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"Lewis struck me as the most thoroughly converted man I ever met," observes Walter Hooper in the preface to this collection of essays by C. S. Lewis. "His whole vision of life was such that the natural and the supernatural seemed inseparably combined."It is precisely this pervasive Christianity which is demonstrated in the forty-eight essays comprising God in the Dock. Her "Lewis struck me as the most thoroughly converted man I ever met," observes Walter Hooper in the preface to this collection of essays by C. S. Lewis. "His whole vision of life was such that the natural and the supernatural seemed inseparably combined."It is precisely this pervasive Christianity which is demonstrated in the forty-eight essays comprising God in the Dock. Here Lewis addresses himself both to theological questions and to those which Hooper terms "semi-theological," or ethical. But whether he is discussing "Evil and God," "Miracles," "The Decline of Religion," or "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment," his insight and observations are thoroughly and profoundly Christian.Drawn from a variety of sources, the essays were designed to meet a variety of needs, and among other accomplishments they serve to illustrate the many different angles from which we are able to view the Christian religion. They range from relatively popular pieces written for newspapers to more learned defenses of the faith which first appeared in The Socratic Digest. Characterized by Lewis's honesty and realism, his insight and conviction, and above all his thoroughgoing commitments to Christianity, these essays make God in the Dock very much a book for our time.


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"Lewis struck me as the most thoroughly converted man I ever met," observes Walter Hooper in the preface to this collection of essays by C. S. Lewis. "His whole vision of life was such that the natural and the supernatural seemed inseparably combined."It is precisely this pervasive Christianity which is demonstrated in the forty-eight essays comprising God in the Dock. Her "Lewis struck me as the most thoroughly converted man I ever met," observes Walter Hooper in the preface to this collection of essays by C. S. Lewis. "His whole vision of life was such that the natural and the supernatural seemed inseparably combined."It is precisely this pervasive Christianity which is demonstrated in the forty-eight essays comprising God in the Dock. Here Lewis addresses himself both to theological questions and to those which Hooper terms "semi-theological," or ethical. But whether he is discussing "Evil and God," "Miracles," "The Decline of Religion," or "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment," his insight and observations are thoroughly and profoundly Christian.Drawn from a variety of sources, the essays were designed to meet a variety of needs, and among other accomplishments they serve to illustrate the many different angles from which we are able to view the Christian religion. They range from relatively popular pieces written for newspapers to more learned defenses of the faith which first appeared in The Socratic Digest. Characterized by Lewis's honesty and realism, his insight and conviction, and above all his thoroughgoing commitments to Christianity, these essays make God in the Dock very much a book for our time.

30 review for God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    I once heard a pastor/theologian say CS Lewis was overrated. Now, I like this person and have found his work helpful. But I can't help but wonder he made this judgment based on reading very few Lewis books and knowing nothing about Lewis' life. The more I learn about Lewis, the more I am amazed by his work. Yet, if you just read Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia, maybe also Screwtape Letter, sure, he may seem over-rated. God in the Dock is the longest Lewis book I've seen, maybe only I once heard a pastor/theologian say CS Lewis was overrated. Now, I like this person and have found his work helpful. But I can't help but wonder he made this judgment based on reading very few Lewis books and knowing nothing about Lewis' life. The more I learn about Lewis, the more I am amazed by his work. Yet, if you just read Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia, maybe also Screwtape Letter, sure, he may seem over-rated. God in the Dock is the longest Lewis book I've seen, maybe only his collected Letters are longer. There are dozens of essays in here covering a variety of topics. As any collection of essays will be, some are fantastic and a few are not. If you have read a lot of Lewis you will see ideas from his other works coming out here. I think this book, along with the essay collection Weight of Glory, are must-reads to fully understand Lewis though it also makes sense to save them till you've read the bulk of his work. In one essay, maybe two, Lewis argues that part of the test for ordination should be translating a passage from a heavy theological book into language the common man can understand. I assume this is why some see him as overrated. His most popular books, such as Mere Christianity, are targeted at people who do not read thick and heavy theology books. He may come across a bit simplistic in those works. Don't get me wrong, I think Mere Christianity is great. My point is, Lewis is much more complex than a reading of a few of his books can show. He may not have quoted theologians, but he was familiar with academics. I think, had he wanted to, he could have written a thick and heavy theology book. He was more than capable of the research. Instead, he wrote short books and essays and taught at university. Through that, his work has been more influential than anyone writing thick and heavy theology books in the 20th century. I highly recommend this series of essays. There is so much here that is thoughtful and relevant. As I said, some of it is familiar: Christianity as true myth, question of how we can trust our senses if they evolved only for survival, his musings on prayer. Some things are unique, such as his talk on politics. I almost want to say until you read this, and a good biography or two, you don't know Lewis. You should know Lewis. Read this one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a collection of essays and letters by C.S. Lewis that mostly aren't available elsewhere. Probably my favorite of all the essays is "Man or Rabbit?", which is a word-picture of conversion. ("All the rabbit in us is to disappear -- the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit.") Some of the essays are less interesting to me, and some of them I don't find interesting at all. But Lewisian gems are sprinkled everywhere, and I like that his curmudgeonly This is a collection of essays and letters by C.S. Lewis that mostly aren't available elsewhere. Probably my favorite of all the essays is "Man or Rabbit?", which is a word-picture of conversion. ("All the rabbit in us is to disappear -- the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit.") Some of the essays are less interesting to me, and some of them I don't find interesting at all. But Lewisian gems are sprinkled everywhere, and I like that his curmudgeonly side comes out. Some samples: "The moment a man seriously accepts a deity his interest in 'religion' is at an end. He's got something else to think about." "It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies." "If it were my business to have a 'view' on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business." "Can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter just to help the shopkeepers?" "Didn't they know that, Bomb or no Bomb, all men die (many in horrible ways)? There's no good moping and sulking about it." "A right to happiness doesn't, for me, make much more sense than a right to be six feet tall." "Most political sermons teach the congregation nothing except what newspapers are taken at the Rectory." "I have never helped to organize youth, and while I was young myself I successfully avoided being organized." September 29, 2019 ... Adding this from a delightfully curmudgeonly essay called, "Delinquents in the snow": At my front door they are, once every year, the voices of the local choir, on the forty-five other annual occasions they are those of boys or children who have not even tried to learn to sing, or to memorize the words of the piece they are murdering. The instruments they play with real conviction are the door-bell and the knocker; and money is what they are after.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    It’s a mashup of Lewis’s thoughts over various different times. Long and sometimes rambly, but rich with insights if you take the time to stop and think. One of the older essay collections, assembled by Hooper. Anthologies like this show that good ideas rolled off Lewis in waves, in whatever he happened to be writing. Fascinating to see the same idea at play in various different spots. I read this with a pencil in hand and underlined something on nearly every other page. Read this review: https://w It’s a mashup of Lewis’s thoughts over various different times. Long and sometimes rambly, but rich with insights if you take the time to stop and think. One of the older essay collections, assembled by Hooper. Anthologies like this show that good ideas rolled off Lewis in waves, in whatever he happened to be writing. Fascinating to see the same idea at play in various different spots. I read this with a pencil in hand and underlined something on nearly every other page. Read this review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  4. 4 out of 5

