21 October 2009

CS Lewis for the Third Millennium by Peter Kreeft

Peter Kreeft's book, "CS Lewis for the Third Millennium - Six Essays on the Abolition of Man" has got me engaged.
Here is a sample. Kreeft quotes CS Lewis from a lecture at Cambridge begins here on page 16.

"Let us strip it of the illegitimate emotional power it derives from the word 'stagnation' with its suggestion of puddles and mantled pools. If water stands too long it stinks. To infer thence that whatever stands long must be unwholesome is to be the victim of metaphor. Space does not stink because it has preserved its three dimensions from the beginning. The square on the hypotenuse has not gone mouldy by continuing to equal the sum of the squares on the other two sides. Love is not dishonoured by constancy..."
The last point is a crucial one. It is in ethics the "progressivism" is most deadly. Astonishingly, few modern minds see the simple and obvious point that an unchanging standard, far from being the enemy of moral progress, is the necessary condition for it:
"Does a permanent moral standard preclude progress? On the contrary, except on the supposition of a changeless standard, progress is impossible...if the terminus is as mobile as the train, how can the train progress toward it?"
Lewis' Christianity gives him a much more radically progressive outlook than evolutionism can give, for Christianity calls on men to become not just better men or even Supermen but to become Christs, to share in divine life - an infinitely greater transformation than any current secular fad. Christian prophets, like Christ, are the true progressives, but not in the way of current Liberalism, by "keeping up with the world".  Lewis wrote,
It sounds well to say that the true prophet is a revolutionary, going further and faster than the forward movement of the age, but the dictum bears little relation to experience. The prophets have resisted the current of their times... [I]t would require a more than common effrontery of paradox to present Jeremiah as the nose on the face of the Zeitgeist."

The book can be bought online or in good bookstores.