- The Feminine Ethos in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia by Monika B. Hilder, and: The Gender Dance: Ironic Subversion in C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy by Monika B. Hilder, and: Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C. S. Lewis and Gender by Monika B. Hilder (review)
- Christianity & Literature
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 65, Number 2, March 2016
- pp. 264-268
- View Citation
- Additional Information
‘‘Theology does not make us see, but story does. A theological thesis does not enable us to hear, but a story does . . . Story makes us see deeply into the abyss of the human heart desperately looking for the God of love’’ (69). Even so, Song seems more interested in sequence than superiority. Consider this statement: ‘‘John, the author of the Gospel that bears his name, is a brilliant theologian and also a magniﬁcent storyteller. Perhaps he is a storyteller ﬁrst, then a theologian . . . it is from stories, real-life stories, that his theology has developed and grown’’ (30). How will one walk away from a thorough read of In the Beginning Were Stories, Not Texts? That will depend on a number of things. One’s theological background, generation, and pedagogical preferences will no doubt impact the read. Some will ﬁnd it provocative. Others will ﬁnd it perplexing or puzzling. Still others will ﬁnd it provoking and persuasive. Wherever the reader lands, what cannot be denied is the ability of story to communicate to the East and the West, particularly to a postmodern audience currently characterized as oral-preferenced learners. These individuals, who John Sachs calls ‘‘digitorials,’’ prefer stories and images over statistics and abstract concepts ; screens over printed texts. Is it time to reintroduce a story-based theology to regain a lost perspective (particularly in the West) of Scripture? Is it time to provide propositions a story-based home from which they emerged? Song would answer these questions with a resounding ‘‘Yes!’’ Tom A. Steffen Biola University The Feminine Ethos in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. By Monika B. Hilder. Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature, 10. New York: Peter Lang, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4331-1817-3 (hardcover), 978-1-4539-0900-3 (e-book). pp. xv + 206. $84.95. The Gender Dance: Ironic Subversion in C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy. By Monika B. Hilder. Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature, 11. New York: Peter Lang, 2013. ISBN 978-1-4331-1935-4 (hardcover), 978-1-4539-1048-1 (e-book). pp. xvii + 222. $81.95. Surprised by the Feminine: A Rereading of C. S. Lewis and Gender. By Monika B. Hilder. Studies in Twentieth-Century British Literature, 12. New York: Peter Lang, 2013. ISBN 978-1-4331-1989-7 (hardcover), 978-1-4539-1164-8 (e-book). pp. xix + 207. $82.95. A persistent theme in Lewis studies for many years has been the question of his supposed sexism or misogyny. The latter—essentially an ad hominem attack masquerading as criticism—has been amply refuted by the testimony of women who knew him. The former charge, sometimes put forward gleefully and sometimes 264 Christianity & Literature 65(2) regretfully, depending on the critic’s a priori stance, has in turn been vigorously rebutted. Both sides in the debate have leant heavily on highly selective citation of bits of evidence pro or con: female characters whom, it was argued, Lewis treated negatively or positively, according to the critics’ diﬀering readings or, indeed, the particular characters chosen to place in evidence; and statements by Lewis (not always distinguished, as regards his ﬁction, from statements by Lewis’s narrators)—some of them occurring often enough to be reasonably taken as representing key elements in his thought—that are cited to support one side or other in the debate, though not always with due attention to the contexts in which they appear. There is also a third approach, to take Lewis’s statement that in relation to God ‘‘we are all . . . feminine’’ (quoted in Ethos 5) and to say, in eﬀect, ‘‘That’s the way things are, that’s reality, whether it appeals to feminist sentiments or not. Take it or leave it.’’ Monika B. Hilder in her trilogy of critical studies turns all that on its head by presenting Lewis as a protofeminist in ways not previously understood, or at least not previously so fully and convincingly demonstrated. She does so in true Lewis fashion, by a close examination of language that leads to redeﬁning the terms of the debate. Lewis considered as inspired the biblical imagery of Israel and the church as God’s...