menu

MEET THE TEAM

CULTIVATING

OUR MISSION

THE CULTIVATING PROJECT

KIND WORDS

Cultivating Team

Our Story

meet

read

Back to Menu

recommendations

posts

Cultivating Team

Our Story

meet

read

Back to Menu

13 / Entering Fullness

search

I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord; “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

the CULTIVATING

journal

Jerry Root, Mark Neal, & the Imagination of C.S. Lewis!

August 31, 2015

Once in a while a book emerges in the genre of C.S. Lewis studies that sheds real insight into an important aspect of Lewis’s life and work. This week marks the release of such a book – The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis! Written by Dr. Jerry Root and Mark Neal, The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis opens up a new way of looking at Lewis’s extraordinary imagination and it does so with a beautiful cadence of language Lewis himself would have loved.  This book deserves all the accolades that it is receiving and promises to be one that is not only illuminating but also transformative. It will quicken your understanding not only of Lewis’s imagination but your own as well!

Dr. Jerry Root needs no introduction to Lewis fans. His name is synonymous with superb scholarship in the field of Lewis studies. He is the co-author of The Quotable Lewis and The Soul of C.S. Lewis, and the author of C. S. Lewis and a Problem of Evil: An Investigation of a Pervasive Theme.  Jerry is Associate Professor of Evangelism and Leadership at Wheaton College and Director of the Wheaton Evangelism Initiative, Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. Co-author Mark Neal is a highly skilled and gifted writer, having worked in the fields of journalism and education, Mark is currently VP of digital marketing for a Chicago-based marketing firm. Both Jerry and Mark maintain a deep and long-held interest in Lewis and have written on Lewis for many years. The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis is their first jointly-authored work together. 

 



 

LES : Jerry, As an already published author you have written both as a solo author (C. S. Lewis and a Problem of Evil: An Investigation of a Pervasive Theme (Princeton Theological Monograph) and as a part of a collaborative team (The Quotable Lewis and 20 years later The Soul of C.S. Lewis, both with Wayne Martindale).  Why did you choose to write this with a co-author and why specifically Mark Neal?

JR: Mark and I have been friends for many years. We have discussed big ideas, poetry and literature, theology and philosophy, history and education, and so forth. We are both big Lewis fans. Mark has published on Lewis but until now nothing of book length. I knew he was a good writer: clear, creative and challenging. He is a much better writer than I am. I wanted to work with him on this project so he could have a book under his belt. My proposal to him was that we do this one together, and he does the next three on his own. The one after that, he takes on a co-writer to disseminate his or her work to a wider audience. All those who have read the galleys are deeply impressed with Mark’s work. I am very pleased how much better the book is because we shared the joy of producing it together.

Jerry Root - - Image (c) Lancia E. Smith

LES: Did writing this book collaboratively serve the work better than if it had been written by one of you as a solo author? What was the collaborative process for writing a book over the length of time it took to bring this book into being?  How long a time frame was there from inception of this book’s generative idea to holding the book in your hands?

