David J. Theroux, the Founder and President of the C. S. Lewis Society of California has e-mailed us with the latest updates on many upcoming events that you’re all invited to attend! I hope that some of you have the chance to visit these events and join Lewis Societies, or even have the opportunity to start one in your own area if one does not exist. Here’s the update:
Please note the following in this issue of the C.S. Lewis Society Update (7/17/07):
1. Christian Groups Are Also Growing in Europe
2. Separation of Charity and State
3. Next meeting of C.S. Lewis Society’s Bay Area Book Club: Film Showing
4. Other Events
1. Christian Groups Are Also Growing in Europe:
Accounts of the rapid spread of Christianity in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have become commonplace. Now, a July 14th, front-page article in the Wall Street Journal reports how Christianity is also growing in Europe as a result in part of the elimination of government funding for established national churches.
Especially among the young and after decades of decline, Christianity is on the rise as “monopoly churches” feel the taste of competition from leaner, more responsive, church groups emphasizing traditional spiritual faith. Baylor University sociologist and historian Rodney Stark is the key scholar to uncover this trend, based on his extensive examinations of religious changes since before the days of Jesus. Professor Stark has shown that private religious markets are far more effective in facilitating spiritual health than government-imposed or subsidized systems. His Pulitzer Prize-nominated book, THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY, traces the early Christian Church’s remarkable growth in the first three centuries as its being a voluntary movement based on spiritual enterprise and charity. But when the Roman Emperor Constantine began the process of nationalizing the Christian movement, shifting massive imperial funds from pagan temples into Christian organizations, the vibrant, pious, grassroots Christian movement was altered into a “Church of Power” vs. a “Church of Piety.” Professor Stark’s book FOR THE GLORY OF GOD then traces this rivalry through Christendom’s history, including the recurring rebellions within and without the Church leading up to religious wars, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and much more. The “Church of Power” bred corruption, tyranny, the Crusades, etc., while the “Church of Piety” fought for science, natural law and natural rights; the abolition of slavery, oppression, and witch hunts; and the salvation of all people.
2. Separation of Charity and State:
In his brilliant classic, DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA, Alexis de Tocqueville discussed the extensive and highly effective system of voluntary charitable and other social organizations in early America. As with the early Christian movement, most early Americans were directly involved in their communities based on their Christian faith, and being independent of government power was key to this success.
Similarly, C.S. Lewis wrote critically of government involvement in charity in his essay, “Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State,” which is included in Lewis’s book, GOD IN THE DOCK:
Now, Syracuse University economist Arthur Brooks has further advanced our understanding of the dynamics of charity in his widely acclaimed, new book, WHO REALLY CARES? For example, he shows that:
(1) People who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans to both religious and non-religious charities. People who oppose government income redistribution donate four times as much money each year as do redistribution supporters, and on average, people of faith give more than 50% more money each year to non-church social welfare organizations than secularists do.
(2) Secularists who believe fervently in government welfare-state programs give far less to charity. They want everyone’s tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don’t provide them with enough money.
(3) By every measure of well-being, people who are religious and attend church regularly are more happy, healthy, sociable, caring, charitable, constructive, and involved.
(4) The working poor give far more than the middle class and those who receive welfare.
THE VOLUNTARY CITY: Choice, Community, and Civil Society
Edited by David T. Beito, Peter Gordon and Alexander Tabarrok
Foreword by Paul Johnson
3. Next meeting of the C.S. Lewis Society’s Bay Area Book Club:
Film Showing and Discussion:
C. S. LEWIS: DREAMER OF NARNIA
Wednesday, July 25th, 7:30 p.m.
This new 75-minute film about C.S. Lewis is an excellent and entertaining documentary on the man behind the enormously popular book series, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. Produced by Walden Media and Walt Disney Productions, the film features interviews with Lewis’s stepson Douglas Gresham; actor Sir Ben Kingsley; science fiction writer Ray Bradbury; Lewis experts Paul Ford, Stan Mattson and Colin Duriez; and many others who either knew Lewis or have had their lives touched in a special way by him. Sections of the CHRONICLES are read by English schoolchildren or portrayed with animation cleverly devised from the Pauline Baynes illustrations. The score is first-rate, and the narration by “Lewis,” in the form of a letter written to children, is marvelous.
The meeting will be held at:
11990 Skyline Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94619 (atop the Oakland hills)
wine, soft drinks and other refreshments served
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (4 DVD extended disc set, including “Lewis: Dreamer of Narnia”; 150 min. for extended director’s cut version of film)
Here also is the schedule of future Lewis Society book club meetings:
Here also is information on C.S. Lewis:
We hope that you and/or others you know will be joining with us! (Please feel free to forward this update to others.)
4. Other Upcoming Events:
The 38th Annual Mythopoeic Conference (Mythcon XXXVIII), “Becoming Adept: The Journey to Mastery”
Sponsored by the Mythopoeic Society
University of California, Berkeley, CA
August 3-6, 2007
“The Crisis of the University: Freedom, Tolerance and the Pursuit of Truth”
Sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation
University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
October 5-6, 2007
“C.S. Lewis: Man and His Work: A 21st Century Legacy”
Sponsored by L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture
Southeastern College at Wake Forest, Wake Forest, NC
October 26-27, 2007