November 30th, 2005 |
There is one thing that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of saying that his philosophy does not matter, and this is done universally in the twentieth century.
—G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905), in The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton, Volume I (1986), p. 40
November 29th, 2005 |
Books & Reading, Television
CS Lewis feared film would ruin Narnia
CS Lewis [sic], the author of the Narnia stories, with which Disney hopes to establish a blockbuster movie franchise to rival Harry Potter, was “absolutely opposed” to the idea of a live action version of the stories, it has emerged….
In the letter, dated December 18 1959, Lewis made clear he approved of the radio version of the book produced by Lance Sieveking, a pioneering BBC radio and television producer. But in letters written shortly before the death of his wife, Joy, Lewis also said he was “absolutely opposed – adamant isn’t in it! – to a TV version” of any of the books. “Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare. At least, with photography,” he wrote.
It has “emerged”? This would seem like common knowledge for those who have read C.S. Lewis’s On Stories or some of his other essays on the imagination. I knew that C.S. Lewis would not approve of Narnia being made into a movie. One of the reasons Lewis wrote the Narnia stories was to expand children’s imaginations (just like his Space Trilogy tried to do with adults), and a movie does not expand the imagination. Reading helps us to use and sharpen our imaginations, but movies do not. This is because we must create the images in our mind when we are reading, but in a movie we are only receiving someone else’s imagination through image.
I think Lewis would feel even more strongly (if that is possible) now that he could see the effects of television on our culture and imaginations–and its effect on books.
November 28th, 2005 |
“I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes.”
—C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (1938), p. 76
November 27th, 2005 |
The love of knowledge is a kind of madness.
—C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (1938), p. 56
November 26th, 2005 |
Pulsing with brightness as with some unbearable pain or pleasure, clustered in pathless and countless multitudes, dreamlike in clarity, blazing in perfect blackness, the stars seized all his attention, troubled him, excited him…
—C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet (1938), p. 23
November 25th, 2005 |
The following 15 rules of civility are taken from Stephen Carter’s Civility (1998).
- Our duty to be civil toward others does not depend on whether we like them or not.
- Civility requires that we sacrifice for strangers, not just for people we happen to know.
- Civility has two parts: generosity, even when it is costly, and trust, even when there is risk.
- Civility creates not merely a negative duty not to do harm, but an affirmative duty to do good.
- Civility requires a commitment to live a common moral life, so we should try to follow the norms of the community if the norms are not actually immoral.
- We must come into the presence of our fellow human beings with a sense of awe and gratitude.
- Civility assumes that we will disagree; it requires us not to mask our differences but to resolve them respectfully.
- Civility requires that we listen to others with knowledge of the possibility that they are right and we are wrong.
- Civility requires that we express ourselves in ways that demonstrate our respect for others.
- Civility requires resistance to the dominance of social life by the values of the marketplace. Thus, the basic principles of civility—generosity and trust—should apply as fully in the market and in politics as in every other human activity.
- Civility allows criticism of others, and sometimes even requires it, but the criticism should always be civil.
- Civility discourages the use of legislation rather than conversation to settle disputes, except as a last, carefully considered resort.
- Teaching civility, by word and example, is an obligation of the family. The state must not interfere with the family’s effort to create a coherent moral universe for its children.
- Civility values diversity, disagreement, and the possibility of resistance, and therefore the state must not use education to try to standardize our children.
- Religions do their greatest service to civility when they preach not only love of neighbor but resistance to wrong.
November 23rd, 2005 |
A Kingdom of Noise: A Screwtape Letter for the Media Age
Make them feel empty without a Blackberry on their hip or a television blaring in the background. Tune their alarm clock to a raucous station with bombastic DJs. Call their cell phone on their way to work or during a meal. Put TV screens in banks and hotel lobbies, gas stations and airplanes – anywhere humans might have time to reflect. Offer deals to Walt Disney World and casinos, and make a weekend in the Catskills appear unexciting or at least unaffordable.
Over time the humans will grow unaware of the high-pitched ringing in their ears.
But oh, how dreadful it is if they do notice and, worse yet, begin to reject the delightful opiates we offer. An hour’s walk or an evening alone can be hazardous. Even a drive with a broken radio carries risk. Peace and quietude, after all, are the Enemy’s handiwork. He waits patiently for them in the stillness, whispering for them to rest or ponder or, dare I say that repulsive word, meditate.
November 23rd, 2005 |
[T]he statement that wars have been fought in the name of God is a non squitur. As the theologian Walter Wink once pointed out, more people have died in the twentieth century’s secular wars than in the preceding fifty centuries of fighting combined…. No religious war in history, not all the religious wars of history added together, did as much damage as this century’s wars of nationalism and ideology. So if we are to ban religious sentiment from public life because it has been responsible for so much horror, let us not forget to ban advocacy of freedom or justice as well.
—Stephen L. Carter, Civility (1998), p. 252