Issues, Etc.

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Introduction: The Apologists of Eucatastrophe
by John Warwick Montgomery

THE LORD OF THE RINGS ends, as a fairy-tale should, with what Tolkien calls a EUCATASTROPHE.
- W. H. Auden

The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man's history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy.
- J. R. R. Tolkien

Apologetics means of course Defence. The first question is - what do you propose to defend? Christianity, of course.
- C. S. Lewis

While the idea of the DePaul University Lecture series that has come to fruition in this volume was still in the germination stage, I corresponded with W. H. Auden about it.1 He suggested including George Macdonald - the 19th century literary forefather of the writers we had chosen to treat - as the subject of an essay in the series. Macdonald's inclusion was not possible, but one of his characteristic remarks, included by C. S. Lewis in his anthology of Macdonald, can serve as the point du depart for understanding why we selected Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams for this series.

Aphorized Macdonald in Love Thy Neighbour (1st series): "Our Lord never thought of being original." The four writers treated in this volume have in common precisely this lack of originality. To be sure, Macdonald's remark is paradoxical: No man in the world's history has ever had the impact on other men's lives that the "unoriginal" Jesus had. How could this have happened? we are forced to ask. Said Jesus repeatedly: "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38; Luke 22:42; etc.). "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," preached Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, "and all these [earthly] things shall be added unto you" (Mt. 6:33). Our Lord's every word, act, and breath were devoted to the faithful expression of the eternal will of the Father, and thus it was, because "he who would save his life shall lose it," Jesus' unoriginal selflessness made Him the most original Person the world had or will ever see: "wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).

Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams display an analogous - and to the unbeliever, an inexplicable and infuriating - combination of ingenuousness and genius. On the one hand, no 20th century writers in the English-speaking world have had such an intensive and extensive impact on the intelligentsia in the sphere of ultimate commitment. Cambridge University's David Daiches, an agnostic professor of English under whom I studied at Cornell, considered Lewis the very symbol of religious revival in England after World War II. In 1972, the sixth year Ballantine Books published Tolkien in paperback in the U.S.A., two million copies of their editions of his works were sold - to say nothing of 175,000 Tolkien calendars!

And yet these writers seem almost to make a fetish of unoriginality: Williams employs as his fundamental and recurrent leitmotifs the themes of Substitution and the City ("Your Life and Death are with Your Neighbor" is the motto of the City) which are consciously derived from the central teachings of creedal Christianity, as he witnesses their development in The Descent of the Dove: A History of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Williams' powerful delineation of the demonic, especially conveyed in the supernatural novels, All Hallows' Eve and Descent into Hell - a comprehension of the strategy of evil which Auden, in his Introduction to The Descent of the Dove, considers one of Williams' greatest strengths - is a direct product of Holy Writ, as any reader of Williams' Witchcraft will recognize.2

Tolkien, an English philologist by profession, so carefully limits his imagery to the archetypal symbols of Celtic and medieval deep myth and the verities of the Christian tradition that in the judgment of a recent critic he displays but "erratic originality," so that "his earnest vision seems syncretic, his structure a collage, and his feeling antiquarian."3 How odd that college students should not have been turned off by so "antiquarian" a work as The Lord of the Rings; how peculiar that in a previous national election they wore buttons inscribed, "Vote for Gandalf," and that they long beyond longing - in the words of the Tolkien Society poster - to "come to Middle Earth"!

A most vitriolic critic of Lewis refers to him throughout her book as "vulgar," "coarse," "stupid," "pin headed," and - though their compatibility of that idea is somewhat in doubt - "soap-box" yet "suburban." Her rage particularly focuses on his "intellectual orthodoxy" and "fundamentalism.' Says she of Lewis and Dorothy Sayers (who might equally have been included in the present series of lectures): "Both these writers could be described, not too metaphorically, as fundamentalists. They claim that all the answers which the human mind requires, to form an adequate picture of the universe it inhabits, are to be found in the Christian reveIation."4 Along the same line, process theology liberal Norman Pittenger castigated Lewis in the pages of Christian Century (October 1, 1958) for his theologically untrained naïveté in basing his faith on "mechanical" authority - on what has "grown up in the church and won the assent of great doctors." Lewis, who seldom replied to public criticism, preferring a more self-effacing role, did answer Dr. Pittenger (Christian Century, November 26, 1958), and the conlusion of the riposte is too pertinent to our discussion not to be quoted:

