Orthodoxy IX: Authority and the Adventurer

as a placeholder until we get to discussing this finale to Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, we here begin with the finale.  His mention of mirth reminds me of the description of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings:

Thus Aragorn became at last the most hardy of living Men, skilled in their crafts and lore, and was yet more than they; for he was elvenwise, and there was a light in his eyes that when they were kindled few could endure. His face was sad and stern because of the doom that was laid on him, and yet hope dwelt ever in the depths of his heart, from which mirth would arise at times like a spring from the rock.   Return of the King, Appendix A.5,

gkc orth a

“And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”

Wordsworth, The Prelude – Lewis’s List #5



Surprised by Joy – as impatient as the wind – WW SBJ

It is difficult to find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton’s “enormous bliss” of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to “enormous”) comes somewhere near it – CSL SBJ

“When C.S. Lewis first read William Wordsworth as a teenager, he violently disliked him” Mary Ritter begins her chapter on Lewis’s #5 pick on his list of ten books which Lewis felt had “shaped his vocational attitude and philosophy of life.”[i]  Themes of Nature, of Reason and Imagination, and perhaps above all, Joy, are what Ritter cites as the most profound influences of Wordsworth on Lewis.  The theme of Joy, found in the opening lines of Wordsworth’s poem Surprised by Joy, plays a central role in Lewis’s own conversion and approach to apologetics (argument for the existence of God); hence, the (same) title of Lewis’s autobiography, Surprised by Joy (with Wordsworth’s opening line given on the title page).

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Lewis Among Ancients … and Moderns

“The Renaissance never happened!”

C.S. Lewis declared, more than a bit ironically, when accepting the newly created Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Cambridge University in 1954, which he would hold until his death in 1963.  Instead, there is a legacy from the Ancients through the Christian Medievals that was not broken, Lewis claimed, until the age of Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets, around 1800. For instance, art and poetry began to reflect primarily one’s own emotions (subjectivism) rather than the glory of creation.

Consider what scenes or passages from his many writings, including fiction such as The Chronicles of Narnia (ex. knightly valor and courage) or anything else of his you’ve heard or read that might betray Lewis’s very unmodern, cosmic bias.  WE will take a particular look at his Abolition of Man through this journey …

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Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy – Lewis’s List #7


#7 on C.S. Lewis’s List: The TEN Books that Influenced Him Most , this book by the Roman philosopher Boethius (480-525 A.D.), in which he considers the whims of Lady Fortune after suffering ruin in fortune, society and name (and possibly anticipating his punishment of death) for trumped up charges of treason, Lewis cites as one of the most influential books in medieval literature, as well as one of the ten books that influenced Lewis the most.  The most translated book of the Middle Ages (Alfred the Great, Chaucer and Queen Elizabeth I all did so), Lewis claimed “until about two hundred years ago it would, I think, have been hard to find an educated man in any European country who did not love it.” [1]

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Lewis 104: Men without Chests, the Tao and the Abolition of Man


“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful”

  • C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Come visit our inaugural issue of An Unexpected Journal , “The Abol_Issue””  (very bottom) where we discuss C.S. Lewis’s critique of relativism in morality and modern education, and how not utopian but dystopian societies result, which put at risk our very humanity.  But first, follow a brief discussion here … Continue reading

What Pilate Said One Night


It suddenly closed in on me Gaius the impact of how trapped I was,  the proud arm of Rome with all its boast of justice was to be a dirty dagger in the pudgy hands of the priests.

I was waiting in the room for him, Gaius, in the room I used for court. Officially throned with cloak and garb, when they let him in. Well, Gaius, don’t smile at this, as you value your jaw. But I had no peace since the day that he walked into my judgment hall, it has been years, Gaius, but these scenes I read from the back of my eyelids every night.

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Reason and Imagination – Philosophy and Art: Together We Can …

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation … it relates not a series of disconnected raids on Nature but the various steps of a strategically coherent invasion –  an invasion which intends complete conquest and “occupation.” – Christian Writer C.S. Lewis

Apologetics (a field which includes thinkers and writers like Oxford’s CS Lewis, or Augustine from ancient times or, perhaps most famously, the 12th century monk Thomas Aquinas) is classically defined as giving a defense of one’s faith – but this defense is just one part of the overall task of communicating the full truth of one’s faith.  One typically thinks of an apologist as arguing against scientific theories (such as Darwinian Evolution), moral relativism and the conflicting claims of multiple world religions.  But this is just defense – when on the offensive, the apologist is tasked with effectively communicating the full depth and meaning of the gospel, and that, to questioners who may cling to rational arguments while there is otherwise a cauldron of emotional questions begging to be addressed, such as the need for belonging, purpose and significance

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