20 September 2004

Miscellaneous at the beginning of the semester

It’s been quite busy this last week and weekend — more so than I thought it would be.

But here’s a variety of thoughts.

First, the new PBS series on Freud and C.S. Lewis.  The Revealer
points out that the Harvard academic running the course seems
predisposed to a bellicose and militant Jesus
.  Which isn’t very surprising, considering the ways Americans have viewed Jesus
over the years.  I was in a big bookstore in the downtown area
over the weekend, and C.S. Lewis books were on the table of books that
they were pushing.  No Freud, however, and I wonder if it’s
because he’s “too hard”, especially compared to Lewis.  I admit, I
like Lewis quite a bit, as he’s a very good intellectual, but much of
his popular writing — fiction and non-fiction — is not highly
rigorous.  (What’s funny, even in the anti-intellectual atmosphere
of the churches I grew up in, C.S. Lewis was highly regarded, and it
was reading him that led me to understand that Christians could have
intelligent thought about God.  Using one’s mind was not only good
but necessary.  Funnily enough, for the fact that American
evangelicals love Lewis, he remained a devoted Anglo-Catholic all his
life, a worship and theology that many latter-day American Protestants
would find great discomfort in.)  But I find it odd that the
popularity of the series and Nicholi’s course only lead one to Lewis,
because Lewis proves more accessible and less offensive to the majority
of Americans.  And ultimately, I think the course, the book, and
the show prove to be more evangelism than comparative theology or
philosophy.  And that strikes me as disingenuous.  Were these
thinkers selected specifically to favor Lewis?

Other news.  Classes start here this week.  Lots of advising,
and lots of other sorts of work to be done.  Our students ask some
strange questions, and some of them need to learn to relax a bit
more.  There’s no need to walk into the advising office on the
first day of one’s frosh year and decide that you need to be an
political science and economics major, especially when you haven’t
taken any poli sci or econ classes yet.

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