"The Language of Joy": C.S. Lewis’s Legacy as a Christian Communicator to Contemporary Culture

Main Article Content

Monika Hilder

Abstract

In this paper, I explore C.S. Lewis’s legacy as apologist and artist of the Christian faith and claim that Lewis, like his mentor George MacDonald before him and his friend Dorothy L. Sayers, successfully engaged contemporary culture by speaking the wildly attractive language of Joy. Both as rational defender of the Christian faith and as an imaginative storyteller, Lewis conveyed this quality of Heavenly Joy that invites and inspires the hearts and minds of readers to rethink, reconsider, and perhaps for the first time in their lives experience Beauty and Love—to truly encounter what proves to be the lasting Hope of the world. In this I point to three characteristics that resulted in Lewis’s success as a Christian apologist: 1) the recovery of earlier ideas; 2) the use of everyday language; and 3) the habit of humility. Then I speak of how in his imaginative fiction this language of Joy sees Beauty and both testify to Love—and it is these literary experiences that move the hearts and minds of readers.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

How to Cite
Hilder, M. “‘The Language of Joy’: C.S. Lewis’s Legacy As a Christian Communicator to Contemporary Culture”. Linguaculture, vol. 10, no. 2, Dec. 2019, pp. 141-56, doi:10.47743/lincu-2019-2-0151.
Section
Articles
Author Biography

Monika Hilder, Trinity Western University, Canada

Monika Hilder is Professor of English at Trinity Western University, co-founder and co-director of Inklings Institute of Canada, and has published a 3-volume study of C.S. Lewis and gender, including Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C.S. Lewis and Gender (2013).

References

Butterfield, Rosario. The Gospel Comes with a House Key. Wheaton: Crossway, 2018. Print.

Chiaramonte, Perry. “Christian Persecution Seen in More Locations Across the Globe, New Report Shows.” Fox News. Fox Corporation. Feb. 2 2017. Web. 15 Aug. 2018.

Coghill, Nevill. “The Approach to English.” Light on C.S. Lewis. Ed. Jocelyn Gibb. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966. 51–66. Print.

Como, James T. “Introduction.” Remembering C.S .Lewis: Recollections of Those Who Knew Him. 1979. Ed. James T. Como. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2005: 33-51.Print.

Danielson, Dennis. “Intellectual historian.” The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis. Eds. Robert MacSwain and Michael Ward. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. 43–57. Web. 15 Aug. 2018. Edwards, Bruce L. “Rehabilitating Reading: C.S. Lewis and Contemporary Critical Theory.” The Taste of the Pineapple: Essays on C.S. Lewis as Reader, Critic, and Imaginative Writer. Ed. Bruce L. Edwards. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State U Popular P, 1988. 28-36. Print.

Farrer, Austin. “The Christian Apologist,” Light on C.S. Lewis. Ed. Jocelyn Gibb. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966. 23–43. Print.

– – –. “In His Image.” Remembering C.S. Lewis: Recollections of Those Who Knew Him, Ed. James T. Como. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2005. 383–6. Print.

Gilson, Tom. “Post-Christian No More: The Western World Has Its Own Gods Now.” The Stream. N.p., Jul. 15 2017. Web. 15 Aug. 2018.

Green, Roger Lancelyn, and Walter Hooper. C.S. Lewis: A Biography. London: Harper Collins, 1974. Print.

Hilder, Monika B. Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C.S. Lewis and Gender New York: Peter Lang, 2013. Print.

Lee, Morgan. “Pope: More Persecuted Christians Today Than Ever Before.” The Christian Post. N.p., Jul. 1 2014. Web. 15 Aug. 2018. Lewis, Cleve Staples. The Abolition of Man or Reflections on Education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools. New York Macmillan, 1975. Print.

– – –. “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer.” Poems. Ed. Walter Hooper. London: GeoffreyBles, 1966. 129. Print.

– – –. “Before We Can Communicate.” God in the Dock. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1970. 254-7. Print.

– – –. “Christianity and Culture.” Christian Reflections. Ed. Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975. 12–36. Print.

