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Monday, December 28, 2009

Comments

Br. Michael Schmitz

From looking at Lewis's letters, he seems to have had some contact with Frank Sheed when Sheed & Ward bought the publishing rights to Pilgrim's Regress from another publisher. Lewis was unhappy about having his book put out by a "Papist publisher", but gave in because they thought they could sell it, and the original publisher could not. He seemed to have been slightly angered by Sheed's note in the book jacket implying that the book was an attack on Lewis' home country and religion. (Collected Letters, Vol. II, pp. 170, 177)

"...I fear Mr. Sheed is a rascal. That blurb on his jacket, insinuating that the book contains an attack on my own religious upbringing, was printed without my knowledge or authority, and he must have known it was a suggestio falsi: at least he took good care not to know!" (ibid. 177)

Sandra Miesel

The COLLECTED LETTERS of Lewis contain references to Sheed. In Vol II Lewis expresses displeasure at having PILGRIM'S REGRESS published by the "Papist" house of Sheed & Ward. In Vol III, he proposes Frank Sheed as a speaker at the Socratic Club. So I think they must have had a least a vague acquaintance.

Mark Brumley

Sheed said that Lewis was often asked when he was going to become a Catholic. Sheed also said that he himself never posed the question to Lewis, which I take to imply that they knew each other. As Sandra notes, Lewis proposed Sheed as a Socratic club speaker.

Christopher Derrick, in C.S. Lewis and the Church of Rome, argued that Lewis' criticism of Sheed's back cover copy was a bit disingenuous. I concur.

I dislike a certain Catholic penchant for siding with the Catholic whenever there is a Catholic vs. Lewis issue. For instance, I have heard it argued that Tolkien was the better theologian than Lewis. If by "better" one means that the "better" man happens to hold more orthodox views, then of course Tolkien being a Catholic and Lewis being an Anglican entails Tolkien being more orthodox and, in the aforementioned sense, the "better" theologian, from the Catholic view of things. But when it comes to engaging in theological reflection and lucidly writing about it, Lewis was clearly the better theologian, even though not a professional theologian but a popularizer.

That said, in the dispute with Sheed, it certainly seems that Lewis was over-the-top and perhaps allowed his Ulster background to color his interpretation of the whole event. Indeed, although Lewis was in many ways a pioneer of authentic ecumenism, he was a bit touchy in certain respects when it came to Catholicism, as Derrick and Joseph Pearce (C.S. Lewis and the Catholic Church) make clear.

Ed Peters

Well put Mark. The line, btw, that Lewis perhaps "allowed his Ulster background to color his interpretation" of this or that is precisely what I think God will use to excuse L's refusal to enter the Church and, worse, his dissuading Warnie from entering.

Gabriel Austin

C.S. Lewis is theology and water. For a good comparison read Msgr. Knox's THE BELIEF OF CATHOLICS.

Mark Brumley

Gabriel, I see the two as being about the same theological weight--apart from Lewis' Anglicanism.

Tom Gnau

Very interesting. Apparently, then, there was tension -- for at least a brief episode -- but no real friendship. That saddens me for some reason. I love both writers.

Thanks for posing the question, Carl.

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