JR: The original intent of the book was to help a general audience benefit from what we discovered in Lewis’s writing over many, many years reading his books over and over. That is, Lewis describes over 30 different ways the imagination might be used and, in fact, uses all of them. It is said that indigenous peoples north of the Arctic Circle have some 30 words for snow. In fact we discovered in some of these cultures it is up to 9 words to which are added prefixes and suffixes that make it close to 30 words. They live in a world of snow and see nuance that those in other environments might miss. Lewis lived in the world of the imagination and saw nuances in that world as well. His power of persuasion is not merely due to his grasp of language generally (he knew many English-cognate languages, classical languages and many from Western Europe), or his use of logic and reason, but also his power of depiction. If someone wants to understand something of this depictive quality in Lewis it would help them to know how he understood the imagination and its uses. So we started to write a book that would include chapters on every use of the imagination described by Lewis. It was during this early draft of the MSS that we received a call from Abingdon asking if we would be willing to write a textbook on C. S. Lewis for use in colleges and universities. We told them we would be interested but wanted to finish our current project first. They asked us to send them what we had done. They responded relatively quickly and said if we modified the project slightly they would publish it. Their suggestion: reduce the number of uses of the imagination and apply the use to particular books written by Lewis where this type of imagination is used. This would allow the book to be used as a textbook highlighting not only Lewis’s uses of the imagination but also providing readers with an introduction to particular Lewis books. The additional uses of the imagination were then described in an appendix for those who want to do further work. In fact, I think the modifications made to fit Abingdon’s editorial interests made the book better than first conceived. We set to work modifying a year and a half project and it grew into a three and a half year project. We were able to discuss the chapters with many friends and colleagues (no good book can be written in isolation of others who can give valuable feedback and all who are like Lewis, Tolkien and the Inklings know what we are talking about). The orthography was also benefited by the insightful editorial assistance of our literary agent, Stan Guthrie.

MN: Absolutely. Jerry has a much deeper understanding of C.S. Lewis than I do, and his feedback for my ideas was critical. Though I suspect I did a lot more groundwork in reading and researching just to bring myself a few notches closer to Jerry’s expertise and to better prepare me to help write this book!

Over the three plus years it took to write the book, I think we had a good understanding of expectations, both for the quality of each other’s work as well as for being able to meet deadlines. We did spend long hours reading the manuscript aloud and critiquing each other’s chapters as well as sharing them with others who offered feedback. For me, the process, though long, was fairly seamless. We have similar writing styles and this certainly helped to make the job easier.

Abingdon Press had asked that we divide the work into twelve chapters, examining twelve of Lewis’s books through the lens of twelve different types of imagination that he identified. We built a structure that just about every chapter follows and after that it was simply a matter of splitting them up and getting to work.

Cover of Surprising Imagination of CS Lewis

LES: One of the issues that is often difficult to overcome in a collaborative work is developing a consistent “voice”. This is something that the two you have been exceptionally successful in doing in this work. The voice in this book is virtually seamless. How did you manage that?

JR: We are pleased, Lancia, to discover that you see a seamless “voice” coming through the book even though it is the product of two different authors each sharing 50% of the load. I wish I could give you some magic formula we followed in order to cultivate this single “voice” but this would be a pretense on our part and beyond our capacity. We simply discussed the material with frequency and read and critiqued one another’s work. For my part, the work was one of cheerleading and encouraging Mark’s. He really is a brilliant author. It was fun to work with him. Perhaps having fun in the process added to the likelihood a single “voice” might emerge. As the project came to a close, the meticulous work of revision, chasing footnotes, checking for spelling and grammar errors, and so forth, became cumbersome at times, but, even here, Mark was fun to work with, and disciplined at meeting deadlines.

MN: Believe it or not, we didn’t intentionally try to blend our styles or voices. It just so happens that our writing styles are fairly similar. We did, as I mentioned earlier, spend a lot of time reading aloud to each other, searching for flaws in reasoning and syntax; perhaps this helped.

 

LES: Jerry, several things emerged for me when listening to the interview with you on William O’Flaherty’s All About Jack Podcast: http://allaboutjack.podbean.com/e/the-surprising-imagination-of-cs-lewis-dr-jerry-root/

Jerry, you make a comment that resonates so personally with me and, I believe, for countless others as well. You said,

“C.S. Lewis was the first person to give me a vocabulary for my own soul.”

What kind of vocabulary expresses the thoughts of the soul? How do you suppose Lewis developed that vocabulary and is the fact that much of what he loved in literature stemming from “old books” (old by hundreds of years, i.e. another time period) a truer source of that vocabulary?

