Category: Book Reviews

Praise from an Anglican Mystic

I have a little box published by The Upper Room consisting of, as it is titled, Living Selections from Devotional Classics. I’ve had this box of devotionals since the 1980s and don’t recall when I last dived into it. Over the past weeks, I’ve done some diving. The first ones to attract me, which I began using in my devotions each day, were selections from The Imitation of Christ, The Cloud of Unknowing, Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence… Read more »

The Pleasure Principle

One of the aspects of C. S. Lewis’s writings that I’ve come to see more clearly is that he repeats key concepts regardless of the genre, whether via autobiography, apologetics, or fiction. As I’ve been re-reading the Ransom Trilogy, I’m seeing this better than ever. Let me offer one example that shows up in both Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. As Elwin Ransom tries to understand hrossa society on Malacandra, he questions his friend Hyoi about pleasures. In… Read more »

It’s the Heavens, Not Space

A couple weeks ago, I announced my intention to develop a course on C. S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy. In preparation for it, I am digesting analyses of the books, but am also going back to them for a more in-depth study of Lewis’s wording, his thoughts, both theological and philosophical, and goals—what he wanted readers to come away with when they finished. It has been a few years since my last reading of Out of the Silent Planet, so I’m… Read more »

When Subversion Is a Good Thing, Shocking as That May Seem

Dorothy L. Sayers was a “find” for me in just the last few years. Once I realized she and C. S. Lewis were friends and that he loved her BBC radio plays titled The Man Born to Be King, I knew I had to be better acquainted with her writings. I read all of her Lord Peter Wimsey novels, luxuriated in The Mind of the Maker, devoted myself to the book version of the radio plays (with her marvelous introduction),… Read more »

Washington & Arnold: The Role of Character in History

One of my upper-level history courses is on the American Revolution. I’m teaching it again this semester and am using a book I’ve not used before—Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition—with a subtitle that provides the precise goal of the work: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. History is not about “forces” that make things happen; rather, history is the story of individuals whose decisions push the narrative one way or the other. In this book, Philbrick… Read more »

Their Eyes Were All I Needed to See

We’re at the point in my C. S. Lewis course where I am giving the students The Abolition of Man. It’s a harder read than most of what I give them from Lewis, but I’ve never seriously considered dropping it from the course. It’s just too important, and the concepts within it are so significant to their worldview that I believe I would be doing a disservice to avoid it. I do, though, make sure I give it enough time… Read more »

The Joy of Teaching Lewis

For the fifth time since my 2014-15 sabbatical and the writing of my C. S. Lewis book, I’ll be teaching the course this fall that I developed out of that sabbatical: “C. S. Lewis: History and Influence.” It was a joy to teach this course the first four times, and I don’t expect it to be otherwise this time. Since I’m a history professor, not English literature, the course has a strong historical component as we work through a number… Read more »