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Friday, January 11, 2013

February 14th Will Be "The Horse And His Boy"

February's Meeting will be on Valentine's Day! February 14th
Jessica will be our discussion leader on "The Horse and His Boy" from the Chronicles of Narnia.

We had a milestone at last night's 2013 kickoff meeting of the C.S. Lewis Society of Harrisonburg.  The first ever Skype attendee.  Melissa joined us from Pennsylvania but as with all experimental things it suffered a little from first time syndrome.  We hope to do better in the future.

We discussed Peter Kreeft's "Between Heaven and Hell" with Peggy as our discussion leader and we also discussed the schedule for the coming year.  We didn't finish that discussion but we have the first three months settled and some additional works sorted out.

March 14th we'll have an experiment and Melissa will be our discussion leader through the miracle of electronics on "Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer."

April 11th Jane will be our discussion leader on George Macdonald's "Sir Gibbie."

We also decided on some pairings of discussion leader and work which I'll list below but we still have to decide when.

Melissa will be our discussion leader for some essays from "God In The Dock."
Elizabeth will be our discussion leader for Owen Barfield's "Saving the Appearances."
Ray will be our discussion leader for Humphrey Carpenter's "The Inklings."
Peggy will be our discussion leader for "The Magician's Twin" edited by John West.
Cristabel signed on to be discussion leader for Dorothy Sayer's "Letters to a Diminished Church" and "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen.  This is a new category for us: Works by Writers Admired by C.S. Lewis.  We'll be setting the actual months for these at future meetings.  Notice that there are only nine works listed so we also have two slots open so think about what would be a good choice.  A way to make sure your book gets on the agenda is to volunteer to be the discussion leader!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Between Heaven And Hell Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions for Between Heaven and Hell (BHAH) by Peter Kreeft, published in 1982

Introduction: Three great men died on November 22, 1963: C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy, and Aldous Huxley. All three were, among other things, writers of best-sellers. Lewis’s published works and life are well known to this group. Kennedy’s senior thesis, “ Appeasement in Munich,” was published as Why England Slept; another best-seller was Profiles in Courage. Huxley is perhaps best known for his futuristic novel, Brave New World, but he also wrote other fiction, drama and essays.

1. Kreeft, a conservative Catholic, imagines a Socratic dialogue among the 3 men, shortly after they died, before they went “on.” (as Professor Dumbledore would say) Is the dialogue balanced; fair; realistic? Based on Kreeft’s depictions, what is the worldview of each man?

2. Perhaps the most important question within the dialogue is : who is (was) Jesus Christ? What are other main themes?

3. What are the book’s strengths and weaknesses? What worked, what didn’t?

4. Do you agree or disagree with the following criticisms of BHAH: dumbs down humanism and pantheism too much; Kennedy and Huxley just lobbing softballs to Lewis; Kennedy and Huxley concede too easily, failing to argue with any enthusiasm or conviction.

5. Imagine that Lewis, before his death, wrote such a dialogue (same players). What might be different/ better? Are there other imaginary dialogues involving Lewis that you have read, or would like someone to write?

6. Make of this trivia (some trivial, some not) what you will: Kennedy was born across the pond from the other two, but he claimed Ireland (where Lewis was born) as his ancestral home; Huxley spent much of his adult life in America. Both Kennedy and Lewis fought in war (WWII and WWI respectively), while Huxley was a devout pacifist (for which he was refused American citizenship). Kennedy spent much time in England before and during WWII, as his father was the American Ambassador there; his time as American president was often referred to as the new Camelot. Lewis died of natural causes; Huxley died from a deliberately lethal dose of LSD; Kennedy was assassinated (for full details, see latest conspiracy theory.) Huxley extolled the virtues of illicit drugs; Kennedy was a heavy user (and alleged abuser) of prescription pain medications. Huxley’s book of essays The Doors of Perception (re: value of psychedelic experiences) shows the influence of and quotes from Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Lewis’s The Great Divorce argues that heaven and hell are not and cannot be married. Lewis: a vertical religion; Jesus is God become man. Kennedy: a more horizontal religion; Jesus is man become God. Huxley: “whatever, man”; Jesus is one of several great sages.

7. Would you recommend this book to an agnostic friend? What about an atheist friend?