as though paradise had never been lost

Christian theology projected beyond earth and man, a theology of the universe at the dawn of the space age was what C.S. Lewis was tapping into.

” as though Paradise had never been lost and earliest dreams were true, the charm of speech and reason. Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other. It all depended on the point of view.”

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The mainspring of Lewis’s writings stemmed from the fact Lewis was a believing Christian, Anglican, and his primary fame as the most imaginative and versatile of Christian apologists. His finest apologetics are in a series of  fantastic novels which disclose a rich gift of sheer imaginative writing which shows the artist and spinner of tales as the best of persuaders.

Interestingly, Lewis was a case study in conversion, to Christianity from atheism. The moment of actual crossover from no-god to god was abrupt and then evolved from theism to specific theology culminating at the age of thirty-one at Oxford: “That which I had greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that god was god, and knelt and prayed; perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”

---But of the many people I meet who would count themselves as Lewis fans, a surprisingly small fraction have read or even heard of his Space Trilogy. The books—1938′s Out Of The Silent Planet, 1943′s Perelandra and 1945′s That Hideous Strength—have a similar feel to other pre-spaceflight “soft” science fiction, and the first book has long been recognized as building on and rethinking some of the main themes and events breached in H. G. Wells‘ The First Men In The Moon. Less focused on future scientific possibilities, the books use the genre to examine morality, language and a range of philosophical concerns. Their depth aside, the books are finely crafted and intensely imaginative stories that are gripping and engaging, each in unique ways.---Read More:

C.S. Lewis shows us reality through fantasy and symbol which, as the mythmakers and poets have always known, are the closest approaches to exclusive reality that we can make. The reality structure he offers us is that proclaimed by Christianity. To the Christian it is truth, to the non-Christian, a tale. And for Lewis, it was a mission of the recovery, the preservation of wonder, awe, radical amazement and the sense of the holy;a breaking down of what Lewis called, ” our nature’s incurable incredulity.” As Lewis said, ” many of us have eased the burden of intolerable strangeness which this universe imposes on us by dividing it into two halves, natural and supernatural, and encouraging the mind never to think of both in the same context. … the laws of the universe are never broken. Your mistake is to think that the little regularities we have observed on one planet for a few hundred years are the real unbreakable laws.”

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He was called the “Apostle to the Skeptics,” the ongoing wrestling match between the realists who invoke the laws of nature against the forces of the miraculous striped of its paganism and fulfilled within Christianity. Thus his wonderful perception of why, inevitably, in a fallen world, “mythology was what it was- gleams of celestial strength and beauty falling on a jungle of filth and imbecility.”

In Out of the Silent Planet, we see that the overwhelming distances of astronomy, which leaves the individual helpless in the presence of immensity, has Lewis wrap up in the term “deep heaven.” It is the whole created realm of god, harmonious in the Great Dance, which is the motion of galaxies and stars and of all things great and small, atom and organism.

Some places in this universe are inhabited by beings analago

o people, but elsewhere and everywhere by beings of other and higher orders; that complex hierarchy known alike to Christian, Jew and Moslem as angels. Not to believe in this hierarchy is to presume a one-jump gap in powers and natures between man and god. Eath is one of the “low worlds.” The great planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are the province of mighty, intelligent beings who are not organisms.

But at the opening of the trilogy Ransom, the hero, does not know all this. On a hiking tour he blunders into the hands of a sinister pair, Weston and Devine, and the great adventure begins. Weston is a physicist of genius who has built a space ship. He represents the man-centered materialist to whom religion is superstition; his goal is no less the colonization of the universe by man and the perpetuation of genus Homo. Devine, his financial backer and partner, is interested only in a cash return and embodies ruthless greed. Together they have already made one successful trip to Malacandra ( Mars) and are about to embark on another. But they need a pseciman of man to give to the ruler of that planet, they think for human sacrifice, and Ransom fortuitously becomes their intended victim.

The title Out of the Silent Planet is a clue to the meaning. Ransom, to whom the strange planet is at first a scene of terror, eventually realizes that the true place of horror is the world from which he has come, which is known on Malacandra as Thulcandra the “Silent Planet.” It lies behind an iron curtain. ….

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