HIGHLIGHTS From Lewis Underground Meeting +
BONUS ESSAY – Owen Barfield & Anthroposophy
by Dr. Louis Markos
FEBRUARY MEETING HIGHLIGHTS:
NEXT MONTH’S BIG EVENT PLANNING REVIEW:
– Finalized Speaker Topics
— Mike Bellah, “Friendship According To Lewis.”
— Randy Ray, “Spending The Night In Lewis’ House,” First Hand Student Accounts of Oxford 2017
— Kirk Manton, “What’s All This About” Why the Foundation, Why the Underground?
FOUNDATION UPDATE (pray for):
Green Pastures Study Center (Northfield Mass.)
— Mortgage Closes 3-20-18. Fundraising Goal $30K in 15 DAYS!
— Lewis Estate approval of sublicense to use the name C.S. Lewis Study Center
The Mother Ship
– Executive Director Search
– Long-Term Leadership Transition
– Funding Increase
– September Faculty Forum / Lewis Track Event In So. Cal.
CHAPTER 13 DISCUSSION:
– Challenging Intelectual Chapter. Lewis assumes we have read a lot and so we helped each other through the dropping of names, book titles and vocabulary.
– The New Look – The Safe Materialistic Wall Lewis built was finished and then began to break down. As his friends become spiritual (Christian) and through their vigorous debates, he discovered that his worldview was inconsistent, insufficient, and will not stand.
He closed the chapter, in typical Lewis imagery style, “…the great Angler played His fish and I never dreamed that the hook was in my tongue.”
Now we are on to the penultimate (“2nd to last” for us Hobbits) chapter (#14) entitled – “Checkmate.” We will discuss this chapter at our April meeting, so you have plenty of time to soak in it – start now, so you can really engage in the conversation here on Facebook and at the meeting face to face!
See you all on March 26th!
From the Lewis Underground
Anthroposophy: A mystical doctrine/philosophy, founded and propagated by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), that is at once scientific and anti-scientific in its approach and that, though quite distinct from Christianity (today we would call it vaguely “new age,” or, better, “holistic”), is not necessarily incompatible with it. Thus, Owen Barfield, one of the great academic and spiritual influences on C. S. Lewis, was both a believing Christian and a committed anthroposophist. Central to anthroposophy is the belief that, since the fourth century A.D. (when Christianity became institutionalized), man has increasingly cut himself off from the universe around him. Whereas people once experienced ideas directly in an undifferentiated manner, and whereas they once participated in nature in an unmediated, “naturally spiritual” way, they now view nature scientifically as a dead object cut off from their own individual, subjective identity. Like the romantics of the nineteenth century, anthroposophy sought (via the trinity of imagination, inspiration, and intuition) to heal this rupture of subject and object, psyche (mind/soul) and body, to cease looking at man in purely abstract, materialistic terms.
In Saving the Appearances, one of the clearest expositions of some of the key tenets of anthroposophy, Barfield calls on us to engage our sympathetic imagination in an attempt to recapture the original participation that existed between the ancients and their universe. Modern science, Barfield argues, has killed the mystery of the stars (i.e., the cosmos), not by telling us how they work (astronomy), but by telling us that they work apart from both us and the Creator. Barfield’s goal is not to return to the naive, original participation of our forbears but to press forward to a higher kind of consciousness (final participation) that transcends the original as the New Jerusalem does the Garden of Eden or the Resurrection Body does the pre-lapsarian body of Adam.
What has this to do with C. S. Lewis? A great deal! In much of his academic work (especially A Preface to Paradise Lost and The Discarded Image) Lewis helps us to see the cosmos as the medieval Christians saw it. In Out of the Silent Planet, he uses the genre of science fiction to carry us, on the wings of imagination, into a medieval conception of the heavens that has little to do with our modern, materialistic vision of the coldness and deadness of space. In Perelandraand again in That Hideous Strength, Lewis invites us to participate in a thrilling cosmic dance and even toys with a partial restoration of the edenic relationship between man and animal. Indeed, the Chronicles of Narnia may be interpreted as an attempt to depict a world in which the division of subject and object, mind and nature, man and animal has not fully occurred. Of course, despite these influences, Lewis is careful never to fall into the greatest trap of anthroposophy: the temptation to depict the final state of man as some kind of pantheistic, transcendental One Soul in which all individuality is lost and man becomes one with the universe and with God. The sanctity of the individual, the insistence that we are distinct from God, the Universe, and each other, is central to Lewis’s humanist Christian vision.
Louis Markos (www.Loumarkos.com), Professor in English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities; his books include Lewis Agonistes: How C. S. Lewis Can Train Us to Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World, Restoring Beauty: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful in the Writings of C. S. Lewis, and On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis.