly
      overstated objections to _The Chronicles of Narnia_. It's as if he
      thinks the
      status of Christianity today depends solely on the popularity of the
      Narnia
      books.
      "

      Cai



      ---------------------------------

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    • John D Rateliff
      ... I don t think there s any evidence that this is actually the case; it s just Wendell s guess. He doesn t like the book, so he concludes the author must
      Message 2 of 4 , Feb 13, 2006
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        On Feb 11, 2006, at 7:47 AM, Cai Cherie wrote:
        > I didn't know Wilson was pressured into writing a book he wasn't
        > really inspired to write, and may have found spiritually
        > troublesome to write

        I don't think there's any evidence that this is actually the case;
        it's just Wendell's guess. He doesn't like the book, so he concludes
        the author must not have been inspired to write it.

        > Perhaps this shows my isolation from most of America (since I
        > attend a liberal church in a large northeastern city) but I have
        > assumed that this was a hoax and parody -- a funny parody too. I
        > await with baited breath the last chapter and the full addendum on
        > Tolkien. I do think this a joke site.

        I'm afraid they're serious, more's the pity. Which of course doesn't
        mean their misplaced disdain isn't amusing in and of itself. That you
        can enjoy it speaks well of you, but not of them.


        On Jan 30, 2006, at 7:28 PM, Stolz. wrote:
        > A Dutchman, hitherto unknown to me, administers a welcome pasting
        > to A.N.
        > Wilson's book:
        >
        > http://www.solcon.nl/arendsmilde/cslewis/reflections/e-
        > definitivebiography.htm

        Finally had a chance to read carefully through Smilde's piece, which
        he himself describes all too accurately as a "diatribe" and "one-
        sided". Find I disagree with his whole claim that Wilson writes well
        but without insight; that seems a better description of Smilde
        himself, who has a glib turn of phrase. I think Wilson's the best
        biography of Lewis so far, despite all its faults, precisely because
        he writes with more insight into CSL than any previous biographer.
        Wish he'd let a fact-checker spend a week fixing all the little
        glitches that critics of the book hammered it for, but Smilde reveals
        that most of these were fixed in subsequent printings. What does that
        say about those who continue to criticize him for passages no longer
        in the book?

        I used to think the three biggest gaps in our understanding of Lewis
        were his relationship with his father, his relationship with Joy
        Gresham, and his relationship with Janie Moore. Wilson has made a
        start at how badly CSL treated Albert Lewis, Lyle Dorsett did a
        wonderful job of recovering JDGL's story, and Fr. Hooper's edition of
        the CSL-AG correspondence (THEY STAND TOGETHER) gives us as much as
        we'll probably ever know about his feelings for Mrs. Moore, but I
        don't think we'll ever get CSL as Janie Moore saw him. Pity, because
        its absence allows Warnie to demonize her (three days a week she
        forced the Great Man to do chores. Sometimes he even had to walk the
        dog! Horrors!).

        --JDR

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      • WendellWag@aol.com
        In a message dated 2/13/2006 12:36:54 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, sacnoth@earthlink.net writes: I don t think there s any evidence that this is actually the
        Message 3 of 4 , Feb 13, 2006
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          In a message dated 2/13/2006 12:36:54 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
          sacnoth@... writes:

          I don't think there's any evidence that this is actually the case;
          it's just Wendell's guess. He doesn't like the book, so he concludes
          the author must not have been inspired to write it.


          Wilson said so. He spoke at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in October of
          1989, while I was living in England. He was mostly finished with writing the
          book at that point. He said that the publisher asked him to write a Lewis
          biography, even though he wasn't particularly interested in it. The publisher
          doubtlessly knew that books about Lewis sell quite well, which is probably
          why there are too many of them.

          Wendell Wagner


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        • John D Rateliff
          ... I hadn t been aware of this; thanks for setting me straight on this point. I m planning to get a copy of the revised Wilson and read it when I have time
          Message 4 of 4 , Feb 15, 2006
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            On Feb 13, 2006, at 7:28 PM, WendellWag@... wrote:
            > Wilson said so. He spoke at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in
            > October of
            > 1989, while I was living in England. He was mostly finished with
            > writing the
            > book at that point. He said that the publisher asked him to write
            > a Lewis
            > biography, even though he wasn't particularly interested in it.
            > The publisher
            > doubtlessly knew that books about Lewis sell quite well, which is
            > probably
            > why there are too many of them.
            >
            > Wendell Wagner

            I hadn't been aware of this; thanks for setting me straight on this
            point. I'm planning to get a copy of the revised Wilson and read it
            when I have time (there's a considerable pile of Tolkien-related
            books in the queue ahead of it), and I'll keep this in mind when
            reading it and see if I reach the same conclusions you did.
            Oh, and good post on the recent tendency to overstate the
            importance, good and bad, of Lewis's apologetics

            --John R.

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