C.S. I love you

Palin is still talking about how much she loves C. S. Lewis:

I’m reading the best book right now — Dean Karnazes’s book about being an ultra-marathoner. I read a lot of C.S. Lewis when I want some divine inspiration…I read Newsmax and The Wall Street Journal. I read all of our local papers of course in Alaska because that’s where my heart is.

What is up with this? Chunky Bobo is always talking about C. S. Lewis too. Is he the new Edmund Burke?

I read a bunch of C. S. Lewis books when I was a kid and I don’t see what makes them so conservative, aside from all the Jeebus stuff.

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303 replies
  1. 1
    Benjamin Cisco says:

    It’s all about getting Snowbilly Barbie more pixels.
    __
    Which, not for nothing, includes this post.
    __
    And my response to it.
    __
    Oops.

  2. 2
    eemom says:

    all this effort, just to prove that she actually does know how to read.

  3. 3
    calling all toasters says:

    She likes the ‘Narnia’ movies because she wants to shoot all the cute little critters.

  4. 4
    DougJ says:

    @Benjamin Cisco:

    I’m for her getting more pixels, I want her to be the Republican nominee. I don’t post about her much because she bores and annoys me, but I think that it is in our nation’s best interests to help her become the Republican nominee.

  5. 5

    Nothing like reading children’s books for intellectual stimulation. I’m thinking of rereading the Nancy Drew series to help me decide if I want to go into law enforcement.

  6. 6
    zmulls says:

    The Narnia books were always perfectly wonderful books to read to children. You didn’t need to know that they were Christian allegories.

    However, it is very important to some people to make sure you know that these books are CHRISTIAN ALLEGORIES, not just kids books.

    When Disney started making the movies, there was a mini-rumbling about whether or not they were going to emphasize, or de-emphasize, or ignore the Christian elements of the series.

    It’s a dog-whistle. Just like the war on Christmas or the Dred Scott decision. Saying “C.S. Lewis” means “I am a good Christian and understand that the Narnia books are Christian and that Lewis wrote lots more Christian work than the Narnia books and I know that ‘C.S.’ really stands for ‘Christian Stuff’ “

  7. 7
    Froley says:

    So two years later she can finally answer Katie Couric’s question.

  8. 8
    NobodySpecial says:

    It’s the Jeebus stuff, of course, because Jeebus is ™ and © of Republican Assholes, Inc.

  9. 9
    BGinCHI says:

    C.S. Lewis never, ever dreamed of speaking truth to power, and Palin can relate.

  10. 10
    aimai says:

    She doesn’t mean Narnia, she means things like “The Screwtape Letters” and his other admonitions to Christians who Aren’t Christian Enough. The thing about Lewis–and I last read his faux sci fi and his theology a long time ago–is that he had a tendency to insist on the awful incomprehensibility of god and his works. It was almost enough to say that you had an opinion about, say, Job or Abraham’s near murder of Isaac for Lewis to rush in and insist that it was all too ineffable for mere humans and STFU already. At least that’s the way I remember it.

    He was also very annoyed with liberals, anarchists, intellectuals and people associated with the modern schools movement, anti-child abuse movements, vegetarianism, spiritualism etc… All things that people like Palin still think are ways the devil tempts you to fall–although CS was way to cerebral and modernist to have been able to stomach the kind of bible thumping, demonic possession goggling, Christianity of Palin and her crew. His jaw would have fallen so far through the floor at the thought of her witch finding/demon hunting friends that he would have had to search for it in the basement.

    If there is a hell for a Christian Theologian its being read by the kind of morons he would have shuddered to meet, socially.

    aimai

  11. 11
    Marmot says:

    What is up with this? Chunky Bobo is always talking about C. S. Lewis too. Is he the new Edmund Burke?

    I read a bunch of C. S. Lewis books when I was a kid and I don’t see what makes them so conservative, aside from all the Jeebus stuff.

    I’m always going on about this, but it’s the tribalism. Were it not for all of CS Lewis’s God and Jesus talk, conservatives would have no standard by which to count him among their ranks. They can’t simply judge his work on its arguments or other merits, because they know they’ve been “tricked” by liberals before.

    It’s the same reason conservatives believed for years that the Wall Street Journal’s news pages were superior to those of the NY Times — they were good, but of approximately the same caliber. But the editorial pages were conservative, so the whole package is trustworthy. (I dunno what’s happened to the news pages since Murdoch took over.)

  12. 12
    Benjamin Cisco says:

    @DougJ: Point taken. I definitely feel ya on the bored/annoyed part though; I can hit the remote/turn the page/click away like nobody’s business.
    __
    Anywhere but here. Go figure.

  13. 13
    DougJ says:

    @aimai:

    I read Screwtape too. Thinking back, I can see how it is conservative.

    Bear in mind, when I was a kid and going to church, I assumed that Jesus wanted us to be soshulists who gave all our money away and that when people talked about not being Christian enough that was what they meant. (I still think that if you read the New Testament, it is saying pretty clearly that we should be soshulists who give all our money away, but I now know that people who call themselves Christians don’t usually agree with this.)

  14. 14
    fasteddie9318 says:

    She’s a liar; she’s been watching the movies.

    On the other hand, I heard that she gave a lot of thought and reflection on the tome “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” as a blueprint for man’s relationship with nature.

  15. 15
    Culture of Truth says:

    So she finally thought of an answer to Katie Couric’s question?

  16. 16
    SBJules says:

    Quote for John from Jerry Crow in the L.A. Times sports section this morning:

    “How come Troy Polamalu, essential to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ success is never mentioned as an MVP candidate?”

  17. 17
    Marmot says:

    @Froley: Heh. That too.

  18. 18
    scav says:

    We could always start a rumor that she’s maybe paid to do it because the last one was such a flop and they’re worried about the next one. Little Astroturfing or seeding the market might bring in a little money for the Snowgrifter.

  19. 19
    Raenelle says:

    C. S. Lewis doesn’t have a moral problem with war. He justifies war by saying it’s good for our character, enables us to develop the virtue of courage, which, if I remember correctly, he believes is the primary virtue.

    Plus, the Jeebus stuff; allows the Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out crazies feel like good people because they believe in Jeebus. Morality 1.0 for dummies.

  20. 20
    Rhoda says:

    She should’ve gone for Madeleine L’engle, don’t be obvious Sarah. We all know Dawn Treader is coming out.

  21. 21
    J.W. Hamner says:

    Well, Susan gets “left behind” at the end because she wears lipstick and nylons (See “The Problem of Susan” by Neil Gaiman)… that’s pretty conservative.

  22. 22
    Crazy Kale Lady says:

    Phew. I immediately thought that this was your public, coming out party proclamation of love for Corner Stone, explaining your recent silence somehow.

  23. 23
    alex says:

    This is in the same neighbor hood of that ridiculous “50 best conservative rock songs” from a few years back. Conservative opinion-makers see everything through the prism of politics, so of course CS Lewis, whose work is mostly Christian apologetics and Jesusy kids fantasy, becomes all about Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater and Edmund Burke and everything Republicans find holy.

    Naturally occurring conservative movement culture is incredibly boring and didactic and ideological, so the available tools to combat that are to bastardize existing culture (to Jesusify grunge music, for example) or claim as their own anything that seems remotely sympathetic (South Park Republicans!). This is the latter.

  24. 24
    chadwig says:

    They bring up C.S. Lewis because he’s always been a go-to source of justification for their supernatural beliefs.

    His “proof” for Jesus’ divinity was something like, “well, he was either the son of God or a lunatic”–a classic false choice that syncs up perfectly with the simplistic black/white with us/against us mentality that is foundational in the Wingnut Alternate Universe.

  25. 25
    Corner Stone says:

    @Crazy Kale Lady: I have to admit, it did make my heart flutter for a moment or two.

  26. 26

    To her, Noah’s Arc is a story about a bunch of future stuffed trophies on her wall and future rugs.

  27. 27
    catclub says:

    I read somewhere that C S Lewis’s heaven (and God) matches up just a little bit too closely with exactly what an Englishman would expect (hope) them to be. Convenient, that.

    The sumptuous banquets of bangers and mash, with treacle tart for dessert…

    Which is wonderful if you happen to be an Englishman, but
    not so great if you have a different cultural inheritance.

  28. 28
    Culture of Truth says:

    Turkish delight is tempting and dangerous and Turkey is muslim, so……

  29. 29
    de stijl says:

    Mean girls don’t read – except for the Burn Book when they’re feeling vaguely threatened.

    My guess is that McCain didn’t even pick the alpha mean girl. Ms. Palin always reminds me of a beta mean girl. Not the one who is still trying to make “fetch” happen, but the other, dumber one who would sell her soul to be the alpha mean girl’s favorite.

    I guess that makes Bill Kristol the alpha mean girl.

  30. 30
    WereBear says:

    @alex: Naturally occurring conservative movement culture is incredibly boring and didactic and ideological

    And everything else is Not Allowed.

  31. 31
    Tom Hilton says:

    I don’t see what makes them so conservative, aside from all the Jeebus stuff.

    Seriously? Have you forgotten, for example, the nasty little digs at liberal parenting in Voyage of the Dawn Treader?

    There’s also the reactionary sexual politics–e.g., Susan is lost to Narnia (and goodness and puppies and all that) when she becomes a sexual being. And the whole damn thing is fundamentally pro-monarchy, which is pretty damn conservative.

    Edit: which is not to say Lewis lines up politically with today’s Republicans; it was a different country and a different world. But on the terms of his own time, Lewis was really a reactionary asshole.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    soonergrunt says:

    @Froley: It took her that long to frame the answer.

  34. 34
    ruemara says:

    I love C. S. Lewis even as an adult, all I can think is this lady reads the picture book version, because she couldn’t find Narnia if Aslan ate her and shat her on it’s shores. Palin’s just showing her Official Jesus Bunny™ creds to the faithful who’ve all heard they should read C. S. Lewis since he’s Gawd’s Science Fiction Author, but fell asleep half an hour into the first movie.

  35. 35
    mds says:

    “Which C.S. Lewis work is your current favorite, Ms. Palin, and why?”

    If she came up with The Great Divorce and a plausible gloss of its content, I’d vote for her myself. Hell, if she demonstrated she’s grappled with A Grief Observed and how it relates to The Problem of Pain, I’d at least buy a bumper sticker. From Wikipedia:

    Lewis exhibits doubt and asks fundamental questions of faith throughout [A Grief Observed]. Because of his candid account of his grief and the doubts he voices, some of his admirers found it troubling. They were disinclined to believe that this Christian writer that they had grown to know and love could be so close to despair.

    For that matter, I wish they’d hurry up and get to the movie version of The Last Battle, so that all the semiliterate Left Behind humpers can be shocked by how Lewis wasn’t a Rapture kook premillenial dispensationalist. Well, except they’ll just blame Hollywood.

  36. 36
    Culture of Truth says:

    Indeed C.S. Lewis’ “How To Spackle a Bathroom” is a lost classic.

  37. 37
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Is he the new Edmund Burke?

    I think it’s because the later Narnia books use the word “darkies” to describe the Arab-caricatures.

    ETA: Lewis must be OK if Jack T. Chick backed off the exhortation to burn Lewis’ books.

  38. 38
    Jack says:

    Seconding Aimai. CS Lewis is stock material for “Mere Christianity” reductionists, and for the sort of Baptists who can also stomach Chesterton in spite of his Catholicism.

    Let’s not forget that Anschutz – a dominionist – owns Walden Media (the company producing the movies) for a reason.

  39. 39
    Corey says:

    Lewis is pretty small-c conservative, in the pastoral, English, “let’s keep to our traditions” way (kind of like Burke for that matter).

    But her continued claims to reading him are more important as a dog whistle, as in “I’m an in-tel-ect-shu-al conservative”.

  40. 40
    IrishGirl says:

    Bizarre in that I’m reading Lewis’ Screwtape Letters now. I think she is probably referring to Lewis’ theology and not the Narnia series. And my impression of his theology matches pretty well with what others here have said….he’s a Christian snob, feeling that others don’t do Christianity near as well as he does. However, I doubt that Palin understood one word in 100. Also, too, this particular book is very cynical and satirical, being from the perspective of a demon, so of course, Palin would like it. She and Screwtape share the same smirk.

  41. 41
    Ross Hershberger says:

    @DougJ:

    Absolutely. Palin for Pres 2012. I don’t think it will happen but if the Dems fail their way through the next 23 months the best hope is to have a bigger Fail waiting for them on the other end.

  42. 42
    Martin says:

    All of America’s problems could be solved if we just tapped that unutilized marketplace found in the wardrobe. Liberals are so fucking stupid to constantly ignore that.

    CS Lewis isn’t fiction. It’s a policy roadmap.

  43. 43
    WyldPirate says:

    She reads CS Lewis, huh?

    fuck that. I don’t believe she reads anything but her own press clippings and fan mail.

    She’s a fake who MoDo busts as such here:

    The doomed caribou gazed calmly across the Alaska tundra at Caribou Barbie.

    The female caribou could easily have escaped, since it took the Wasilla huntress six shots, two rifles and some help from her dad to bag her prey. (Giving credence to Levi Johnston’s contention that she isn’t all that proficient with guns.)

    But, inexplicably, the caribou just waited to get gunned down by Sarah Palin, who came across less like a pioneer woman than Private Benjamin with her camo, her French manicured nails, her cap that says (in pink) Girls And Guns, her 72-year-old father and her TLC reality show crew.

    Palin is a modern P.T. Barnum taking advantage of the fact that that “there is a sucker born every minute”. And the rubes are making here rich.

  44. 44
    Marty says:

    @Froley:

    Yeah, well she took six shots at that caribou. So let her have a couple (or three) shots at this question.

  45. 45
    scav says:

    But, to be a little fair, growing out of magic stuff is almost bog standard in the literature. Mary Poppins has the baby growing out of understanding birds.

  46. 46
    Original Lee says:

    It’s all about “Dawn Treader” coming out in the theaters.

    Many evangelicals don’t like the Narnia series, especially “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” because of the White Witch (cf. Witch of Endor in the Bible). The Narnia series is a favorite of others because the books draw a firm line between those who Get It about Aslan and those who are too secular to believe in Aslan. However, the Dawn Treader book is probably the “safest” for evangelicals to promote because of the storyline with Eustace. Eustace and his parents are depicted in the first part of the book as almost stereotypical dirty intellectual sneering libruls. But Eustace is Saved in the book and becomes a better person (which his parents never understand, BTW). Viewed through a certain lens, the Dawn Treader is a Tea Party book.

    Which has now ruined one of my favorite Narnia books for me. Damn you, Sarah Palin.

  47. 47
    MAJeff says:

    His “proof” for Jesus’ divinity was something like, “well, he was either the son of God or a lunatic”—a classic false choice that syncs up perfectly with the simplistic black/white with us/against us mentality that is foundational in the Wingnut Alternate Universe.

    Lunatic, Liar, or Lord.

    I’ve yet to see why the first is to be excluded. It’s possible to say, “be nice to each other” while simultaneously having batshit delusions of grandeur.

  48. 48
    catclub says:

    Tolkien, who was in CS Lewis’s crowd, had two passages which still resonate for me.
    1) ‘The elves are tied to earth (Arda) and are immortal, men have lives and die and leave the earth, we do not really know why but must take that as a gift rather than the curse that Sauron wants to convince men that it is.’ (my memory)

    and 2) ‘Gollum may deserve death, but many deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then perhaps be less hasty in judging what Gollum deserves ( and deciding who should execute that judgement.)’

