Still "Relevant": Why -- Damn It -- It's Medieval

Relevant magazine. The name says it all.

Some kid just wrote a little piece about C. S. Lewis, asking "who will fill his shoes for a new generation?" And of course it's some kid, his byline says that since he graduated from college, "he's not really sure what he thinks anymore". Which gives him the right kind of credibility for this crowd.

C. S. Lewis is outdated. I mean, sure, his stuff was worthwhile for several generations after his death. Dudes who went to college in the '90s, for example, those guys love his stuff.

Sigh. According to this kid we don't need a new C. S. Lewis because Christendom can always profit, and God always glory, from rich Christian thinkers. Nope. We need a new C. S. Lewis because the old one is broken. Doesn't work these days.

You might be outraged by this. But there's one point you can't refute.
Lewis was an exceptional leader in Christian thought. But he was born in 1898. That’s the decade after the setting of Back to the Future III.
I mean, there were still cowboys around when Lewis was born.

For a response to this jackass, read this.

Otherwise, enjoy this bit from Lewis' Surprised by Joy.

I was hideously shocked. Everything I had labored so hard to expel from my own life seemed to have flared up and met me in my best friends. Not only my best friends but those whom I would have thought safest; the one so immovable, the other brought up in a free-thinking family and so immune from all "superstition" that he had hardly heard of Christianity itself until he went to school. (The gospel first broke on Barfield in the form of a dictated list of Parables Peculiar to St. Matthew.) Not only in my seeming-safest friends but at a moment when we all had most need to stand together. And as I came to learn (so far as I ever have learned) what Steiner thought, my horror turned into disgust and resentment. For here, apparently, were all the abominations; none more abominable than those which had once attracted me. Here were gods, spirits, afterlife and pre-existence, initiates, occult knowledge, meditation. "Why–damn it–it's medieval," I exclaimed; for I still had all the chronological snobbery of my period and used the names of the earlier periods as terms of abuse.

Barfield never made me an Anthroposophist, but his counterattacks destroyed forever two elements in my own thought. In the first place he made short work of what I have called my "chronological snobbery," the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also "a period," and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.


  1. Young wiper snapper. He doesn't really seem to have a point in his argument. He is also, apparently, not familiar with Lewis's writing. The Abolition of Man for example, is so relevant to the current age it quite took my breath away. And many of his essays are a little depressing, in that they point out how many of the follies of the early 1900's still linger on in our age.


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