David C. Downing

How C. S. Lewis “Prefutes” Stephen Hawking

  • Sep 23, 2010
  • David C. Downing
  • 6 Comments

Last summer Sarah Palin accidentally coined the word refudiate, apparently an amalgam of “refute” and “repudiate.” I would like to propose a kindred word, prefute, which means to neutralize someone’s arguments before they have even been proposed. In a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal (Sept. 10, 2010), physicists …

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“The Sound and Savor” of Words: Lewis on the Art of Writing

  • Jul 24, 2010
  • David C. Downing
  • 12 Comments

I recently received a student essay explaining that “immigration, taxation, and economic exploitation have contributed to polarization across our nation.” Apart from its broad generalizing, the essay was clearly not written to be read aloud. Its rat-a-tat prose assaults the ear as if it were composed by an unlikely committee …

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A Mentor by Mail

  • Jan 27, 2010
  • David C. Downing
  • 1 Comment

In 1941 a former student of C. S. Lewis, then in her thirties, asked Lewis if he would become her confessor and spiritual director. Lewis politely declined, feeling that he didn’t have the proper credentials for the job (Letters, 2, 481). Yet he continued to write her letters of candid …

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Mere Christianity: “Making Righteousness Readable"

  • Jul 20, 2009
  • David C. Downing
  • 3 Comments

C. S. Lewis’s earliest biographers, Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper, wrote that if they were going to a desert island and could take only one Lewis book, it would probably be Mere Christianity. That’s a fascinating choice, considering that both men were thoroughly acquainted with Lewis’s whole body of …

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A Picture-Perfect Look at the Inklings’ Oxford

  • Jul 01, 2009
  • David C. Downing
  • 0 Comments

If you can’t make it to Oxford any time soon, perhaps the next best thing would be to get yourself a copy of The Inklings of Oxford, with text by Harry Lee Poe and photographs by James Ray Veneman (Zondervan, 2009). And if you are going to Oxford, you might …

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Word Pictures for the Word Made Flesh

  • Apr 15, 2009
  • David C. Downing
  • 0 Comments

“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” That concise statement by the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 5:19a) has kept theologians busy for nearly two thousand years, trying to understand what exactly is being affirmed in the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement. C. S. Lewis never …

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Parables for Pilgrims

  • Nov 14, 2008
  • David C. Downing
  • 5 Comments

From the Chronicles of Narnia alone, C. S. Lewis has gained an enduring reputation as a master story teller. But Lewis’s lively imagination and his knack for story-telling are no less evident in his non-fiction works—lectures, essays, even in his personal correspondence. From his Christian meditations to his weighty tomes …

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Prince Caspian: Dialog in the Lobby

  • May 25, 2008
  • David C. Downing
  • 9 Comments

Two men walked out of the magical world of Multiplex, one of them scowling, the other humming the song he’d just heard over the closing credits of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. “What are you humming about?” said the first man, Mr. Jackobite. “Catchy song there at the end, …

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