    J.Aleksandr Wootton

    An excellent collection of pivotal ideas. I requested & received this book as my 15th or 16th birthday present on the strength of a single quote from the titular essay, and devoured the whole. Lewis developed many of the ideas from these early periodical publications into books or book chapters, and they weren't always improved by the expansion. On the other hand, as he got older he became more circumspect in his self-editing. These earlier works at times reveal prejudices which he later outgrew An excellent collection of pivotal ideas. I requested & received this book as my 15th or 16th birthday present on the strength of a single quote from the titular essay, and devoured the whole. Lewis developed many of the ideas from these early periodical publications into books or book chapters, and they weren't always improved by the expansion. On the other hand, as he got older he became more circumspect in his self-editing. These earlier works at times reveal prejudices which he later outgrew or, at least, grew wise enough or ashamed enough not to publish. Which is also useful to read, if you are the sort of fan inclined to lionize your favorite authors. Recommended reading for fans and pupils of Lewis' nonfiction.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Read "The Dangers of National Repentance" for the first time on Jan. 22, 2019. Incredibly insightful and incisive. H. L. Mencken was no saint, but his comment "The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it" seems related. Read "The Dangers of National Repentance" for the first time on Jan. 22, 2019. Incredibly insightful and incisive. H. L. Mencken was no saint, but his comment "The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it" seems related.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Great. Also read in March of 1980.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    An interesting collection of essays on a variety of topics from miracles, to the celebration of Christmas, to the penal system. If you’ve ever wondered about the saved man of Calormen in The Last Battle, there are a couple essays in here that expound on that concept. The essay on Apologetics is particularly helpful, and it is one well-worth revisiting again. There were some that left me a little confused as to what kind of news from America, especially as regards to systematized racism of the time, An interesting collection of essays on a variety of topics from miracles, to the celebration of Christmas, to the penal system. If you’ve ever wondered about the saved man of Calormen in The Last Battle, there are a couple essays in here that expound on that concept. The essay on Apologetics is particularly helpful, and it is one well-worth revisiting again. There were some that left me a little confused as to what kind of news from America, especially as regards to systematized racism of the time, people in Britain heard. But overall, it was an excellent book, a good one to chew on a little bit at a time. Each essay averages only 4-5 pages, but each one is brain food for hours of thought.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason Mccool

    "God in the Dock" is a great collection of essays and letters from C.S. Lewis, compiled and edited by Walter Hooper. For the American readers like myself, the book title (from an essay of the same name) is not referring to God being down at the boat dock, but rather in the dock, or witness stand, in a British court. Modern man has essentially put God on trial, asking Him to defend His existence and right to judge us. This book will appeal to the veteran reader of Lewis's major works looking to f "God in the Dock" is a great collection of essays and letters from C.S. Lewis, compiled and edited by Walter Hooper. For the American readers like myself, the book title (from an essay of the same name) is not referring to God being down at the boat dock, but rather in the dock, or witness stand, in a British court. Modern man has essentially put God on trial, asking Him to defend His existence and right to judge us. This book will appeal to the veteran reader of Lewis's major works looking to fill in the gaps in his library, along with the novice looking for a short-format dose of thought-provoking reading. Lewis addresses a wide range of subjects like the presence of evil in the world, the possibility of miracles, dogma, crime and punishment, and various proposed changes in the church at that time in England. Some of the material, being in the form of essays and letters published in magazines and journals of the time, and often in response to other authors, is of a very partial nature and somewhat dated in its subject matter. Explanatory footnotes from Mr. Hooper help fill in some of the backstory of the various debates going on at that time, and generally, the principles he attends to do not diminish with age. Lewis's ability to pull deep life lessons from any occurrence are highlighted in essays like "Meditation in a Toolshed", "The Sermon and the Lunch", and "Delinquents in the Snow", while "Bulverism" and "Xmas and Christmas" show his humor. "We have no 'Right to Happiness'" hits at the root of much marital infidelity. Essays like "The Grand Miracle", "Christian Apologetics" and "What are We to Make of Jesus Christ?" delve into the very core of what it means to be a Christian. What do you believe? Do you know? If so, good. But then Lewis takes us to the deeper question - Why? Do you believe what your parents believed, what your teachers told you you should believe, what "experts" tell you to believe? Know why you believe what you believe, or else your beliefs will never stand up to the slightest wind of opposition. One final note: there will be sections that most people will struggle to grasp the nuances of Lewis's language. Most of his quotes from Greek, Latin, French, and German are translated in footnotes, but many of these expressions perhaps familiar to a literary scholar, with all the associated connotations, are not so recognizable to us now. Don't let that deter you from reading his works, however. Only in pushing our boundaries do we grow, and our minds are no exception to that rule.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Luke Miller

