Despite the bad reputation Christianity, Islam and Judaism are getting these days through things like the shooting of abortionists, suppression of women and assassination of politicians, he writes, “sensible people in all religions” are turning back to their sacred texts like the Bible.
He quotes a Roman Catholic theologian who has taught at Rutgers and Princeton as reporting “a tremendous interest in liturgy and ritual among students. Students are also fascinated by moral orthodoxy in matters of sex and sexuality — tremendously hungry for things that give more shape to life.”
This is all very well, Mr. John Bentley Mays comments, but “the danger is the temptation to shift too far the other way, to go for what promises to be unchanging, rock solid. That can go to fundamentalism which risks perversion into violence.”
Which of course raises a crucial question. What exactly does he mean by “fundamentalism,” and how does it differ from the religion of “sensible people?” Belief in the “rock solid” is undesirable, but how exactly does one believe in the non-rock-solid? The only admissible beliefs in the Mays canon, it seems, are such as make no presumptuous claims that there really is anything to believe in. …
It was 46 years ago this month that we celebrated our first “Christian” Christmas. We had had prior Christmases: raucous, boozey, sometimes lachrymose events complete with singing, laughter, tears–and worry. We could never afford what we spent. But those were pagan Christmases; this was different. My wife and I had concluded that the event Christmas is supposed to commemorate had in fact occurred. It was not merely a charming story; it had actually and literally happened.
What brings back memories of that Christmas of 1952 is all the publicity surrounding the 100th anniversary of another birth, that of Clive Staples Lewis. Full-page newspaper articles, magazine spreads, a television documentary, Anthony Hopkins’s highly-rated movie, all have celebrated an unpretentious Oxford professor of literature, dead for 35 years. It was this same C.S. Lewis who, aided by some of our friends, caused our Christmases to change.
We did not first meet him through his “Chronicles of Narnia,” the books whereby our children and their children would encounter him in later years. In 1952 he had barely begun writing these. Our initial introduction to him was a little red booklet disarmingly entitled “Broadcast Talks,” the text of a wartime series on …