JR: I first encountered Lewis’s books as a new Christian in college. My sister Kathy told me the plot of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was intrigued and bought a set of the Narnian Chronicles and read them. I was very impressed and wanted to know more about the author. I heard he had an autobiography, Surprised by Joy, so I read that. Lewis wrote about these deep longings of his heart and the quest to find the object of these longings. I knew the longings first hand, but I had never read anything where someone described so clearly what I felt in my own heart. In this way, Lewis gave me a vocabulary for my soul. But Lewis did something else for me along these lines. As everyone knows, who reads him; Lewis opens more than just wardrobe doors. His books provide entry into the authors who influenced him. After reading him you will want to read the classical philosophers, playwrights, and rhetoricians. You will hunger to read Augustine and Boethius, and the medieval poets. Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, the Metaphysical poets, and the Romantics, these authors will all become friends and life-companions to whom you will return with frequency. And, of course, there are his near contemporaries and contemporaries: George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, and Charles Williams who will become must reads. And, as I began to traffic in these books I found that the quest of my heart seemed to be one that was widely shared. Lewis gave me the vocabulary; he opened more doors, and put me on a path of life-long enjoyment. So, I think Lewis developed the vocabulary by listening well to his heart, but reading those authors who fed his own soul, and by letting these themes seep into his own writing thereby illuminating the way for others. Of course he does all of this with great imaginative grasp, and that gets us back to The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis: An Introduction. We will be pleased if others learn something of the language of the soul through this book as well.

 

LES: Mark, Why do you suppose that this approach to Lewis as a whole – his range and foundation of imagination – has not been given a fuller treatment before?  What other works influenced you most in developing the premise that you are presenting in this book?

Mark Neal - Ryn Manby,  http://www.rynmanby.com/

MN: Well, the types of imagination Lewis identified are scattered throughout his works and at times only the barest reference is given to a particular type.  So to begin with, they remain fairly well hidden. It took Jerry’s sharp eye and deep familiarity with the Lewis corpus to begin seeing the pattern that Lewis was nuancing the imagination in this way. Once you know he’s doing it, you know to look for it in everything else you’re reading. So we discovered a bunch more. I fully expect that we have missed some.

The other reason is reflected, I think, in the fact that, by and large, readers of Lewis are neglecting his literary/critical works, where most of these types of imagination are defined. To me, these are Lewis’s most important, albeit his most abstruse works. Works like The Discarded Image, The Allegory of Love, A Preface to Paradise Lost, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, Studies in Words and so on. To me, these books are where Lewis works out many of the imaginative ideas that show up in his fiction. To read The Discarded Image and Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature is to have a far deeper and richer understanding of the space trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia. I think the things he found imaginatively viable and that excited his imagination have been largely overlooked.

It requires concentration to read through Lewis’s most robust academic work. He is unique in that while encountering difficulty in his works, I have found pleasure in the toil. You have to read them over and over again and take notes and draw pictures and clutter up your copy with arrows and underlining and margin notes. If you’re me, you pore over individual sentences until they flash forth their meaning and you write tons of margin notes in tiny, crabbed handwriting in an attempt to decipher Latin or Greek phrases or clarify Lewis’s thought. And if you’re Jerry, all of your marginalia and underlining is color-coded. The point is, not many people have the patience or attention to read these works. But I have found that when I persevere, the text begins to glimmer with meaning and I make connections I couldn’t have made before. Lewis has a lot more to offer than people might realize.

Mark Neal-25 - Ryn Manby,  http://www.rynmanby.com/

LES: Mark, would you explain for my readers what the essential premise is in The Surprising Imagination of C.S. Lewis and why you and Jerry use the paradigm that you do of the twelve types of imagination as seen through seven genres of his work?

MN: Since this book is an introduction to Lewis and the imagination, we wanted to cover as much ground as we could while respecting word count limits. So while we’ve identified more than 30 ways Lewis nuanced the imagination, we only had room for twelve. The rest can be found in the appendix of the book. We divided the twelve up into seven genres so that we could give readers a good sense of Lewis’s breadth as a writer as well as his proficiency in each genre. We examine autobiography, religious writing, literary criticism, fairy stories, science fiction, satire and poetry.