    I have read a number of books from Lewis, but I don't think I have savored one as much as this one. This is due in large part to the style of the book. "God in the Dock" is a collection of 60 letters and essays, so it's kind of like picking C.S. Lewis' brain over coffee... minus the coffee. When I read Lewis, it feels like I am reaping a harvest, but as time passes, I realize that it was really more like planting for one. At times, Lewis is very quotable. Every good author is. But he is more than I have read a number of books from Lewis, but I don't think I have savored one as much as this one. This is due in large part to the style of the book. "God in the Dock" is a collection of 60 letters and essays, so it's kind of like picking C.S. Lewis' brain over coffee... minus the coffee. When I read Lewis, it feels like I am reaping a harvest, but as time passes, I realize that it was really more like planting for one. At times, Lewis is very quotable. Every good author is. But he is more than that. His books are filled with ideas that are exploding with implications. Owen Barfield said that what Lewis "thought about everything was secretly present in what he said about anything." He referred to it as a kind of "consistency" or "presence of mind". This is what I have found in his books - a consistently Christian worldview. And what better place to find it than in a book with the topical diversity of "God in the Dock". From ethical questions (like pains and afterlife of animals) to theological topics (like religion and science) to cultural topics (like the celebration of Christmas), Lewis writes with his characteristic precision and color. But he always does so as a Christian. He addresses every topic with the foundational confidence that what he believes about God and the world is relevant to the discussion. True, this sometimes leads him into muddy waters. But even when the path is less clear, it no less enjoyable. Even when he is responding to critics, Lewis writes humbly and charitably. He responds with a sincere desire to win them over, not show them up. This is so hard to do, especially in print. There is always a temptation to be overly harsh or critical of people when your opponents are not present to defend themselves. In a book this broad in its focus, it was not surprising to find that we parted ways on a number of points. But as someone else has said so well, Lewis is in the delightful category of authors who edify me even when I disagree with them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Hawkins

    This is my last book read of 2018, completing virtually all of C.S. Lewis’ works. It was a fantastic way to end. At 380 pages (and denser pages than the typical Harper Collins Lewis publications), this was the longest Lewis book I read all year. But as with Weight of Glory and other ‘books,’ this is simply a collection of essays. But I’d say this is the best collection. About a half of it is apologetics, which I really enjoy. I’d say reading Lewis’ apologetic essays here were clearer than in Mira This is my last book read of 2018, completing virtually all of C.S. Lewis’ works. It was a fantastic way to end. At 380 pages (and denser pages than the typical Harper Collins Lewis publications), this was the longest Lewis book I read all year. But as with Weight of Glory and other ‘books,’ this is simply a collection of essays. But I’d say this is the best collection. About a half of it is apologetics, which I really enjoy. I’d say reading Lewis’ apologetic essays here were clearer than in Miracles (although I loved Miracles!). But the other essays had to do with theology, church, some politics, and Christian living. It was a beautiful mixed bag of Lewis’ thoughts! As for which essays were great, I have many starred (and doubled starred) in the contents. But next year I plan on going through them each more. All I will say is that this collection confirmed something that I have been thinking as I’ve been reading all of Lewis this year: he is a better essayist than whole book author. I’m sure that’d be disputed by many, but that’s my opinion. His larger works (books) are of course full of brilliance. But there’s many more poor spots. The Problem of Pain on suffering, The Great Divorce on hell, The Reflection on the Pslams on the psalms, and The Four Loves on love, and even Mere Christianity, are all worthwhile reads, but they’re not his best works (Miracles even could be added to this list). Instead, he thrives when he writes a 15-30 page essay on a similar topic. He’s clearer, he avoids his bad spots, and he usually still gets the brilliance across. 
So, being a book of essays, I loved this very much. It took me a while to get through, but I was savoring it. Of course, some were much better than others. But overall, I loved it—even more than The Weight of Glory collection of essays. It’s worth dredging through for sure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I really enjoyed this book. At one moment it would be delightful, then next abominable theology, and the next the best theology I've heard in a long time. Definitely one to cherry pick from and re read in the future I really enjoyed this book. At one moment it would be delightful, then next abominable theology, and the next the best theology I've heard in a long time. Definitely one to cherry pick from and re read in the future

