C.s. lewis

The English were never an overtly religious lot

Generalisations about national characteristics are open to question. Nevertheless, the overwhelming impression one gets from reading the major works of English literature, or from studying the famous English men and women of politics, the military or the academic world, is that the English have not been an especially religious lot. Or, if you think that a strange judgment of a nation that produced the finest Gothic cathedrals in Europe and the hymns of Charles Wesley, then you could rephrase it and say that they have not generally worn their religious feelings on their sleeve. Jane Austen’s hilarious novels do not quite prepare us for her letters in which she confesses

Stupendously good: Much Ado About Nothing, at the Lyttelton Theatre, reviewed

Simon Godwin’s Much Ado About Nothing is set in a steamy Italian holiday resort, the Hotel Messina, in the 1920s. A smart move, design-wise. The jazz age was one of those rare moments in history when every member of society, from the lowliest chambermaid to the richest aristocrat, dressed with impeccable style and flair. The show is stupendously good to look at it and it kicks off with a thrilling blast of rumba music from a jazz quartet on the hotel balcony. Even sceptics of jazz need not fear these players. The musical score is a triumph for one simple reason: there are no jazz solos. The comic passages of

Why C.S. Lewis was right about war

Well, at least Covid is over. No sooner had Vladimir Putin’s tanks rolled into Ukraine than the UK’s Covid advisory group Sage disbanded. The same effect was felt in the US, where the outbreak of war in Europe led to the immediate, unlamented disappearance of Dr Anthony Fauci. After two years on primetime, suddenly the good doctor was nowhere to be seen. Covid already seems so very last season. The ‘climate emergency’ likewise seems to have drifted away. For years, whenever the world was facing no more proximate emergency, every politician from the Scottish parliament upwards insisted that we were all doomed and heading to hellfire. Such thinking captured most

Back in the magic land of Narnia

C. S. Lewis’s enchanting Chronicles of Narnia series has, in recent years, come under critical fire. It’s racist, sexist, colonialist; blatant propaganda for Christianity, hoodwinking children into a life of religious submission. These barbs seem to me to miss the point. As a geeky nine-year-old, I had a dim sense that Aslan had something to do with Jesus Christ. But so what — he was a talking lion! (And, even to children who weren’t Scripture swots, he clearly isn’t Jesus Christ, but something else.) Dyed-in-the-wool atheists get it wrong. I’ve never met a child who marched blindly from Narnia to Christ; but I have met children (now adults) who, already