Thursday, March 13, 2014

Earth creature, stardust, and wisdom teacher: Reimagining C.S. Lewis as disenfranchised crusader for social justice

Brian Miller expresses the sentiment of many who were dumbfounded by the choice of Katharine Jefferts Schori to deliver the  C.S. Lewis Lecture on science and religion at Westminster College.
The topic of the lecture, science and religion, provides a rich and endless list of possible directions to explore Lewis’ thoughts. From the warnings against scientism in The Abolition of Man, to the history of medieval science in The Discarded Image, to the excellent comparison between the thoughts of Lewis and Freud by Armand Niccolai, to the literally dozens of other essays and writings Lewis produced on the subject. But alas, Lewis’s name is only invoked at the beginning and the end of the lecture, as if the speaker did so only out of courtesy.

The majority of the talk is rather unremarkable. Jefferts Schori employs the sort of new age imagery and buzzwords like “earth-creature,” “stardust,” and “wisdom-teacher” that any student of Lewis would be completely unfamiliar with.

It’s unclear what, if any, relation Lewis has to any of this. And judging by the text it seems Jefferts Schori hasn’t got a clue either. She spends most of her time explaining how science and religion both seek to answer the questions we have about our existence. Science does so through empiricism and religion by asking about the meaning of things. She clarifies, of course, that she uses the word religion “in a very broad context, akin to the way ‘spiritual’ is often used in common parlance, rather than its more academic sense as a set of practices and beliefs that bind a community together.”
Okay. You get the picture. You can read the rest at Juicy Ecumenism. For now, let's wax nostalgic for those grand old days when we could imagine ourselves to be "stardust" and "golden" on that desperate journey "to get ourselves back to the garden." No doubt, especially if Madam Oven Mitt is given nine more years at the helm, this classic will be included in the next edition of her organization's hymn book.