Friday, February 19, 2010

My Indifference to C.S. Lewis

Keith Ghormley got me thinking again about C.S. Lewis.

I'm an unalloyed fan of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustice Scrubbs is a fine, recognizable character.

But, frankly, besides a thumbs up for LWW, I think that the remainder of the Narnia Chronicles are pretty poor fiction. I do respect the end of The Last Battle -- both for offing the Pevensie children at the beginning of the novel, and also for his portrayal of the fully inaugurated eschaton (where everything is brighter and more real than the reality it just replaced, rather than "heavenly," misty, and ethereal). But it's a dull, plodding read for the most part, as are the other books in the series.

And while I like his portrayal of the changing relationship between Mark Studdock and his wife, Jane, through That Hideous Strength, Perelandra is largely just awful.

I first came across Lewis through his theological writings. Everybody was reading The Screwtape Letters (which I've dipped into but have never read entirely), so I picked up his book on the Psalms and some other works that I thought would be serious theology, even if written for a broader lay audience.

I recall being distinctly unimpressed. There was no Biblical difficulty for which Lewis didn't seem to avoid by taking the stupid way out. E.g., the imprectatory Psalms are in the Bible for Lewis to teach us how not to pray. Blah. After reading a bit of this I concluded I just didn't have time to waste on such nonsense. So I've never really gotten his position in the modern evangelical pantheon. But then, perhaps, because I think that most of the folks in the modern evangelical Pantheon are overrated (e.g., Francis Schaeffer), perhaps Lewis does belong there after all.