    Theology through fantasy novels.
    Don’t get me started on Douglas Adams

  49. 49
    Alex S. says:

    She mentioned Lewis because she had to. There is no other choice.

  50. 50
    Jack says:

    Anyway, the sort of people who find Lewis inspirational tend to love the hell out of the racist, contemptible, fecal hound of bad hack English (and really good friend and cohort of Lewis), Tolkien, so…

  51. 51
    chopper says:

    @catclub:

    or tastebuds. jesus, could you imagine if the cooks in heaven were all english?

  52. 52
    PS says:

    @mds at 35: Thank you. Lewis was a Christian and a conservative but could also be a subtle thinker. Personally, I greatly respect “The Abolition of Man.” And if Ms P meets your challenge, I’ll eat at least one of my hats.

  53. 53
    The Moar You Know says:

    Well, now we finally know what she reads, three years later.

    What is up with this? Chunky Bobo is always talking about C. S. Lewis too. Is he the new Edmund Burke?

    He’s the new illiteracy test. That these people cite him is proof that they haven’t read a word he’s written.

  54. 54
    Alex Scott says:

    I kind of see C.S. Lewis as conservative, but more in the stodgy Oxford Anglican way than the American fundamentalist way. Based on my reading of The Great Divorce, the guy was just a few steps removed from a universalist (he admired George MacDonald, who was). He didn’t believe in anything like a Premillennial Rapture. And he always seemed willing to reconcile faith and reason in a way Palin just isn’t.

    So yeah, I don’t get it, either, other than Lewis being relatively well-known. If they really wanted Christian cred with me, they’d cite G.K. Chesterton or Thomas Merton. But then, something tells me they wouldn’t find too much in common with Merton.

  55. 55
    demimondian says:

    As a long-time CS fan — who read the rest of his books, too — yes, he was a social reactionary. Consider the character of “Fairy Hardcastle” in _That Hideous Strength_ if you want a particularly reactionary read.

    The only things which save him, in my mind, are (a) the fact that his thinking shifted dramatically when he wrote _Shadowlands_, and (b) no matter how bad Clive Staples Lweis was, John Ronald Rueld Tolkien made him look like a total piker. Except for his abusive and abrasive Catholicism, Tolkien *would* have been at home with Palin’s acolyte.

  56. 56
    Sasha says:

    Coopting an artist or writer purposes is nothing new, especially when he’s dead and can’t tell off the fools doing so.

    I wish I could remember the exact quote, but one thing that CS Lewis said that I’ve always appreciated was his comment that between a person who sees the Devil everywhere and the one that one who sees the Devil nowhere, the former is much more dangerous . . .

  57. 57
    Nellcote says:

    Someone admits to reading Newsmax? ewwww

    Is anyone buying LaPalin’s claim that sarahpac got hacked by wikileaks supporters?

  58. 58
    Alex S. says:

    A little off-topic: Recently I watched ‘The Kids Are All Right’ and I thought that this would be a really conserative movie, in a sane world.

  59. 59
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I haven’t read C. S. Lewis but I have read the Dean Karnazes book, when I started running seriously. Its OK, hardly a great book.
    Since I is a kitteh I read the Lolcat bible.

  60. 60
    Jack says:

    @Corey:

    Lewis’ Christian apologism was written for non-intellectuals and lay people. That’s his appeal. I don’t think mentioning Lewis signals “intellectual conservative.” I think it indicates the opposite.

    Lewis is enduring because he ignores the complexity of scholastic arguments. I don’t know if he borrows from Kierkegaard (who was not simple) or Bonhoeffer, but it’s hard to read Lewis without understanding his works as a reply to and attempted “correction” of both.

  61. 61
    Paul in KY says:

    @aimai: JRR Tolkien thought Lewis stole alot of stuff from him (as Mr. Tolkien would read passages of work-in-progress LOTR & The Silmarillion to him & other staff at Oxford).

    He was quite pissed about it (in that genteel English way).

  62. 62
    aimai says:

    @MAJeff:

    Well, I always assumed the whole “lunatic or lord” argument was a sort of passive agressive “don’t you dare hurt my feelings!” sort of argument. I mean, its not really a show stopper to me. I’m happy to say that someone who says they are the son of god is, quite probably, delusional. So? But Lewis and those who have repeated that line since seem to feel that since all of that great theology and art came out of it you can’t attribute it to a mistake at the beginning. That’s one of the things that makes The Life of Brian such a peerless event–because after you see just how easily the Sermon on the Mount gets telephoned to death (blessed are the cheesemakers!) the notion that current art/philosophy/history had to have a true foundation in some fact becomes absurd.

    aimai

  63. 63
    Ross Hershberger says:

    If she wanted to impress Conservatives she would have cited Buckley’s book about sailing across the Atlantic. It’s an adventure story and a really good read. And, of course, Buckley.

  64. 64
    Dave says:

    FWIW…Lewis himself never saw the Narnia stories as allegorical.

  65. 65
    Pangloss says:

    It apparently took her 2 1/2 years to come up with the answer to a simple Katie Couric question.

  66. 66
    Svensker says:

    @Jack: \

    Yo, wut? If you’re going to call older writers “racists”, then you’re going to have to not read anything except what is currently current. Times change, cultures change, sensitivities change.

    The fundies I know love the Narnia series, and then the Christian apologist stuff but especially Mere Christianity. They tend to ignore the Perelandra trilogy, because surely Dick Cheney and Our Corporate Overlords are portrayed too well therein.

  67. 67
    shortstop says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: You could do worse than drive around in a red roadster wearing smart frocks with Ned Nickerson as your beau, you know.

  68. 68
    Steve says:

    Until this post, I always thought C.S. Lewis was female.

  69. 69
    Stillwater says:

    @DougJ: I want her to be the Republican nominee.

    Hell, I wouldn’t mind having her as President. I mean she couldn’t be worse than Obama. That guy is nothing more than a corporate shill anyway. And a racist.

    He fucking sold us out.

  70. 70
    amk says:

    Wasn’t the tundra twit supposed in N. Korea today to build up her forex street cred ?

  71. 71
    Paul in KY says:

    @alex: Best conservative rock song is ‘Hell’s Bells’ by AC/DC (not that they wrote it as a conservative anthem).

    ‘If good’s on the left, then I’m sticking to the right’. and ‘If you’re into evil, you’re a friend of mine’.

  72. 72
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Paul in KY: I know what you mean, I have been reading Keynes’s General Theory and his papers on Uncertainty. When he has a mild disagreement with someone he calls them Dr So and So if he is really bringing out the knives, then it is Prof. So and So.

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Original Lee:

    I was re-reading some of the Narnia books and I realized what Lewis was sneering at because he makes a reference to Eustace’s parents starting to wear magic underwear (though I can’t remember if he used that exact phrase) thanks to their new religion.

    Apparently Mormonism was the Scientology of its day, or at least in the day that Lewis was writing.

    There are some good things in the Narnia books. There are also some really appalling things. In a way, I think they helped me be less of a black and white thinker, though I don’t think Lewis planned that at all.

  74. 74
    Ross Hershberger says:

    @Stillwater:

    Get help. Now.

  75. 75
    Bella Q says:

    @Nellcote:

    Is anyone buying LaPalin’s claim that sarahpac got hacked by wikileaks supporters?

    I’m not, but those reports of hacking presented too good an opportunity to lie play the victim pretend that the world is out to get her to pass up.

  76. 76
    Dave says:

    For all the criticism he is taking here (not all of it unwarranted), his book A Grief Observed is, to me, an excellent book and I think his most honest book on faith and God.

  77. 77
    Corey says:

    @Jack: Compared to, say, Max Lucado and Tim LaHaye, CS Lewis is damn near Einstein.

  78. 78
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Ross Hershberger: I thought that was DougJ trolling us.

  79. 79
    toujoursdan says:

    But C. S. Lewis wasn’t a conservative. He was just a product of his era, which was 1940s-1950s Britain.

    But in UK post-War milieu he was quite a progressive, Church of England, tolerant, high churchy type. If he’d been alive today he would have been quite comfortable with women’s ordination and social equality, would have been pro-science and comfotable with gay people. He even made some pro-gay statements back in the 1940s when BOTH church AND secular mainstream psychiatry were calling us sinful and doing punitive things to us.

    At the time the “liar, lunatic and Lord” tripod was believed to be the only options Christians of that era had. Since then Biblical scholarship has progressed and most mainstream Christians believe that there are other options – like myth.

    I went to a right wing Christian university, and am a practising liberal gay Anglican/Episcopalian today. It was pretty obvious to me that the right-wing Christians who idolize him haven’t read his theological works: “Mere Christianity”, “Pilgrim’s Regress”, “the Great Divorce”, the “Letters to Malcolm”, etc. and actually paid attention to what he wrote.

    He wasn’t a Biblical literalist or fundamentalist. He believed a lot of doctrine that right-wing Christians would find objectionable, (i.e. he didn’t believe that only Christians were saved and believed that Genesis was mythic rather than factual.)

    He wasn’t a right-winger or a conservative. He isn’t an American evangelical. He was a 1940s-1950s, middle of the road member of the Church of England. He had deep religious faith and an approachable writing style, but he wasn’t what right-wingers want him to be.

  80. 80
    Stillwater says:

    No takers? I thought that was some pretty good bait, myself.

  81. 81
    Mike Goetz says:

    What really would have blown me away is if she had mentioned Charles Williams or Owen Barfield. Talk about the radical revaluation of values that would occur if she pulled those out.

    But no, just more stooge nonsense.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dave:

    IIRC (but I don’t have time to Google it), Lewis started re-thinking a lot of his conclusions after his wife died. Unfortunately, he died a few years after she did, so he didn’t really have time to write very much about it.

    I guess that would be one thing he would have in common with a modern American right-winger — he didn’t have a lot of empathy towards other people until something really bad happened to him.

  83. 83
    Scott de B. says:

    Anyway, the sort of people who find Lewis inspirational tend to love the hell out of the racist, contemptible, fecal hound of bad hack English (and really good friend and cohort of Lewis), Tolkien, so…

    Don’t you dare.

  84. 84
    Jack says:

    @Svensker:

    The old “that was then, this is now” excuse. Heh. Then was racist, eurocentric and racialist – and Tolkien (a booster of Franco) employs all the tropes. Dark, swarthy southrons can’t help but thrall out to the Dark Lord. Light skinned elves and horse lords stand between the dark hordes and the plucky white common folk of the Shire.

    Which doesn’t mean he sent money across the pond to the Klan, or couldn’t occasionally drum up some contempt for South Africa, but his works are rife with it, most especially the awful “Children of…”

  85. 85
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @shortstop: I loved Nancy Drew when I was growing up, I think I have probably read all of the Nancy Drew books.

  86. 86
    Jack says:

    @Scott de B.:

    Dared. Tolkien and Lewis have done more damage to Literature than a thousand thousand Franzens and Foers.

  87. 87
    Wrye says:

    He had a gift for the insightful aphorism, that C.S. Lewis.

    I suspect that, like the Bible, you can find many different things in Lewis, depending on what you’re looking for going in. At the end of the day, there’s a compassion in his conception of Aslan and belief which can immensely appealing. And people who lived through both world wars are entitled to a certain skepticism about the modern world and a yearning for the pastoral. If Hitler is dropping bombs on your country, then I think seeing war as noble, or at least unavoidable, is understandable. (Chamberlain would have meant a lot more in that context).

    HIs bad points were a product of his time, his good points endure. That his bad points are now in fashion with folks who are happy to dress up in a lionskin and exploit faith for money – well, that’s typical of our time, now isn’t it?

  88. 88
    Ross Hershberger says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    Just swatting the bait back into the boat.

  89. 89
    Dave says:

    @Mnemosyne: Maybe. I think I’d just go so far as to say that great loss can cause any of us to re-evaluate our lives and our opinions. The hope is we gain greater understanding as a result.

  90. 90
    Mike Goetz says:

    @Jack:

    And a Moody in a pear treeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  91. 91

    I say this as someone who does have a deep affection for Lewis’ fiction and non-fiction writings.

    But I suspect in Palin’s case, it’s a lot like the kid in college who keeps going on and on about Nietzsche, in a vain attempt to prove how smart and superior he is to the rest of us…

    This is just the conservative version of that.

  92. 92
    hildebrand says:

    If you can, find the audiobook version of The Screwtape Letters – read by John Cleese.

  93. 93
    RSA says:

    @demimondian:
    __

    Consider the character of “Fairy Hardcastle” in That Hideous Strength if you want a particularly reactionary read.

    My favorite of his science fantasy novels. It’s so over-the-top, so bad it’s… not good, but entertaining.

  94. 94
    Mike Goetz says:

    “Apes don’t read philosophy.”

    “Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.”

  95. 95
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy is ok, I am not particularly fond of the Two Towers. Speaking of epics, to my mind nothing comes close to the Mahabharat, for its complexity, scope and heroes with shades of grey.

  96. 96
    Ben JB says:

    Your

    aside from all the Jeebus stuff.

    reminds me of the “Besides that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” joke. Once you take out the Jesus stuff, what else is there to Lewis? Jesus is kind of his thing. Also, his Ransom trilogy is really some of the most awful anti-science science fiction books. And frankly, I think he always roots for the bully, which maybe is a British public school thing.

    In those ways, he seems to line up pretty well with Palin.

  97. 97
    gogol's wife says:

    @DougJ:

    Real ones do. Most of us don’t live up to that ideal, but it is still the ideal. (Needless to say, SP isn’t a real one.)

  98. 98
    Corner Stone says:

    @Stillwater: A little too much macho grande.

  99. 99
    mds says:

    @Steve:

    Until this post, I always thought C.S. Lewis was female.

    You’re thinking of C.S. Friedman, whose theological musings are slightly different.

  100. 100
    shortstop says:

    @Stillwater: You overplayed your hand with “racist.” You’d only get head nods on the right for that one.

  101. 101

    What is up with this?

    1- There’s a new Narnia movie coming out. She might be a paid shill for Walden Media, the Philip Anschutz-owned Christian film company which produces the series.

    2- CS Lewis is a Christian dog whistle. All of the evangelicals are big CS Lewis fans. If you want to prove your Fundie bonafides then saying you regularly read CS Lewis is a must (and NOT the Narnia books, we’re talking “Screwtape Letters” and “Mere Christianity” stuff).

    3- This entire quote sound to me like Palin has finally gotten around to answering Katie Couric’s infamous question. She’s about three years too late but, ya know, better late than never.

  102. 102
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @gogol’s wife

    It’s all these fake Christians co-opting the religion that have kept Christianity alive all these centuries, going back to the founding of the Catholic Church.

  103. 103
    Sasha says:

    @Svensker:

    Yo, wut? If you’re going to call older writers “racists”, then you’re going to have to not read anything except what is currently current. Times change, cultures change, sensitivities change.

    Tell me about it. I still have trouble wrapping my brain around the fact that in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls”, the protagonist’s beloved cat in named Nigger-Man.

  104. 104
    Ross Hershberger says:

    35 years ago I was in Youth For Christ. This relatively benign evangelical organization for high school students was really big into Lewis, but only Narnia and Mere Christianity. As an adult I read the space trilogy and it was a whole other deal.
    I’m betting Aslan is at the center of Palin’s Lewis scholarship.

