1944-1949 E-mail

Yours, Jack

(pg. 99-139)


The first set of general questions will apply to each of the readings we do in Yours, Jack

They are followed by questions specific to the letters in our selection for the evening. 

General Questions

1.  What do you observe from these letters about Jack's heart? mind? soul?

2.  What did you learn about Jack's relationship with others? with God?

3.  What insight, if any, can you apply to your life?

4.  What is your favorite expression or passage or piece of advice?

Specific Questions

5.  Many of the selected letters from 1945 have to do with the death of Charles Williams (an author from the Inklings and good friend of Lewis).  Which of Jack's comments regarding his friend's death stands out in your mind?

6.  Jack comments to two friends (see pages 119 & 128) regarding the scope of our charity.  Do you think he is too limited?  Does Lewis's version of "charity begins at home" give you a concrete place to start?

7.  What strikes you about Jack's comments on love?  (See pages 100-02; 123)

8.  At least five times in this section (pages 101, 122, 127, 133, 138), Jack cautions against putting too much stock in feelings.  What role do feelings and emotions play in your spiritual walk?  Does Lewis's caution give you a sense of relief?  disappointment?


Prayers for the dead:  This comment on page 100 may puzzle some readers.   There is no mention of prayers for the dead in either the Old or New Testaments.  There is an apocryphal reference in 2 Maccabees 12:40-46.  Orthodox Jews did not consider Maccabees canonical and rejected prayers for the dead.  Protestants believe that death seals a person's choice for eternity, so there's not much point in praying for them after that.  Roman Catholics will pray for souls undergoing purification in purgatory. 

            Why would Lewis talk about prayers for the dead?  Some of his readers and close friends were Catholics.  The idea of the "communion of saints" from the Apostles' Creed and membership in Christ's body from Paul's writings (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12) suggests that death doesn't alter one's status.  The dead are still alive in Christ and continue as members of his body, the Church.  Will Vaus writes, " Regarding prayers for the dead, Lewis asserts that it is a spontaneous and all but inevitable action on his part since most of the people he loves best are dead.  He asks how he can even talk to God intimately if the people he loves most are unmentionable to him" (Mere Theology, p. 177-78).

Arianism:  the teaching of Arius (250-336) who was lived in Alexandria, Egypt and was pronounced a heretic at the Council of Nicaea (325).  Arius taught that Jesus was not of one essence and substance with the Father.  He was not fully divine in nature.  This teaching conflicted with trinitarianism. 

Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753):  Irish bishop and philosopher who worked at Trinity College, Dublin.  He asserted that a person couldn't know a real object, only a perception of it - "to be is to be perceived."  If no human is around to perceive an object, God still does, and therefore objects continue to exist.  He spent four years living in Newport, RI where he advocated for the education of Native Americans and slaves.  The city of Berkeley, CA is named for him.

Roger Lancelyn Green (1918-1987):  While a student at Merton College in the 1930s, he attended Lewis's lectures on Medieval and Renaissance literature.  These were later collected and became The Discarded Image, Lewis's last book, which he dedicated to Green.  An authority on Victorian children's literature, he wrote Tellers of Tales: Children's Books and their Authors from 1800 to 1968 as well as co-authored with Walter Hooper a biography of C.S. Lewis.  Roger and his wife, June, accompanied Jack and Joy on a ten-day trip to Greece shortly before her death in 1960.  The two men shared a life-long interest in fairy tales.  Green read all seven Narnia books in manuscript and encouraged Lewis throughout the series.

Owen Barfield (1898-1997):  Barfield and Lewis met as undergraduates at Oxford.  In Surprised by Joy, Lewis describes him as the type of friend who "disagrees with you about everything."  Barfield was an author and philosopher, as well as solicitor.  He managed the charitable trust consisting of Lewis's royalties.  Lewis credited Barfield with curing him of "chronological snobbery" - the view that one's own age is superior to past eras.  Two of the Narnia books were dedicated to Barfield's children. 

Don Giovanni Calabria (1873-1954):  a priest in Verona, Italy who began corresponding with Lewis in 1947 after reading The Screwtape Letters.  As Calabria did not know English, and Lewis was not fluent in Italian, they wrote to each other in Latin.  Calabria worked with street orphans and established a congregation of priests called the Poor Servants of Divine Providence.  He was deeply concerned about Christian unity, a topic that recurs in his correspondence with Lewis.   Pope John Paul canonized St Giovanni Calabria in 1999. 

© 2008 by Allyson Wieland