What do you do with CS Lewis?

Caspian
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What do you do with CS Lewis?

Hey all,

My name is [Caspian] and I'm new to the boards. This is only my second post, so don't tear me to pieces just yet. Smiling I'm in my late twenties and am working my master's degree here in Austin. I am a volunteer Young Life leader, an Ashtanga yoga junkie and am ridiculously passionate for Lindy Hop (swing dancing). Christ stormed into my life when I was nineteen and flipped my entire world upside-down.

Anyway, I really enjoy dialoguing with aethiests and agnostics because you all are collectors of really great questions. I enjoy the dialogue and how you all make me challenge my faith.

So, I came across this quote from CS Lewis and would love to hear your responses. From what I know, CS Lewis was a professor at Cambridge University and good friends with JRR Tolkien. Early on in his career he was a strong aethiest, and became very disturbed when he found out that the majority of professors that he considered mentors and friends were Christians. He couldn't hold in his mind how someone could be an intellectual and a Christ-follwer at the same time. After a significant amount of investigation, CS Lewis came to Christ, oddly enough, during a car ride to the zoo. He wrote this in his book, Surprised by Joy:

"That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?" -CS Lewis, Surprized by Joy.

I'm curious how aethiests/agnostics respond to this? What do you do when someone as exceedingly rational and intelligent as CS Lewis, who, in so many ways, did not want to believe in any form of God or gods, comes to know Jesus Christ?

Thanks so much for your thoughts. I'm going to make myself some iced-green tea and finish reading Harry Potter #6

Eye-wink -Caspian

PS: If I were a bit younger I'd make a [email protected]$$ boyfriend for Hermione Granger! Smiling


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It's a complete

It's a complete non-sequitor. CS Lewis was horrible at logic from what I've read.


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Making a decision about the

Making a decision about the existence or nonexistence of something based on one's own emotional state isn't very logical.  He said that he finally admitted that god is god.  What convinced him of this?


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  Quote: I'm curious how

 

Quote:
I'm curious how aethiests/agnostics respond to this? What do you do when someone as exceedingly rational and intelligent as CS Lewis, who, in so many ways, did not want to believe in any form of God or gods, comes to know Jesus Christ?

 

I don't know much about Lewis, but from what I heard 'rational' wouldn't be the first word I'd use to describe him.

If I remember correctly he even became an atheist for emotional rather then rational reasons, the quote you came up with seems to confirm this.

 

Caspian wrote:
"That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God,

 

Feared?

Why in the world would anyone fear an omnibelovelent beeing? Who in his right mind would fear the prospect of living eternally in infinite bliss? 

 

What do we do when someone like Lewis accepts one religion or another?

Absolutely nothing.

Lewis failed completely to give any kind of argument for the existance of god.


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Caspian wrote: I'm curious

Caspian wrote:
I'm curious how aethiests/agnostics respond to this? What do you do when someone as exceedingly rational and intelligent as CS Lewis, who, in so many ways, did not want to believe in any form of God or gods, comes to know Jesus Christ?

As far as I'm concerned, C.S. Lewis' novels and arguments for Christianity can all be lumped into one category: children's fantasy. The only thing he brought to the table were the same old unimpressive arguments and zero evidence.


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C.S. Lewis was a hack of a

C.S. Lewis was a hack of a philosopher.  I read his books, and then put them in the recycling bin.  I can't answer for what anyone else did with him.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Thank you all so much for

Thank you all so much for your responses!  I really appreciate them.  Keep them coming.

 

Eye-wink -Caspian

 

PS: I do not believe CS Lewis ever claimed to be a philosopher.  He was a professor of English Literature at Cambridge. 


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I don't what to do with

I don't what to do with C.S. Lewis, he's half rotted, so I can't eat him.

And I don't know how to make stuff out of bones. 

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Caspian, Reasonable

Caspian,

Reasonable point.  I don't know that C.S. claimed to be a philosopher.  Sorry for my assumption.  He did, however, write a book and tons of essays, etc... trying to philosophically "prove" his belief in Jesus.

His problems were not actually strictly philosophical, but logical.  He made several of the same mistakes that all apologists make:

argument from ignorance - since we don't know how the universe came to be, God must have done it.

argument from personal incredulity/personal experience - I know it's true because I can't think of any way it is false

begging the question - I know god exists because god's existence proves it.

argument from authority - this book says Jesus lived, so he must have lived.