When I began, Christianity came before the great mass of my unbelieving fellow-countrymen either in the highly emotional form offered by revivalists or in the unintelligible language of highly cultured clergymen. Most men were reached by neither. My task was therefore simply that of a translator - one turning Christian doctrine, or what he believed to be such, into the vernacular, into language that unscholarly people would attend to and could understand. For this purpose a style more guarded, more nuance, finelier shaded, more rich in fruitful ambiguities - in fact, a style more like Dr. Pittenger's own - would have been worse than useless. It would not only have failed to enlighten the common reader's understanding; it would have aroused his suspicion. He would have thought, poor soul, that I was facing both ways, sitting on the fence, offering at one moment what I withdrew the next, and generally trying to trick him. I may have made theological errors. My manner may have been defective. Others may do better hereafter. I am ready, if I am young enough, to learn. Dr. Pittenger would be a more helpful critic if he advised a cure as well as asserting many diseases. How does he himself do such work? What methods, and with what success, does he employ when he is trying to convert the great mass of storekeepers, lawyers, realtors, morticians, policemen and artisans who surround him in his own city?

One thing at least is sure. If the real theologians had tackled this laborious work of translation about a hundred years ago, when they began to lose touch with the people (for whom Christ died), there would have been no place for me.

Chesterton, in the first paragraph of his continually reprinted classic Orthodoxy, testified of the content of his book: "I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me." In essence, Chesterton and the "Anglo-Oxford Christians" are men of genius precisely because of their unoriginality. Like the centurion of whom Jesus said, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel," they are "men set under authority" (Luke 7:8-9). They have nothing which they would term "their philosophy." What they write of, they did not make. It made them. And what, precisely, is the "it"? In C. S. Lewis' words, quoted at the outset: "Christianity, of course." Let us hear in extenso again from Lewis, since his analysis of what it means to affirm and defend Christianity is precisely the viewpoint shared by all four of our writers:
We are to defend Christianity itself - the faith preached by the Apostles, attested by the Martyrs, embodied in the Creeds, expounded by the Fathers. This must be clearly distinguished from the whole of what any one of us may think about God and Man. Each of us has his individual emphasis: each holds, in addition to the Faith, many opinions which seem to him to be consistent with it and true and important. And so perhaps they are. But as apologists it is not our business to defend them. We are defending Christianity; not "my religion." . . . A clearly maintained distinction between what the Faith actually says and what you would like it to have said or what you understand or what you personally find helpful or think probable, forces your audience to realize that you are tied to your data just as the scientist is tied by the results of the experiments; that you are not just saying what you like. This immediately helps them to realize that what is being discussed is a question about objective fact - not gas about ideals and points of view.

The new truth which you do not know and which you need must, in the very nature of things, be hidden precisely in the doctrines you least like and least understand. It is just the same here as in science. The phenomenon which is troublesome, which doesn't fit in with the current scientific theories, is the phenomenon which compels reconsideration and thus leads to new knowledge. Science progresses because scientists, instead of running away from such troublesome phenomena or hushing them up, are constantly seeking them out. In the same way, there will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge of the difficult or repellent doctrines. A "liberal" Christianity which considers itself free to alter the Faith whenever the Faith looks perplexing or repellent must be completely stagnant. Progress is made only into a resisting material.5

But just as there are numerous ways to skin a cat, so there are numerous ways to defend Christianity. Lewis has just noted and rightly rejected the "liberal" method: change the substance of the Faith to make it more palatable or "relevant" to the secular situation. Such an approach turns the medicine of immortality into the germ of the disease and leaves the patient to die of the deception. But even in the realm of what Chesterton described as orthodoxy, apologetics is a plural and not a singular. The late Edward John Carnell once remarked that there are as many apologetics as there are facts in the world.