  12. 4 out of 5

    Josh Bauder

    This collection of essays, lectures, interviews, and letters covers a wide spectrum of topics. Most deal with some serious theological or philosophical issue; some deal with relatively trivial matters. All of them illuminate a compelling strand of Lewis's thought. Here are some examples: We should read old books more than new ones. Christmas has three meanings: the religious holiday, the popular holiday of merrymaking and hospitality, and the commercial racket. The first should be observed, the se This collection of essays, lectures, interviews, and letters covers a wide spectrum of topics. Most deal with some serious theological or philosophical issue; some deal with relatively trivial matters. All of them illuminate a compelling strand of Lewis's thought. Here are some examples: We should read old books more than new ones. Christmas has three meanings: the religious holiday, the popular holiday of merrymaking and hospitality, and the commercial racket. The first should be observed, the second tolerated, the third condemned. He did not like the carolers who came to his door. (This was because they were often year-round troublemakers who temporarily donned angelic expressions when soliciting money at Christmas.) The welfare state enslaves its populace. Anglican priests should know the lines of boundary between Anglican Christianity and two distortions: the broad slipperiness of modern liberalism on the one side, and Roman Catholicism on the other. Archaic and traditional language in the Book of Common Prayer should be retained ("Miserable Offenders"); but watch out for undue veneration of the Authorized Version ("Modern Translations of the Bible"). We have no "right to happiness" in the way the phrase is usually meant. (Then, as now, it almost always means "sexual happiness.") A right is a freedom guaranteed by the laws of a society, but Lewis argues that those laws cannot guarantee a happy state for every individual. In the U.S.'s Declaration of Independence, which Lewis defends, there is of course the right to pursue happiness—that is, pursue it by means sanctioned by the nation and nature; but this is not an unlimited right or a promise of its realization. After all, Lewis comments, the people making the most noise about the "right to happiness" fail to fairly apply it outside the realm of transgressive sexual relationships: do we ever hear about the right of the ruthless CEO to make more money or of the nicotine addict to smoke more cigarettes just because those behaviors will bring them happiness? The Nazis attempted to co-opt Wagner's mythology into their ideology, but it was a doomed project. The Nazis, after all, believed that might was right; theirs was a utilitarian worldview built on sheer power—the ultimate expression of survival of the fittest coupled with the optimistic arrogance of Aryan supremacy. But in Wagner's Ring Cycle, and in the broader Norse mythology of which it was the Romantic capstone, the looming background was always defeat. The gods were destined for a tragic fate; Odin had the right but not the might; and of all the world's religions, the Norse was the only one calling men to fight on the losing side ("First and Second Things"). Repenting of imaginary sins, especially on national scale, is not harmless but destructive ("The Dangers of National Repentance"). There should not be a Christian party or Christian platform in government ("Meditation on the Third Commandment"). The decline of religion may be a very good thing, in that it leaves little room for ambiguity or impostors: "When the Round Table is broken, one must follow either Galahad or Mordred." Capital punishment should be maintained as a form of retributive justice (as opposed to remedial justice). There's a difference between looking at and looking along. To look at something is to analyze it; to look along it is to be caught in the experience of it. One can look at a sunbeam filtering through the dust, or one can look along the sunbeam to see the outside world and the sun itself. One can analyze love or faith or courage as physical phenomena directed by physics, genetics, or Freudian or Marxist impulses, or one can be in love, or have faith, or take courage ("Meditation in a Toolshed"). This is really two ways of knowing: direct experience on the one hand, and analysis and abstraction on the other. The problem is that while we are experiencing something we cannot analyze it (who analyzes pain when impaled by a spear, or love in the nuptial embrace?), and when we do pause to analyze it we know longer really know the thing. And this is where myths, and the Christian myth especially, are so important: through myths we come the closest to experiencing in a concrete way what would otherwise be mere abstraction ("Myth Became Fact"). God relates to us in the same way Shakespeare relates to "The Tempest" ("Must Our Image of God Go?"). The people who wail that we are returning to paganism don't understand how much worse off we are than the pagans. The relation of religion to science emerges as a recurring theme throughout God in the Dock. In "Dogma and the Universe" Lewis argues against the self-existence of matter; in "Religion and Science" he refutes the claim that premodern man was more gullible about the miraculous than we; in "Religion Without Dogma" he attacks naturalism; in "Two Lectures" we hear an eloquent argument for evolution turned upside-down and played backward as a defense of creative design. Several essays answer specific questions: Is a good life possible without Christianity? Is prayer effective? What are we to make of Jesus Christ? (—to which Lewis answers, what is He to make of us?) Should we love the self or renounce the self? Is Christianity in a state of revival or decay? (Both.) Can there be Anglican priestesses? (Not if it is still to be Christianity.) Should we read modern translations of the Bible? (Definitely, although with prudence.) In three essays ("The Pains of Animals", "A Rejoinder to Dr. Pittinger", and "Vivisection") Lewis defends, corrects, and expands the arguments of "The Problem of Pain."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Somewhat hit or miss. But, some of the best chapters are incredible! Worth a read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jon Beadle

    A fantastic collection of responses, letters, and essays on many cultural collection.

  15. 4 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    Excellent. Favorite essays: Christian Apologetics, Man or Rabbit, The Trouble With “X,” Dangers of National Repentance, On the Reading of Old Books, Bulverism, and The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment.

