One evening at Oxford, before C. S. Lewis was converted to Christianity, he had a famous conversation with J. R. R. Tolkein in which Lewis lamented that though he had always loved the myths, that they were “lies, though breathed through silver.”
Tolkien told him they were not lies at all, for every story that touches the heart does so because it taps into the true story of Christ, and “steers us, however shakily, to the true harbor.”
Indeed, in his chapter called “Let’s Pretend” Lewis uses two “myths.” The first is Beauty and The Beast, showing the power of love to transform a beast into a man.
To see a re-enactment of this life-changing love, here’s a clip from Beauty and the Beast.
Then, here is the life-changing conversation re-enacted between two actors who play Lewis and Tolkien, before Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings or Lewis wrote Narnia.
I have been so very blessed by the fiction of Lewis. One day my daughter Sally and I went to see a play of Screwtape Letters. There was a little gymnast who played one of the devil’s helpers who would climb a rope ladder to get the mail in a sort of bank tube that came down from the demon on earth. That day’s news would tell if the demon on earth was being successful in discouraging his client, a Christian, on earth. If it was good news for the devil, (the client was backing away from God) his little helper demon would laugh and leap to the ground doing cartwheels across the stage. If it was bad news, (the client was pressing into God during his trial) the little demon would fall from the ladder, clawing the air, and screeching.
Sally had been going through a severe test: depression and infertility for three years. When we left the theatre she said, “I am going to trust God with this, and that demon will fall, screeching!” God had used that fictional tale to help the truth of Scripture be illumined to Sally and penetrate her heart.
I could tell many stories like this — but hope to hear from you concerning some ways “myths” — either those of Lewis or another, have illumined spiritual truth and steered you, as Tolkien says, “however shakily, toward the true harbor.”
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. If you have read any of Lewis’s fiction (Narnia, Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Space Trilogy), can you share one story that illuminated spiritual truth for you and why?
Monday: Two Notes
3. Read or listen to Book 4, Chapter 6 of Mere Christianity.
4. What stands out to you from the above and why?
5. Why does Lewis believe God gave us free will? Do you believe that what he says below is true? Why or why not? (Free will and Predestination are both in Scripture — two seemingly contradictory truths that one day we will understand. Lewis leans closer to the free will viewpoint, Reformed believers lean closer to the Predestination viewpoint.)
In this chapter, Lewis returns to a common thread. God is what He is, and has ordained certain inalienable truths, and even if we disagree, we cannot change that. “Rock bottom” he writes, “it is nonsensical” to try to have it be different.
6. How do people in the world try to re-define God?
7. One area that our world is re-defining with alarming speed is marriage. What thoughts do you have on this?
8. What is Lewis’ second point and what thoughts do you have on this?
Wednesday: Let’s Pretend
9. Read or listen to Book 4, Chapter 7 and share your notes or thoughts.
Thursday-Friday: Reflections on “Let’s Pretend”
Lewis particularly liked the myths — and many of them powerfully portray redemptive truth. Watch this 5 minute video on the myth of Narcissus and share your comments and thoughts.
10. Comments and thoughts?
11. Do you have a myth you like? If so, what is it and what is your take-away from it?
In the beginning of this series, I asked you to share favorite books — and it was wonderful! I have read several of those suggestions this summer. Now I’d like you to share a story, movie, or book of fiction that has a powerful spiritual message. In fact, it is important to be looking for redemptive messages in anything we read or watch, for God can use non-Christians, as he did Cyrus, for His purposes. I’ll go first, and then it is your turn. Karen and David Mains stressed watching television with you children and then discussing the redemptive and non-redemptive messages to help them develop discernment.
Our family was quite excited to have the movie Leave No Trace come out this summer for it was based on Peter Rock’s book, My Abandonment, and Peter is my nephew, my sister Bonnie’s son. The film won the Sundance award for best full feature film. I thought it was stunning. Here is the trailer to the movie:
Peter is not a Christian, but there are redemptive messages in his book, and in the movie. I don’t want to give away the ending, but despite coming to see life very differently, the father and daughter were able to maintain their great bond of love. I thought about how differently I see life than Peter and his family, but how important it is that we maintain our bond of love. (Movie coming out on Netflix in late October)
12. Now it is your turn to share a book or movie that moved you, but was not specifically Christian, and what redemptive message you saw.
13. The other story Lewis points to is one of a man who wore a mask for a long time. What happened and what point was Lewis making?
14. What is your take-a-way and why?