  105. 105
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Is that really an established fact, that they are Mormons? There was a lot of teetotalism, vegetarianism, and modern “anti child abuse” school stuff going on which I don’t associate with Mormonism at all. I thought Lewis was parodying a typical bloomsbury kind of intellectual, elite, world view with the parents. The school they send Eustace to is co-ed, anti-bullying, progressive. Those things have never been associated with Mormonism–though I believe the Mormons were converting in England at the time. I always thought the “weird underwear” was some kind of modern, communistic, “healthy” underwear as opposed to corsets and girdles for the women.

    aimai

  106. 106
    miwome says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: Hey dude, don’t hate. Some of my favorite books of all time–and some of the best feminist literature I know–are kids’ or YA novels, yet I am not, in fact, an idiot! Trust.

  107. 107
    tweez says:

    @Paul in KY: He was “rather cross” with Lewis, bordering on being “put-out.”

  108. 108
    aimai says:

    @Jack:

    That’s false. The kind of people who love Lewis *hate* Tolkein because of the lack of god-bothering in his work. It is profoundly anti-religious and is seen as such on the far right.

    aimai

  109. 109
    artem1s says:

    don’t know about Caribou Barbie but when I was a teenager C.S. Lewis was a ‘safe’ SF/Fantasy writer that parents could point their kids toward. Better than letting them read all that sex stuff in Heinlein. And well, frankly Narnia was TLOTR-lite for those kids who couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to read a book who’s characters were libel to break out in verse at any moment.

    seems to me that the TP/conservative love of Lewis is more nostalgic than anything. something they can point to from their childhood to ‘prove’ things were better in the olden days before feminazis and homosexuals took over the world.

  110. 110
    Jack says:

    @mds:

    A significantly better writer than Lewis. One of the best currently publishing.

  111. 111
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Culture of Truth: FTW. Laughed so hard I began choking.

  112. 112
    lllphd says:

    funny she’d get “inspired” by lewis. had to read a good bit of his theology in college. he’s the guy who “logically” argued that it’s better to believe in god because the consequences of not believing can be hell, so…why not hedge your bets?

    what a marvelous – inspiring – (clarion) call to faith!

  113. 113
    JMS says:

    I loved the Narnia books when I was a kid, but I was a fantasy geek (still am, but hide it better now). It wasn’t until 7th grade when someone told me about the Christian stuff. I wasn’t impressed. But I do remember discovering from one of the more obscure books in the series that butter is a much more righteous condiment for bread than heathenish oil! (points if anyone can figure out what that reference is from)

    So, is it wrong to enjoy or find entertaining literature or movies of a certain period that are extremely politically incorrect in sections?

  114. 114
    Marmot says:

    @Mike Goetz:

    “Apes don’t read philosophy.”
    “Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.”

    I can’t believe it took ’till post 93 for this one. Awesome.

  115. 115
    Jack says:

    @aimai:

    Aimai,

    That’s not my experience in actual Christian circles, back when I still preached for real live Baptist and fundamentalist churches.

    And if you have any doubt about its modern relevance, I can only point you towards the truly heinous fetid bog of the Sean Hannity Discussion Forum.

  116. 116
    DMD says:

    Palin cites C.S. Lewis because he’s the “acceptable intellectual” for conservative evangelicals. That’s it. I doubt she’s read any of his work. Certainly not anything like A Grief Observed or Great Divorce.

    I too am intrigued as to how the movies will treat The Last Battle. He does afterall let a Telmarine into new Narnia because he did good in the service of his god, and therefore by extension the real Aslan/God. That’s damn near universalist compared to the Left Behind crowd. And Gaiman/J.K Rowling get Susan wrong… she was left out because she was interested in nothing but “nylons and lipstick and invitations.” Because she became shallow, not because she grew up.

  117. 117
    matoko_chan says:

    it is pretty weird, DougJ.
    i guess its becuz they think they can claim CS Lewis as intellectual elite street cred (our side haz smart ppl too!)
    but this is beyond bizarre.
    I honestly think the right has gone bug-fuckin-nutz. Here is Andrew Stuttaford from the Secular Right cross posting at NRO (goggle it if you want– i dont link NRO) in a post called Aslan Slandered.

    Liam Neeson has caused controversy by suggesting that Aslan, the Christlike character in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, could represent the prophet Mohammed or Buddha. The actor who voices the lion in the film adaptations of the books has angered some fans of the stories, who claim he is distorting Lewis’s intentions to be “politically correct”.
    Aslan the lion features in all seven Narnia books, guiding children away from evil and harm and encouraging them to do good. Lewis was clear that the Aslan was based on Christ, and once wrote of the character: “He is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question: “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia?”.” In the climax of the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan sacrifices his life to save Narnia, before rising from the dead, a plot which is widely believed to represent the crucifixion and the resurrection.
    But ahead of the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third Narnia book to be made into a film, next week, Neeson said: “Aslan symbolises a Christlike figure, but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.
    “That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids – that’s what he means for me.”

    Stuttaford sneers–

    How very ecumenical of Mr. Neeson. And how very saccharine: “A mentor figure for kids”. Good grief.

    Here is C.S. Lewis himself in “The Last Battle”.
    At the end of The Last Battle, Aslan walks with the children among the former combatants, and they meet with a soldier of Tash.

    “Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.
    But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome.
    But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.
    He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.
    Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one?
    The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.
    Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.
    Dost thou understand, Child?
    I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.
    Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou shouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”

    It seems to me that Liam Neeson as the voice of the Lion gets CS Lewis exactly right, and Stuttaford gets Lewis exactly wrong.
    IMHO, the right has wholly become the servents of Tash.

  118. 118
    NonyNony says:

    @aimai:

    Well, I always assumed the whole “lunatic or lord” argument was a sort of passive agressive “don’t you dare hurt my feelings!” sort of argument. I mean, its not really a show stopper to me. I’m happy to say that someone who says they are the son of god is, quite probably, delusional.

    And Lewis leaves out a possibility anyway – “Legend”. His assumption is that the Gospel writers are as pure as Jesus was supposed to have been and wouldn’t have made stuff up or put words into Jesus’s mouth just to promote their own theological preferences. Which runs counter to all of recorded human history on how people act when they’re in religious turf wars, but there you go.

    Since the words we have aren’t supposed to have been written down by Jesus anyway, his entire argument is moot. It’s a good argument for an Islam apologist (though non-Muslims will just say “so Mohammed was a liar then”) or for a Mormon apologist (though non-Mormons will just say “so Joseph Smith was a liar then”), but it’s a particularly lousy argument for a Christian apologist.

  119. 119
    geg6 says:

    It’s all about how the Christianists think C.S. Lewis was some sort of evangelical saint who wrote mind control books for their little Christianists-in-the-making. The Narnia books are some of the few books they approve of their children reading because it’s all an allegory about how awesome god is and Jeebus is a lion and all Christianist children should be warriors for Lion Jeebus.

    Nevermind that C.S. Lewis was your conventional British Anglican upper class intellectual who, if taken out of his historical context of early-20th century England, would be horrified by Caribou Barbie in pretty much every way.

  120. 120
    ed says:

    Snowflake Snooki’s an even bigger big fan of C. S. Lewis, Jr.:

    American Pride!

    Don’t Mess Around with God’s America You Big Dumb Ape!

  121. 121
    aimai says:

    @DMD:

    I don’t agree. That Susan thing struck me as horrific from the get go, when I was a pre-teen girl and again, later when I read the books to my children. Susan’s triviality is totally in keeping with what society wanted from girls in those days–to grow up, to become interested in boys, to get married. The notion that she doesn’t go back to Narnia because she grows up isn’t the problem. That goes back to Peter Pan, for goodness’ sake, the notion that adults can’t and don’t perceive what children perceive. But she doesn’t even make it into heaven. That’s pretty harsh.

    aimai

  122. 122
    Lurker says:

    @Dave:

    For all the criticism he is taking here (not all of it unwarranted), his book A Grief Observed is, to me, an excellent book and I think his most honest book on faith and God.

    I had the opportunity to read that one last year. I enjoyed the Narnia books as a kid, but the ideas and depth of emotion in A Grief Observed blew me away. At one point, a bereaved C.S. Lewis questions if a loving, all-powerful God might be like a surgeon, deliberately inflicting pain and suffering on us out of love and concern for our own good. The book goes into Paingod territory.

  123. 123
    matoko_chan says:

    @aimai: would you kindly check out my comment above. ^^
    i dont think you are quite being fair to the Bishop.
    as a kid i loved the narnia books and the perelandra trilogy, which is quite pro-environment.
    i think xians (like the apes cited above) dont get lewis atall.
    :)

  124. 124
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jack: I forgive you (for the Tolkien slur) as you know not what you write.

  125. 125
    sukabi says:

    she hasn’t read a thing, she’s just practicing lines for her next “gottcha” interview. she is preparing to run for president, you know.

  126. 126
    Seanly says:

    I’m a liberal atheist engineer and I love the “the silent planet” trilogy by Lewis. Especially “That Hideous Strength”. May be a lot of thinly veiled Jesusy stuff mixed with kinda ridiculous villians, but I love it.

    (I mention being an engineer as the main group of villians in the book are men of science.)

  127. 127
    matoko_chan says:

    @aimai: did you ever read Forever Amber?
    lol.
    you cannot disconnect great literature from the spacetime slice it was written in.
    except the uncreated revealed Qur’an of course.
    :)

  128. 128
    Paul in KY says:

    @tweez: See what I mean? He was pissed!

  129. 129
    Dave says:

    @matoko_chan:

    This. I also find it interesting that The Last Battle was written after Lewis met Gresham. I think he rethought a lot of things after she came into his life.

  130. 130
    Ross Hershberger says:

    Way farther out on the Christian fringe, Fred (Westboro) Phelps will attempt to picket Liz Edwards’ funeral.
    Good. Maybe this time the shitstorm of anger will finally bury that nut.

  131. 131
    ruemara says:

    @toujoursdan:

    pretty much. I’m amazed at the level of vitriol directed at him and Tolkien. Seriously, folks, if he’s a bigot and a narrow minded anti-whatever, I would really have to ask what edition you were reading. Susan didn’t fall out of favor because she became sexualized, she stoppped believing because she “grew up” and felt that becoming an adult meant tossing over things other people would not understand or believe. And Eustace was horrible, not sure where he or his parents are liberals.

  132. 132
    Dave says:

    @Lurker: Yeah. It’s powerful stuff. And I think it’s a more honest example of what Christianity is supposed to be like. I think the questioning, the intellectual journey…it’s a very human experience and I think it allows for a more honest and open acceptance of what faith is supposed to be.

  133. 133
    chopper says:

    @Southern Beale:

    2- CS Lewis is a Christian dog whistle. All of the evangelicals are big CS Lewis fans. If you want to prove your Fundie bonafides then saying you regularly read CS Lewis is a must (and NOT the Narnia books, we’re talking “Screwtape Letters” and “Mere Christianity” stuff).

    problem is, a dog whistle is supposed to only be heard by a certain crowd. sure, evangelicals hear her say she’s reading a lot of lewis and think yeah, she’s talking about our shit. she’s one of us. the rest of america hears it and goes WTF, she’s reading the lion the witch and the wardrobe? what is she, 12?

  134. 134
    ruemara says:

    @aimai: She did. Re-read the last battle. She’s there, at the end.

  135. 135
    Jose Padilla says:

    She needed somebody who was both a Christian and an intellectual. Who was she going to say? Reinhold Neibuhr? The funny thing is that Lewis was a high-church Anglican and as far from modern American Evangalicals as you could get. I think he even believed in Purgatory.

  136. 136
    chopper says:

    @artem1s:

    this is true. only the kids from the hardest-core xtian families i knew were kept away from the narnia books (oh noes! magic!).

  137. 137
    rickstersherpa says:

    First, I admit my bias, that I have enjoyed reading Lewis for year and I find his life interesting. Needless to say, he was a complicated man who wrote complicated books. And his rejection of modern science was a huge mental error.

    But, as he was constantly at pains to point out, he was a professor of English Literature, not a theologian and his books were literary essays, not serious Theology. And though most Englishmen, born in the 1890s and 1900s were rather insular and racist, and he and Tolkein certainly have those faults, Lewis, being more conscious of the sin I think worked to transcend it. Lewis and Tolkein were estranged the last few years of Lewis’s life over his relationship and eventual marriage to Joy Davidman Grisham, who was about everything Tolkein despised in the modern world (a Jew, a former communist, an emancipated educated woman, and a American). That he was not a Bibical literalist is clear in both Mere Christianity and “Reflections on the Psalms.”

    As far as Lewis’s view of the present Christian Right, who knows. That he was not a right-winger in his own day appears in most accounts of the Inklings conversations and his own talks. Some of his comments would be rather pointedly uncomfortable for our fellow citizens in the Republican Party who are certain of the rightness of their positions.

    ” C.S. Lewis on politics. Source: Lewis 1966:81.

    I am a democrat… I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretentions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent.

    But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt.

    C.S. Lewis on politics. Source: Lewis 1966:81-83.

    A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme – whose highest real claim is to reasonable prudence – the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication

    C.S. Lewis on politics. Source: Lewis 1966:82.

    “Being a democrat, I am opposed to all very drastic and sudden changes of society (in whatever direction) because they never in fact take place except by a particular technique.

    That technique involves the seizure of power by a small, highly disciplined group of people; the terror and secret police follow, it would seem, automatically. I do not think any group good enough to have such power. They are men of like passions with ourselves. The secrecy and discipline of their organisation will have already inflamed in them that passion for the inner ring which I think at least as corrupting as avarice; and their high ideological pretensions will have lent all their passions the dangerous prestige of the Cause. Hence, in whatever direction the change is made, it is for me damned by its modus operandi. The worst of all public dangers is the committee of public safety. The character in ‘That hideous strength’ whom the Professor never mentions is Miss Hardcastle, the chief of the secret police. She is the common factor in all revolutions; and, as she says, you won’t get anyone to do her job well unless they get some kick out of it.”

  138. 138
    Bella Q says:

    @Jose Padilla:

    The funny thing is that Lewis was a high-church Anglican and as far from modern American Evangalicals as you could get.

    Sure, but you’d have to know more about him than that his name is a fundie dog whistle to understand that. Which leaves Snowbilly Snooki out.

  139. 139
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    A few years ago, a conservative, religious friend talked me into reading “Mere Christianity” and discussing it over drinks (lots of drinks, I mean, lots of drinks). He thought I might find it persuasive. Aside from the Lord, Liar, Lunatic issue, I had problems with what I perceived as bootstrapping. Multiple groups of people developed similar rules of right and wrong…. This must show that these rules were given to man by a higher power. I pointed out that evolution, well, trial and error, was (at least) as good an explanation. Lewis wrote well, but I did not find him to be persuasive. After the drunken C. S. Lewis discussions, I, in the interests of equal time, called for and got the reading and discussion of “The Myth of Sisyphus.”

  140. 140
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    Is that really an established fact, that they are Mormons?

    I can’t seem to find it online, but that was my impression. Mormons are teetotalers, too, so that fits in.

    But it’s not like he was portraying Eustace’s parents as deeply religious people or something. If you updated it to today, he’d say they were Scientologists, or Buddhists, or whatever the currently fashionable religion is with pseudo-intellectuals. I think Lewis was emphasizing that they jumped around between a lot of fad religions instead of sticking with the One True.

    Regarding Susan, her punishment for being shallow and liking boys and nylons is even worse than that: ALL of her family and friends die in a single, horrific train accident, which creeped me out way more than the supposed reason she was left out.

  141. 141
    demimondian says:

    @aimai: Actually, it’s not a fair read.

    Susan doesn’t just “grow up” — she also becomes very shallow. I don’t remember the exact quotation any more, but her failure isn’t sexualization alone, but rather a trivialized, cowardly sexualization, built around a desire to be conventionally pretty and socially acceptable, not to mention eternally young. It’s a pretty apt dig at youth culture, frankly.