  16. 5 out of 5

    M. J.

    I had read so much fiction of late that I felt almost a necessity to return to some non-fiction; and having no unread books within my grasp I chose one I had read before. I have read this half a dozen times before, since first encountering Lewis in undergrad thirty-mumble years ago, and expect that I will read it as many times again if I live long enough. It is a collection of essays, letters, and published interviews on a broad variety of subjects which the editor has gathered from many sources I had read so much fiction of late that I felt almost a necessity to return to some non-fiction; and having no unread books within my grasp I chose one I had read before. I have read this half a dozen times before, since first encountering Lewis in undergrad thirty-mumble years ago, and expect that I will read it as many times again if I live long enough. It is a collection of essays, letters, and published interviews on a broad variety of subjects which the editor has gathered from many sources (newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, books by other authors, mostly British but sometimes American). Being a collection Lewis never envisioned would be collected, it is in some ways incohesive and in some ways repetitive. The repetition arises in that several personal illustrations arise in connection with related subjects, such as the story of the sexton who perfectly understood praying that judges would "indifferently" administer justice, but had no concept of what "impartially" would mean whenever talking about communicating to others. The incohesion comes from the broad range of subject matter addressed, from the humanitarian theory of punishment to vivisection to the ordination of women to supernaturalism. It is also here where its chief value lies. We have the opinion of one who has been called "the most converted man", who is clearly the leading Christian apologist of the twentieth century, on a broad range of subjects. It is also in a broad range of styles, as appropriate to the original venues in which each piece appeared. I find that many of my views are in agreement with Lewis, and can trace some of this to the fact that I had never considered specific issues prior to encountering his expositions. I remember thinking that my Criminal Law professor needed to read the piece On the Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, which establishes that there is an essential link between our treatment of criminals and whether they deserve it that is lost when we speak of sentencing solely as cures and deterrents. In places where I disagree, such as his discussion of the ordination of women, I came more fully to understand the very logical reasons for his position given certain assumptions (although he does not use the phrase, I have since heard it expressed as a "confusion of imagery": if God represents Himself to us primarily through the masculine image of "Father" (which as a Pauline scholar I recognize), and the priest represents God to us (which is where I disagree), then female priests confound the image God intended us to have of Himself). I also find that Lewis is an excellent example both of clarity of communication and of clarity of logic. I can only hope that my own non-fiction writing is as clear and as competent. I strongly recommend this book to all. Whether or not you agree with his positions, you cannot truly defend your own if you have not encountered his arguments.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Collin Coffee

    Excellent.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dean

    If I had to recommend to you an essay collection by C. S. Lewis, then THIS WOULD IT BE!!! Walter Hooper has done a very great job in compiling this essay collection.... I must confess that in the art of writing, the essay form versus the novel or even novellas has capture and gain my heart. It even was neglected by me, so as for example other peoples neglect short stories or non fiction literature.... And so "God in the Dock" by C. S. Lewis will not disappoint, it is witty and insightful written, co If I had to recommend to you an essay collection by C. S. Lewis, then THIS WOULD IT BE!!! Walter Hooper has done a very great job in compiling this essay collection.... I must confess that in the art of writing, the essay form versus the novel or even novellas has capture and gain my heart. It even was neglected by me, so as for example other peoples neglect short stories or non fiction literature.... And so "God in the Dock" by C. S. Lewis will not disappoint, it is witty and insightful written, covering a vast variety of topics and shedding much needed light particularly for the times we live in.... Before I pick up some of my favorites essays in the collection for you, I must say that the paperback edition from Eerdmans is a carefully and high qualitative elaborated piece of a book!!! The paper, the size of the letters and the whole book, invites and affords you to enjoy at the best this collection. "God in the Dock" begins with a foreword by Walter Hooper, is then follow by four main parts, and reminding and showing us a sample of Lewis skills in his diverse letters brings to an end this valuable and really good essay collection. "Revival or decay ?" treat with the Christian religion and how people react to it!!! "Meditation in a toolshed" sheds light on the subject of looking along, and looking at it, it will knock you out!!! If you want to start reading C. S. Lewis works, than this book would be a good beginning ... I recommend it to all of you whose spirits keep asking, and cannot find appropriate answers. And five stars of course, please don't miss this one, it will be without a doubt rewarding experience. I promise it!!! Dean:)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mia Parviainen

    I've had this book on my shelf for years; I had read the first essay and was impressed with it, but then set it aside for far too long. It was time to tackle this collection of essays and correspondence by Lewis. Editor Walter Hooper assembled the various texts and organized them into four sections. In his preface, Hooper explains that Part I is theological, Part II is semi-theological, Part III is on ethics, and Part IV are letters in chronological order. Casual readers of C.S. Lewis (i.e. thos I've had this book on my shelf for years; I had read the first essay and was impressed with it, but then set it aside for far too long. It was time to tackle this collection of essays and correspondence by Lewis. Editor Walter Hooper assembled the various texts and organized them into four sections. In his preface, Hooper explains that Part I is theological, Part II is semi-theological, Part III is on ethics, and Part IV are letters in chronological order. Casual readers of C.S. Lewis (i.e. those who read Mere Christianity and liked it) will find this book a bit of a challenge. The individual essays on their own have audiences ranging from everyday individuals to academics challenging Lewis in print; Lewis calibrates his diction and tone accordingly, all while maintaining his signature style. Some of the issues tackled are universal, and some issues don't translate to other countries, denominations, or decades. For these reasons, casual readers of Lewis will find some passages more interesting than others--if an essay doesn't grab you within a page or two, consider jumping ship. Then again, some of these essays literally run under a page. For those who are reading all things Lewis, it's a treasure trove of opinion and essays that were later expanded or incorporated into full-length books; in some cases, careful readers will note that Lewis revisits ideas and expands on them in subsequent essays. Hooper provides publication information that can put each essay into further context. I think my only gripe with the book is with the letters section. The book publishes Lewis' responses to articles and letters, but doesn't include the original passages (though references are given). It's a bit frustrating to hear only one side of the conversation. Of course, this is more so an issue with the editor, and not with Lewis himself. Overall, the book is a glimpse into a thinker's mind. Lewis breaks down a variety of concepts thoughtfully, including animal rights, happiness and fidelity, apologetics, language in the Church, and the death penalty. Who should read this book: readers of C.S. Lewis, fans of philosophy, theologians, thinkers.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karly Noelle White

