C. S. Lewis, more than any other author, has the ability to inspire me, challenge me, touch me. If I could meet one person from the 20th century, he would be the one. Intellectual, humble and down-to-earth, humorous, extremely well-read, imaginative--yes, that is my idea of a perfect dinner date! A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from His Classic Works has been gracing my bedside table for a few months now. There is something about ending every day with a taste of Lewis. My love-affair with 'Jack' is only growing. (Grin.) The book includes passages from Mere Christianity, The Weight of Glory, The Screwtape Letters, The Problem of Pain and more. Each entry is less than a page long. Often a theme will be continued for a couple of 'days,' using continuous exerpts from one book or cross-referencing the theme from another book. However the passages are chosen, I find myself appreciating the humor, wisdom, or challenge at the end of a long day.
The Screwtape Letters is a fictional correspondence between a senior tempter, Screwtape, and his protege, Wormwood. In his letters, the "Enemy" is God, and the "father" of all tempters is Satan:
The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart--an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
Now just as we pick out and exaggerate the pleasure of eating to produce gluttony, so we pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty. This demand is entirely our workmanship. If we neglect our duty, men will not only be contented but transported by the mixed novelty and familiarity of snowdrops this January, sunrise this morning, plum pudding this Christmas.
It took me quite some time to get up the nerve to watch Shadowlands, based on the romance between Lewis and Joy Gresham. I'm not one for sad movies. It feels as if I've been run over by a truck, and I walk around in a daze for quite some time. Why subject myself to that? But a movie about C. S. Lewis, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins? I had to do it. And I wasn't sorry. (Red-faced from sobbing, maybe, but not sorry.) This was a beautiful film, excellently acted by Hopkins, and highly recommended. I watched it soon after reading A Grief Observed, a heart-wrenching journal of his grief, written after Joy died. (And also sob-inducing.)
Somehow, my affection for 'Jack' is now and forever intertwined with an affection for Anthony Hopkins. When I think of the one, I picture the other. So, while we are on the subject of Anthony Hopkins (we are, aren't we?), I have to mention one other movie.
Now, it seems almost sacrilegious to talk about a Brad Pitt movie in the same post as C. S. Lewis, not to mention that no one else seemed to like this movie (other than my sister, Shannon, who shares half my brain), but for some inexplicable reason....I loved Meet Joe Black. I thought it was beautiful and shining. Exquisite, even. Anthony Hopkins was wonderful as a man who had lived a strong, upright, blameless life. Claire Forlani was stunningly gorgeous as his daughter, and their relationship was touching. Brad Pitt was convincing as Death (grin) and as his dual personality, the sweetheart from the coffee shop. I love movies with a great ending, when the bad guy gets what is coming to him in a terrific climax. Meet Joe Black fits the bill. Ah, I think I'll have to pull this one out soon and enjoy it again. Disclaimer: there was no mention of God, or of a personal relationship with Him, and the film deserves its PG-13 rating due to adult content. It is also quite lengthy, so be sure to have some time on your hands if you choose to watch it.