In an article of mine on a Moslem apologist published some years ago, I classified orthodox apologetic techniques in three categories: Rational defenses (apriorism, presuppositionalism, internal self-consistency), Objective Empirical defenses (miracle, fulfilled prophecy, conformity with the historical and scientific facts of experience), and Subjective Empirical defenses (the religious position is personally meaningful and self-validating in the life of the believer).6 Rational defenses have the least biblical precedent, and the classic expression of this approach, the Ontological Proof for God's existence, has never claimed the allegiance of more than a few Christian apologists. The insuperable problem with apriorism is its begging of the question: why should the non-Christian begin where the Christian begins?7

Thus most apologetic endeavors through Christian history have been Empirical: following the biblical model, Christian believers have tried to show how the evidences of miracle, prophecy, and inner experience compel consideration of the Christian starting-point as the most adequate approach for understanding man and the world. Predominance has been given to objective evidence, and for good reason. The scriptural apologetic makes miracle and prophecy central, and the Apologists of Patristic times, who closely followed the Apostolic footsteps, went and did likewise. Today's Analytical movement in philosophy has redirected attention to fundamental epistemological considerations, and has rightly insisted that if a religion wishes to make meaningful claims to factual truth, it must offer meaningfully objective evidence in support of those claims. Objective, historical evidence for Christian truth has the great merit of openness to public inquiry; it cannot easily be ignored as the product of inner wish-fulfillment. Objective facts are difficult to dispense with ad hominem - by the subtle or not-so-subtle redirection of the argument from the issue of the truth of the Faith to the psychology, needs, and personal hang-ups of the apologist.

Hesitancy in offering Subjective defenses for the Gospel has been increased by the history of such argumentation in the last two centuries. Kant so intimidated traditional, Objective apologists that a Subjective reaction set in through the work of Schleiermacher and Ritschl, leading directly to the "liberal" dilutions of Christian faith so perceptively criticized by Lewis. In the half century after Kant's death, a no less momentous reaction occurred when Kierkegaard opposed Hegelian idealism with the battle cry, "Truth is subjectivity." From Kierkegaard's (genuinely Christian) subjectivity developed the atheistic subjectivity of 20th century existentialism on the one hand (Heidegger, Sartre), and the reductionistic, demythologizing existentialism of most contemporary German theology (Bultmann - whose position developed from Heidegger's' - and the post-Bultmannian "New Hermeneutic"). The demythologizers have peeled away at the onion of objective Christian truth, claiming that if one can just get rid of the layers of miraculous symbolism created by a prescientific age, the "self-authenticating," existential heart of the Christian faith will be revealed in its purity to modern man. But secular man observes the process with little more than amusement, since as the "layers" of Incarnation, Virgin Birth, and Resurrection are discarded, nothing whatever of the Christian basics seems to be left, and the secularist has every reason to wonder if "existential self-authentication" is not the product of theological self-hypnosis-wish-fulfillment writ large, in which one thinks he can have the cake of Christian hope while at the same time masticating it with the teeth of rationalistic biblical criticism.

Neither has fundamentalist inwardness encouraged apologists in the direction of a Subjective apologetic. The fundamentalist, appalled by modernistic corruptions of the Gospel in pseudo-intellectual dress, quickly learned to attribute all such efforts to "the wisdom of this world." In contrast to such intellectualizing, the fundamentalist came to rely on his conversion experience and the evidence of salvation in his personal experience. "Testimonies" to "meeting Christ" (remarkably similar, at least in their subjectivity, with existential "encounters"!) and inward answers to prayer became the substitute for Objective evidence in presenting the Christian faith to others. But the very personal, individualistic nature of this evidence has left it vulnerable to the criticism equally applicable to existentialism: how does one know that the experience so described represents reality, and is not simply a product of the believer's own psychological processes? Accounts of parallel evangelical conversion experiences (Begbie's Twice-born Men, etc.), though helpful, do not really meet this objection, since one can also collect conversion experiences relative to other world-faiths (e.g., many of the cases in William James' Varieties of Religious Experience), and the mutually contradictory nature of these various religions eliminates the possibility that they can all be true.

And yet the need for a responsible Subjective apologetic for Christian truth remains. The ongoing, self-perpetuating juggernaut of scientific technology has alienated many in our society from the ideals of scientific objectivity. Objectivity seems for them (irrationally, but, after all, they are trying to run from rationality!) the source of pollution, depersonalization, and a culture that will spend billions on a moon shot and quibble about appropriations to clean up the ghetto. Young people in particular drop out and freak out as a protest against such hyper-objectifying of life and its values. They seek another kind of answer - an answer perhaps hidden in the Subjective depths of their own souls. But what key will unlock this hidden treasure? Some go the whole experiential route: sex, drugs, masochism, satanic occultism. Others seek salvation in the inward-focused Eastern religions.8 But the path of drugs and the occult is strewn with the wrecked lives of those who have given themselves to these false gods.9 And, as Arthur Koestler has so definitively shown in the account of his frustrating pilgrimage in search of Eastern wisdom, the ambiguities of the Tantristic religions open them to the most immoral, destructive, and demonic possibilities.10

Might literary creativity offer a way through this labyrinth? Can literature perhaps succeed where these deceptive paths have failed?
A drain less shower Of light is poesy: 'tis the supreme of power

declared Keats in Sleep and Poetry. As a dream while asleep can touch the depths of our being, could not the literature of wakefulness shower with light and supreme power the landscape of religious concern, and provide the Subjective attestation of Christian truth for which men long? The writers with whom we are dealing regard literature as such a means of grace, but their viewpoint is immensely more sophisticated than that of 19th century Romanticism - or of 20th century Realism.