Because he made all these mistakes in logic, he was a hack of a philosopher, or apologist, or whatever he claimed he was.

Also, his plot lines sucked.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I recently read parts of

I recently read parts of 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis, and I found it to have all the relation to reality you would expect from any great writer of children's fiction.

All he offers, as far as I could tell, was a simple argument from morality, one which has been made better by others centuries ago. I couldn't believe he thought he was making a rational argument. From reading the book, I got the suspicion that his claims of ex-atheism were overstated, because the straw men he set up for atheism were so badly constructed. I suspect that his memory of being an atheist had been colored by decades of theism.

As for the quote, it doesn't really tell us anything except that he didn't want to become a Christian, but he felt compelled to admit it. Given the arguments I've seen him make, I find the conclusions he draws from them uninteresting.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


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Thank you all again for

Thank you all again for your responses. 

After re-reading this thread I noticed am implication that I did not see before.  It seems that many of you took my original post as me somehow trying to use CS Lewis' testimony of Christ as proof for the existence of God.  Forgive me, as that was never my intention.  I was simply curious how you all would respond to his story. 

From what I've read it sounds like many of you are camping out in one of two places: Either discrediting CS Lewis' experience or discrediting his intelect.  Thank you for posts.  I believe I see your side more clearly. 

 Perhaps a better question to ask is how would you respond if someone on this board, whom you know to be a strong and rational aethiest/agnostic, came to know Jesus Christ?  What would your reaction be? 

Thanks again for the dialogue.  I do enjoy it.

 Eye-wink -Caspian


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I don't see how C.S.

I don't see how C.S. Lewis's, or anyone's for that matter, turning to religion should be puzzled over by any atheist. Many people, regardless of how intelligent they are or rational they may be in other aspects of their life, do irrational things for a variety of different reasons. However, a rational man committing an irrational act changes the designation of the man, not the designation of the act.

Had C.S. Lewis come to believe in god through some empirical proof he had found, then that would be a matter to make a rational man go, "Hmmm." As it is, with him turning to god for justifications he made within his own mind, it seems completely unimportant. Not something that I would bother to consider out of a context where I was critiquing his writings or discussing his irrational beliefs.

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Caspian wrote: Perhaps a

Caspian wrote:
Perhaps a better question to ask is how would you respond if someone on this board, whom you know to be a strong and rational aethiest/agnostic, came to know Jesus Christ?  What would your reaction be?

 I'd ask the person for evidence of Jesus'/god's existance. If he presents it, give the man a Nobel Prize, if he doesn't, there's not much to react to... just another theist believing things without evidence.

 People change their minds all the time, and it proves nothing. It's the reasons for changing one's mind that are important, and no matter how rational the person was in the past, it won't make believing something without evidence rational.

And while we're entertaining this silly line of thought:

What is your reaction to people that used to believe in god and Jesus and are now atheists?


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You must remember that CS

You must remember that CS Lewis suffered the loss of hsi wife to cancer not long before this. Something similar happened to Arthur Conan Doyle, but after tragedy he turned psychics and people who claimed to talk tot he dead.

The same thing happened even in my own family. After my brother was murdered, my parents started going back to church. Then his wife, my mom, died of cancer, and he "renewed his faith in Christ."

Retreating into a certain degree of infantilism is somewhat undertandable and not entirely condemnable following life-rocking tragedies. I did not retreat because I maintained my commitment to personal intellectual integrity, which trumps everything else that might affect whay I believe.

This gets at one of my pet peeves about the Church, the way it preys on the weak.


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Ivan_Ivanov wrote: And

Ivan_Ivanov wrote:

And while we're entertaining this silly line of thought:

What is your reaction to people that used to believe in god and Jesus and are now atheists?

 

Ivan, thank you for your response.  I'm late to my Ashtanga class so this will be quick. 

My reaction to Christians who've turned away from Jesus (to aethiest or any in whatever form) is both sadly and easily expected.  If you wish, you may want to read Matthew 13:3-23.  Christ explains it much better than I do.

Eye-wink -Caspian


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I too am suspicious of his

I too am suspicious of his claims about prior atheism.  I've read a few Lee Stroeble books and I get the same sense from him as well.  How can this guy possibly have ever been an atheist if this is how he now views atheism?


