22 October 2010

Identity: Formation or Evolution?

Who we are is not necessarily who we will always be. Drastic and impressive change can take place in a person's life, often as surprising to the person as to friends and family. Some change is incremental, evolutionary and happens over time. Other change is transformational, relatively sudden and from the inside out.
• any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.
• a product of such development; something evolved: The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research.
• a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.
• a motion incomplete in itself, but combining with coordinated motions to produce a single action, as in a machine.
None of us are done yet, whether the change to come is incremental or transformational.

The following shows a snippet of change over time in the life of C.S. Lewis. See the links below for more biographical information.

The atheist scholar who became an Anglican, an apologist, and a patron saint of Christians everywhere.
by Ted Olsen in Christianity Today

January 1, 2000

"He was a heavily built man who looked about forty, with a fleshy oval face and a ruddy complexion. His black hair had retreated from his forehead, which made him especially imposing. I knew nothing about him, except that he was the college English tutor. I did not know that he was the best lecturer in the department, nor had I read the only book that he had published under his own name (hardly anyone had). Even after I had been taught by him for three years, it never entered my mind that he could one day become an author whose books would sell at the rate of about two million copies a year. Since he never spoke of religion while I was his pupil, or until we had become friends 15 years later, it would have seemed incredible that he would become the means of bringing many back to the Christian faith."

Even to his best biographer and longtime friend George Sayer, Clive Staples Lewis was a surprise and a mystery.

As J. R. R. Tolkien advised Sayer, "You'll never get to the bottom of him." But understanding or even fully agreeing with Lewis have never been prerequisites to enjoying and admiring him.

C.S. Lewis as tutor:
You Are There

The tutorial was a formal occasion. Wearing a gown, a pupil would stand outside the tutor's door and wait until the clock struck to before knocking. Jack's door, like all the doors in New Buildings, was thick, but, through it, one could easily hear the strong, booming voice say, "Come in." The room was adequately, but rather shabbily, furnished. On one side of the lovely eighteenth-century fireplace in which a coal fire would be burning during cold weather, there was a sofa upon which he sat; on the other side, there was an armchair for the student.

The tutorial always began the same way: The pupil would read the essay that he had been told to write the week before. Jack, who would have spent some time that week reading the books with which the essay was concerned, would sit listening, very often lighting, smoking, and relighting his pipe, and perhaps making a few notes. Afterward, he would make wide-ranging criticisms, some of them semantic or philological, for he always hated the inexact use of words.

"What exactly do you mean by the word 'sentimental,' Mr. Sayer?" he might begin. Then he would present a summary of the ways in which the word had been used in the past, perhaps adding, "Well, Mr. Sayer, if you are not sure what the word means or what you mean by it, wouldn't it be very much better if you ceased to use it at all?" …

Everyone recognized the breadth of his knowledge. He was widely read and had a remarkable memory that enabled him to quote at length from any author who interested him and even from some who did not. No pupil of his will ever forget the way he quoted the poetry he enjoyed.
—George Sayer, Lewis's pupil and, later, biographer, in Jack: C.S. Lewis and His Times

For more information:

Into the Wardrobe: The C.S. Lewis Web Site http://cslewis.drzeus.net

C.S. Lewis Mega-Links Page http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ26.HTM

C.S. Lewis Foundation http://www.cslewis.org

1 comment:

Rachael said...

You left out - he popularised large old-fashioned wardrobes! All by himself! Who woulda thought it?