The universal or near-universal appeal of great literature to Christian and non-Christian alike holds out the possibility of a more solid Subjective bridge by which unbelievers might pass into the Kingdom. If the Faith can be found mirrored in the great literary productions of the time, would this not lead the secular reader to a new appreciation of that "Faith once delivered to the saints"?11

The most common way in which this case is argued today by Christian interpreters of literature could be termed (with apologies to mystical theology) the via negativa, or negative path. Here an effort is made to show that secular literary classics (1) depict the sinful, fallen human condition in exact accord with biblical anthropology, and (2) demonstrate that all contemporary secular ways of salvation are deceptive and unable to solve man's dilemma. By process of elimination, then, the reader is brought to a consideration of the Christian answer as the only, or at very least the most meaningful, solution to his fallen condition. Some examples will make this approach clear. Albert Camus' La Peste (The Plague) accurately describes the human condition as mortally diseased and no more capable of being cured from within than is the city of Oran able to be freed from its pestilential agonies by medical efforts within it. George Orwell's 1984 shows the logical consequences of man's "nasty" and "brutish" life (to use the terms of 17th century atheist Hobbes, whose Leviathan is in many ways a forerunner of 1984): will-to-power leads, by way of the totalitarianism of our day (National Socialism, Marxism), to complete thought control and absolute dehumanization. Franz Kafka's Der Prozess (The Trial) is the account of a man (Joseph K - the author Kafka - and, through him, Everyman) who is brought to ultimate judgment, though on no specific charge; and he recognizes (testifying, we would say, to the fact of original sin) that he deserves this, and so does humanity in general.

False solutions to this human dilemma of sin and deserved judgment are revealed for what they are in such contemporary works as William Golding's Lord of the Flies, John Updike's Rabbit, Run (and recent sequel, Rabbit Redux), and Samuel Beckett's En attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot). Golding's account of the savagery of well brought-up English schoolboys marooned on an island destroys the illusion that good education, civilization, and culture can eradicate man's bestiality. Updike reveals the hollowness of the American dream of the adolescent high-school hero who can attain salvation through conformity to the American Way of Life. Beckett systematically destroys all the pretences of redemption-by-works in modern life - aesthetics, altruism, intellectualism, achievement - and sees secular existence as a "blathering in the void":

VLADIMAR: And where were we yesterday evening according to you?

ESTRAGON: How would I know? In another compartment. There's no lack of void.

VLADIMIR: (sure of himself), Good. We weren't here yesterday evening. Now what did we do yesterday evening?


VLADIMIR: Try and remember.

ESTRAGON: Do... I suppose we blathered.

VLADIMIR: (controlling himself). About what?

ESTRAGON: Oh . . . this and that I suppose, nothing in particular. (With assurance.) Yes, now I remember, yesterday evening we spent blathering about nothing in particular. That's been going on now for half a century.

In applying these literary evidences of man's sinfulness, deserved judgment, and incapacity to save himself, the Christian interpreter-apologist operates on the basis of the Augustinian principle enunciated at the beginning of The Confessions: "Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te" (Thou hast made us for Thyself and our heart is restless until it rest in Thee). This is the principle of the "God-shaped blank": each heart is like a picture-puzzle with one piece missing, and the missing piece, which alone will give meaning to all the rest, is in the shape of a Cross. Contemporary literature can outline negatively the shape of the missing piece. Thus the non-Christian can be brought to see that only the Gospel is capable of fulfilling his deepest needs.