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I think there's an

I think there's an important distinction here. Everyone is born atheist. Some become theists, others stay atheist. Some of the converted theists revert to atheism.

I think most of the "non-religious" people I've known who have turned theist fall under the category of "default atheists." They've never reasoned why they were atheists, and by the same token, had never given much thought to a god belief. When something shitty happened, they turned to religion for the same reasons everyone else does... fear, social pressure, depression, etc...

So, I am not surprised when this type of person converts. Now, if Richard Dawkins converted, I'd be really surprised, but like others have said, it would fall under the heading, "Anther irrational theist" unless he had the Nobel Prize winning proof of god.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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What do I do with C.S.

What do I do with C.S. Lewis? Read "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" when I was 8, then ignore the rest of the series into adulthood, because I prefered the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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kmisho wrote: The same

kmisho wrote:


The same thing happened even in my own family. After my brother was murdered, my parents started going back to church. Then his wife, my mom, died of cancer, and he "renewed his faith in Christ."

I've always been baffled why tragedies cause people's faith to become stronger. Do they think that if they had believed enough in the first place, the horrible thing wouldn't have happened?

I remember seeing interviews with refugees from New Orleans. They were already good and righteous, church-going people prior to the tragedy. They had lost everything including home and family members. They had to endure horrible conditions at the SuperDome. They were evacuated to places they couldn't afford to live and had no job. Yet these people claimed that their belief in a god was strengthened.

Seems to me that if there were a god, he just dumped a big one on these folks which served no purpose other than to "strengthen their faith." Translation: "I'm gonna beat the shit out of you so you'll love me even more." That just doesn't make sense.

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Well, you know how it is. If

Well, you know how it is. If the Christian church is the bride of Christ, then Christ is the guy on COPS with the mosiac over his face getting hauled off by Officer Cortez because the neighbors called in a domestic disturbance call and the Christians answered the door with a black eye saying she doesn't want to press charges because they really do love each other.

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JeremiahSmith wrote: Well,

JeremiahSmith wrote:
Well, you know how it is. If the Christian church is the bride of Christ, then Christ is the guy on COPS with the mosiac over his face getting hauled off by Officer Cortez because the neighbors called in a domestic disturbance call and the Christians answered the door with a black eye saying she doesn't want to press charges because they really do love each other.

off topic, but seems clear that if the god of the bible exists, then it is highly abusive.

We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.
~ Richard Dawkins


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I wish I could remember the

I wish I could remember the source, but I recall reading an actual paper... maybe a masters level dissertation or something, that did essentially a "criminal profile" of a chronically abusive male, detailing the typical behaviors and then citing numerous psychological papers and sociological studies which linked those behaviors to various pathologies.

It was very interesting.  As I said, I can't remember the source at all, and don't have time to google it, but maybe someone else is familiar with it.  In any case, anyone in any of the "mind sciences" would have themselves a wonderful subject to pursue if they wanted to.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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It was my understanding

It was my understanding that there's something of a debate going on about what his beliefs were or were not when he died. Without him here to say one way or the other, I'd say the topic is rather moot. Even if he did so however, that really doesn't say anything about the atheist position. One of religions greatest foundations is fear. And many people have allowed themselves to be convinced of a pleasant afterlife in the face of impending doom.

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Vastet wrote: It was my

Vastet wrote:

It was my understanding that there's something of a debate going on about what his beliefs were or were not when he died. Without him here to say one way or the other, I'd say the topic is rather moot. Even if he did so however, that really doesn't say anything about the atheist position. One of religions greatest foundations is fear. And many people have allowed themselves to be convinced of a pleasant afterlife in the face of impending doom.

Vastet, first and foremost, I love the avatar.  I used to be a Final Fantasy junkie.  It's an amazing series. 

My first response to your post is the distinct difference between Jesus Christ and religion.  I completely understand that you may view the two as semantics, but I sense it's worth nothing that Christ held his harshest words for the religious people of his time (Matthew 23).  Even more, the name "Jesus" occurs in the Bible 983 times.  The word "religion" occurs 5 times. 

And I do not see Christ using fear tactics in the Gospels.  It's not his style.  Hanging out with whores and drunkards, sure.  Pissing off the religious people, sure.  Makring miracles from mud, once or twice.  Treating women and children as equals in a society where they were considered significanly less value, absolutely.  Was he candid?  Sure.  Did he tell it straight?  I'd say so.   

