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).
“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 …
#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.” 
“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 http://www.anunexpectedjournal.com, “The Abol_Issue” where we discuss C.S. Lewis’s critique of relativism in morality, and how not utopian but dystopian societies result, which put at risk our very humanity.
Then visit our facebook discussion page as we discuss a different article each week. This week we have been discussing the basic book itself. A short summary follows here …
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.
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
I saw people coming to meet us. Because they were bright I saw them while they were still very distant, and at first I did not know that they were people at all. Mile after mile they drew nearer. The earth shook under their tread as their strong feet sank into the wet turf. A tiny haze and a sweet smell went up where they had crushed the grass and scattered the dew. Some were naked, some robed. But the naked ones did not seem less adorned, and the robes did not disguise in those who wore them the massive grandeur of muscle and the radiant smoothness of flesh.
Such glorious creatures in C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce were once humans, but now revel in the full flowering of their redeemed humanity. Their perfected masculinity, their ‘massive grandeur of muscle,’ as well as beautiful feminity, ‘the radiant smoothness of flesh,’ are on unashamed display.
They provide an example of the beauty and graces of the sexes, which we will examine from Literature Professor (Thomas More College, NH) and Dante translator, Anthony Esolen’s Defending Marriage