C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church Paperback – 1 Nov 2013
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About the Author
Joseph Pearce is Writer in Residence and Visiting Fellow at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, NH. He is a renowned biographer whose books include "Candles in the Dark: The Authorized Biography of Fr. Ho Lung, Missionaries of the Poor "(Saint Benedict Press, 2012); "Through Shakespeare's Eyes: Seeing the Catholic Presence in the Plays " (Ignatius Press, 2010); and "Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life " (HarperCollins, 1998). He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Higher Education from Thomas More College for the Liberal Arts and the Pollock Award for Christian Biography. He is co-editor of the "St. Austin Review," editor-in-Chief of Ignatius Press "Critical Editions," and editor-in-Chief of Sapientia Press.
Top Customer Reviews
It is good that Pierce declares his actual agenda fairly early on ,which is to consider whether Lewis had really become de facto a Roman Catholic by the end of his life.It is good that he declares this ,because then one can just about tolerate the last two or three chapters.These become more a less a frustrated polemic almost shrieking with frustration and considerable lack of cool objectivity about Lewis's 'failure' to reach the blessedness of communion with the 'true faith' etc.The chapters use rather childish allusions to 'mere' and 'mire' christianity and generally lapse into an agressive tone ,so the finale of the book is pretty poor.The idea is that the 'wicked Ulsterprotestantism of the Lewis childhood kept the Lewis brothers away from blessedness to the end.
Joy Davidman gets a mention but i doubt very much if her significance would be guessed from THIS book.I think the author was out of his depth there..
But the earlier chapters are very enlightening,especially regarding the influence of Dante and Tolkien;these are well brought out and at first one had no reason to feel that their membership of the RC church was the cause of the emphasis on them.However it was good to see the inflence of Newman also followed up too.What is definitely missing though is Lewis' relations to the more esoterically active people, especially to Charles Williams and to the anthroposophists Barfield and Harwood.Presumably these are all so heretical as to be unmentionable.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For more on Lewis' relationship to the Catholic Church see my interview with Richard Purtill, author of C.S. Lewis' Case for the Christian Faith (available through Amazon) at Ignatius.com in the Ignatius Insight online magazine.
Joseph Pearce's book is the first exception I have encountered. Pearce focuses on an aspect of Lewis' writing which is genuinely ambiguous - his relationship to the Catholic Church. Reared in the Ulster Protestant milieu, he had a revulsion to Roman Catholicism, which never completely left him. Yet, "papists" (e.g., Chesterton and Tolkien) played a major role in his conversion. And he embraced distinctively Catholic doctrines such as purgatory, the Blessed Sacrament and the impossibility of female priests.
Pearce asks why Lewis never became a Catholic - and whether, like many of his disciples, he would have, if he had lived longer. Although the questions cannot finally be answered, Pearce's lively attempt sheds light on a major aspect of Lewis' thought.
What gave Lewis trepidation concerning a move closer to the Catholic Church? While he does mention concern with certain Marian doctrines and elements of church authority,I think Joseph Pearce's insights into the man give us a distinct possibility for his inability to ford the Tiber. Based on the letters of C.S. Lewis and other writings of his, I also would suggest that verses such as Romans 14:21 played an important role. He understood that he was an important religious figure to all Christians, and he did not want to do anything to make his brother stumble, or to jeopardize the wide acceptance of his works. Our motivations for any serious undertaking are seldom black and white, but frequently of a more interwoven nature. While we can't know with any certainty what was within Lewis' heart, it is clear that his concept of faith and the church mirrored most significant aspect of the Catholic Church.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants to have a fuller understanding of Lewis' spirtual life. He takes a long look at who Lewis was and what he held true.
C.S. Lewis is admired by many Christians including myself, but it is interesting to see, as a high-church Anglican, why and where he drew the line between his religon and that of Roman Catholics. Looking at his literary work and that of his close friends (including J.R.R. Tolkien, the staunch Catholic), Pearce carefully and honestly examines Lewis' beleifs and clarifies his positions.
It is interesting to see how Lewis really was just a breath away from Catholic beleif, but how very important that breath is.
This book is well-researched and quite enlightening. I enjoyed it and will ceratinly be reading more of Mr. Pearce's work in the future.