    This collection, an assortment of unrelated essays, interviews, letters, and articles that were never intended for publication, let alone publication together in one volume, is a conundrum. Because of the varying themes and styles in the documents contained within, as well as the timeline ranging several decades, God in the Dock runs the gamut of Lewis, representing him at both his absolute best and his absolute worst, his most insightful and his most close-minded, his most progressive and his m This collection, an assortment of unrelated essays, interviews, letters, and articles that were never intended for publication, let alone publication together in one volume, is a conundrum. Because of the varying themes and styles in the documents contained within, as well as the timeline ranging several decades, God in the Dock runs the gamut of Lewis, representing him at both his absolute best and his absolute worst, his most insightful and his most close-minded, his most progressive and his most legalistic. It's a valuable work for any Lewis enthusiast to explore, but it's worth remembering that Lewis, for all of his abilities and wisdom as a writer both of fiction and apologetics, was but a man, somewhat introverted and cloistered, and a product of his time as well. As such, there are some uncomfortable passages within this book regarding topics like race, class, and feminism, but there is also beautiful, ever-relevant commentary on the church, education... even animal rights. It's also worth noting that, even within these pages, Lewis' views on some of these topics did change or soften over time. It's a good book to explore, and to do so with an open mind, because when he is good, he is very, very good.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donald Owens II

    This is one of those grandly frustrating books that is so quotable it is not. In seeking a reasonable division for a quote, one finds he has posted to Facebook the entire book. Some parts, like "Modern Translations of the Bible", I feel like I wrote. Others, like "Priestesses in the Church?" and "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment" are prophetic. Not by design, but because we have grown so absurd, his reductios are now fulfilled predictions. Excepting Walter Hooper’s coattail-riding foreword, This is one of those grandly frustrating books that is so quotable it is not. In seeking a reasonable division for a quote, one finds he has posted to Facebook the entire book. Some parts, like "Modern Translations of the Bible", I feel like I wrote. Others, like "Priestesses in the Church?" and "The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment" are prophetic. Not by design, but because we have grown so absurd, his reductios are now fulfilled predictions. Excepting Walter Hooper’s coattail-riding foreword, I found this collection of 60-year-old writings as fresh and applicable as today’s blog.

  22. 4 out of 5

    John Elliott

    For the past several months, I’ve started each day by reading an essay from this collection, a tradition I’m somewhat sad to see end. The experience only solidified Lewis’ standing as my favorite author, dead or alive. Particularly enjoyed “The Trouble with ‘X’”, “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness’”, “First and Second Things” and “The Sermon and the Lunch”. A memorable excerpt from the latter: “If a man can’t be comfortable and unguarded, can’t take his ease and ‘be himself’ in his own house, where For the past several months, I’ve started each day by reading an essay from this collection, a tradition I’m somewhat sad to see end. The experience only solidified Lewis’ standing as my favorite author, dead or alive. Particularly enjoyed “The Trouble with ‘X’”, “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness’”, “First and Second Things” and “The Sermon and the Lunch”. A memorable excerpt from the latter: “If a man can’t be comfortable and unguarded, can’t take his ease and ‘be himself’ in his own house, where can he? That is, I confess, the trouble. The answer is an alarming one. There is nowhere this side of heaven where one can safely lay the reins on the horse’s neck. It will never be lawful simply to ‘be ourselves’ until ourselves have become sons of God.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ian Major

    His theology is weak in many places, but he has a lot of sound observations. The book's title derives from Lewis's comments on p.100: 'The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God's acquitt His theology is weak in many places, but he has a lot of sound observations. The book's title derives from Lewis's comments on p.100: 'The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God's acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God in the dock.'

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Van Sickle

    Great collection of Lewis essays. The following essays are especially rich: - “Christian apologetics” - great introduction on how to do apologetics - “On the transmission of Christianity” - why are young people so messed up? Because old people are messed up. - “dangers of national repentance”- young people tend to “repent” for their past ancestors instead of repenting of their own sins. - “on reading old books” - reading old books helps us escape our cultural moment. -“Priestesses in the church” - Great collection of Lewis essays. The following essays are especially rich: - “Christian apologetics” - great introduction on how to do apologetics - “On the transmission of Christianity” - why are young people so messed up? Because old people are messed up. - “dangers of national repentance”- young people tend to “repent” for their past ancestors instead of repenting of their own sins. - “on reading old books” - reading old books helps us escape our cultural moment. -“Priestesses in the church” - a call for complementarity in the church. -“god in the dock” - how to do apologetics with the masses -“Bulverism”- people aren’t wrong just because they are lower class, middle class, upper class, men, women or something else. You have to prove someone is wrong before you propose why. Their identity can explain why but that doesn’t explain the error of their argument. Great essay for the day of identity politics.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew T.

    I think every Christian should have a copy on their bookshelf for reference. I know I'll be buying one. I think every Christian should have a copy on their bookshelf for reference. I know I'll be buying one.

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Funderburg

    Some exceptional thoughts on still-relevant issues by one of history's greatest Christian apologists. Lewis has a way of writing about complex issues that is both challenging and accessible. Some exceptional thoughts on still-relevant issues by one of history's greatest Christian apologists. Lewis has a way of writing about complex issues that is both challenging and accessible.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tarah Lewis

    Some very interesting essays, most of which I had not read before. A few of them were a bit too ethereal but most had very practical applications and insights. Totally worth a read!

