Friday, March 23, 2007

Is it a venial sin....... mention CS Lewis on a Chesterton blog? I used to think that quoting Lewis to Dale Ahlquist was either a venial sin, fighting words, or something similar -- I learned in old Communist Yugoslavia you could be imprisoned for "Verbal Dereliction," maybe that applies.

Anyway, I was moving some books around and I found my old copy of The Abolition of Man. I hadnt read this in years, but I class it in the same circle of works as Orthodoxy and the Everlasting Man, essentially the manifesto of the faith of our fathers for the modern age.

In his chapter, "Men Without Chests," Lewis condemns certain trends in modern eduation, beginning with an example from a schoolbook of his age. He builds to the crescendo,

"....the difference between the old and the new ecuation will be an important one. Where the old initiated, the new merely 'conditions'. The old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly; the new deals with them more as the poultry-keeper deals with young birds- making them thus or thus for purposes of which the birds know nothing. In a word, the old was a kind of propagation - men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda."

Propagation vs. propaganda ......very good summation

Chesterton obviously is similar here in his theme. GKC is more often a defender of the good things, rather than a critic of the bad. The language of indignation can be overused, but Lewis' expertise in its use actually shines off the page in Abolition.


E said...

No venial sin. CSL is a GKC friend, at least according to our loose definition of "friend" and Lewis' testimony.

Don't worry about Dale. Citing anybody besides GKC is a venial sin in his book. I know he has dissed Tolkien and, I think, even Belloc. For Dale, Chesterton is everything and no one needs to go beyond the GKC bibliography for insight into any spiritual or bodily matter.

I say all this, incidentally, in good spirit and fond feelings for Dale, but he is an extreme GKC enthusiast. Those EWTN shows aren't a facade.

Also worth noting: Despite his "GKC is everything" approach to life and learning, Dale has read from many other writers, including philosophers like Kierkegaard. No dummy, that Dale. Extremist? Yes, but in one of the best ways possible.

Anonymous said...

bjzaI agree with you about Abolition of Man. Short but mighty. Dead true as to the itellectual degeneracy of our Mammonite Age. Always impressed by his impassioned summary and defense of the Tao, the term he decided to use (I'm sure so as to be broad gauge, even Perennialphilosophyish) for the way the universe coheres. Christians generally call it Logos. BTW I seem to recall that CSL says (in Surprised by Joy) that reading the Everlasting Man was a major influence in his (CSL's) decision to become a Christian (this was after his conversion to Theism). Tom White