The premise of the book is really that the imagination is not just an entity of make-believe. Just as airline pilots nuance their understanding of air currents and ship captains nuance their understanding of water currents, and must do so for survival’s sake, Lewis nuanced the imagination. He spent years of his life trying to understand how the imagination could ever be a source of truth that could compare with reason, which to him was supreme. He even wrote a poem about this very thing entitled “Reason.” He ultimately reconciled these divided parts of his mind in Christ. I suppose the fundamental point of the book is to help people understand that the imagination can be a reliable source of truth, that it can enable us to perceive and experience in ways that the reason cannot. It helps to widen our understanding of the world. There’s a great quote from author Wendell Berry that perfectly illustrates this point:

Worst of all, the fundamentalists of both science and religion do not adequately understand or respect imagination. Is imagination merely a talent, such as a good singing voice, the ability to “make things up” or “think things up” or “get ideas”? Or is it, like science, a way of knowing things that can be known in no other way? We have much reason to think that it is a way of knowing things not otherwise knowable. As the word itself suggests, it is the power to make us see, and to see, moreover, things that without it would be unseeable. In one of its aspects it is the power by which we sympathize. By its means we may see what it was to be Odysseus or Penelope, David or Ruth, or what it is to be one’s neighbor or one’s enemy. By it, we may “see ourselves as others see us.” It is also the power by which we see the place, the predicament, or the story we are in.[1]

bigger+stacked+final

LES: In the opening of the book, Jerry, you and Mark use this quote from one of Lewis’s letters and the in the closing chapter you mention it again bringing the reader full circle. “He (Lewis) even says in one of his letters, ‘The imaginative man in me is older than the [rational man] and more continuously operative.”  Could you expand on what Lewis is saying here? Why do you open the book with this and close with it.

JR: Many have highlighted that Lewis was a very rational, logical writer and this is what makes him so persuasive and convincing in argument; in fact, makes him such a great Christian apologist. Certainly his ability to craft his books with such precision of logic and ability to reason coherently and consistently in his inferentially developing thought made a profound contribution to his popularity. But Lewis himself tried to go beyond mere reason. He was also interested in moving the heart. This value in him is marked by the reminder that he felt the imaginative man in him was older and more continually operating. After the G. E. M. Anscombe debate at the Socratic Club in Oxford on February 2, 1948, some have wrongfully said Lewis gave up on writing apologetics and turned to writing fiction instead. It is simply false on many levels. First, he wrote 36 essays in apologetics before the debate and 34 after; nearly half of his essays in apologetics were written after the debate. But even more interesting is that his first book in apologetics was a work of fiction. He wrote his only allegory one year after his conversion: The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason and Romanticism. Also, he wrote Out of the Silent Planet, the first of his Science Fiction trilogy, and noted to his friend and translator of St. Athanasius, Sister Penelope, that he discovered any amount of theology could be smuggled into people’s minds under the guise of Romance. He said this before he ever produced his first book of popular apologetics, The Problem of Pain. Lewis was a man of Reason, but the imaginative man in him was older and more continually operating. It is not only important to know this if you want to understand Lewis as well as one might, it is also another motivation behind producing The Surprising Imagination. Consequently, we open and close the book with this important point.

 

LES: So much of what defines Lewis is his lifelong capacity at passing back and forth across the borderlands of imagination for himself.  In the forward written by Steven Beebe, Steven talks about the recurring image of doors and portals with Lewis and what those represent across Lewis’s canon.  In the midst of that, Steve makes this intriguing statement: “Lewis understood our lives are a series of simultaneous comings and goings as we daily cross thresholds and transoms, even when we are not aware we are between rooms.” What anchored Lewis in truth so deeply that it gave him the permission and the freedom to move so fluidly ‘between rooms’ and ‘across thresholds’ of imagination without becoming lost in his faith or his reason? Is that something we can learn to do also or was that something that was simply unique to Lewis and others among the Inklings?