  28. 5 out of 5

    C.H. Cobb

    Reading Lewis is like peering through a freshly washed window into the depths of his soul. A rare communicator among great thinkers and writers, Lewis is able to put deep thoughts on the lower shelf, accessible to the man who has callouses on his hands and dirt under his fingernails. God in the Dock is a compendium of Lewis’ essays, articles, letters, and a few transcripts of his speeches compiled by editor Walter Hooper, who served briefly as Lewis’ secretary during the illness that took Lewis’ Reading Lewis is like peering through a freshly washed window into the depths of his soul. A rare communicator among great thinkers and writers, Lewis is able to put deep thoughts on the lower shelf, accessible to the man who has callouses on his hands and dirt under his fingernails. God in the Dock is a compendium of Lewis’ essays, articles, letters, and a few transcripts of his speeches compiled by editor Walter Hooper, who served briefly as Lewis’ secretary during the illness that took Lewis’ life. Hooper has organized the volume into four parts. The first part contains essays that are “clearly theological,” the second “semi-theological,” and the third “ethics,” and the fourth is comprised of Lewis’ letters answering those who disagree with some point he has made. If Lewis is a polemicist, he has two arguments to make: his primary argument is against unbelief, and particularly unbelief possessed by those who professed to believe: the liberal clergy and theologians of the post-war Church of England. His other great issue is more subtle: it’s an argument against unclear thought and language that befuddles rather than enlightens. Lewis contends that if a man is not able to translate a passage from an English volume of systematic theology into language that his gardener would understand, he should fail his ordination exam. Modern conservative evangelicals are conflicted about Lewis. It seems to me that there are two reasons for the uncertainty. First there is a misunderstanding about the way Lewis uses the term myth. As a professor of literature, Lewis used the term to describe the rich stories of cultures such as the Norsemen or the Greeks. Lewis contended that, though historically false, such stories conveyed subtle evidences of transcendence—in other words, evidence of God, the True Joy. But he also used the term to describe Christianity, and that’s what makes modern Bible-believers nervous. It need not. Unlike modern liberals, when Lewis uses “myth” in connection with Christianity, he is not speaking of something false or unhistorical. Indeed, Lewis was a strong force in his day arguing for the reality of the miracles of Scripture, and against the anti-supernaturalism that wound up destroying much of Anglicanism. Lewis uses the term myth in much the same way that “metanarrative” is used in popular culture: it’s the “big picture,” the “grand narrative,” the unifying story that ties together and explains a culture. For Lewis Christian myth is the true historical story of God’s grand plan of redemption through His Son Jesus Christ. It is the story (the only story) that explains the faith of the apostles and the two thousand years of history since. Theologians use the term “redemptive history” in almost precisely the way Lewis used the word myth to describe Christianity. Myth is not the denial of historicity for Lewis, rather it is the assertion of the grandness and majesty of The Story—the true story. The second concern about Lewis regards his tendency to Universalism, the idea that all men—even Christ rejecters—will ultimately be redeemed. Lewis argues that we in time cannot now know what eternity bodes for the lost. See for instance the last two chapters of The Great Divorce. I think Lewis himself was conflicted about it—you can observe his conflict in places where he argues strenuously for the need of conversion before one faces God. Conservative evangelicals who are disturbed by this part of Lewis need to go back and read the first four centuries of church history—even Augustine believed things we would disavow today. The same can be said of the Reformers: for instance, they did not clearly separate civil from ecclesiastical authority—it took a couple more centuries for that to finally happen. We will do ourselves no favors judging Lewis by this one matter. Hooper says of him, “Lewis struck me as the most thoroughly converted man I ever met. Christianity was never for him a separate department of life. . . ” [12, emphasis his]. God in the Dock is an edifying and challenging sampler of Lewis’ thought in many different areas of life and theology. I recommend it highly.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    I really loved this collection of essays from Lewis. I especially loved the ones that commented on Lewis' social and political thoughts. My favorites were, 'The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment', 'Is Progress Possible?', 'We Have No Right to Happiness', and 'Priestesses in the Church'. So refreshing as always! I really loved this collection of essays from Lewis. I especially loved the ones that commented on Lewis' social and political thoughts. My favorites were, 'The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment', 'Is Progress Possible?', 'We Have No Right to Happiness', and 'Priestesses in the Church'. So refreshing as always!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I think I like some of Lewis’ other books better that are all based on one theme and purpose and message, but there were still some good quotes in this book that is a compilation of some of his essays on theology and ethics. Lots of good things to think about. Here were some of my favorites: “Complete ignorance of the laws of Nature would preclude the perception of the miraculous just as rigidly as complete disbelief in the supernatural precludes it, perhaps even more so (p. 10).” “It depends, of I think I like some of Lewis’ other books better that are all based on one theme and purpose and message, but there were still some good quotes in this book that is a compilation of some of his essays on theology and ethics. Lots of good things to think about. Here were some of my favorites: “Complete ignorance of the laws of Nature would preclude the perception of the miraculous just as rigidly as complete disbelief in the supernatural precludes it, perhaps even more so (p. 10).” “It depends, of course, on what you mean by ‘practising Christian.’ If you mean one who has practised Christianity in every respect at every moment of his life, then there is only One on record—Christ Himself. In that sense there are no practising Christians, but only Christians who, in varying degrees, try to practise it and fail in varying degrees and then start again. A perfect practice of Christianity would, of course, consist in a perfect imitation of the life of Christ (p. 38).” “Ambition! We must be careful what we mean by it. If it means the desire to get ahead of other people—which is what I think it does mean—then it is bad. If it means simply wanting to do a thing well, then it is good. It isn’t wrong for an actor to want to act his part as well as it can possibly be acted, but the wish to have his name in bigger type than the other actors is a bad one (p. 45).” “If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity (p. 48).” “If you cannot translate your thoughts into uneducated language, then your thoughts were confused (p. 98).” “Do not attempt to water Christianity down (p. 99).” “One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue ‘True – or False’ into stuff about a good society, or morals, or the incomes of Bishops, or the Spanish Inquisition, or France, or Poland – or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point (p. 101).” “The higher sort [of prayer]…offers no advice to God; it consists only of ‘communion’ or intercourse with Him; and those who take this line seem to suggest that the lower kind of prayer [asking for things to happen] really is an absurdity and that only children or savages use it (p. 104).” “The two methods by which we are allowed to produce events may be called work and prayer (p. 106).” “Prayers are not always—in the crude, factual sense of the word—‘granted.’ This is not because prayer is a weaker kind of causality, but because it is a stronger kind. When it ‘works’ at all it works unlimited by space and time. That is why God has retained a discretionary power of granting or refusing it; except on that condition prayer would destroy us (p. 107).” “The man who asks me, ‘Can’t I lead a good life without believing Christianity?’ is clearly not in the same position. If he hadn’t heard of Christianity he would not be asking the question. If, having hear of it, and having seriously considered it, he had decided that it was untrue, then once more he would not be asking the question. The man who asks this question has heard of Christianity and is by no means certain that it may not be true. He is really asking, ‘Need I bother about it? Mayn’t I just evade the issue, just let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with being ‘good’? Aren’t good intentions enough to keep me safe and blameless…. We need not inquire whether God will punish him for his cowardice and laziness; they will punish themselves (p. 111).” “To evade the Son of Man, to look the other way, to pretend you haven’t noticed, to become suddenly absorbed in something on the other side of the street, to leave the receiver off the telephone because it might be He who was ringing up, to leave unopened certain letters in a strange handwriting because they might be from Him—this is a different matter (p. 112).” “The people who keep on asking if they can’t lead a decent life without Christ, don’t know what life is about; if they did they would know that ‘a decent life’ is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for (p. 113).” “There is nothing in the nature of the younger generation which incapacitates them for receiving Christianity. If any one is prepared to tell them, they are apparently ready to hear…. The young people today are un-Christian because their teachers have been either unwilling or unable to transmit Christianity to them…. This very obvious fact—that each generation is taught by an earlier generation—must be kept very firmly in mind (p. 117).” “No generation can bequeath to its successor what it has not got (p. 118).” “Does Christianity encourage morbid introspection? The alternative is much more morbid. Those who do not think about their own sins make up for it by thinking incessantly about the sins of others. It is healthier to think of one’s own… A serious attempt to repent and really to know one’s own sins is in the long run a lightening and relieving process (p. 127).” “They may feel that religion is too sacred to be thus bandied to and fro in public debate, too sacred to be talked of—almost, perhaps, too sacred for anything to be done with it at all…. Christianity is not merely what a man does with his solitude. It is not even what God does with His solitude. It tells of God descending into the coarse publicity of history and there enacting what can—and must—be talked about (p. 133).” “The essence of religion, in my view, is the thirst for an end higher than natural ends; the finite self’s desire for, and acquiescence in, and self-rejection in favour of, an object wholly good and wholly good for it (p. 137).” “God has made it a rule for Himself that He won’t alter people’s character by force. He can and will alter them—but only if the people will let Him… He would rather have a world of free beings, with all its risks, than a world of people who did right like machines because they couldn’t do anything else. The more we succeed in imagining what a world of perfect automatic beings would be like, the more, I think, we shall see His wisdom (p. 163).” “We must love ‘X’ more; and we must learn to see ourselves as a person of exactly the same kind (p. 164).” “Abstain from all thinking about other people’s faults… Whenever the thoughts come unnecessarily into one’s mind, why not simply shove them away? And think of one’s own faults instead (p. 165)?” “‘I don’t see why there shouldn’t be books in Heaven. But you will find that your library in Heaven contains only some of the books you had on earth.’ ‘Which?’… ‘The ones you gave away or lent (p. 235).’” “Conversion requires an alteration of the will, and an alteration which, in the last resort, does not occur without the intervention of the supernatural (p. 241).” “It is not enough to want to get rid of one’s sins. We also need to believe in the One who saves us from our sins. Not only do we need to recognize that we are sinners; we need to believe in a Saviour who takes away sin (p. 288).” “‘The home must be the foundation of our national life. It is there, all said and done, that character is formed. It is there that we appear as we really are. It is there we can fling aside the weary disguises of the outer world and be ourselves. It is there that we retreat from the noise and stress and temptation and dissipation of daily life to seek the sources of fresh strength and renewed purity (p. 312).’” “Charity begins at home: so does uncharity (p. 315).” “Progress means movement in a desired direction, and we do not all desire the same things for our species…. Progress, for me, means increasing goodness and happiness of individual lives (p. 346).” “I believe a man is happier, and happy in a richer way, if he has ‘the freeborn mind.’ But I doubt whether he can have this without economic independence, which the new society is abolishing. For economic independence allows an education not controlled by Government (p. 350).”

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