02 June 2012

CSLIS Report #9

I'm at Taylor University in Indiana for the 8th Biennial Frances White Ewbank Colloquium on C.S. Lewis and Friends. Here is my report on the fifth (and final) set of papers.

I. Paulette Sauders: “Through the Lens of The Four Loves: The Idea of Love in Till We Have Faces

Redival: eros, lust, sexuality without love. No room for affection. No room for the gods.

Orual: perverted affection, need-love.

Psyche: sacrifice and gift-love.

{ This wasn't a paper: it was just a useless plot summary of Till We Have Faces. Basically this person just stood up and retold the entire book for 20 minutes. Sigh. }

II. Michael Muth: “A Wild Hope: Resurrection Bodies, Creaturely Integrity, and Lewis' Platonism.”

Goldthwaite's and Pullman's accusations against The Last Battle. Saying that Lewis hates women, prefers death to life, and condemns the life of the body. Philip Pullman is a third-rate Nietzsche ventriloquist; or maybe he's the dummy. References Michael Ward's response.

Lewis does not hate the body. The whole of us, soul and body, will be saved. The bodyliness or corporeality of the resurrected person is taught in Scripture. Continuity: My resurrected body comes from the present one—and change: It will be somehow different. We are raised; not something else in our place. Spiritual body? Isn't that an oxymoron?

Lewis reflects the continuity of the resurrected bodies (and landscapes) in The Last Battle.

Christian thinkers have long been obsessed with having all the matter that composed the body to be brought back together in the resurrected body. Related to the healing power of relics. Images of reassembling the body. Augustine et al wanted to preserve the matter to preserve the wholeness of the person. If a lion eats a person's arm, then a person eats the lion, who gets the arm at the resurrection?

Hugh St. Victor: The harmony between flesh and spirit will be so restored that the body can be called “spiritual.” We will not be our own enemies within. The estrangement of soul and body will be healed. Perfect spiritual state. Will be suited for the translunar realm, above and outside the realm of the Four Elements. Soul having perfect mastery of the body; body responding perfectly to the soul.

Thus, bodies are strange in The Last Battle. Metonym: Puzzle's simulacrum/parody of transformation into a lion. Later: bodies that are youthfully whole, can see distances, run as fast as a unicorn, swim up waterfalls. Even the topography is resurrected: like, yet not like.

The body of Christ, resurrected, is the only example we are given. Moves through walls. Disappears. Is hard to recognize. Yet is very physical. Can be touched. Has flesh and bones. Eats fish. His body was strange even before the resurrection: looked backwards to the Adamic corporeality and forward to the resurrection. Can walk on water, heal, transform water to wine, etc. His body disturbs our metaphysical assumptions about bodies. Jesus' body insists upon extending beyond its skin: the Last Supper. Just symbolic? Or a real extension? A metaphysical absurdity. It inCORPorates other bodies into itself. It violates our expectations of bodies.

The end of The Last Battle embodies our wild hope as believers.

Pullman's reality is only natural. He cannot recognize these desires. The best he can imagine is two teenagers having sex in a garden. A parody of Eden. Almost a parody of the body of Christ. Lewis has a much better imagination: by being incorporated into the larger body of Christ.

III. Jim Stockton, “Chaplain Stella Aldwinkle: A Biographical Sketch of the Spiritual Foundation of the Oxford University Socratic Club.”

Aldwinkle founded the club as the philosophical side of religion. (also girls could bring their boyfriends to this chaperoned event, so that was a plus!) First meeting standing room only. After the second meeting, she wrote CSL to ask him to be president.

413 meetings
603 scholars spoke
legendary debates

Two sources:
set of papers at the Wade; Dorsett's 1985 audio interview with Aldwinkle.

Stella Aldwinkle's life:
1907 b. Johannesburg
raised in a conventional Anglican middle-class family
adventurous youth
school in England
back to South Africa
began a tobacco farm on the edge of the wilderness on the Crocodile River
25th birthday: use life to help people find God
St. Anne's college, Oxford; read theology
tutored by Austin Farrer
understood difference between philosophical and theological approaches to religion
taught theology at various schools
1941, became a chaplain with Oxford Pastors
1941-66 chaplain for women students
1942 founded the Socratic Club
asked Eliot and Sayers to help start a London branch of the Club (they couldn't)
members: Jean Iris Murdock, Margaret Anscombe
1966 retired
1969 last lecture to the club
1989 d.

Summary of the Lewis-Anscombe debate

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