Monday, December 31, 2012

Walking with St. Clive in 2013

A manuscript is due for my next book, C. S. Lewis in Crisis, in November 2013. I'm also teaching a class at Bidwell Presbyterian in February and March on the topic. Both of which mean I’ve found myself poring over Lewis’s work and a few of his biographies this December.

"St Clive" (the "C" in C. S. Lewis stands for "Clive") is, for me, a constant source of interest and even mystery. There's a renewed passion to grasp what he wrote and express my related discoveries about him as clearly as possible. I want to know more about the places I'm stunned by his insights, but also where (and why) I disagree. So I'm reading and reading; I figure somebody else's book will give me the key... or maybe I'll find the buried treasure in some passage of Lewis I've never really thought about before. (For that reason, at least three or four of his books can be found on my bedside table and one or two accompany me on my iPhone's Kindle.) 

The result? I don’t feel that I totally grasp him, but I also sense that he’s entirely worth the continual effort. I suppose I’m writing this book “trying to figure out St. Clive.” Truthfully, it’s yet not happened, but the journey is still been worth it.

In December, I did have the amazing opportunity of visiting the Marion E. Wade Collection at Wheaton College, which houses Lewis's (and Tolkien's, Chesterton's, Sayer's, etc.) papers. In that blessed morning of reading original manuscripts and studying his personal collection of books (like his copy of Paradise Lost), I did come upon an unpublished Manuscript (MS-190) named “Fragment about the Parable of the Unjust Steward.” 

Here's what St. Clive wrote about this passage from Luke 16:1-9. They are his fourth and fifth points:

4. The Summons, and the threatened dismissal from the stewardship means the steward’s realization--gradual, or leaping full-grown upon him in a doctor’s consulting room--that his employment under the World is temporary. He is going to get the sack. And to be given the sack by this employer is to die. In other words, the soul becomes aware that its real well being must be sought elsewhere. It undergoes conversion.
5. Now comes the joke. For though this story has a very serious moral, it is in the form of a comic story. It is in fact the archtypically [sic] Jewish comic story, the joke the Jews never got tired of; the joke of spoiling the Egyptians or hanging Hanan on his gallows. Why not use all this property, which World [sic] has put in our hands, for the purposes to those World [sic] had in mind? Use it to feather nests for yourself in that region which the World has never dreamed of – by preaching the gospel, feeding the hungry, building a Christian home.
Since it's New Year's Eve, I always do my yeses and nos for the year to come today (i.e., my new year's resolutions). I think walking with St. Clive--and insights like this--are the right place to start.

P.S. I have more to say about new year's resolutions here.

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