  142. 142
    mds says:

    @aimai:

    But she doesn’t even make it into heaven. That’s pretty harsh.

    Well, I hate to nitpick [NB: This is a lie], but even though ruemara is incorrect about Susan being around at the end of The Last Battle, all that’s established is that she doesn’t make it into heaven then. Because she was no longer part of the Friends of Narnia get-together, she wasn’t along when everyone else was killed in a railway crash. The End Times portrayed were Narnia’s End Times; the people from our world were only there because they were dead. So it’s not like Susan was inevitably consigned to the outer darkness; she merely had her family killed off. Which is where Gaiman’s “The Problem of Susan” takes over.

  143. 143
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @NonyNony:

    It’s a good argument for an Islam apologist (though non-Muslims will just say “so Mohammed was a liar then”)

    There’s also enough wiggle room around the authenticity of the Quran for the same argument about Christ (“other people wrote what he’s supposed to have said”) to possibly apply to Muhammad. And other than the Quran, the biographies of Muhammad’s life and the hadith records of his own teachings are all after the fact just like the Gospels and Paul’s letters.

  144. 144
    ruemara says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Dude, they all died in the crash. It wasn’t punishment.

  145. 145
    Julia Grey says:

    he’s the guy who “logically” argued that it’s better to believe in god because the consequences of not believing can be hell, so…why not hedge your bets?
    what a marvelous – inspiring – (clarion) call to faith!

    I thought that was PASCAL’S wager?

  146. 146
    Ross Hershberger says:

    @ DougJ;

    Thank you for giving us something inconsequential to argue about. This is a big relief after, well you know…

  147. 147
    Janus Daniels says:

    C. S. Lewis wrote some excellent and neglected books. “Till We Have Faces” easily stands as his best, and nearly unknown, novel (perhaps too pagan for his fans). He wrote well about literature; “An Experiment in Criticism” is the best book I’ve ever read about how to read stories. Finally, his book about his wife’s death, “A Grief Observed” does precisely what the title says. I recommend all of them.

    Preemptively claiming Lewis looks like a good move for Republicans. While nearly apolitical, he wrote about the horror of Theocracy:
    http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/14081.htm
    “… Theocracy is the worst of all governments… the inquisitor… will torment us infinitely because… his better impulses appear to him as temptations… A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality… In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt…”
    http://www.rutherford.org/Olds.....idKuo.html
    In “The Screwtape Letters” an experienced devil advises,
    “… begin by treating patriotism…as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part…” and more,
    http://www.gracecathedral.org/.....1030.shtml

    Lewis wrote about the dangers of using religion as a political tool in general. Christians and others can read Lewis with little embarrassment. Republicans have to misread him in much the same way that they’ve learned to misread Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville, and they’ve started.

  148. 148
    Jose Padilla says:

    Perhaps some enterprising reporter could ask Palin if she believes in the “three-legged” stool metaphor for Christian understanding (as Lewis did). That is you understand the Lord through scripture, reason, and tradition. The Evangelicals, of course, reject the last two.

  149. 149
    Hogan says:

    @chopper: They say that in heaven the French are the cooks, the Germans are the engineers and the English are the police. In hell the English are the cooks, the French are the engineers and the Germans are the police.

  150. 150
    ruemara says:

    @mds:
    This is true, mea maxima culpa. The first rule of inklings fight club is check your source material.

  151. 151
    chopper says:

    @Julia Grey:

    why the caps? you have a LISP?

  152. 152
    Xenos says:

    @Hogan: You missed the best part of that joke: In Heaven the Italians are the lovers and the Swiss are the bankers, and in Hell the Italians are the bankers and the Swiss are the lovers.

  153. 153
    Mike in NC says:

    Palin for Pres 2012. I don’t think it will happen but if the Dems fail their way through the next 23 months the best hope is to have a bigger Fail waiting for them on the other end.

    23 months = 3 or 4 more “books” inflicted on the world by Sarah Starbursts. God help us, even if one’s an Alaska cookbook and one comes with pretty crayons.

  154. 154
    scav says:

    Could we agree that Sarah hasn’t a real Inkling of what she speaks?

    I have to admit, the thought of people coming to near blows over the import of Susan’s hemline and redemption is a new one to me. I gave up on the whole enterprise long before any train crash. Thoroughly enjoyed and still enjoy Tolkein’s Letters from Father Christmas though.

  155. 155
    Julia Grey says:

    why the caps?

    Emphasis.

    you have a LISP?

    Beg pardon?

  156. 156
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    Dude, they all died in the crash. It wasn’t punishment.

    Not for the people who died in the crash. But it was punishment for Susan, I think, who would have been with them if only she hadn’t “fallen away” and is now left completely alone in the world.

    Sorry, I love other things about Lewis, but that’s just effed up.

  157. 157
    aimai says:

    @ruemara:

    Well, there’s no question that Eustace is represented as horrible *because* his parents are liberals and don’t correctly supervise him–the school he goes to is described as terrible because it is co-ed, because the children do what they want, because the “Head” is a woman who “talks” to the children and allows herself to be fooled by their interesting talk instead of running a tight ship. Its a straight up attack on the Modern School Movement.

    aimai

  158. 158
    Wrye says:

    Perhaps DougJ can stick a SPOILER warning on this post. You know, for those who haven’t read all 7.

    I agree it’s quite reasonable to point out that the biggest reason Susan doesn’t get into Heaven is that she’s not dead yet. Also, she didn’t eat the Salmon Mousse.

  159. 159
    jake the snake says:

    @MAJeff:

    I’ve yet to see why the first is to be excluded. It’s possible to say, “be nice to each other” while simultaneously having batshit delusions of grandeur.

    I like to use the examples of John Nash and his beautiful and paranoid schizophrenic mind.

    Or Phillip K. Dick, or Vincent Van Gough. Plenty of geniuses with mental illness.

  160. 160
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    DougJ, damn you. And damn all you commenters. I am trying to revise a post-verdict motion and you bastards are distracting me. Eat the salmon mousse.

  161. 161
    Gina says:

    Narnia is the series of books the Fundublican homeschoolers we know use to try to compensate for banning Harry Potter and ruining their kids’ good time. We often use the Harry Potter filter to help gauge whether a new homeschooling acquaintance will turn out to be fun or tedious.

  162. 162

    @chopper:

    a dog whistle is supposed to only be heard by a certain crowd. sure, evangelicals hear her say she’s reading a lot of lewis and think yeah, she’s talking about our shit. she’s one of us. the rest of america hears it and goes WTF, she’s reading the lion the witch and the wardrobe? what is she, 12?

    Well she doesn’t give a shit what us snooty liberal elites think. In fact, she wants us to attack her! Bring it on, she says! It’s just further proof that she is Our Lady Of Perpetual Persecution! See how they hate you for your values! That’s another fundie dog whistle btw.

    See how she’s attacked for reading children’s books when everyone on the inside of her Private Igloo knows she’s talking about the “intellectual” CS Lewis?

    Yeah it’s a neat trick but only the rubes and media assholes fall for it.

  163. 163
    aimai says:

    @rickstersherpa:

    But I think the American Right wing correctly or incorrectly sees this as an attack on sockialsm or communism and not on the tyranny of the small moinority of self righteous pricks.

    Still, these quotes make me think slightly better of C.S. I loved the Narnia books, didn’t like his theology, found his sci fi creepy and read A Grief Observed years ago and liked it. The man was a mixed bag. He deserved better than to be stuffed and mounted as a trophy head shot by Palin and her ilk.

    aimai

  164. 164
    aimai says:

    Sorry, that should be “minority” not “moinority” which sounds like I’m transcribing the three stooges.

    aimai

  165. 165
    ChrisS says:

    If you think Palin is running for president, you haven’t been paying attention. She’s dumb, but she’s not stupid and she knows where her bread is buttered. She knows that she would get crushed in a general election and she knows that if with a miracle she won, she’d have to be the president. She couldn’t even hack being the governor of a backwater state.

    She’s raking in millions without having to actually do anything. The fuck makes you think she wants to be president?

  166. 166
    The Other Chuck says:

    @zmulls:

    The Narnia books were always perfectly wonderful books to read to children. You didn’t need to know that they were Christian allegories.

    While the later books took the religion down a peg in favor of mere conservative ideals, _The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe_ simply *bludgeons* you with the allegory from start to finish. He may as well have named the lion “Jesus”.

    And frankly it’s terrible writing. I don’t know how on earth Tolkein was friends with the guy, though I did have to wonder if he was taking aim when he wrote the intro to a later release of _Lord of the Rings_ when he said “I cordially despise allegory in all its manifestations”. Then again Lewis said something similar, which means he must have been the most self-loathing author since Nietzsche.

  167. 167
    sw says:

    I know very little about Lewis, but from what little I do know he’d be pretty fucking horrified that his books are being used to demonstrate an intellectual mind by one of the more incurious and ridiculous people ever on our national stage.

  168. 168
    Svensker says:

    @aimai:

    The kind of people who love Lewis hate Tolkein because of the lack of god-bothering in his work. It is profoundly anti-religious and is seen as such on the far right.

    Really? I haven’t seen the fundie hate of LOTR, at least in my fundie circles. Also, how do you get it as profoundly anti-religious? JRRT was a devout Catholic.

  169. 169
    Ross Hershberger says:

    @ChrisS:

    If you think Palin is running for president, you haven’t been paying attention.

    I don’t think Palin has any intention of holding office again. Too hard. being a candidate or potential candidate, on the other hand, is too attractive for her to pass up. Free exposure! It’s catnip to her.
    She probably doesn’t even care if the GOP wins in 2012 as long as she gets to be Queen Sarah to her supporters, and would run a 3rd party campaign if they asked reeeaaallly nice.

  170. 170
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @ChrisS

    It’s totally possible to become President without having to do anything. See Bush, George.

    The question is will Sarah’s ego allow her to put a Wormtongue/Dick Cheney in place as the power behind the throne?

  171. 171
    jake the snake says:

    @Sasha:

    Lovecraft had a black cat himself with that same name.

    Lovecraft was notoriously Xenophobic. However, he seems to have moderated in his later years, but was never anything like a social liberal.

    And his Xenophobia adds to the sense of dread in many of his works. For example, “The Call of Cthulhu”.

  172. 172
    Scott de B. says:

    Dark, swarthy southrons can’t help but thrall out to the Dark Lord. Light skinned elves and horse lords stand between the dark hordes and the plucky white common folk of the Shire.

    And Tolkien was writing epic and not a prescription for an ideal society. Elves are light because that’s how they are described in the original Norse myths.

    “The Light Elves are brighter than the sun in appearance, but the Dark Elves are blacker than pitch.” (Snorri, Gylfaginning 17, Prose Edda)

    Ditto for the horse-lords, which are based on figures in Germanic epic.

  173. 173
    Jay C says:

    I think one of the main differences between Tolkien and Lewis – the differences in how they and their works get discussed in fora such as BJ, that is – is that while they were both people who took religion (“religion” in general, and their own in particular) rather seriously, Tolkien was smart enough (his IMHO-unconvincing evasions notwithstanding) to leave out or downplay the overtly theological stuff in most of his published writings. Lewis, on the other hand, tended to play them up in his, and thus tends to cited a lot more by the “Christian” – or Christianist – crowd; even if (as most here have pointed out) CSL himself would probably have been appalled to encounter Sarah Palin and/or her typical rally-attendee; their literary approbation aside.

    Also, it may be of marginal relevance, but LOTR (to JRRT’s bemusement) was a favorite read of “hippies” back in the 1960s, and Lewis wasn’t. One should never underestimate the capacity of the Palinista “culture-war” folks to cling onto their beloved stereotypes – the staler and more cliched the better.

  174. 174
    Sasha says:

    @matoko_chan:

    IMHO, the right has wholly become the servents of Tash.

    Servants of Tash.

    Now that’s a tag!

  175. 175
    chopper says:

    @Julia Grey:

    computer science joke. it obviously didn’t work, i’d give it a C+.

  176. 176
    drkrick says:

    The “Lunatic, Liar or Lord” argument wasn’t intended to be a universal show stopper. It was specifically aimed at the “I believe Jesus was a wonderful moral teacher, but not divine” school. And is pretty effective for that purpose – if you throw out all the claims to divinity from the traditional teachings of Jesus, it’s hard to understand why you would accept the validity of what’s left.

    Once “Legend” comes into the picture, you’re into the Lee Strobel “Case for Christ” territory, which is a whole other ball of wax.

  177. 177
    Sasha says:

    @aimai:

    But she doesn’t even make it into heaven. That’s pretty harsh.

    The reason she isn’t in heaven isn’t because she became shallow — it’s because she isn’t dead.

  178. 178
    catclub says:

    @Gina:
    “We often use the Harry Potter filter to help gauge whether a new homeschooling acquaintance will turn out to be fun or tedious. ”

    When my daughter told me that the Harry Potter series had become pretty predictable, and I still liked it. I knew my job here was done.

  179. 179
    mds says:

    @aimai:

    Still, these quotes make me think slightly better of C.S.

    The interview at the Rutherford Institute website that invokes the second quote makes me think slightly better of John Whitehead. In your face, James Dobson!

  180. 180
    Steve says:

    @mds: I don’t think I’ve ever heard of C.S. Friedman, although it’s possible I picked up a subconscious vibe. I think it’s my presumption that authors who use their initials, at least in the past, tend to be female.

  181. 181
    campionrules says:

    I don’t particularly get some of the modern, literary hate for Lewis. The Narnia series wasn’t the greatest fiction of all time , and it could wander toward the bang-you-on-the- head allegory but it was pretty decent.

    I’ve never understood the anger it generates though especially with authors like Phillip Pullman, who seemed to think that his execrable ‘Dark Materials’ series was a good refutation. God, those books were bad. Kindling bad.

  182. 182
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @demimondian:

    The usage of the term “youth culture” is fairly telling here. Susan is banished from Narnia for being shallow, conceited, and interested in parties and the opposite sex. For most of us, that would probably be a fairly accurate description of our early 20’s. While it’s fine for Lewis to warn of the perils of being a self absorbed youth, it is an undoubtedly socially conservative viewpoint and the punishment… being left alone after having her entire family die in a train wreck… seems a little harsh. I mean, it’s great that we don’t know whether Susan is permanently banished from Narnia, but killing her family seems like an overly mean way to send the message that she’s on the wrong path.

  183. 183
    catclub says:

    @Steve:
    So, T S Eliot was a woman but George Eliot was not? ;)
    Good to know.

  184. 184

    @Jack:

    C.S. Friedman? OK, now I know you’re an idiot. In Conquest Born is as long, boring and stupid as Battlefield Earth. C.S. Friedman is a hack who cranks out formulaic bullshit fantasy series, a distaff Robert Jordan.

    Anyone who has actually read Lewis, and who has some reading comprehension skills, which Jack sorely lacks, would know that Lewis wouldn’t have much use for modern evangelicals or Republicans pushing MegaChurch NASCAR Action Figure Jesus™. One of the passages in Screwtape has Screwtape saying that the best way to water down Christianity is not to attack it, but to make it about something other than Jesus, which is what the evangelicals are all about.

  185. 185
    Sasha says:

    @rickstersherpa:

    Lewis and Tolkein were estranged the last few years of Lewis’s life over his relationship and eventual marriage to Joy Davidman Grisham, who was about everything Tolkein despised in the modern world (a Jew, a former communist, an emancipated educated woman, and a American).