JR: Wasn’t Professor Beebe’s forward insightful and fun! Lewis’s biggest idea, repeated either explicitly or implicitly in all of his books, even the books he wrote before his conversion to Christianity, is: Reality is iconoclastic. Any image I might frame about God as I seek to understand Him may be helpful in the moment. But, as Lewis says, “I want God, not my idea of God,” consequently before the infinite God all finite conceptions of Him are subject to modification.

If I hold on too tightly to something I grasp about God in the moment, it will begin to compete against my having a growing idea of God. That is, the idea once helpful is always at risk of becoming an idol. God in his mercy kicks out the walls of the temples we build for Him so He can give us more of Himself.

Lewis is always ready to cross thresholds into regions where God might be encountered in fresh ways. That is, his faith is dynamic, full of awe and constantly breaking forth into worship and adoration. What anchored Lewis was the fact that he felt he could actually know God through Christ. That knowledge was a sure word, revealed in Scripture and the created world, but it was not a last word in the sense that anyone could have a full and final knowledge of God. I do not think this kind of thinking was unique to Lewis. History is full of others who grasp this idea, but few can rival Lewis in imaginatively depicting it.

MN: For Lewis, crossing the borderlands into imagination was not a way to lose faith or reason, but to gain it. Everywhere we look in Lewis’s writings, we see this theme repeated: the longing for the hidden country, the stab of joy, the longings of our heart that we search to fulfill. For Lewis, these all pointed to something beyond them, to the far green country described in the closing chapter of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

As I previously mentioned, Lewis fought to reconcile reason and imagination and was able to do so through the person of Christ. For him, the imagination was a source of truth often giving glimpses of realities that couldn’t be seen in any other way.  Literature was his doorway into the imagination. And Lewis was a proponent of a very particular type of reading experience, one that allowed a deep immersion in the text so that truths could simply be experienced at the level of the imagination without the reason kicking in.  In this place, Lewis believed that we could most effectively receive truths into our soul. 

But he was also aware that we lose the effectiveness of these mediated truths when we attempt to analyze them. And we excel at analysis, because we live in a culture that values the reason far beyond the imagination. Lewis also describes this experience in an essay on seeing a beam of light in a toolshed. He realized that there was a distinction between ‘looking at’ versus ‘looking along.’ When we look at something we are using our reason. When we look along, we are entering into the experience so that the experience itself vanishes. We are not objective observers; we are participators.

We can certainly learn to train our imaginations, but we must first rid ourselves of the idea that the things we imagine are make-believe only. Once we’ve crossed that barrier, the imagination becomes something entirely different. We can begin to see truth and reality with fresh eyes and hopefully with wonder. And our wanderings across thresholds become entrances into a deeper experience of reality.

Dr Jerry Root  - Image (c) Lancia E. Smith

LES: Your closing conclusion is one of the most compelling pieces I have read in a long time. Talk with me about Lewis’s use of imagination as a vehicle of reconciliation.  How does Lewis use imagination as a method of reconciling the broken but still beautiful world for his readers?

JR: If a relationship is estranged, one of the first steps toward moving across uncharted regions of reconciliation will require the willingness to imagine what this could look like. The world is broken, and, in fact, restoration is an imaginative process before it is a realized one, just as an architect’s blue print is imagined before his building is constructed. This idea of reconciliation benefitting from the imagination only triggers a host of possible ways the imagination might lead towards healing and hope. Of course it seems all hope comes with a gestation period. Imagining what might be next keeps us engaged in many ways.

MN: At the end of An Experiment in Criticism, Lewis makes an interesting comment.  He writes, “Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality.” For Lewis literature and imaginative experience were so closely connected it’s hard to speak of one without the other. Lewis’s first volume of poetry, Spirits in Bondage, was an attempt to reconcile the horrors of war and a broken world with the beauty he saw in the midst of this. This was prior to his conversion experience and he didn’t have an answer to the question. 

