Chapter 5 - Wrestling with the Arts
Chapter 5 - Wrestling with the Arts E-mail

Lewis Agonistes:
How C. S. Lewis Can Train Us
To Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World


1.  What is the role or function of language?  What can be lost if words lose their meaning?

2.  Describe how Ferdinand de Saussure altered the function of language.

3.  How does Derrida's deconstructionism carry forward the pre-Socratic philosopher Gorgias' propositions?

4.  To what does Markos attribute Christians' reluctance to defend poetry from the attacks of postmodernism?  Do you agree/disagree?

5.  List the four levels on which the Medieval church believed Scripture passages operated.  Markos uses an example from Dante to illustrate the four levels.  Try an experiment: take a favorite verse or passage and see if you can draw three or four of these meanings from it.

6.  What is an icon?  How does art serve a similar function?

7.  How does the Incarnation refute Gorgias' (and deconstructionism's) three propositions?

8.  On page 131 Markos states, "when Christians gravitate toward a scientific reading of Scripture or betray a deep suspicion of the arts, . . . they are embodying an ethos that is more Islamic than Christian."  What do you think of this statement?

9.  In what ways do the Chronicles of Narnia serve as a blueprint for an incarnational aesthetic?


Augustine's Confessions:  On page 123, Markos refers to the following passage from Augustine's Confessions

Above all, I heard first one, then another, then many difficult passages in the Old Testament scriptures figuratively interpreted, where I, by taking them literally, had found them to kill (2 Cor. 3:6).  So after several passages in the Old Testament had been expounded spiritually, I now found fault with that despair of mine, caused by my belief that the law and the prophets could not be defended at all against the mockery of hostile critics.  (From the Oxford World's Classics edition, trans. by Henry Chadwick)

Signifier:  In Saussure's model, the signifier is the shape of a word; the sequence of letters and sounds.  It is not the thing itself, but rather serves as a pointer.  E.g. C-A-T

Signified:  For Saussure, it is the mental concept, object, or meaning that forms in our minds when we encounter a signifier.  It is not the actual object, but rather our idea of it.  E.g. our mental image of a small, furry, four-legged animal with a tail.  Not the actual feline itself.

© 2010 by Allyson Wieland