– – –. “Christianity and Literature.” Christian Reflections. Ed. Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975. 1–11. Print.

– – –. The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume I (Family Letters, 1905–1931); Volume II (Books, Broadcasts, and the War, 1931–1949); Volume III (Narnia Cambridge, and Joy, 1950–1963). Ed. Walter Hooper. New York: HarperCollins, 2004, 2004, 2007. Print.

– – –. “The Funeral of a Great Myth.” Christian Reflections. Ed. Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975. 82-93. Print.

– – –. The Great Divorce. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. Print.

– – –. That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups. New York: Scribner, 2003. Print.

– – –. The Last Battle. Harmondsworth: Puffin, 1975. Print.

– – –. Letters to Malcolm. London: Harcourt, 1992. Print.

– – –. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Harmondsworth: Puffin, 1975. Print.

– – –. “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism.” Christian Reflections. Ed. Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975. 152-166. Print.

– – –. “The Necessity of Chivalry.” Present Concerns. Ed. Walter Hooper. Harcourt: Brace Jovanovich, 1986. 13-16. Print.

– – –. “On the Reading of Old Books.” God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Ed. Walter Hooper. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970. 200–7. Print.

– – –. Out of the Silent Planet. London: Pan, 1974. Print.

– – –.The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason and Romanticism. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992. Print.

– – –. “Preface.” George MacDonald: An Anthology. Ed. C.S. Lewis. London: Fount, 1983. 21-35. Print.

– – –. Prince Caspian. Harmondsworth: Puffin, 1975. Print.

– – –. “Psycho-analysis and Literary Criticism,” They Asked for a Paper. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1962. 120-138. Print.

– – –. The Silver Chair. Harmondsworth: Puffin, 1975. Print.

– – –. “Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to be Said.” On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature. Ed. Walter Hooper. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982. 45–8. Print.

– – –. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. London: Collins, 1976. Print.

– – –. “Is Theology Poetry?” They Asked for a Paper. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1962. 150-165. Print.

– – –. The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader.” Puffin, 1975. Print.

– – –. “The Weight of Glory.” The Weight of Glory and other Addresses. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977. 1-15. Print.

Lewis, W. H. “Memoir of C.S. Lewis.” Letters of C.S. Lewis. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1966. 1–26. Print.

Lindvall, Terry. Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis. Nashville:Nelson, 1996. Print.

Lochhead, Marion. Renaissance of Wonder in Children’s Literature. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1977. Print.

MacDonald, George. The Princess and the Goblin. Puffin, 1976. Print.

McGrath, Alistair. “The Life and Impact of C.S. Lewis.” Regent College, Vancouver, BC. 5 Jun. 2013. Lecture. – – –. Personal interview. 18 Sept. 2018.

Mitchell, Christopher W. “Bearing the Weight of Glory: The Cost of C.S. Lewis’s Witness.” The Pilgrim’s Guide:C.S. Lewis and the Art of Witness. Ed. David Mills. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998. 3-14. Print.

– – –. “Making Doctrine Dance.” Christian History 88 (2005): 23-26. Print.

Mohler, Albert. “Criminalizing Christianity: Sweden's Hate Speech Law.” Christian Headlines. n. pag., N.D. Web. 15 Aug. 2018.

Montgomery, L.M. Anne of Green Gables. Seal Books, 1996. Print.

Sayers, Dorothy L. “The Dogma is the Drama.” The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays by Dorothy L. Sayers. London: Macmillan, 1978. 23-8. Print.

– – – . “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.” The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays by Dorothy L. Sayers. London: Macmillan, 1978. 11-16. Print.

Trube, Robert C. “The Dogma is the Drama.” Bob on Books. N.p., Apr. 7 2017. Web. 15 Aug. 2018.

Wain, John. “A Great Clerke.” Remembering C.S. Lewis: Recollections of Those Who Knew Him. Ed. James T. Como. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2005. 152-63. Print.

Wooding, Dan. “Modern Persecution.” Christianity.com. Salem Web Network, Apr. 28 2010. Web. 15 Aug. 2018.