Imagination and Theology in the Writings of C.S. Lewis: Oxford/Belfast Summer Course 2018

Questions for Daily reading

Instructions: Each time you complete the required reading for the next day's class and discussion, you must respond to these questions on the blog you have set up prior to coming to class. I will be checking to see that the questions have been completed. The purpose of this is to enable you to begin thinking critically about the text and to prepare you for the class discussion. Please make sure you have completed the questions for the Life of C.S. Lewis prior to our first class together. Access course syllabus/reading schedule>>

1. Life of C.S. Lewis

  • Who first began the literary group known as "The Inklings?"
  • Why was Lewis a popular lecturer?
  • What book was Lewis's first straight work of theology?
  • What was Lewis' chief difficulty in presenting the Christian faith to modern unbelievers?
  • Who did Lewis blame for replacing traditional forms of poetry with new forms?
  • What happened to Lewis at the University of St. Andrews in 1946?
  • Who did Lewis' friends think would make the ideal wife for him?
  • What was one reason Lewis didn't get to become a professor of English at Oxford?
  • Why did Lewis initially turn down a position at Cambridge university?
  • Why did Harry Carpenter refuse to marry Lewis?
  • Where did Lewis and Joy go for their belated honeymoon?
  • What Narnian character did Lewis model on someone close to him and who was this person?
  • What book of Lewis' was published under a pseudonym and what was the title of the book?
  • What was the nature of the debate about undergraduate criticism at Cambridge?
  • Who was the young American that Lewis wanted all of his friends to like?
  • What other event prevented many of Lewis' friends from hearing about his death?

2. Surprised by Joy

  • What are Lewis's categories of imagination?
  • How does Lewis define joy?
  • How or why might reason and imagination be divided in our own minds?

3. On Fairy Stories

  • What are some of the characteristics of fantasy as Tolkien describes?
  • Why do we need recovery?
  • What is achieved through consolation?

4. On Stories

  • What does Lewis find most important about story?
  • What does Lewis mean by "we grasp at a state and find only a succession of events in which the state is never quite embodied?"

5.  Is Theology Poetry?

  • How does imagination serve to move us toward reality and toward waking up?
  • How were the pagan myths related to the coming of Christ?
  • Why can we only talk in metaphors about non-material things?

6.   Myth Became Fact, The Weight of Glory

     Myth Became Fact 

  • Why does Lewis insist that we should see God as a myth?

    The Weight of Glory

  • Lewis writes that we are half-hearted creatures. How could we become more wholehearted?
  • How does our experience suggest what Lewis calls the "inconsolable wound?"
  • What are the implications for our lives if the idea that how God thinks of us is more important than how we think of God?

7. Letters to MalcolmMeditation in a Toolshed

    Letters to Malcolm

  • Lewis says we are in danger of forgetting God's presence in the world. How can we remember?
  • What does Lewis mean when he says God is an iconoclast?
  • Lewis outlines some obstacles to perceiving our pleasures as worship. What other obstacles from a modern-day perspective might hinder us?

    Meditation in a Toolshed    

  • Describe why we need more than one way to look at reality

8. The Grey Town

  • What would it take for us to begin noticing when we are using the controlled imagination?
  • Describe the two activities of the imagination
  • What's the problem with avoiding or never taking the time to examine our lives?

9. Narnia and the North

  • Describe what is meant by "saving the appearances."
  • Why can we only think analogically about spiritual realities?
  • Why did Lewis value hiddenness and atmosphere in stories?