But the sinner seeks to fit other answers into the empty space in his heart; he imagines the possibility of solutions for the human dilemma so realistically described in modern secular literature. As a deterent to this tendency, is it not possible to go beyond the via negativa and affirmatively trace the positive message of Christian redemption by way of literary motifs? Here more ambitious literary apologists appeal to the concept of the "Christ image": the veiled figure of Christ which appears in a multitude of guises in secular literary classics. Consider the list of possibilities to which chapters are devoted in Moseley's Pseudonyms of Christ in the Modern Novel:

Christ as Tragic Hero: Conrad's Lord Jim

Christ as Death-in-Life and Life-in-Death: Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment

Christ as the Archetypal Son: Turgenev's Fathers and Sons

Christ as Artist and Lover: D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers

Christ as Doomed Youth: Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front

Christ as the Missing Orient: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

Christ as Social Scapegoat: Faulkner's Light in August

Christ as One Avatar: Forster's Passage to India

Christ as the Brother of Man: Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath

Christ as Marxist Variant: Silone's Bread and Wine,
Malraux' Man's Fate, and
Koestler's Darkness at Noon

Christ as Existentialist Antichrist: Camus' The Stranger

Christ as the Old Champion: Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea12

This series of Christic interpretations begins bravely enough: few would have difficulty in recognizing a Christ-figure in Conrad's Lord Jim, or in the work of Dostoyevsky - and one wonders why Melville's Billy Budd did not strike the interpreter as an even more obvious example. But D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers? Christ as "Marxist Variant" and even "Existentialist Antichrist"? One is reminded of Bruce Barton's characterizations of Jesus (The Man Nobody Knows) during the heyday of Protestant modernism: Jesus "the Executive," "the Outdoor Man," "the Sociable Man" - and, to be sure, "the Founder of Modern Business" ("Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"). One thinks also of the "Christ" of the death-of-God movement, who was so kenotically hidden in the process of history and the social movements of the day that in no particular respect at all could he be identified necessarily with the Jesus of the New Testament. If virtually anything is a Christ-figure, nothing is a Christ-figure, and the apologist has fallen back entirely into the miasma of an uncritical, individualistic subjectivism. This is brought out hilariously by Frederick C. Crews as he "discovers" a Christ-image in A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh; here is the crux (!) passage of his essay, "O Felix Culpa! The Sacramental Meaning of Winnie-the-Pooh":
Searching for a literary Savior is, if I may confide in the reader, often a rather trying affair, since this personage must be an epitome of meekness and at the same time act as a strong moral guide for the other characters. In Pooh we have no dearth of meek characters, but a frustrating want of moral pronouncements. Yet there is one Character, blessedly, Who outdoes all the others in humility while managing, at one dramatic moment, to reveal His true identity in a divine Uttering: "A little Consideration," He says, "a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference." What an electrifying effect this produces on the reader! At one stroke we have been transported back across all the materialistic heresies of the modern world, back safely across the wicked Counter - Reformation into the purity of Cranmer, Henry the Eighth, the early Church, and the Sermon on the Mount. Here we have none of the hypocrisy of the crafty Loyola, none of the foaming frenzy of the Anabaptists, but a simple assertion of the Golden Rule. The Speaker is of course Eeyore, the Lowly One, the Despised, Acquainted with Grief. His dictum of pure caritas is the moral standard by which every action of the lesser characters in Winnie-the-Pooh - must be severely judged.13

Is there no way to avoid such bizarre results in the quest for a positive literary apologetic? The development of firm, biblically grounded criteria for the Christ-figure would offer the best protection - but there is a built-in difficulty: no literary character can in fact be the historic Christ, so the character's inadequacies and sins will automatically create tension with the biblical picture of the Savior, and to that extent reduce the effectiveness of the literary portrayal as an apologetic. Can a different orientation put us on firmer ground?

Suppose that the fallen race had kept a primordial realization of its separation from God through sinful self-centeredness and of its specific need for redemption through the divine - human conquest of the evil powers arrayed against it. Suppose within each human heart this realization were etched beyond effacement. The sinner would of course repress this knowledge, for his sin would be too painful to bear and his egotism would not want to face redemption apart from his own works-righteousness. Though "the invisible things of God are clearly seen," so that men are "without excuse," they become "vain in their imaginations" and their "foolish hearts are darkened" (Rom. 1:20-21). This darkening of the heart would quite naturally take the form of a repression of the natural knowledge of God's redemptive plan to the subconscious level, where it could be ignored consciously; but its eradication from the psyche could never occur. Under these circumstances, redemptive knowledge would surface not in a direct fashion but by way of symbolic patterns - visible not only to the sensitive psychoanalyst, but also to the folklorist whose material "bubbles up" collectively from the subconscious of the race. Literature in this special sense could therefore reflect the Christian story in an objective sense and trigger conscious acceptance of it. ls this perhaps the background of Paul's literary appeal on the Areopagus: "As certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring" (Acts 17:28)?

