Literature to the Glory of God: The Space Trilogy, "Perelandra" by C.S. Lewis


Video from C.S. Lewis Institute


"Dr. David C. Downing, co-director of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, leads this discussion on The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. This video is from A Book Observed, a C.S. Lewis book club, presented by the C.S. Lewis Institute. The book club presents discussion and teachings on a number of books by Lewis. The C.S. Lewis Institute (CSLI) is a nonprofit organization designed to develop disciples who will articulate, defend, share, and live their faith in Christ in personal and public life. If you would like more info about the Institute, visit our website at https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/even... Info on the C.S. Lewis Fellows Program can be found at https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/Fell..." from video

introduction.


This is second video about The Space/Ransom Trilogy, "Perelandra", by C.S. Lewis.



Book cover Perelandra
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

Perelandra Overview


"Perelandra is the first book I read by C. S. Lewis, and the encounter couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. I was a freshman in college, and I was wrestling mightily with all the usual questions so many Christians ponder: how could a good God create a world in which there is so much suffering and injustice? How could people be consigned to eternal damnation who had never heard the Gospel? Why should all of humanity be blighted by the disobedience of two humans thousands of years ago? Friends and family members gave me books and tracts to read on these topics, but I seldom found them helpful.


When I first picked up Perelandra, I knew the story had to do with interplanetary travel, so I was expecting a bit of “high brow” science fiction along the lines of H. G. Wells or Isaac Asimov. What I wasn’t expecting was a novel that would challenge me to re-imagine my faith, that would tackle head-on some of the very questions that I had been grappling with since my early teens. Instead of finding something to wile away a few idle hours, I had stumbled across a book that turned my world upside down (or, more accurately, turned it back right side up).

Perelandra is the second book of the “Space trilogy” (more accurately called the Ransom trilogy). In the first book, Out of the Silent Planet (which I read second), Lewis told the story of Elwin Ransom, a Cambridge professor who is abducted and carried off to Mars, where he learns the true story of what is actually going on in our corner of the cosmos. Unsuspecting reader that I was, I picked up Perelandra in hopes of a good adventure story, not expecting light fiction to have much to say about my faith. Lewis begins the second book of the trilogy with himself as a character, trekking out to a remote cottage to meet his friend Ransom.“Lewis” had been told all about Ransom’s adventures on Mars and suspected that his otherworldly friend was currently entertaining strange visitors here on earth. Like Ransom on his way to Mars, “Lewis” is terrified about the prospect of meeting some creature not of this world. Despite his precautions, “Lewis” does encounter a majestic, awe-inspiring column of light that speaks to him, a being that seems more like a “thinking mineral” than a creature of flesh and blood. When Ransom returns from a brief absence, he assures “Lewis” that this magnificent being is benign, a faithful servant of Maleldil. Referring to the rebel eldils on earth, Ransom quotes the verse from Ephesians about our having to wrestle with “spiritual wickedness in high places.” He goes on to explain that the New Testament Greek refers not to corrupt earthly leaders but to non-physical beings on a cosmic plane of existence..." from the c.s.lewis.com website article: Perelandra: Reawakening the Spiritual Imagination.


The Nature of Evil in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra

"There are two things characteristically associated with C.S. Lewis: his children’s series, The Chronicles of Narnia, and his significant written contribution to Christianity. Slightly less well know is Lewis’s trilogy of science fiction novels: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. Of course, most science fiction is not exactly scientifically accurate, and Lewis’ trilogy is certainly no exception, but nor is it intended to be. As Lewis states in Mere Christianity, “Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave… But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes–something of a different kind–this is not a scientific question” (22). These questions beyond the scientific are what Lewis is most interested in, and as such, his science fiction novels deal extensively with them.

Asking questions beyond the scientific inevitably (at least for Lewis) leads to questions concerning faith. In the Space Trilogy, as Charles Moorman aptly notes, “Science fiction presents [Lewis] with a method and a plot, the theology of the Church with a theme,” (401). In the second book of his space trilogy, Perelandra, one of the major themes that Lewis explores is the nature of evil, which is understandable when considering that Perelandra is essentially a new telling of the temptation of Eve — in this case, Tinidril — in Eden. Lewis establishes an observable set of laws on Perelandra that govern how the planet works, and then within this world, the character of Weston, or the Un-man, seeks to corrupt these natural laws, while Ransom does all he can to protect them. This brings out three key qualities of the nature of evil: it is an entity that turns away from the given good, fixates on a specific narrative, and utilizes individuals to the point of loss of individual identity..." from the article: The Nature of Evil in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra


The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength) by C.S. Lewis (link)



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