Tolkien & CS Lewis' spiritual development

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Lúthien
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Tolkien & CS Lewis' spiritual development

Post by Lúthien »

Last weekend Dave sent me a biography of CS Lewis written by one A N Wilson mostly because of the clear description of the spiritual development of CS Lewis that was catalysed at least partly by the discussions he and JRRT were having around 1929 - 1930.
I read about it before, for instance last year in Humphrey Carpenter's 'The Inklings' but he does not go all that deep into it.

I think there's a lot of interesting material in there, so I uploaded it to the resources forum here; and Dave also included an excerpt of what he thought most interesting, I'll attach it to this message. 

Lewis-Conversion.pdf
Excerpt from C. S. Lewis, A Biography - by A N Wilson
(48.35 KiB) Downloaded 108 times

I'll first need to read a bit more though. 
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Re: Tolkien & CS Lewis' spiritual development

Post by Lúthien »

Some video's I found on the subject. I didn't watch them all (only the first one some time ago) so I'm not sure if they are any good.


Here's a clip from EWTN's "Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings:' A Catholic Worldview" portraying a debate between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on whether or not myths are lies.




Lecture by Ryan M. Reeves (PhD Cambridge), Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.




Playlist with (maybe) more interesting material on Lewis and Tolkien:

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Meneldur Olvarion
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Re: Tolkien & CS Lewis' spiritual development

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

The part that really hit home for me was the following section, as it has personal relevance:
C. S. Lewis: A Biography by A.N. Wilson, "Chapter Ten–Mythopoeia (1929–1931)" wrote: Owen Barfield, both in conversation and in writing, had already gone a long way in revealing to Lewis the fallacy of making sharp distinctions between ‘myth’ and ‘fact’. In his book Poetic Diction he had pointed out that in earlier times, those who first used language did not necessarily distinguish between ‘metaphorical’ and ‘literal’ uses of words. The Latin spiritus, for example, means breath. Modern rationalists might wish to distinguish between the ‘meaning’ of ‘spirit in some elevated sense’ and that of ‘merely breath’. But early users of the language would not have made such a distinction. When the wind blew it was not ‘like’ someone breathing. It was the breath of a divinity.

This powerfully confirmed the way in which Tolkien had been accustoming himself to think about the world ever since he grew to manhood. One of the great distinctions in his mythology is made between the Elves, who are ‘animist’ and ‘pagan’, and the Men, who are destined to move beyond this. The Elves, who will never leave the material universe and do not know what happens to Men when they die, are embodiments of language-users for whom the breath-wind-spirit distinction would be meaningless. By contrast, God willed that ‘the hearts of Men should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein’.

Now, I've recognized myself as an animist in the anthropological sense for decades - it was, in fact, one of my main motives in creating both T-e and then IV: to see if there were any other modern animists out there who also used the Legendarium as a central myth (because you can't be a true animist without some sort of mythological schema for the world). I'm also 'pagan' in this old sense of the word, before neo-Pagans corrupted its meaning, as I see that issue anyway. By which, I mean that every time a neo-Pagan mentions "¡¡¡The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram!!!"†, I have to go look it up on Wikipedia, as I'm both anti-Western in sentiment (meaning I ignore 'Ceremonal Magic' and its cultural underpinnings in their entirety) and scientifically pragmatic in outlook (meaning that I don't think the sprints give a damn about symbols drawn on the floor, on paper, or anywhere else ‒ I know for a fact that the Salvia-people laugh at the very idea).

For me the last paragraph is not entirely accurate, though, and may not be so for the Eldar either. When I'm in "shamanic mode" I can certainly recognize a breeze as the breath of Manwë; I also simultaneously recognize it as the flow of a light fluid from an area of higher pressure in the local pool to one of lower pressure. I guess the big difference between my cognitive mode and what I've read many other people describe of theirs is that I don't feel a pull by either mode to achieve primacy. Each has its uses in different situations and (probably more importantly) as what I can only describe as "spark generators" for new ideas.
_____

† In all cases that I can remember, the breathless urgency and awe I've represented by the exclamation points is intrinsic to the original statement.
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Re: Tolkien & CS Lewis' spiritual development

Post by Lúthien »

You might then also like Barfield’s “Poetic Diction”, btw.

I also slightly disagree with that second paragraph in that it’s not sure what happens with the Elves after “Dagor Dagorath” in which Arda Marred is supposed to be replaced by a Mk II version that should be how it was originally intended. I have never read any statement to the effect that they should end right there - actually, the Athrabeth Andreth a Finrod goes into the “Estel” the Elves have for some plan Iluvatar has for them.

Re. “breath-wind-spirit distinction”: I must think a bit more about how that works for me. I’ll get back on that.
 
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