If you remember back to The Horse and His Boy, Aravis and Shasta are discussing how Shasta came to be separated from his twin brother at birth.  Through all the series of events that led up to the moment of being reunited with his true family, Shasta realizes that Aslan is the one that is “at the back of all the stories.” Again, at the end of Till We Have Faces, Orual writes these words: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You yourself are the answer. Before your face questions die away.” These recognitions are behind every imaginative experience for Lewis, and his best imaginative embodiments point us to the one before whose face all questions die away. We may not recognize that this is happening, but once we experience the longing that an imaginative depiction provokes in us, we have a sense that it is a longing that cannot be fulfilled in this world. I think Lewis excels at this type of depiction. I’ve experienced it again and again when I read through the Chronicles and as well as his other fiction.

This is perhaps why Lewis says literary experience heals the wound of individuality. It allows us to see through the eyes of so many other people via our imaginations, to experience those flashes of the divine that literary experience can bring to us. I think we experience similar imaginative healing in many of the other arts as well. The experience is not exclusive to literature.

 

LES: One of my favorite quotes from Lewis is, “For me, reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning. Imagination, producing new metaphors or revivifying old, is not the cause of truth, but its condition.” (Mere Christianity)  How is a reader best able to cultivate a wholesome imagination and develop its strength as an organ of meaning?

JR: It is useful to remember that Lewis wrote the quote above in the 1930’s. He had done some significant thinking about the imagination by that time. His Great War debates with Owen Barfield, his read of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and other things contributed to what he was thinking about the imagination in the 1930’s. But it would be a mistake to think his thinking on the imagination never developed past that period in his life. The fact that his thought did not ossify or become brittle, the fact that he continued to think about and apply many forms of the imagination reveals that his ideas on this topic were dynamic and breath taking. Readers would most honor Lewis if they would learn as much as they could from him and then take his ideas further. Rooted in the depth and breadth of Lewis and branching out with imaginative gusto to tackle the challenges newly faced by each generation. To the degree Lewis’s work can help us in these matters, his writing will still be relevant in the years to come.

MN: First, by understanding that the function of the imagination is so much more than simply “make believe.” Too many people define it in this limited way and so believe it to be false. How many times have we heard the imagination denigrated? “You just imagined it” is not a cry of affirmation. Understanding the imagination as a whole of nuanced parts is the first step. Then trusting that it can be a reliable source of truth about reality and detaching negative connotations.

Of course, much of Lewis’s imaginative development was the result of extensive reading, so we mustn’t neglect wide reading that will stock our minds with plenty of images. Lewis expressed that his own eyes weren’t enough for him, that he wished to see with others’ eyes.

I believe Lewis teaches us to think out of the box; I’ve always felt fresh air blowing from him. I would simply add that reading his work is itself an education in developing the imagination.

 

LES: Mark, who would benefit from reading this book? Where can readers learn more about Lewis’s imagination?

MN: Anyone with an interest in Lewis would benefit, but I think it will reach those who are most interested in his imaginative development and how this is manifested in his work. I think it will also benefit those who sense the larger role that imagination can play in our lives.

Again, I would point people to Lewis’s lesser-known books, his literary critical works especially. You will find that he is eminently consistent in developing his ideas across all his work.  If it shows up in one place, you’ll find it in several other places, guaranteed. Take the time to really digest the ideas and literature Lewis was passionate about. It will not only expand your own imaginative development, but it will give you a whole new level of appreciation when you read Lewis, especially his fiction. As Jerry has stated, Lewis will also lead you, through his own passion, to the enjoyment of many other authors.

standalone+book

LES: Gentlemen, what was your favorite chapter to write and why?

JR: I liked writing the chapter on the Baptized Imagination as highlighted in Surprised by Joy. I like Lewis’s description of how his own imagination was baptized by reading MacDonald’s Phantastes and the story of Cosmo. Lewis mentions this in a letter to his lifelong friend Arthur Greeves. I loved telling that story in print, a story that has continued to move me from the first time I read it while in college and through each successive read ever since.

