All over C. S. Lewis’s work (fictional and nonfiction), Lewis speaks of imagination as a way of knowing. We’ll consider The Abolition of Man, Experiment in Criticism, The Discarded Image, Reflections on the Psalms, and even Lewis’ biography Surprised by Joy to understand what this means for us. How might poetry and Norse mythology offer knowledge that arguments will never grasp? What’s the difference between irrational, rational, and transrational? Lewis compels us to cultivate our imaginations not as a path of escape but as a deeper road to understanding reality and as a higher road towards the knowledge, ultimately, of God.
After her presentation, we'll proceed to celebrate Eighth Day Book's 31st (THIRTY-FIRST) anniversary at the book store. I'm bringing cupcakes and congratulations!
Of course, there's a Newman connection here, for he also "speaks of imagination as a way of knowing". For example, this famous quotation from the Tamworth Reading Room, his argument against Sir Robert Peel's library without any books of "controversial divinity":
Newman specialists like Gerard Magill, Bernard Dive, and Ian Ker have authored studies of Newman and the religious imagination through the years (Magill focused on religious morality). This article from America Magazine summarizes various aspects of Newman's view of imagination as a way of knowing. As Father Robert P. Imbelli writes, Newman wants us to know Jesus Christ above all:
At the heart of Newman’s religious faith and theological vision stands the person of Jesus Christ. Here human yearning finds its consummation, and “all the providences of God” cohere around this vivifying center. Thus Incarnation is the central idea or principle that grounds and sustains Christian life and imagination. Moreover, Cardinal Newman views Incarnation not merely as remedy for sin, but as fulfillment of God’s creative and sanctifying purpose. In this he consciously resembles his great Oxford predecessor Duns Scotus.
But in Newman’s thought, the idea of Incarnation is no impersonal notion. It has all the concrete particularity of its historical embodiment in Jesus Christ. In Jesus men and women encounter the Word of God in person and are called to genuine newness of life.
O God, who bestowed on the Priest Saint John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
St. John Henry Newman, pray for us!