    Yet, Tolkien loved his friend dearly. Upon Lewis’ death, Tolkin wrote his daughter, “So far I have felt the normal feelings of a man of my age–like an old tree that it losing all its leaves one by one: this feels like an axe-blow near the roots.”

  186. 186

    @Raenelle:

    Really, which book does he say this in? Can you provide a cite? Sounds to me like you’re pulling a McArdle.

  187. 187
    Janus Daniels says:

    @chopper:
    still chuckling
    @Julia Grey:
    LISP & PASCAL: acronym names for programming languages

  188. 188
    Bella Q says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Grant remittitur or give us a new trial! Those are the only options, your honor. Serious errors cannot be permitted to stand, and can be corrected without resort to appellate process. Citing applicable case law, of course.

  189. 189

    @campionrules:

    No kidding, the His Dark Materials trilogy is a piece of shit, it’s like an atheist version of the Tim LaHaye series. Pullman’s other YA fiction is pretty good though.

  190. 190
    Bella Q says:

    @catclub: George Sand, however, was! I always had trouble with Georges…

  191. 191
    aimai says:

    @Svensker:

    I bow to your superior knowledge of actual fundies–I was assuming it fell under the same ban as other forms of fantasy. However I will stand by my assertion that it is profoundly non-religious. There are literally no gods involved or implied. There is certainly good and evil but there is no god, or gods. Its pagan in its worship of something closer to the gods of the land in Tom Bombadil and those other cthonic figures like the ents.

    I’d also like to say that Lewis himself pulls off a stunt when he brings bacchus and the maenads into Narnia as an example of the kind of fun and frolic Aslan’s followers might be expected to have. I don’t think the conflict in Narnia between the witches and the animals, or between the Telemarines and the animals, lines up with modern american religious/conservative beliefs at all. Its more like some kind of eternal replay of cavaliers vs. roundheads with fun loving believers in Aslan against killjoys of various sorts.

    aimai

  192. 192
    Bella Q says:

    @chopper: How about a C++?

  193. 193

    An interesting bit of trivia. C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and John F. Kennedy all died on the same day, 22 November 1963. Years ago someone did a play about the three of them meeting in the afterlife. I can’t recall the title and I wish I had seen it because I thought it was a really cool idea.

  194. 194
    jonas says:

    That Couric question still gets under her skin two and a half years later, doesn’t it? I read! I really do! Love that Narnia stuff! It smacks of a junior high-school student who’s been caught out on the day the book report was due and has to pull something out of their ass at the last minute. Palin may read some stuff, but she’s not a reader. Her inability to articulate her thoughts in anything more than basic tweets or hokey aphorisms about bears speaks to a mind unperturbed by the kind of ambiguities and self-awareness an earnest dedication to letters produces.

    Instead she prefers the nonthreatening pieties of C.S. Lewis, a distinguished enough scholar (he taught medieval literature at Oxford, along with J.R.R. Tolkein), but one who tended to — in what he thought was an imitation of the medieval mind — see the world as a harmonious, transparent unity. He also produced the Chronicles of Narnia because he believed that traditional Christianity lacked the unity and cultural force that classical mythology provided for paganism (such as acceptance of war and violence). He was also a complete sexual basketcase who fantasized about being tied up and whipped and never consummated his brief marriage. So in other words, he’s a perfect match for the cognitive dissonances that characterize Christian evangelical thought today.

  195. 195
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bella Q: Open question of law. Judge found that the defendant had violated the law, but was not sure that any pecuniary damages flowed from that violation. The things that went to the jury did not go well for my client, but this issue is quite strong. If I win this, I win, um, I mean, that is, my client wins…

  196. 196
    Sasha says:

    @jake the snake:

    Lovecraft had a black cat himself with that same name.

    Did not know that. That’s harder to wrap around my brain than his simply naming a character’s cat that. Ow.

    And his Xenophobia adds to the sense of dread in many of his works. For example, “The Call of Cthulhu”.

    Also fed into his fears of degeneration as per “The Rats in the Walls” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”.

  197. 197
    aimai says:

    @drkrick:

    Well, there have always been holy fools and mystics who weren’t exactly reliable on everyday matters. I still think its not much of a response to sceptics of Jesus’s divine status. Its still perfectly possible to think that many of his ideas were important and should be tried (covert G.K. Chesterton reference) without buying the whole package. In fact, to me, the argument that Jesus must have been divine in order for us to find him worth studying, believing in, following smacks of some kind of fairly stark quid pro quo. If Jesus were only a great moral philosopher, urging us to love one another, without the ability to promise us an afterlife then does it follow we should instantly stop being nice to each other and start murdering? Because that is basically the argument that the right in this country makes over and over again: without the implicit bribe of heaven or threat of hell we’d all be murdering, raping, stealing. Its an authoritarian line of argument: if Jesus didn’t have some kind of external authority backing him up–if he isn’t himself an authority and divine–then what’s the point of listening to his crazy ravings? But I might choose to follow the teachings of a lot of people who aren’t divine. Divinity, in this sense, is only a stand in for “powerful people who can punish or bless.”

    aimai

  198. 198
    Morat20 says:

    The Narnia books are, IMHO, incomprehensible if you don’t know they are Christian allegory.

    I remember getting a wee bit confused at certain plot points, back when I was 12 or whatever, because it didn’t make any freaking sense.

    “Yes, Lion, go let the Queen sacrifice you. She’ll keep her word. Moron. What? You magically came back to life, even more awesome than before? WTF? This wasn’t foreshadowed. There’s no mechanism. It’s a straight ass-pull.”

    Or the ending of the series. What’s with all the moron dwarfs in the outhouse, complaining about stuff when it’s all gorgeous outside? Are they dumb? Blind? It implies they’re refusing to accept ‘Narnia’ but why? How? WTF? OH. They’re non-Christians who stubbornly refuse to accept Lion Jesus and are spitefully ignoring AwesomeLand. Despite knowing it’s right there. Moron.

    Yeah, Narnia was just poorly plotted with a lot of deus ex machina. Learning it’s Christian allegory meant it was merely poorly plotted with stupid deus ex machina for religious reasons.

  199. 199
    mds says:

    @chopper:

    computer science joke. it obviously didn’t work, i’d give it a C+.

    Nice attempt at a follow-up pun, but unfortunately you only get one bite at the APL around here.

  200. 200

    I’m reading the best book right now—Dean Karnazes’s book about being an ultra-marathoner. I read a lot of C.S. Lewis when I want some divine inspiration…I read Newsmax and The Wall Street Journal. I read all of our local papers of course in Alaska because that’s where my heart is.

    You know, I like C.S. Lewis, but damnit. I want a politician who comes out and says “I like to get get jacked up on black coffee, primo bud and absinthe and read Philip K. Dick novels, but only as a warmup to getting seriously sideways on bootlegged uppers and reading William S. Burroughs and The Short Timers by Gustav Hasford.

  201. 201
    curious says:

    reading is fundamental.

  202. 202
    Hob says:

    @drkrick: Thank you, that’s what I was about to say. The point was that the “he was just a really good guy” position doesn’t take into account that he proclaimed himself to be uniquely divine… which would normally make someone either nuts or dishonest… at least if you believe that the Gospels were based on real events, and if you don’t then there’s no reason to believe he was a really good guy either.

    Lewis had a lot of respect for other religions and for straight-up atheists too; what really bugged him was the secularization of Christianity– the stereotypical version of Anglicanism that’s mostly about good manners, respecting authority, Christmas carols, and tea. The commenter above who “read somewhere” that Lewis’s idea of heaven was like that was misinformed. His only attempt to imagine heaven, in “The Great Divorce”, was a place so weird and challenging that the residents of purgatory are too afraid to go there.

  203. 203
    Wrye says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    Hold on, I think the assumption that God murdered an entire trainful of people just to send a message to Susan is making a bit of a leap.

  204. 204
    Sasha says:

    And while we’re discussing Howard Phillip:

    “As for the Republicans, how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles… Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead.” – HP Lovecraft

  205. 205
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    It’s totally possible to become President without having to do anything. See Bush, George.

    I disagree. The one and only thing that Bush was actually good at was campaigning. He worked on both of his father’s presidential campaigns (and that was when he was still a drunk). People credit Rove with all of the nasty whisper campaigns, but a lot of that came from Bush and Rove was just the guy who executed it.

    Plus Bush had the advantage of being one of the Right People. Sarah Palin is most emphatically not from the Right People.

    She’s the Fred Thompson of 2012 — she likes the idea of getting all of the attention, but she doesn’t want to do any of the hard work necessary to run for president. She’ll find an excuse to drop out and whine about how it was all the fault of those meanie liberals.

  206. 206
    brettvk says:

    @ruemara:
    Beauty.

  207. 207
    Janus Daniels says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:
    Lewis did write, I think in “Mere Christianity” of courage as critical, since other virtues depended on it. He wrote that Pontius Pilate was going to be merciful to Christ, till that got risky; he may have added that Shakespeare’s Richard the Third, without courage, would have done much less harm. He also wrote that courage not so much a virtue as (I don’t recall his words) the ground that everything else rested on, or the clay that character was made of.

  208. 208
    Julia Grey says:

    computer science joke. it obviously didn’t work, i’d give it a C+.

    Heh. I didn’t get it because it was so out of context, I guess.

    C.S. Lewis never consummated his marriage to Joy Gresham?

    Hmmm. Where did you hear that? I thought that one of the sources of the epiphanies that came to him during that time (oh so sadly late in life) was due to his first complete sexual experiences.

    Oh, and as to the C.S. initials indicating a female author, many if not most Brit authors of that period only used their initials.

  209. 209
    Scott P. says:

    The “Lunatic, Liar or Lord” argument wasn’t intended to be a universal show stopper. It was specifically aimed at the “I believe Jesus was a wonderful moral teacher, but not divine” school. And is pretty effective for that purpose – if you throw out all the claims to divinity from the traditional teachings of Jesus, it’s hard to understand why you would accept the validity of what’s left.

    That’s assuming that Jesus claimed to be divine. If you look at the gospels, particularly the earliest gospel (Mark), it’s pretty clear that Jesus didn’t really get into the salvation business until he met John the Baptist. And there’s plenty of indications that even after that, that he did not think he was divine, just a traditional Jewish prophet. Lots of parts of the Gospels (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”) only make sense in that light.

    What I suspect, but of course cannot prove, happened is that being around people who were convinced he was the Messiah, as well as the fact that he could (apparently) perform miracles (which I don’t believe in, but those around him did), gradually convinced him that he was the Messiah. I also think that he went through with the Crucifixion fully expecting God would save him before he actually died, and was rather shocked when it didn’t happen. Very typical self-delusion at work.

    Then the Gospel writers edited that story so as to make Jesus’ divinity crystal-clear from the start (the B.S. about the manger, etc.). It’s not even clear that Paul thought Jesus was the son of God.

  210. 210
    Tom Levenson says:

    @aimai: What Aimai said.

    And beyond that, I’m so late to the thread that I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said.

  211. 211
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Hob:

    The point was that the “he was just a really good guy” position doesn’t take into account that he proclaimed himself to be uniquely divine… which would normally make someone either nuts or dishonest… at least if you believe that the Gospels were based on real events, and if you don’t then there’s no reason to believe he was a really good guy either.

    I don’t think the argument is that you’re supposed to follow Jesus’ teachings because you think he’s a good guy. It’s that you should follow them because he had good ideas regardless of whether or not he was a nutjob who heard voices.

  212. 212
    matoko_chan says:

    @Morat20: AMG.
    i read the Narnia books in 4th grade, they were SPLENDID.
    fuckin greys.
    the magic of sacrifice, the dark magic from before the end of time that brings Aslan back IS THE EXACT SAME FUCKING THING as Lily Potter immunizing the Boy that Lived by giving her life to protect him.
    sheesh.
    its not a christian mytho-poesis, its A HUMAN MYTHO-POESIS.

    fucking read the Golden Bough fucking retard.

  213. 213
    catclub says:

    @Bella Q:
    Got me!

  214. 214
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @Wrye:

    Oh I dunno, God is on record as not being above a little righteous smiting to send a message.

  215. 215
    catclub says:

    @Hob:
    “The commenter above who “read somewhere” that Lewis’s idea of heaven was like that was misinformed.”

    Hey, that was me. Thanks for the correction.

  216. 216
    Tony J says:

    @Svensker:

    Also, how do you get it as profoundly anti-religious? JRRT was a devout Catholic.

    He was, and you could certainly read a pro-Christian take on western history into the LOTR. The good guys – know – what the real meaning of life is and only fall into sin when they choose ego over service. Outside of the parts of the world lucky enough to have contact with the ‘Enlightened West’ most everybody is under the thumb of false gods and worse off for it.

    But there’s also the fact that there is no ‘religion’ in LOTR that isn’t enforced on people by the bad guys. There are no churches, temples or priesthoods amongst the Elves, even the ones who have ‘seen the light’ in a quite literal sense. No one prays to any God or gods, and even the Dunedain Kingdoms seem to view their purpose in the world as ‘doing good because it’s the right thing to do’ with no theology required.

    The only religion in the LOTR is the worship of Sauron (and through him Morgoth) imposed on mortal man by sheer terror. The implication being that only a false god would need to terrorise people into making sacrifices to him, while the real God (Eru) is outside of the Creation and just wants everyone to enjoy this lovely world he had his crew sing into existence for them. It’s not as lovely as it -could – have been, because Melkor/Morgoth sang a lot of discord into the original performance, but even then all the discord does is highlight the quality of the original score.

    And at the End of Time, everyone gets to sing it all over again perfectly, with Eru himself joining in. As ‘religions’ go, it’s not a bad one.

  217. 217

    If C.S. Lewis were still alive he would beat Palin and Chunky B to death with his pipe.

    That it is all.

  218. 218
    Chris says:

    I’ve read all the Narnia books. Anyone preaching that stuff in today’s GOP would be summarily excommunicated at once. In-your-face allegories for the evil H-bomb (The Magician’s Nephew), king of Narnia throwing an entire economy upside down and lecturing the king for putting economics ahead of human considerations (Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Mohammedan Calormene warrior getting to heaven because Jesus Aslan respected his faith and honesty (The Last Battle).

    As simple children’s fairytales go, they’re good books, which is all that matters (no doubt Pullman’s worth reading too). If you’re looking for deeper allegories, well, he ain’t a liberal, but he sure as hell ain’t a conservative in the sense that today’s jackasses mean either.

  219. 219
    Chris says:

    I’ve read all the Narnia books. Anyone preaching that stuff in today’s GOP would be summarily excommunicated at once. In-your-face allegories for the evil H-bomb (The Magician’s Nephew), king of Narnia throwing an entire economy upside down and lecturing the king for putting economics ahead of human considerations (Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Mohammedan Calormene warrior getting to heaven because Jesus Aslan respected his faith and honesty (The Last Battle).

    As simple children’s fairytales go, they’re good books, which is all that matters (no doubt Pullman’s worth reading too). If you’re looking for deeper allegories, well, he ain’t a liberal, but he sure as hell ain’t a conservative in the sense that today’s jackasses mean either.

  220. 220
    jinxtigr says:

    Nice Peter Sellers bio book reference :)

  221. 221
    chopper says:

    @Bella Q:

    actually i was talking about ABCL. i was going to go for the C++ joke after that.

    you guys ruined my timing.

  222. 222
    Chris says:

    @zmulls:

    Saying “C.S. Lewis” means “I am a good Christian and understand that the Narnia books are Christian and that Lewis wrote lots more Christian work than the Narnia books and I know that ‘C.S.’ really stands for ‘Christian Stuff’ “

    This.

