Letters 13-15
Letters 13-15 E-mail

Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

Letters 13-15

Letter 13

  1. How does Lewis take the fear that "prayer is soliloquy" and turn it on its head?

  2. How does Lewis characterize sin?

  3. Why might God choose the arduous, inefficient, and roundabout way of working through his creatures instead of doing things instantly himself?

  4. Explain the distinction Lewis draws between creation of a man and the incarnation of God, the Son.

    Letter 14

  5. What distinctions does Lewis make between "create" and "build"?

  6. What are the ramifications of God being present in each part of his creation?

  7. What problem does Lewis see in watered-down versions of Christianity? What analogy does he draw?

  8. Why does Lewis liken a "safe" god to a fantasy? Cf. Description of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (ch.8), " ‘Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

    Letter 15
    (another tough letter, so we're resorting to "leading" questions)

  9. When Lewis tries "to put himself in the presence of God" he faces the juxtaposition of two representations or ideas. They are: ___________________ and ____________________________.

  10. Then Lewis explains that you have to penetrate the façade of a representation to get to the reality. He offers two examples: _________________ and _________________.

  11. Now he is ready to place himself in God's presence. Lewis claims that pursuing either mystery far enough would lead to the same point - where something leaps ________________________. The Indian looks at the material world and says, _____________________. Lewis looks at the material world and says _________________.

  12. Lewis suggests we not take things at face value but rather look at objects and ourselves as ______________________________

  13. What are the corresponding parts of the analogy Lewis constructs toward the end of the chapter?

    Stage set: ________________________________

    Actor: ___________________________________

    Author/Producer/Audience: ____________________________

    Behind the scenes/Orchestra pit: ________________________

    Prayer is the actor - not speaking his lines in character to other actors - but speaking from his real self to the Author/Producer God.  We can't escape time, space and our creature-liness, but Lewis believes the more modest attempt is to _________________________ the ________________________ of our situation.  

  14. What prayer ought to precede all prayers according to Lewis?

  15. The idea of God as an iconoclast (image-breaker) also appears in A Grief Observed written 3 years earlier. 

    My idea of God is not a divine idea.  It has to be shattered time after time.  He shatters it Himself.  He is the great iconoclast.  Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?  The Incarnation is the supreme example; it leaves all previous ideas of the Messiah in ruins.  And most are "offended" by the iconoclasm; and blessed are those who are not.  But the same thing happens in our private prayers

    All reality is iconoclastic.  The earthly beloved, even in this life, incessantly triumphs over your mere idea of her.  
    From A Grief Observed (1961), chap.4 (emphasis added) 

    How might God be merciful in shattering our image of Him?



Owen Barfield (1898-1977) [Ltr 13]: Lewis's personal friend and lawyer.  They met while undergraduates at Oxford.  Barfield was an author and philosopher before becoming a solicitor.  His interest was in the relationship of language, myth and perception.  Although he lived in London and missed a lot of meetings, he was considered a member of the Inklings.  Lewis dedicated The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to Barfield's daughter, Lucy, who was his godchild.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was dedicated to Barfield's son, Geoffrey.

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) [Ltr 13]: "enisled" comes from his poem "To Marguerite."

Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) [Ltr 14]: John Wesley required his preachers to study the writings of this theologian and shoemaker.  Boehme had a mystical experience at age 25 and in the following years he wrote 30 books.  He underwent a trial for heresy and was banished form his home in Gorlitz, Germany for a time.  His works influenced the pietist and romantic movements.  Lewis read Boehme's The Signature of All Things (1623) in the months leading up to his conversion.  He wrote to his long-time friend, Arthur Greeves, "It's not like a book at all, but like a thunderclap."

St. François de Sales (1567-1622) [Ltr 15]:  Priest who became Bishop of Geneva.  A prolific writer on the mysteries of the spiritual life.

"Mettez-vous en la presence de Dieu" [Ltr 15]:  Put your self in the presence of God.

Theophany [Ltr 15]:  visible manifestation of a deity

© 2007 Allyson Wieland