Jungian analytical psychotherapy has indeed identified such redemptive "archetypes," or fundamental and universal symbolic patterns, which appear equally in the physical liturgies of ancient alchemists and in the dreams of contemporary business men. Religious phenomenologists - the greatest being Mircea Eliade - have discovered these motifs in the most widely diversified primitive and sophisticated religions. Concludes Eliade after examining one of the most basic archetypal themes: "At the 'beginning' as well as at the 'end' of the religious history of Man, we find the same 'yearning for Paradise.' If we take into account the fact that the 'yearning for Paradise' is equally discernible in the general religious attitude of early man we have the right to assume that the mystical memory of a blessedness without history haunts man from the moment he becomes aware of his situation in the cosmos."14 Thus does the great universal literary tradition of Utopia point back, with inexpressible longings, to the Garden. And thus consciously - produced modern literary endeavors can appeal to a yearning in every human heart. One thinks of James Hilton's Lost Horizon - or the captivating Lerner-Loewe musical, Brigadoon. ln that Edenic town, the people are redemptively protected from witches when they sleep by a vicarious act of their pastor; as they sleep, one hundred years wondrously pass.

Tommy: But at night when you go to sleep; what's it like?

Mr. Lundie: Well, for me, tis like being carried on shadowy arms to some far-off cloud an' there I float till mornin'. An' yet, sometimes I think I hear strange voices.

Tommy: Voices?

Mr. Lundie: Aye. They say no words I can remember. But they're voices filled with a fearful longin'; an' often they seem to be callin' me back. I've pondered it when I'm awake; an' I think - I have a feelin' I'm hearin' the outside world. There mus' be lots of folk out there who'd like a Brigadoon?15

Mythology and folktale are especially pregnant with archetypal significance. In an important study on "Recurrent Themes in Myths and Mythmaking," Kluckhohn provides rigorous attestation of anthropologist Levi-Strauss' contention that there is an "astounding similarity between myths collected in widely different regions" of the world.16 Kluckhohn and Moench used Murdock's "world ethnographic sample"17 to analyze recurrent mythical themes in fifty cultures, "distributed about evenly among Murdock's six major regions (Circum-Mediterranean, Negro Africa, East Eurasia, Insular Pacific, North America, South America)." Two of the most prominent recurrent themes are the Flood ("a universal or near-universal theme in mythology" which "hardly seems plausible to attribute to Jewish-Christian sources")18 and the "Slaying of Monsters": "This theme appears in thirty-seven of our fifty cultures, and here the distribution approaches equality save for a slightly greater frequency in North America and the Insular Pacific.... In Bantu Africa (and beyond) a hero is born to a woman who survives after a monster has eaten her spouse (and everyone else). The son immediately turns into a man, slays a monster or monsters, restores his people."19

Does not this "slaying of a monster" have a familiar ring to it (our pun on Tolkien's One Ring is not unintentional)? Gustaf Aulén has demonstrated the centrality of the Christus Victor motif to the entire New Testament message: Jesus, born of a woman, is in fact the Divine Christ who conquers the Evil Power that has brought the race into bondage, and thereby restores man kind.20 From such universal - and therefore impressively Objective-archetypal Motifs can the Christian Iittrateur draw his themes and patterns, thereby creating stories that, if sensitively and artistically executed, are sure to strike to the deep reaches of man's being and point him toward the Christ who fulfilled the myths and legends of the world.

It is this literary apologetic for the Gospel - the Great Eucatastrophe - that unites the writers discussed in the present volume. To besure, others have performed this role in other ages; one thinks particularly of Edmund Spenser21 and Johann Valentin Andreae22 before the cataclysmic "great divide" that separates "Old Western man" and the Classical-Christian epoch from the modern secular era. But few have performed this labor of genius as well as our writers in the desolate landscape of post-Christian paganism. We do not claim that the writers here treated all lower their buckets to the same depth into "the Well at the World's End": there is an immense distance between The Lord of the Rings and Chesterton's Flying Inn. We can, in fact, offer the following schematic typology:

Decrease Literary
Presents: As Apologetic for:
up arrow Chesterton Theological novels The irresistibility of orthodoxy
Williams Numinous novels The reality of the supernatural
down arrow Lewis Allegorical myths The comprehensiveness of Christian truth
Increase Tolkien Deep myths The vastness of God's Kingdom

But granting the legitimacy of this analysis (vindication of which is left to the judgment of readers as addicted to this literary genre as the editor), it would be hard to deny the common thrust of all four writers: in a century when most secularists and theologians are busily stripping away alleged "myths" (in their sense of "non-factual stories") from Christianity, our apologists of eucatastrophe find in myth (in the proper sense of archetypal tale) the objectifying literary apologetic for Christian truth - a pointer nonpareil to the fulfillment of mankind's longings in the factuality of the Gospel Story.

Let us, in conclusion, hear Lewis' confessions of mythopoeic faith - the first, from his spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy, in a passage perceptively anthologized by Edmund Fuller; the second from his seminal essay, "Myth Became Fact":

I was by now too experienced in literary criticism to regard the Gospels as myths. They had not the mythical taste. And yet the very matter which they set down in their artless, historical fashion - those narrow, unattractive Jews, too blind to the mythical wealth of the Pagan world around them - was precisely the matter of the great myths. If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this. Myths were like it in one way. Histories were like it in another. But nothing was simply like it. And no person was like the Person it depicted; as real, as recognizable, through all that depth of time, as Plato's Socrates or Boswell's Johnson (ten times more so than Eckermann's Goethe or Lockhart's Scott), yet also numinous, lit by a light from beyond the world, a god. But if a god - we are no longer polytheists - then not a god, but God. Here and here only in all time the myth must become fact; the Word, flesh; God, Man. This is not "a religion," nor "a philosophy." It is the summing up and actuality of them all.23

We must not be ashamed of the mythical radiance resting on our theology. We must not be nervous about "parallels" and "Pagan Christs": they ought to be there - it would be a stumbling block if they weren't. We must not, in false spirituality, withhold our imaginative welcome. If God chooses to be mythopoeic - and is not the sky itself a myth - shall we refuse to be mythopathic? For this is the marriage of heaven and earth: Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact: claiming not only our love and our obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.24

1. Auden's appreciation of Williams and Tolkien is of long standing, and derives both from a poet's understanding of literary genius and from personal friendship. Cf. Monroe K. Spears, The Poetry of W. H. Auden (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963). Auden wrote the original review of The Fellowship of the Ring for The New York Times, and a perceptive article, "Good and Evil in The Lord of the Rings" (from which our introductory quotation is taken) in the Tolkien Journal, Ill/1 (1967), 5-8. To that same issue of the Tolkien Journal, celebrating Tolkien's seventy-fifth birthday, Professor Kilby contributed an essay on "Tolkien As Scholar and Artist" (pp. 9-11).

2. See my Shape of the Past (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Edwards Brothers, 1963), pp. 24-25, 28, 150-51, and the references there cited. Cf. also Dorothy L. Sayers, "Charles Williams: A Poet's Critic," in her collection, The Poetry of Search and the Poetry of Statement (London: Gollancz, 1963), pp. 69-90; Raymond Chapman, The Ruined Tower (London: Bles, 1961), passim; and Rosalie V. Otters, "Charles Williams' Philosophy of History" (unpublished Master's thesis, Depanment of Church History and the History of Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1971).

3. Catherine R. Stimpson, J. R. R. Tolkien ("Columbia Essays on Modern Writers," 41; New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), p.9. For more helpful treatments, see Paul H. Kocher, Master of Middle-earth: The Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1972), and Lin Carter, Tolkien: A Look behind "The Lord of the Rings" (New York: Ballantine Books. 1969); cf, also Gracia Fay Ellwood, Good News from Tolkien's Middle Earth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1970).

4. Kathleen Nott, The Emperor's Clothes (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1958), p. 48 (for her other references to Lewis mentioned above, see pp.8. 43,68,76, 105-06, 176, 254ff.). A devastating, and well deserved, review of the original British printing of Miss Nott's book was written by John W. Simons for Commonweal, April 22, 1955; said he: Her book is strewn with the sophistries she would foist upon others." Chad Walsh. in his CS. Lewis: Apostle to the Skeptics, has correctly distinguished Lewis' "classical Christianity" from sociologically rightist, American "Bible-belt" fundamentalism.

5. C. S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics," in his God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed, Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1970), pp. 90-91.