  223. 223

    They love CS Lewis because he’s a great champion of Christianity, but, more importantly, is dead.

    See, if he wasn’t dead, he could see what use his words and name were being put to, and, intellectually speaking, he would absolutely *destroy* these people.

    Okay, it would take him several weeks. Because he’d be spending too much time sputtering about how they *can’t* be that poorly educated – or… no. No. It’s not *possible*. Except… but….

    But after he accepted the clearly contradictory situation, he’d take action and point out how empty their claims are.

    And he’d point out that the use of “refudiate” was sloppy, and its defense impossibly arrogant.

  224. 224
    Tony J says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo:

    Everything you said.

  225. 225
    Chris says:

    @aimai:

    He was also very annoyed with liberals, anarchists, intellectuals and people associated with the modern schools movement, anti-child abuse movements, vegetarianism, spiritualism etc…

    The single most outrageous thing in his books is that scene in Voyage of the Dawn Treader where the king tells his governor to using slaves, the governor says “but that would be turning the clock back! Don’t you know about progress?” and the king says “yeah, we call it going bad.”

    The notion of trying to pass off slavery as some modern, progressive degeneracy when it’s explicitly endorsed in the Bible is just a little obscene.

  226. 226
    p.a. says:

    @rickstersherpa:

    Joy Davidman Grisham, who was about everything Tolkein despised in the modern world (a Jew, a former communist, an emancipated educated woman, and a American).

    pls. note Tolkien’s response to German questions prior to publishing The Hobbit (paraphrase from memory): I don’t understand what you mean about my Aryan background as I speak neither Hindustani nor Persian, and I regret to say that as far as Hebrew blood I unfortunately do not have any relationship to that talented and intelligent people… (from The Letters of J.R.R…

  227. 227
    grumpy realist says:

    Well, The Golden Bough has its own take on the Christ mythos as well…

    If you want to really knock your brains sideways, go read “Conciousness as the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” by Julian Jaynes.

  228. 228
    Hob says:

    @Julia Grey:

    C.S. Lewis never consummated his marriage to Joy Gresham? Hmmm. Where did you hear that? I thought that one of the sources of the epiphanies that came to him during that time (oh so sadly late in life) was due to his first complete sexual experiences.

    I don’t know where people get this idea about their marriage being dry. It didn’t last long because she got sick and died, but what he said about it (in A Grief Observed, I think) was something pretty close to “we did everything there is to do in bed, a lot, and we loved it.” He also almost certainly had a long sexual affair with an older woman when he was in his late teens and twenties.

    Jonas’s “sexual basketcase” remark seems to be based on the idea that if you’re not vanilla, you have to be either a full-on libertine or a tormented Dimmesdale type. Yes, Lewis probably had a somewhat kinky side, but there’s no indication that he was torn up with guilt about it or thought it was awful (there’s a passage somewhere in one of his essays that rather decorously suggests that a bit of role-playing fantasy within a loving relationship is no big deal). He also talked a bit about gay sex in boarding schools, and said basically that although it probably did count as a sin of some kind, he had no business complaining about it because (a) at least it was based on love and affection, and (b) he was straight and didn’t want to judge people for something he’d never been tempted by himself.

  229. 229
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    I think I made a comment like this once before on BJ, but the reason some like to drop the name of Lewis is that it gives a veneer of both Christian and intellectual cred at the same time.

  230. 230
    Warren Terra says:

    I’m coming late to this thread, and only read the first fifty or so comments, and on my iPod, so there’s no search function (the iPod’s browser is almost a perfect Apple product: looks beautiful, but even after five years it’s still oddly crippled even in basic features) so this may be a bit repetitive of things already said.

    As a kid, I read the Narnia series and enjoyed some of it and didn’t pick up on the Christian allegories – but then, I’m not from a Christian background. The final book in the series is however completely unreadable on its own merits; maybe if the reader is familiar with and invested in the Christian Armageddon it becomes interesting, but CS really lays it in with a trowel in that one, and clearly no longer cares about anyone reading it outside of Sunday School. The Magician’s Nephew is almost as bad.

    But what I really wanted to mention was the Perelandra Trilogy (and that’s the word I couldn’t search for). I encountered them as an adult, when BBC Radio 7’s often excellent daily hour of science fiction readings and dramas included an unabridged reading of the first two books in the series. The second, in particular, features a well-meaning Everyman capable of salvation wandering around an Edenic planet Venus watching its corruption and destruction by a Satan figure; the Everyman discovers his faith, tracks Satan down, resists temptation, and beats him to a bloody pulp with his fists. Disney stuff this ain’t, but I bet it speaks to the American Taliban a lot more clearly than, say, Reepicheep The Talking Mouse.

  231. 231
    Paul in KY says:

    @Sasha: I knew there was a reason I liked Mr. Lovecraft.

  232. 232
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Warren Terra:

    The final book in the series is however completely unreadable on its own merits; maybe if the reader is familiar with and invested in the Christian Armageddon it becomes interesting, but CS really lays it in with a trowel in that one, and clearly no longer cares about anyone reading it outside of Sunday School.

    Yep. I remember getting to the end of the series and thinking, “What the hell is this crap?” It really put a pall over the rest of the series for me and made them retroactively worse. The suck in that book was just that powerful.

    I gave it a second chance years later when I was in high school (I originally read them around age 10) and, no, it was still completely full of suck. Though I did appreciate the accidental Antichrist a little more.

  233. 233
    eyelessgame says:

    Something that jumped out at me, attempting and failing to read Narnia to my kids over the last several years, is that the books have become alien, boring, and preachy.

    He uses the “Lord, Liar, Lunatic” Trilemma in a hilariously inappropriate way within the first thirty pages of tLtW&tW, but in a valuable sense – it’s such a self-parody that it points out the terrible flaws in the argument (unintentionally, I suspect).

    The thing with Susan in tLB was so rancid that it was likewise valuable to me: it was the first time (I was ten) that I can recall questioning the very idea of hell and damnation, because it was simply unfair. It was a stain on the character of Aslan that such a thing happened and that he could justify it, and it ruined the ending of the book.

    Also in tLB, the exchange (upthread, here) between Aslan and the Tashite soldier helped me break free of the mooring notions of organized religion, because it’s a retelling of the sheep-and-goats story (or the Good Samaritan): what matters is the person you are, not who you pray to (or for that matter whether you pray at all). That’s a valuable lesson, if taken the right way.

  234. 234
    HyperIon says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:

    An interesting bit of trivia. C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and John F. Kennedy all died on the same day, 22 November 1963.

    and huxley was tripping!

  235. 235
    Tonal Crow says:

    @aimai:

    However I will stand by my assertion that it is profoundly non-religious. There are literally no gods involved or implied. There is certainly good and evil but there is no god, or gods. Its pagan in its worship of something closer to the gods of the land in Tom Bombadil and those other cthonic figures like the ents.

    I would say that LOTR, read in isolation, implies an underlying moral order, apparently of “divine” origin. For example, there are some (rather oblique) references to underlying “purposes”, as in Gandalf’s counsel to Frodo in The Shadow of the Past:

    Behind that [Gollum’s loss of the Ring to Bilbo] there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.

    But if you read the other works surrounding LOTR, such as The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, you do find “divinities”, such as the creator Ilúvatar and the Valar. Still, Arda lacks the Christian concepts of original sin and the consequent need for redemption, so it’d be going considerably overboard to read these works as a form of Christian allegory (or even subtle evangelism).

  236. 236
    Morat20 says:

    @matoko_chan:
    And the spambot fails another Turing Test.

    Not a huge Harry Potter fan either, although my primary complaint against Harry Potter is that he’s such a passive hero.

    “I’ll just stand around and let stuff happen, okay, trusting in my insane reflexes apparently passively-accumulated defense skills to save me”.

    Of course, it wouldn’t have been a very long series if he’d gone to Child Protective Services because he lived in a cupboard, or said “Screw this, I’m going to Beauxbatons” after working out he was rich. Who puts up with crap education AND lethal threats every year?

    Then again, perhaps I’m biased. I look at the notion of being introduced to a world of magic, and blowing it off to play chess seems a bit strange to me.

    If you want good children’s literature — Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books, or more classically Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising novels or even Alexander’s Pyrdain novels are far superior, as literature and as story, to either Harry Potter or — god forbid — CS Lewis.

  237. 237
    matoko_chan says:

    @eyelessgame: may i suggest….you let your kids read the themselves?

  238. 238
    eyelessgame says:

    There’s something interesting at work here.

    When Lewis’ racism, sexism, classism, etc. is brought up, it’s excused as “oh, he’s a product of his time, never you mind that.”

    When his positions at variance with the modern right wing is brought up, it’s lauded: “he would give those modern conservatives what-fer!”

    I think that’s having things just a bit both ways. I mean, if he were alive today, he’d be unlikely to be an unreconstructed racist – but he’d also be unlikely to have the same “unreconstructed” (pre-Moral-Majority) Christian positions either.

    I suspect that a modern Lewis would be very much like a modern Republican. If, in our fantasy of moving him to the present day, his racism (which was typical for his time) is permitted to evolve or vanish in accord with the movement of culture over the last half century, then his religious enlightenment and tolerance (again, typical for many devout Christians of his time) needs also to evolve or vanish in accord with the movement of culture over the last half century.

    It’s possible he’d be a modern liberal ecumenical/evangelical (like, say, Slacktivist) today, but it’s far more likely that he’d have found excuses to conform his views to that of the modern Christianist movement.

    I don’t think we can on the one hand discount his outdated race and sex and class notions and on the other hand applaud his outdated expressions of Christianity.

  239. 239
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @matoko_chan: Reading to children is good for them on variety of levels.

  240. 240
    eyelessgame says:

    @matoko_chan: “Alien, boring and preachy” is my kids’ evaluation. They’ve devoured many bookshelf-feet of our library on their own — Black Cauldron, Dark is Rising, Mad Scientists Club, Three Investigators, Phantom Toolbooth, and much more, including modern kidlit and teenlit like Harry Potter — but despite hearing a lot about Narnia in popular culture, none of them have liked the books, or read past the first chapter.

  241. 241
    Raenelle says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: If, by a McArdle, you mean mistaken and sloppy, I’ve been known to be both. But, OTOH, I don’t collect a pay check for my gibberish. And I don’t lie out of habit to bolster my arguments.

    Where did I get that information? Well, memory–from reading C. S. Lewis about 30 years ago. It had to be the Screwtape Letters, because that’s the only book I ever read of his.

  242. 242
    Chris says:

    @eyelessgame:

    Also in tLB, the exchange (upthread, here) between Aslan and the Tashite soldier helped me break free of the mooring notions of organized religion, because it’s a retelling of the sheep-and-goats story (or the Good Samaritan): what matters is the person you are, not who you pray to (or for that matter whether you pray at all). That’s a valuable lesson, if taken the right way.

    Agreed. That’s what I took away from it too, when I read it circa age 12.

    A decade or so later, that’s evolved into “even if there is a God, there’s no way in hell to know which religion’s right about him or even if any of them are… so follow your conscience and hope for the best, cause that’s really all anyone can do.” Seems like the only rational solution from where I’m standing at the moment.

  243. 243
    matoko_chan says:

    @Morat20: meh.
    the best book i read in the 4th grade was TH Whites Once and Future King. that led me to read the Mabinogeon and Le Morte d’Artur and Bullfinchs mythology.
    i also read all the Burroghs Mars series that year.
    any book that gets to kids to read is WUNNERFUL.
    even the execrable Twilight.
    Harry Potter turned innumerable kids onto the joy of the printed word– kids that didn’t have my advantages.
    Al-lah has a special garden in paradise for J.K. Rowling.
    :)

  244. 244
    Hob says:

    @Morat20: I just finished Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and I recommend the hell out of it. Totally deserves the hype, despite being very, very openly derivative. It’s basically a slightly more adult take on both Harry Potter and Narnia, with less wholesome kids and a somewhat scarier idea of what magic is.

  245. 245
    psychobroad says:

    @kommrade reproductive vigor: I think you win the tubes today. You and whoever referenced “A Fish Called Wanda.”

  246. 246
    eyelessgame says:

    I should probably have emphasized “sexist” and “cultural conformist”, or something, rather than “racist” above. Lewis seemed mostly to avoid race in his writing, other than having a few swarthy villains with scimitars.

  247. 247
    Hob says:

    @Raenelle: I know what you’re referring to but I think you’ve got it wrong. This is a pretty good summary of that passage in Screwtape as well as other things Lewis said about war.

  248. 248
    Chris says:

    By the way, re Tolkien, I’ve always heard that it was his attempt at creating a national myth for Britain comparable to the mythology the Greeks and Norse had. If true, I’d imagine that mattered more when writing Lord of the Rings than making it a Christian allegory.

  249. 249
    matoko_chan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: yeah, but not books that bore and irritate the reader.
    @eyelessgame: GOOD! then they should read other books. i think the Twilight books are pure-D horrorshows, but they introduced my vets tween daughter to the pleasure of reading, and she is now reading Stieg Larsen.
    she never read for pleasure in her life before.
    saved by Twilight.
    ;)

  250. 250
    Mnemosyne says:

    @eyelessgame:

    I think that’s having things just a bit both ways. I mean, if he were alive today, he’d be unlikely to be an unreconstructed racist – but he’d also be unlikely to have the same “unreconstructed” (pre-Moral-Majority) Christian positions either.

    I think you’re vastly underestimating the extent to which the “Christian” position you’re referring to is an American phenomenon. If you change Lewis completely from being Anglo-Irish to American, then your theory would make sense, but the present-day Church of England bears very little resemblance to today’s American fundamentalist movement so it’s fairly unlikely that an orthodox churchman like Lewis would fall in with the snake handlers who represent “Christianity” on our side of the pond.

    ETA: Oddly, I don’t see Lewis as that sexist … towards children, anyway. He seems to have a deep affection for tomboys like Lucy and Aravis (from “The Horse and His Boy”). It’s full-grown adult women that he has a problem with, and I’m not sure it can be written off solely as sexism.

  251. 251
    matoko_chan says:

    like a lot of ppl have pointed out, CS is a token intellectual elite who is acceptable to conservitards.
    they dont have many.
    unfortunately they dont actually understand his works.

  252. 252
    Stephen Daugherty says:

    My sensibility is, C.S. Lewis is respectable in intellectual circles, and quite safely dead, so as not to contradict the small-mindedness of the folks trying to mooch off his reputation.

    Let’s not make the mistake of thinking he was anything but what he was, a British Christian of the earlier half of the Twentieth Century. As such, he had the attitudes and sensibilities of that time, as did Tolkien.

  253. 253
    matoko_chan says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I think you’re vastly underestimating the extent to which the “Christian” position you’re referring to is an American phenomenon.

    totally Mnem.
    America is a protestant nation.

  254. 254
    eyelessgame says:

    @matoko_chan: Indeed. My fourteen-year-old recently consumed virtually every Star Wars novel in existence and is now working his way through several bookshelf-yards of our collected Star Trek. The nine-year-old is on the fourth Harry Potter; the twelve-year-old is currently on a rereading kick, but has introduced a ton of new stuff to us in the last couple of years, from No More Dead Dogs to my new favorite tweens’ book, Every Soul A Star — which I recommend to anyone who knows any amateur astronomy geeks.

    Twilight is better than not reading, marginally. The Harry Potter books, OTOH, have an enormous number of childhood and teen life lessons hidden in them (my youngest got over having nightmares and night terrors with the lesson of the boggart, for example).

