Lent Madness: C.S. Lewis vs. Fabian

Lent Madness heavyweight C.S. Lewis takes on upstart Fabian who who surprisingly made it past William Laud in the First Round. Can Fabian pull off another upset? Will Lewis be “Surprised by Joy?” or encounter “A Grief Observed?” Only the next 24 hours will tell.

In recent action Thomas Becket trounced Timothy 68% to 32%. Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket.

C.S. Lewis, the beloved Christian author, teacher, and apologist, has been called the “Apostle to the Skeptics.” Between 1931 and 1962 he published 34 books. Many volumes have also been written about Lewis’ life and faith and his story was portrayed in the 1993 movie “Shadowlands” starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

With J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams, Lewis formed a literary discussion group called “The Inklings” in the 1930s. The Tuesday lunchtime sessions at the Bird and Baby pub became a well-known part of the fabric of Oxford social life. “We were no mutual admiration society,” recalled one member. “To read to the Inklings was a formidable ordeal.” Yet among the works-in-progress created amid the heat of friendly criticism were Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,” the Narnia books, and Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.”

Tolkien — the author of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” — was a Roman Catholic who was not particularly pleased when Lewis embraced the Anglican church. Tolkien also disliked the Narnia stories partly because he felt the Christian meaning was too obvious. Yet in a letter to a fifth-grade class, Lewis explained that Aslan is not meant simply to “represent” Jesus: “Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.” Interestingly, Lewis kept the secret of his 1960 marriage to Jewish American poet Joy Davidman from Tolkien which evidently strained their friendship.

One final tidbit: In 1933, Lewis wrote to his friend Arthur Greeves: “You will be surprised to hear that I have been to the cinema again! Don’t be alarmed, it will not become a habit.” He did see the movie “King Kong” which evoked mixed reactions: “I thought parts of ‘King Kong’ (especially where the natives make a stand after he’s broken the gate) magnificent,” he commented to a fellow author, “but the New York parts contemptible.”

A few quotes from Lewis himself (way too many to choose from, of course):

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” 

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time — waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God — it changes me.”

Fabian was the 3rd century Bishop of Rome who is considered one of the distinguished early popes. He was elected bishop when, amid a large gathering to choose his successor in 236, a dove alighted on his head. The historian Eusebius, born shortly after Fabian’s death wrote that the dove “settled on [Fabian’s] head as clear imitation of the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove upon the Savior.” Taken this way, Fabian was then unanimously acclaimed as the next bishop even though at the time he was both a layman and a stranger to the city. He is remembered for his administrative gifts being the first church official to organize the city into “parishes.” He broke the region into seven areas, appointing a deacon to serve each one. Each deacon was given a subdeacon who in turn had six lay assistants. He also collected and recorded the stories of the early martyrs.

Perhaps because the church was growing and thriving under Fabian’s leadership, a new wave of persecution was unleashed under the emperor Decius and Fabian died a martyr’s death in 250. He was buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus where a stone with the words “Fabian — Bishop — Martyr” can still be seen. Cyprian wrote that Fabian was an “incomparable” man whose glory in death matched the holiness of his life.



2 Comments on “Lent Madness: C.S. Lewis vs. Fabian”

  1. Daniel Stroud says:

    I usually pull for the team that beats my team so my guys look better, but I’m really glad Clive is avenging his fellow Oxonian Archbishop Laud.

  2. Bob Chapman says:

    I should be angry at CS Lewis. In the 1979 animated version of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, they gave Edmund brown hair and glasses. Glasses that look suspiciously like MY glasses. (At least the hair color is a bit lighter than mine, but only a bit.)

    Of course I take it personally. Especially since the Episcopal Church was (not too) secretly the cause of this overt reliance on stereotypes (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079474/companycredits ).

    But, doing my Lenten duty, I forgive 815 for this slight against those with ginger hair and glasses.

    Vote Lewis.

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