Saturday, 16 June 2012

Charles Williams and the 'modern religious revival'

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In what I consider to be on the whole the best book yet written about Charles William - I mean Alice Mary Hadfield's first biography: An Introduction to Charles Williams of 1959 - she makes this poignant remark on page 193:

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Much depends on how the modern religious revival goes. 

...C.W's importance rests on his religious vision. If the present revival continues and men see life more and more under some relationship to a divine Creator, C.W's work will become increasingly important.

His affirmation of a positive relation of religion to human life, so that marriage, politics, neighbours, work, and art can be ways of living the life of Christ, will be found more and more necessary and welcome by the Church and by souls.

His vision was based on personal experience and the operation of the life of Christ in each person.

Among the advocates of systems, churches, organizations, r ethical activities, C.W stands out as the leading English writer who rediscovered and stated the central experience of Christianity for twentieth century minds.

...that Christ lives His incarnation in each human life, in each relationship, each human process in history...

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1959. England.

Just 53 years ago.

"Much depends on how the modern religious revival goes."


The modern religious revival!

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Well, we now know just how the modern religious revival went; the fact that it has been forgotten by modern England says it all...

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The section continues:

...If the reading world turns again to a wholly materialistic outlook, C.W may be neglected by all but a few in each generation who live and move against the tide, and against all evidence respond to the motions of the spirit.

If C.W's work has to be read by people to whom the concepts of religion as well as the language of myth have become alien, he may hardly be read at all.

But that does not seem altogether likely. Rather, it appears that the direction of thought has altered, and men of science and of psychology are ready now to acknowledge the existence of God, and it is probable that once the change is admitted its results will grow rapidly.

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Alas not...

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2 comments:

Dale James Nelson said...

I gave away my copy of that first book to someone who was more interested in CW than I was. What makes it superior to the later book?

bgc said...

The character of CW comes through more clearly, especially those qualities which make him valuable - the coverage is more partial, but more detailed - the quality of the writing is better - and the author herself engages with CW, especially on Christian topic, in a personal and impassioned way I found valuable (AMH was a woman of considerable substance).