  255. 255
    Stephen Daugherty says:

    @Hob: I read that. His notion that what purgatory represented was the entrance to either heaven or hell. If you were sufficiently connected to God, you would eventually make your way towards God. If not, you would literally make your own hell, which he imagined as a dreary city where you would be able to have blocks and blocks of miserable real estate to call your own.

    I think Palin, if she’s serious about C.S. Lewis, should read the Four Loves, particularly the part he has to say about patriotism, and the love that becomes a God becoming a demon and all.

  256. 256
    Chris says:

    @eyelessgame:

    I suspect that a modern Lewis would be very much like a modern Republican. If, in our fantasy of moving him to the present day, his racism (which was typical for his time) is permitted to evolve or vanish in accord with the movement of culture over the last half century, then his religious enlightenment and tolerance (again, typical for many devout Christians of his time) needs also to evolve or vanish in accord with the movement of culture over the last half century.

    All good points, but in all the arguments about his era vs ours and how his religion might’ve evolved in fifty years, we’re missing a cultural divide between him and us that’s at least as large;

    He’s British.

    Christianity’s quite a different thing in Europe in general and Britain specifically, from what it is here. Speaking as someone whose mother is a socially conservative European, I can say without hesitation that plenty of European Christians, who might agree with the religious right on things like abortion and gay marriage and the broader “oh noes we’re forgetting our values!” thing, are disgusted by the Republican Party on other grounds, e.g. its marriage to uber-capitalism and American nationalism. I don’t know how the U.K. works, but I imagine there’s at least some of that same sentiment.

    What trend C. S. Lewis would have followed is up for debate, but he’d still have been a Brit. Let’s not forget that when looking for him on the U.S. political spectrum.

  257. 257
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Ahhh, damn you, Mnemosyne! Well said.

  258. 258
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    After the drunken C. S. Lewis discussions, I, in the interests of equal time, called for and got the reading and discussion of “The Myth of Sisyphus.”

    Good on ya for that! Camus > Lewis

  259. 259
    celticdragonchick says:

    @toujoursdan:

    He wasn’t a right-winger or a conservative. He isn’t an American evangelical. He was a 1940s-1950s, middle of the road member of the Church of England. He had deep religious faith and an approachable writing style, but he wasn’t what right-wingers want him to be.

    This.

  260. 260
    Lysana says:

    And as for the claims Tolkien was a racist, oh, how soon we forget the hapfoots.

    Also, Lewis definitely had some things to say about the kind of Christian Palin is, and none of them good. She’s not reading Screwtape for the content.

  261. 261
    Jack says:

    @Morat20:

    I think Harry’s a passive hero because the real title of every book is, and I quote, “Hermione Granger and that time and had to save those two idiots and the whole world.”

  262. 262
    Sad_Dem says:

    “I want a politician who comes out and says ‘I like to get get jacked up on black coffee, primo bud and absinthe and read Philip K. Dick novels, but only as a warmup to getting seriously sideways on bootlegged uppers and reading William S. Burroughs and The Short Timers by Gustav Hasford.'”

    One subscription to your newsletter, please, Quixote. Meanwhile, I’m off to Waslia to leave copies of Beccadelli and Huysmans on the shelves of the public library.

  263. 263
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lysana:

    She’s not reading Screwtape for the content.

    She’s not reading Screwtape.

  264. 264
    Bella Q says:

    @chopper: Sorry about that man.

  265. 265
    Smurfhole says:

    @aimai:

    Tolkien was an ardent Catholic who converted Lewis from atheism and was deeply upset that Lewis chose Anglicanism over Catholicism. He also deliberately buried Christian imagery in the the Lord of the Rings books.

  266. 266
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    @Lysana:She’s not reading Screwtape for the content.

    She’s not reading Screwtape.

    She may be a character in Screwtape Proposes a Toast, perhaps one of the Pharisees in those nice bottles of Souldonnay with which the student gentledevils stimulated their digestions.

  267. 267
    benintn says:

    It’s an effort to promote more Narnia movies. This is Palin with the Bible in one hand and Variety Magazine in the other.

  268. 268
    Smurfhole says:

    @aimai:

    Without an external authority, there is no basis for any system of morality other than one’s own views. There’s no reason to say that one who does not murder is “better” than one who does not murder, other than that the non-murderer is more socially useful. Ultimately, empathy (an instinctive delusion, the sociopath would argue) is the only other thing holding people in line. Empathy has as much of an external moral validity (in the absence of external moral authority) as any other human impulse- greed, lust, rage, etc.

    So yes, without an external “authoritarian” moral authority, there’s no reason other than social convention and vestigial Christian impulses not to do as thou wilt.

  269. 269
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Smurfhole:

    So yes, without an external “authoritarian” moral authority, there’s no reason other than social convention and vestigial Christian impulses not to do as thou wilt.

    Humbug. Anarchy is bad for everyone except the alpha, and even his/her position is precarious. Reasonable cooperation, on the other hand, creates a stable foundation for most of us to pursue objectives higher (and more satisfying) than merely fighting each other for sparrow-scraps. I’d also note that cooperative behaviors are extremely common among nonhuman animals. I suppose that’s because they’re Christians? Or could it be that species lacking a minimum of cooperative behavior just die out?

  270. 270
    Morat20 says:

    @Jack:

    There’s always “Hermione Granger and The Time The Book Was Wrong”, but it was so emo that the editor round-filed it.

  271. 271
    Smurfhole says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    It’s because of instinct. Empathy survives because it’s socially useful for it to survive. That’s not a basis for an individual not to behave like a complete asshole to other individuals, that’s instinctive empathy (which I already addressed).

    Also, words like “good” and “bad” don’t mean jack shit when we’re talking about personalized pleasure and pain. “Fuck you, jack, I’ve got mine” is a perfectly viable moral position in the absence of an external moral authority.

  272. 272
    Morat20 says:

    I’m glad that you, with your external authority, are so eager and authoritative on what the people without it MUST believe.

    Next, I am sure you will hold forth on the innermost philosophies of blind Indonesian beggars.

  273. 273
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Smurfhole: If empathy (“cooperation” is a better term) “survives because it’s socially useful”, than that itself is “a basis for an individual not to behave like a complete asshole”. It’s enlightened self-interest: I generally cooperate because, on the whole, it benefits me to do so because it encourages others to generally cooperate with me. It’s the Golden Rule in action, and it has nothing to do with any “external moral authority”.

    BTW, I see little evidence for the existence of the most commonly-invoked “external moral authority” (“God”), and strong evidence that it’s a human-created social control having varying degrees of usefulness (and counter-usefulness) in fostering cooperation.

  274. 274
    Mothra says:

    CS Lewis had a battle between good and evil in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

    I’m not saying that CS Lewis’ theology is like Tim LaHaye’s, but they do both talk about a war for God.

    And Palin likes that stuff.

  275. 275
    chopper says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    to be fair, she probably thinks ‘screwtape’ is a porno on VHS.

  276. 276
    chopper says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:

    well, camus can do, but sartre is smartre.

  277. 277
    matoko_chan says:

    @eyelessgame: can i recommend The Starry Rift?
    i sent that to my 9 year nephew and he told me it changed his life.
    :)

  278. 278
    Phoebe says:

    @mds: Yeah. I went through a phase of reading a lot of his non-Narnia stuff, including A Grief Observed. There is no way in Hell that she’s read anything he’s written. None. Not even Lion/Witch/Wardrobe. She was told to say that. And she is banking on nobody asking a follow up, which is probably an extremely safe bet on her part, since she would never talk to anyone not on Fox. I would not be surprised if she’s never read a whole book without pictures in her life. Including the bible.

  279. 279
    rachel says:

    @aimai:

    Well, there’s no question that Eustace is represented as horrible because his parents are liberals and don’t correctly supervise him—the school he goes to is described as terrible because it is co-ed, because the children do what they want, because the “Head” is a woman who “talks” to the children and allows herself to be fooled by their interesting talk instead of running a tight ship…

    …and the stronger children are allowed to bully the weaker children at will. (This is shown in more detail in The Silver Chair.) Until his reformative experience in The Dawn Treader, Eustace was a willing accomplice to the bullies. In a modern version, he would have be one of the pack of Facebook or MySpace tormentors that drive unpopular kids to suicide. Eustace is represented as horrible because people like that are horrible, however they got that way.

  280. 280
    Alan says:

    @Nellcote: Yeah, who cares about her C.S. Lewis/Jeebus credentials. She friggin reads Newsmax?! And that’s who’s going to be our next President?! Jesus effing Christ!

  281. 281
    Asshole says:

    @Morat20:

    You can believe what you choose to believe, but other than resorting to arguments of social utilitarianism you can’t justify it as being inherently morally superior to anyone else’s belief. That’s my point.

  282. 282
    Asshole says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    If empathy (“cooperation” is a better term) “survives because it’s socially useful”, than that itself is “a basis for an individual not to behave like a complete asshole”. It’s enlightened self-interest: I generally cooperate because, on the whole, it benefits me to do so because it encourages others to generally cooperate with me. It’s the Golden Rule in action, and it has nothing to do with any “external moral authority”.

    Sure. It’s a good thing that you do, too, at least for me. I find it very useful that you’re not robbing and killing. But other than arguing that your beliefs are more useful than those of people who rob and kill, without an external moral authority I have no basis for criticizing those who do engage in such activities. Without an external moral authority or a resort to social utilitarianism or instinctive empathy, I can’t say that your beliefs are any better than those of anyone else.

    BTW, I see little evidence for the existence of the most commonly-invoked “external moral authority” (“God”), and strong evidence that it’s a human-created social control having varying degrees of usefulness (and counter-usefulness) in fostering cooperation.

    I see little evidence for a lot of things. What that has to do with the point (that in the absence of external moral authority, your beliefs are no “better” or “worse” than anyone else’s beliefs, only more or less useful for the continued survival of your fellow monkey tribespeople) eludes me. But at least it’s not authoritarian, so I suppose you would argue that total moral relativism (i.e., Nazism’s only wrong because it’s not useful to kill lots of people; Al Qaeda’s only wrong because sharia law sure would suck for a lot of people; Christianism’s only wrong because you personally find it annoying and the Christians would be just as bad as the other groups if they could get away with it) is somehow superior to the idea that life might have some sort of purpose beyond the short-term gratification of your physical and mental appetites and inherited moral proclivities while you’re awaiting your transition into oblivion.

    Or, maybe I’m wrong, and you can tell me how, in the absence of external moral authority and eschewing social utilitarianism, we can say that, for argument’s sake, Fascism is a bad thing. Bear in mind that social utilitarianism is itself a limited and relativistic moral outlook; I might find it wise that the government not enslave poor people because I, myself, am poor, but a wealthy person who possesses adequate resources to defend themselves against a Bolshevik uprising might see no reason whatsoever to oppose slavery and feudalism on the basis of what is socially useful from their point of view.

  283. 283
    sneezy says:

    @Dave:

    “Lewis himself never saw the Narnia stories as allegorical.”

    Well, he may well have said that, but if so, I think it’s pretty clear that he was lying.

  284. 284
    sneezy says:

    @Janus Daniels:

    “LISP & PASCAL: acronym names for programming languages”

    Pascal isn’t an acronym: it’s named after the mathematician. Lisp is more of a mnemonic (“list processing”) than an acronym.

  285. 285
    Paul in KY says:

    @Chris: I thought the Tashite soldier story was more like the good thief on the cross who goes to heaven with Jesus.

  286. 286
    Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “ETA: Lewis must be OK if Jack T. Chick backed off the exhortation to burn Lewis’ books.”

    Evidently someone clued Chick in that Lewis and Tolkein were Christian apologists.

    Tolkein, at least , knew to be a lot more subtle in how he framed his Christianity in the books.

    Frodo doesn’t become a victorious hero because he succeeds in the destroying the ring and is the biggest butt-kicker, but instead his heroism is in sparing Gollum, who is the one who actually, if unintentionally, destroys the Ring. So Frodo’s mercy is what allows God (as Tolkein saw it) to be able to Save Everyone’s Bacon From The Big Bad Guy.

    Wheras in the Narnia books you’re just wondering why Aslan didn’t get his shit together earlier to stop all the cute animals and satyrs getting creamed in battles.

  287. 287
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Asshole: The idea that “life might have some sort of purpose” is orthogonal to the idea of an external moral authority. Some people believe that their own purpose is to make others happy. Others believe that it’s to fulfill the commands of some “God”. Others avoid the question.

    I do think that the idea of an external moral authority is socially useful in some circumstances. I believe that some people would rape, murder, etc., absent the threat of punishment from an all-seeing “God”. But that doesn’t mean that the external moral authority actually exists. And unless it does, “moral absolutism” is merely moral relativism in “God” drag.

  288. 288
    Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “Tolkien was an ardent Catholic who converted Lewis from atheism and was deeply upset that Lewis chose Anglicanism over Catholicism. He also deliberately buried Christian imagery in the the Lord of the Rings books.”

    In fairness, while Tolkien is very English, you have to consider that Catholicism is a very much a minority religion in England, and one with a history of persecution *towards it* (rather than it doing the persecution) and one where those practicing it often had to do so in secret.

    There’s a small number of grand old families that never converted to Protestantism, but mostly Catholicism in England is Poles and Micks.

    Hence Tolkien’s “Tory Anarchism”, he’s a conservative, but one suspicious of power. And maybe why the Catholicism in LoTR and other works is a lot more subtle than Lewis’ Anglicanism.

    I still like “Out of the Silent Planet”, though.

  289. 289
    Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “By the way, re Tolkien, I’ve always heard that it was his attempt at creating a national myth for Britain comparable to the mythology the Greeks and Norse had.”

    And the Finns and Celts: Tolkien’s Elves borrow a lot from the Tuatha De Danaan as well as the Norse elves. Despite Tolkien’s distaste for the Celtic legends because of their “unreason” ( not true of the Fianna cycle, though, but the Ulster cycle is full of pointless death), he had 100 books on Celtic mythology.

    Also remember Tolkien pretty much revolutionized the interpretation of Beowulf.

  290. 290
    Smurfhole says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Either there’s an external moral authority, or there isn’t an external moral authority. Acting on the assumption that there is one doesn’t equal moral relativism, even if your assumption turns out to be wrong in some absolute metaphysical (not empirical) sense. Empirical analysis is useless for a discussion of metaphysics; either there’s a metaphysical reality that dictates this one, or there isn’t. No one’s arguing that God is an invisible space giant; people are arguing that there’s a metaphysical reality incapable of empirical observation. That argument may be erroneous, but it is not moral relativism to assume arguendo that such a reality exists, and that from that reality there comes a source of external moral authority.

  291. 291
    Smurfhole says:

    @Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan:

    If memory serves, Tolkien was born and spent part of his childhood in southern Africa, too, didn’t he? He was certainly an uber-conservative Catholic; he would wholeheartedly support Opus Dei if he were alive today, for example. He also supported Franco, although he opposed Nazism and doctrines of racial superiority.

    There must have been some interesting conversation between himself and CS Lewis, though. It certainly changed CS Lewis’ life; salon.com had an article about it several years ago.

  292. 292
    Hogan says:

    @Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan: If I remember right, Lewis was raised in Northern Ireland. I suspect that has more to do with his avoidance of Catholicism than the historic persecution of Catholics in England (which had been over for some time before he was born).

  293. 293
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Smurfhole:

    Either there’s an external moral authority, or there isn’t an external moral authority. Acting on the assumption that there is one doesn’t equal moral relativism, even if your assumption turns out to be wrong in some absolute metaphysical (not empirical) sense.

