Tag Archives: narrative theology

How C S Lewis used story to initiate the reader into a traditional moral vision by awakening desire


Fairies RingThis rough clip is from the “Tradition” chapter of my forthcoming Getting Medieval with C. S. Lewis. The burden of the “Lewis introduction” of the chapter is that Lewis saw himself, vocationally, as a “traditioner” for a generation losing touch with its roots. This bit explores how Lewis sought to carry out that vocation (at least in part) through storytelling.

I believe, through Paul Ford’s Companion to Narnia, I’ve been led to the key to my chapter on tradition and Lewis’s relationship to tradition and our need for it. The key is how, through re-narrating the stories of our traditions, through narrative form, we are led to indwell truths of the past, Enjoying them (“looking along the beam” of sunlight, and seeing all things by it) and not just Contemplating them (“looking at the beam,” and seeing only the dust motes floating in it). This is what Lewis did in his stories, per Ford in his section on “Stories” in the introduction to his Companion.

It is as Lewis said: Reason is the organ of truth; imagination is the organ of meaning. Therefore if we are to pass the meaning of our faith from generation to generation, it must be done through story. Remarkably, Lewis succeeded in doing that, in even passing the meaning of faith to other generations—to the generation of children (like the kids he had staying with him during the Evacuation) by means of his stories. Stories do this—they allow us to indwell imaginatively a world of meaning, by showing us examples of it (of that meaning, ethics, spirituality) which train our affections, which give us new habituses in ways that mere doctrinal catechesis can never do. Continue reading

“Novel” theology: Bestsellers as rich theological source


The Glory of St. Thomas Aquinas, detail. Paris...

Aquinas with his favorite novel? (The Glory of St. Thomas Aquinas, detail. Paris, Musée du Louvre.)

A nifty post by “Theology PhD Mom” on novels and theology, including a run-down of some of the theological themes in Nick Hornby‘s About A Boy (which later became a movie starring Hugh Grant). Some snippets:

“My PhD advisor has often suggested that fiction is good for theologians to read.  Until I met him, I had generally thought that my reading mystery novels when I was supposed to be reading Barth IV.2 or, heavens, the Summa Theologica, was a big vice. But who am I to argue with my Doktorvater?”

Excellent start. And then quickly, a list of a few theologians (and one medievalist) who also wrote mystery novels:

“G.K. Chesterton (Father Brown), Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey), Ralph McInerny (Father Dowling – and I used to love the tv show, shot in my very own beloved Denver), to name a few. Continue reading