6. "The Apologetic Approach of Muhammed Ali and Its Implications for Christian Apologetics," Muslim World, Lt/2 (April, 1961), 111-22 (cf. author's corrigendum in the July, 1961. Muslim World).

7. Cf. my critiques of Gordon Clark and Cornelius Van TiI, in the Festshriften (or these two Christian presuppositionalists: The Philosophy of Gordon Clark. ed. Ronald Nash (Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1968) and Jerusalem and Athens, ed. Geehan (ibid., 1971).

8. Cf. John H. Garabedian and Orde Coombs, Eastern Religions in the Electric Age (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1969).

9. Montgomery, Principalities and Powers: The World of the Occult (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1973), especially pp. 121-50 ("The Land of Mordor") and 188-90 ("The Gospel according to LSD").

10. Arthur Koestler, The Lotus and the Robot (New York: Macmillan, 1961), especially pp. 236 - 41, 268 - 75.

11. Cf. Amos N. Wilder, Theology and Modern Literature (Cambridge, Mass,: Harvard University Press, 1958); William R. Mueller, The Prophetic Voice in Modern Fiction (New York: Association Press, 1959); Nathan A. Scott. Jr., The Broken Center: Studies in the Theological Horizon of Modern Literature (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966); Nathan A. Scott, Jr. (ed.), Adversity and Grace: Studies in Recent American Literature ("Essays in Divinity," IV; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968); Kurt F. Reinhardt, The Theological Novel of Modern Europe (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1969).

12. Edwin M. Moseley, Pseudonymns of Christ in the Modern Novel (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1962). See also: F. W. Dillistone, The Novelist and the Passion Story (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1960); Donald L. Deffner, "Christ-figure in Contemporary Literature," Concordia Theological Monthly, XXXIV (May, 1963), 278-83; Robert Detweiler, "Christ and the Christ Figure in American Fiction," Christian Scholar, XLVII/2 (Summer, 1964), 111-24.

13. Frederick C. Crews, The Pooh Perplex (New York: Dutton Paperbacks, 1965), p. 58. In this magnificent tour de force "it is discovered that the true meaning of the Pooh stories is not as simple as is usually believed, but for proper elucidation requires the combined efforts of several academicians of varying critical persuasions."

14. Mircea Eliade, "The Yearning for Paradise in Primitive Tradition," in Myth and Mythmaking, ed. Henry A. Murray (New York: George Braziller, 1960), p. 73.

15.15 Alan Jay Lerner. Brigadoon (New York: Coward-McCann, 1947), pp. 8849. This musical first opened in the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City in March, 1947-soon after the end of World War II, when America's utopian longings were revivified.

16. Claude Levi-Strauss, "The Structural Study of Myth," Journal of American Folklore. LXVIII (1955), 428~45; cf. the same author's "Structure et dialectique" in the Festschrift for Roman Jakobson, edited by Morris Halle (The Plague: Mouton. 1957), pp.289-94.

17. G. P. Murdock, "World Ethnographic Sample," American Anthropologist, LIX (1957), 664-88.

18. Cf. Montgomery,The Quest for Noah's Ark (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1972), passim.

19. Clyde Kluckhohn "Recurrent Themes in Myths and Mythmaking," in Myth and Mythmaking (op. cit.), p. 51.

20. Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor, trans. A. G. Hebert (New York: Macmillan, 1956); cf. my "Short Critique of Gustaf Aulén's Christus Victor," printed as an appendix in my Chytraeus on Sacrifice (St. Louis, Mo.: Concordia, 1962).

21. See, in addition to Lewis' Allegory of Love and English Literature in the 16th Century, Virgil K. Whitaker, The Religious Basis of Spenser's Thought ("Stanford University Series: Language and Literature," VII/3; New York: Gordian Press, 1966); A. C. Hamilton, The Structure of Allegory in "The Faerie Queene" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964); M. Pauline Parker, The Allegory of the "Faerie Queene" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962).

22. See Montgomery, Cross and Crucible: Johann Valentin Andreae (1586-1654), Phoenix of the Theologians ("International Archives of the History of Ideas," 55; The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 1973), 2 vols.

23. Edmund Fuller (ed.), Affirmations of God and Man (New York: Association Press, 1967), p. 37.

24. C. S. Lewis, "Myth Became Fact," in his God in the Dock (op. cit.), p. 67. Cf. the chapter on Myth in Lewis' An Experiment in Criticism (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1961), pp. 40-49

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