    Acting on that mistaken assumption is choosing to adopt a human-created belief system. It is, thus, no different from choosing to adopt any other human-created belief system, such as social utilitarianism. Phrasing this choice as the adoption of an “absolute” is just to put lipstick on a pig.

    Empirical analysis is useless for a discussion of metaphysics; either there’s a metaphysical reality that dictates this one, or there isn’t. No one’s arguing that God is an invisible space giant; people are arguing that there’s a metaphysical reality incapable of empirical observation.

    Which is, at base, to argue that we can’t know anything because everything that is is dictated by influences that we can’t even describe. That way lies nihilism. Also, empirical analysis *is* useful in discussing metaphysics, because it permits us to discern the boundary between metaphysics and, well, physics. It hasn’t been that long, for example, since empirical analysis dispelled the notion that thunder is the expression of a metaphysical entity’s displeasure, thus somehow annexing a portion of metaphysics’s ineffable, numinously inexplicable, and forever inaccessible domain.

    Shorter: beware the God of the Gaps.

  294. 294

    @eyelessgame:

    When Lewis’ racism, sexism, classism, etc. is brought up, it’s excused as “oh, he’s a product of his time, never you mind that.” When his positions at variance with the modern right wing is brought up, it’s lauded: “he would give those modern conservatives what-fer!”

    Well, I’m sorry – I don’t want to excuse his sexism, racism, classism (though he was, apparently, “surprised by Joy” and changed his sexist attitudes later in life), but I do want to point out that if we don’t give leeway for environment, Thomas Jefferson is an enemy of freedom and human dignity for being a slave owner – and not just a slave owner, but the kind of person who thinks of ‘labor’ as a form of capital (how many slaves do you own?).

    The reason I love him is because he taught me you can think, hard, on principles like “if God loves us, and is mighty, and yet terrible things happen, we must accept that there’s a reason – and maybe that reason is, he can’t stop it.” Or, “If we are forced to accept there is a hell, it doesn’t mean it must be a state where you are *placed*, but perhaps a situation you create.”

    He didn’t take the easy way out, to say that suffering is “God’s will” or decide that anyone in Hell clearly deserved their fate, so you should have no sympathy. His heaven included people who tried to rescue ‘lost souls’ so they yet had a chance to find their way. His agony over suffering was that there were no good answers.

    Now, I’ll say this much: I don’t know if he’d speak out against the Evangelical Right in the US; honestly, I think he’d consider it none of his business. But I do know that if they held up his apologia, and tried to claim he supported them more than he would ever support a church that spoke of “social justice”, *then* he would (in a gentle, but effective manner) rip them a new one. He valued clear communication and would be scornful of those who would take his words out of context – not even so much because they were *his* words, but because they were being taken out of context. That’s poor quality thinking at best, hideous dishonesty at worst, and that’s the kind of thing up with which he would not put. (I feel that he, like Mr. Churchill, would not end a sentence with a preposition :-) .)

  295. 295
    Tonal Crow says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo:

    Now, I’ll say this much: I don’t know if he’d speak out against the Evangelical Right in the US; honestly, I think he’d consider it none of his business. But I do know that if they held up his apologia, and tried to claim he supported them more than he would ever support a church that spoke of “social justice”, then he would (in a gentle, but effective manner) rip them a new one.

    Thus, Screwtape in Screwtape Proposes a Toast says:

    The dangerous phenomenon called Christian Sockialism [sic to sidestep moderation] was rampant. Factory owners of the good old type who grew rich on sweated labor, instead of being assassinated by their workpeople — we could have used that — were being frowned upon by their own class. The rich were increasingly giving up their powers, not in the face of revolution and compulsion, but in obedience to their own consciences….

  296. 296
    Smurfhole says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    Acting on that mistaken assumption is choosing to adopt a human-created belief system. It is, thus, no different from choosing to adopt any other human-created belief system, such as social utilitarianism. Phrasing this choice as the adoption of an “absolute” is just to put lipstick on a pig.

    How do you know what’s human-created and what isn’t? Isn’t that an assumption itself? Quite an assumption, I might add; until someone time-travels back to confirm your suppositions, none of us will ever know.

    Which is, at base, to argue that we can’t know anything because everything that is is dictated by influences that we can’t even describe. That way lies nihilism.

    Really? I’d argue that the path to nihilism lies in an atmosphere of total moral relativism, in which each individual’s own conscience is the sole judge of the moral propriety of their conduct. (Well, except for collective judgments about which conduct the rest of us find useful or not-useful… You end up with some disturbing arguments that strike me as the very essence of nihilism. For example, a social utilitarian I know once said to me, “Child molestation was fine for ancient Greeks, their society functioned for hundreds of years with it. But it’s not good for the kind of society we want to have, so we outlaw it and use peoples’ private moral codes to make sure they dislike it. But fundamentally, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it except that we can have a more useful society without it.”)

    Also, empirical analysis is useful in discussing metaphysics, because it permits us to discern the boundary between metaphysics and, well, physics. It hasn’t been that long, for example, since empirical analysis dispelled the notion that thunder is the expression of a metaphysical entity’s displeasure, thus somehow annexing a portion of metaphysics’s ineffable, numinously inexplicable, and forever inaccessible domain.

    So, empiricism successfully disproved a previously-held misbelief in which metaphysics were mistakenly conflated with physical phenomena by ancient peoples ignorant of physics; ergo, empiricism completely disproves the existence of metaphysics. I see some serious gaps in that reasoning process. That’s like trying to disprove the existence of fish by disproving someone’s mistaken belief that a chicken is a fish.

    If you’re trying to disprove the existence of any sort of metaphysical entity, you’re going to have to try a lot harder than this. Because if we even allow for the possible existence of such an entity, we create the idea of an external moral authority- whether or not we know the precise tenets of such a moral authority’s moral code.

  297. 297
    Hogan says:

    What is it about a “metaphysical” or supernatural entity that requires it to have a moral code? Or to care about what I do or don’t do?

  298. 298
    Tonal Crow says:

    To your first point, if we do not (or cannot, as you said) know whether a metaphysical being exists, choosing to adopt a moral code on the basis of what we assume (big assumption!) about that entity’s existence and laws is, in itself, a relativistic choice. We choose to adopt or reject it based upon our individual proclivities. If you counter that we choose to adopt or reject it based upon the being’s metaphysical influence over us, then you’ve gone circular, and there’s no point in continuing this discussion, since it devolves to faith.

    To your second point, nihilism results from adopting the idea that we can’t know anything, which flows from the idea that some metaphysical being is manipulating existence in ways we can never discern. On the other hand, knowledge results from adopting the idea that we can propose and test hypotheses, even about topics that previously were beyond our understanding. And knowledge gives us at least something of a foundation upon which to base choices. It doesn’t dictate them, but at least it shows us, for example, that it’s bad to discharge filth into rivers because doing so spreads disease. That, I would argue, is at least utilitarian progress, and perhaps even a kind of moral progress.

    Your third point is mostly a strawman. I have not attempted to definitely disprove the existence of all metaphysical beings. I have merely observed that science has progressively narrowed the islets which the gods of the gaps may inhabit, and I see nothing to suggest that that process will not continue.

    BTW, the existence of a metaphysical being does not, of itself, imply that it knows about us, or if it does, that it has any interest in us, or if it does, that it’s promulgated some moral code for us, or if it has, that we’ve correctly received, interpreted, and applied that code.

  299. 299
    Smurfhole says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    To your first point, if we do not (or cannot, as you said) know whether a metaphysical being exists, choosing to adopt a moral code on the basis of what we assume (big assumption!) about that entity’s existence and laws is, in itself, a relativistic choice. We choose to adopt or reject it based upon our individual proclivities. If you counter that we choose to adopt or reject it based upon the being’s metaphysical influence over us, then you’ve gone circular, and there’s no point in continuing this discussion, since it devolves to faith.

    Atheism is also an act of faith. But obviously, with the number of religions out there and the variations in belief systems they present, one must take certain assumptions and actions on faith. That’s not relativism; it’s faith in an absolute. And the major religions all agree on the larger issues anyway- no murder, rape, theft, etc. It’s the minutiae and the theology that vary. Atheism is a huge assumption, an act of faith that the lack of evidence is evidence of absence; we’re standing in a chicken coop debating, based on what we’ve seen, whether or not fish exist. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t; but a chicken coop is not the place to conclusively determine that. So atheism’s just as much of a leap of faith.

    To your second point, nihilism results from adopting the idea that we can’t know anything, which flows from the idea that some metaphysical being is manipulating existence in ways we can never discern.

    Nihilism results from adopting the idea that nothing we think or do matters, which is flows from atheism and the attendant moral relativism. I see you have no rebuttal for my acquaintance who only opposes child molestation because it’s not socially useful. That proves my point.

    On the other hand, knowledge results from adopting the idea that we can propose and test hypotheses, even about topics that previously were beyond our understanding. And knowledge gives us at least something of a foundation upon which to base choices. It doesn’t dictate them, but at least it shows us, for example, that it’s bad to discharge filth into rivers because doing so spreads disease. That, I would argue, is at least utilitarian progress, and perhaps even a kind of moral progress.

    Utilitarian, empirical progress, yes. It tells us nothing about metaphysics any more than a better understanding of chicken feathers teaches us about fish.

    Your third point is mostly a strawman. I have not attempted to definitely disprove the existence of all metaphysical beings. I have merely observed that science has progressively narrowed the islets which the gods of the gaps may inhabit, and I see nothing to suggest that that process will not continue.

    Well, insofar as metaphysics are wholly separate from physics, the dividing line is quite clear. Your confidence that rummaging around the henhouse will disprove fish forever is a bit misplaced.

    BTW, the existence of a metaphysical being does not, of itself, imply that it knows about us, or if it does, that it has any interest in us, or if it does, that it’s promulgated some moral code for us, or if it has, that we’ve correctly received, interpreted, and applied that code.

    No, this must be taken on faith- the belief that such a being would create us for a reason, and may have even informed us of that reason at some point in the past. This requires faith, as it’s neither empirically provable or disprovable; the idea that it’s garbage also requires faith.

  300. 300
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Smurfhole: “Faith in an absolute” is relativism unless the thing chosen is shown to actually have an absolute basis. That has not been done. Extraordinary claims (such as the existence of a metaphysical entity that’s proclaimed a moral code for us) require extraordinary proof. When you have that proof, I’ll be glad to acknowledge a limited “absolute” basis [1] for your beliefs.

    As for atheism being just as much a leap of faith as theism, I disagree. Though there’s certainly not conclusive evidence that “God” doesn’t exist, there’s probabilistic evidence that that’s so. For example, believers commit crime at about the same average rate an nonbelievers. If the usual all-good “God” existed, believers should exhibit a significantly lower crime rate. For another, religious texts are (usually) extraordinary mishmashes, rather than the paragons of godlike clarity one ought to expect from, well, a god. Too, some major religions disagree about fundamental issues, such as whether “Hell” exists, or whether “Jesus” was “the Son of God” or merely “a prophet”, and the religious have not-infrequently waged wars (with many attendant cruelties) to “vindicate”/enforce/spread their beliefs.

    On nihilism, one can be an atheist and still believe that what we do “matters”. Though I am an atheist, I believe that what I do matters because I have the ability to improve not just my own happiness, but others’ happiness (which includes that of both humans and of other sentient beings) — and also to help preserve the little blue/white/green/brown sphere that we inhabit.

    Contrariwise, one can be a theist and adopt the idea, for example, that nothing we do here on earth matters, because the real action is in “the afterlife”. Some predestination cults fall into this category [2], as do those who hold that perfect obedience to, say, “Allah” is manifested through violent jihad against “the infidel”. All that sounds very much like nihilism to me.

    As for the needlessly-inflammatory “child molestation” canard, one need not be a theist to adopt the idea that it’s wrong because it violates the Golden Rule and/or its corollaries (i.e., Don’t prey on others if you don’t want them to prey on you). Or one can be a theist — some Mormon offshoot cults come immediately to mind — and adopt the idea that molestation is a sacrament. Are those cults nihilistic because they hold that 50-year-old men should “marry” 10-year-old girls? Or are they anti-nihilistic because their sacrament springs from belief in some “absolute” metaphysical entity?

    Finally, your implied claim that what is currently metaphysics is forever beyond science’s reach is a bald assertion that flies in the face of history. A devout adherent of Thor would have asserted (in substance) the same thing.

    [1] Limited because other metaphysical entities proclaiming other moral codes for us might then exist, calling into question all such codes’ “absolute” basis. Perhaps “absolute” is a bad term, and we should be using “external” instead.

    [2] Predestination cultists would say that what we do here is strictly a manifestation of whether we’ve been predestined to be “saved”, instead of a means through which we might reach “salvation”. Thus, their philosophy accepts the nihilistic premise that nothing we do here “matters”.

  301. 301
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Smurfhole: Oh yes, on “absence of evidence”: absence of evidence after thousands of years of searching inquiry is, indeed, substantial evidence of absence. Add to that independent evidence suggestive of absence such as I raised above (e.g., muddiness of texts that claim divine inspiration, lack of significant differences in criminal histories between believers and nonbelievers, etc.), and I think the evidence of absence is convincing.

    More generally, it would appear that systems of inquiry that assume relatively smaller numbers and magnitudes of premises produce more useful knowledge than systems that assume relatively larger numbers and/or magnitudes of premises. Thus, science (to which Occam’s Razor/”parsimony”) is central has produced more useful knowledge than religion.

  302. 302
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    @Smurfhole: “Faith in an absolute” is relativism unless the thing chosen is shown to actually have an absolute basis. That has not been done.

    Let’s explore this. If a given belief system claims roots in “an absolute” (a metaphysical entity), does that — without more — make the belief system itself an “absolute”? I say “no”. Until the root — the claimed metaphysical entity — is shown to exist, and to have promulgated the claimed belief system, the belief system is just as relativistic as a belief system that does not claim metaphysical roots. That is, until the metaphysical root is shown, the system’s proponents cannot legitimately claim that it is anything other than a human creation, and thus as relativistic as most any other such creation.

    Relatedly, I’d argue that science (and math) are the least relativistic of human creations. They proceed from a minimal number of minimal premises, testing each hypothesis. While the root is still relative (since we cannot really know that the world we experience is not a hallucination), at least the process minimizes the required assumptions, thus (probably) minimizing the chances that it’s based upon some fundamental misperception of the world.

    Religion (especially fundamentalist religion), in contrast, is highly relativistic, since it assumes, really, everything, and is highly resistant to other sources of knowledge.

  303. 303
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Smurfhole: And to continue: even assuming that a metaphysical entity exists, and that it’s promulgated a moral code for us: (1) We don’t know that it’s a good code and (2) We don’t know the nature of the metaphysical entity.

    Thus, for example, the Maya once believed that ritually murdering others would please their rain god, thus guaranteeing a plentiful harvest. Is that a good moral code? If you say no, on what do you base your objection? By reference to your belief system (whose grounding is no different from that of the Maya)? Or by reference to the Golden Rule, social utility, or some innate (and thus evolutionary) moral sense?

    On a metaphysical entity’s nature, assuming arguendo that the Bible was promulgated by a metaphysical entity, how do we know that that entity is, in fact, Jehovah/Jesus/The Holy Ghost, and not, for example, Coyote or Loki playing a vicious joke? How do we even know that the being is what we’d call a “god”, and not just some ordinary mope inhabiting a space beyond our (current) understanding? What if the Bible is really a novel written by a human-like being on the other side of a symmetric metaphysical barrier, whose world has occasionally received some of *our* writings and has treated them as holy books?

    Really we don’t know. It’s all in the realm of faith until science winnows the facts from the fancy.

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