MN: The absorbing imagination as reflected through Lewis’s poetry, for many of the reasons listed in my answer to the previous question.  There was a thrill in knowing that though scholars have largely ignored Lewis’s poetry, I found it deeply meaningful anyway, despite its avowed flaws, which I think are likely over-exaggerated. Lewis himself wrote that “The poet’s route to our emotions lies through our imaginations.” I think this is true of Lewis’s poetry.

 

LES: What did you learn in the writing process and how do you perceive your own imagination differently from having spent so much time working with this material?

JR: I greatly benefited by Lewis’s descriptions of the many forms of the imagination. He opened my eyes to new things. I also learned in the process of writing that all imaginative endeavor, if it is to take form so it can be passed on to others, will take endurance and fortitude. Imagination without such application lapses into mere daydreaming.

MN: One of the most important things we can do in life is to remember, to find ways to continually and deeply inscribe the important things of life on the slate of our consciousness. We so easily forget and fall away. So really, the most profound change my work with this material has had is to continually place it before my attention, to force me to wake up from the status quo and perceive reality differently.

I am amazed at how Lewis is so proficient at the apt word or metaphor; he gets just the right one to make his point and clarify our vision. And he has the rare ability to help us see beyond the words, to enter into the experience with our imagination, not our reason. I sensed this most strongly in Lewis’s poetry, where evocation became longing, where I encountered a sense of veiled mystery, something just beyond reach, as seen through a glass darkly. Having a language that can help us make sense of that experience was a major takeaway, even though Lewis would discourage us from thinking about these things and rather have us simply experience them. I think, at some level, we need to think about these things, if for no other reason than to cultivate awareness and be given the chance to change our approach to imagination.

[1] Berry, Wendell. Imagination in Place. p. 186-187

 



Many thanks to Jerry Root and Mark Neal for their time and generosity in sharing with us here, and for all their labour on this remarkable book!  Images of Dr. Jerry Root are (c) Lancia E. Smith. Image of Mark Neal is (C) Ryn Manby,  http://www.rynmanby.com/.

 



 

Lancia E. Smith

comments

  1. Lynn Severance says:

    I am so appreciative of this interview and all that was asked and shared, Lancia. Words fail me to adequately describe all I received other than to say, “It resonated in my soul, deeply”. I look forward to reading Jerry and Mark’s brilliantly conceived and executed work. I will also add that for years I stayed away from reading Lewis’ poetry for “scholars” had dictated ( so to speak ) it being a lesser expression of him than other genres. Then I decided to read his poetry and found myself soaking into it with much delight. I appreciated what Mark said about his writing this aspect in the book was one of his favorites.

  2. Lancia Smith says:

    Lynn, I am delighted that this interview resonated in your soul and that it is speaking to areas in your own experience that are so important. I am grateful that the authors I work with are so very generous with their thoughts and words with our readers because there is always another little bit of light shed on the subject when we have the freedom to ask further questions. And I am often amazed that authors have more to say on a given subject even when they have poured themselves into a dedicated project like Jerry and Mark’s book. And “brilliantly conceived and executed work” sums it up beautifully. I” be looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it when you read through it. I believe it will really sing to you!

  3. Deep and rich interview! I love what Mark says about imagination being more than mere “make believe.” And Jerry’s discussion of restoration as an imaginative process is wonderful!

  4. Lancia Smith says:

    Thanks so much, Carolyn. This book is right up your alley and I think you will find it rich reading indeed!

  5. Thanks, Carolyn. I loved those sections also. I think you will delight in this book and their collective work. It is such a beautiful book to read and contemplate. 🙂

  6. Lynn, thank you. I look forward to hearing what you think of the book when you have read through it. I am more impressed with it every time I have an opportunity to read any of it. And both Jerry Root and Mark Neal are marvelous men. Their own characters really permeate the book itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.