And interestingly enough, of all the "Do not" commandments ("Do not steal," "do not commit murder," etc, etc) the most frequent "Do not" commandment which occurs in the majority of the books in the Bible is "Do not be afraid." 

Maybe Jesus was on to something, Eye-wink -Caspian


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Caspian wrote: Vastet,

Caspian wrote:

Vastet, first and foremost, I love the avatar.  I used to be a Final Fantasy junkie.  It's an amazing series. 

I agree. I'm 70 hours into FFXII right now. :D 

Caspian wrote:
My first response to your post is the distinct difference between Jesus Christ and religion.  I completely understand that you may view the two as semantics, but I sense it's worth nothing that Christ held his harshest words for the religious people of his time (Matthew 23).  Even more, the name "Jesus" occurs in the Bible 983 times.  The word "religion" occurs 5 times. 

I don't believe the bible is an accurate source. I'd get into it, and I apologize for not doing so, but I seem to be having very bad luck on this site today. Both this post and the last one I made were screwed over by some stupid error. I spent a rather significant amount of time on both, and I'm about 2 seconds away from giving up posting here for the day. I'll probably feel calm enough to not mind repeating myself later, but it's not going to happen now.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Vastet wrote: I agree. I'm

Vastet wrote:

I agree. I'm 70 hours into FFXII right now. :D 

I am, naturally, very jealous. Smiling I completed FF VIII and dabbled in FF IX.  I do boast , however, that I own FF I for the original Nintendo system.   

Vastet wrote:
 

I don't believe the bible is an accurate source. I'd get into it, and I apologize for not doing so, but I seem to be having very bad luck on this site today.

I'm sorry for your posting troubles, Vastet.  I understand how frustrating that experience can be.  And I suspect there is no need to get into the credibility of the Gospels.  I dare say you speak for nearly every person who frequents this site that the Bible is not a credible source. 

When you speak of God, or religion, for that matter, the terms are so broad that they often become ambigious to me.  Please forgive me that I must deal in specifics.  Shall we then, for the sake of my limited intellect, deal with the person of Jesus Christ framed in the four canonical Gospels?  That is, I'm afraid, all I know of the character of God.  Although I am well aware that you do not consider that account of Jesus Christ as accurate, I sense we would have no structure for this dialogue if we did not have some norm on which to reflect. 

For Christ, Paul writes, is "the visible image of the invisible God."   

Sincerely, Eye-wink -Caspian


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Most of us on here consider

Most of us on here consider Jesus to be a completely fictional character - check out the "Jesus Mythicism" forum.

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I would say, reread the

I would say, reread the paragraph of Lewis that you quoted, but this time around, when arriving at the phrase "..God was God...", replace "God" with some other name:  Santa, Zeus, FSM...  Then see if the paragraph remains as convincing, and if you even would have made this post in the first place.

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We do this with CS Lewis.

We do this with CS Lewis.

 


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Caspian wrote: Vastet

Caspian wrote:
Vastet wrote:

I agree. I'm 70 hours into FFXII right now. :D 

I am, naturally, very jealous. Smiling I completed FF VIII and dabbled in FF IX.  I do boast , however, that I own FF I for the original Nintendo system. 

Sweet. That's the kind of game that can turn into a collector item. I never got to play that one until they re-released it on the PlayStation. The first one I played was VI, and then I was hooked.

The only numerical series title I haven't played yet is III(the one that was never released in North America until a couple months ago on the DS).  

Caspian wrote:
Vastet wrote:
 

I don't believe the bible is an accurate source. I'd get into it, and I apologize for not doing so, but I seem to be having very bad luck on this site today.

I'm sorry for your posting troubles, Vastet.  I understand how frustrating that experience can be.  And I suspect there is no need to get into the credibility of the Gospels.  I dare say you speak for nearly every person who frequents this site that the Bible is not a credible source.

True enough. I appreciate your sympathy. Alls good now. Smiling 

For now. *Shakes fist at pc*

Caspian wrote:
When you speak of God, or religion, for that matter, the terms are so broad that they often become ambigious to me.  Please forgive me that I must deal in specifics.  Shall we then, for the sake of my limited intellect, deal with the person of Jesus Christ framed in the four canonical Gospels?  That is, I'm afraid, all I know of the character of God.  Although I am well aware that you do not consider that account of Jesus Christ as accurate, I sense we would have no structure for this dialogue if we did not have some norm on which to reflect.

For Christ, Paul writes, is "the visible image of the invisible God."   Sincerely, Eye-wink -Caspian

I actually don't really have the ability to debate Jesus' existance or the path of his life. There are a couple here who have studied the bible in depth and come to such conclusions, but I'm not about to learn Greek just to read some old texts. I didn't learn Japanese to play FFXII early, and that actually had some motivational drive to do it. :P I suppose the only way I'd be motivated to do an in depth reading of a holy book is if I actually believed it. The authors of the bible were rookies. I've read more entertaining romance novels. :| 

I do think however that whether or not he existed is somewhat irrelevant. The way I see it, if god could send down a kid to straighten people out 2000 years ago, there's nothing stopping him from doing it today when there are far bigger global concerns than there were then. At least we couldn't cover the planet in nuclear fire 2000 years ago over the issue. It would be insanely easy for a god to prove it exists. Something I rarely get to bring up to believers is that if god exists, he seems to be hiding from us. Why hide? It doesn't make sense. Science should have proved god ages ago. There are a great number of things about reality that point away from a god instead of towards one. One has to wonder why, since apparently it's so important to follow it in the first place?

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Quote: What do you do with

Quote:
What do you do with CS Lewis?

 

I've read Until We Have Faces twice.  I just love that story.


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Vastet wrote: I suppose

Vastet wrote:

I suppose the only way I'd be motivated to do an in depth reading of a holy book is if I actually believed it. The authors of the bible were rookies. I've read more entertaining romance novels. :| 

I daresay Augustine of Hippo would initially agree with you.  I'm unsure of how much you know of his story, but as he was encouraged to read the New Testament, he found the authorship terribly unimpressive.  As he continued, however, he could not help but find truth in Christ's words.  

And I agree with you.  Before Christ came into my life at nineteen, I found the Gospels unbearable.  I wish I could communicate to you how my world was flipped upside-down, as immediately after Jesus stormed into my life I read the New Testament in less than three days.  I'm still astounded. 

Vastet wrote:

 It would be insanely easy for a god to prove it exists. Something I rarely get to bring up to believers is that if god exists, he seems to be hiding from us. Why hide? It doesn't make sense. Science should have proved god ages ago. There are a great number of things about reality that point away from a god instead of towards one. One has to wonder why, since apparently it's so important to follow it in the first place?

Vastet, if you did believe in God, you would make a wonderful Deist, as they believe in an extremely distant God who flipped over an hourglass at creation and let the pieces fall where they may.  Thomas Jefferson was among them, I believe.  Rumor has it he took a blade to the Gospels and cut out any miracle of Jesus Christ, only keeping his teachings.  The miracles, as they were, were quite irrational. 

I will not pretend to know the answer to the problem of evil/suffering.  I would be fooling myself to claim to have any answer to theologians greatest question.  Oddly enough, earliest written book in the Bible, Job, addresses this same issue and concludes with an ominous and frustrating ambiguity.

Christ does not clarify the problem, either.  I would daresay he complicates the issue.  Because now we have a world thrown upside-down in self and brokenness where God shows up, where he enters in, where he draws near to the poor and needy.  In contrast to your observation, he seems very much to reveal himself. 

Yet if the his life is any identification of his character, I will give him this: He is a God who suffers.  He is a God who suffers with us in the midst of all the world's suffering.  And although that does not dilute the potency of your question, I find the action both divinely and mysteriously appropriate.   

It's as if he very much appreciates the extremity and difficulty of our position. 

Sincerely, Eye-wink -Caspian


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Hey Caspian--Reepicheep

Hey Caspian--Reepicheep here:

First of all, I apologize for my fellow athiest's disdain for CS Lewis.  They tend to take things too seriously.  CS Lewis and Tolkien were the literary equivalent of Tom Cruise in their day, and we all heard Mr. Cruise's opinions on postpartum depression.  And, really...I can't believe that raised the uproar it did.  I mean...who really gives a shit what the Cruise thinks?  About anything?  Ditto CS Lewis.  He may have had delusions of adequacy in the thinking department, but he's no one to be taken seriously.  On the other hand, he wrote some wonderful childrens books.  He distilled about all of the ethical dimensions of christianity into a different, admittedly fictional myth, and then shared it with ten-year-olds, the proper age for moralistic myths.  CS was alright in my book.