My Visit to the CS Lewis Society in NYC This Past Friday

I visited the CS Lewis Society this past Friday. It’s been on the list of things to do for quite some time and the night’s title interested me – “Another Repressed Question of God: C. S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud on Laughter” by Terry Lindvall. Often when I hear/read of Freud, I think, I need to read more of him beyond my college general studies understanding. Throw in some CS Lewis and we got a winner.

I know some of my Twitter friends are CS Lewis-ed Out. I get that, he gets quoted quite a bit but he has so much good stuff, I still find that he’s really worth reading. I like that Lewis is not an evangelical but appreciated by so many. I have always liked how he was able to bring his pre-conversion thoughts and address them post-conversion. I liked how he struggled to find faith and how he honestly wrote about doubt and hope. Further, I like natural law, I admire his mind and I love knowing that he would be completely disappointed with how his Narnia world has been adapted to film today.

First impressions upon walking into the CS Lewis society: Nothing like the Eagle & Child Pub, no lounge chairs, no pipes, no alcohol, just metal chairs in row style and coffee cake served in the back. It meets in the Parish House of the Church in the Ascension in Greenwich Village.  I was among the younger people there (it meets on a Friday night in New York for goodness sakes) but found everyone to be very friendly and very knowledgable about the Oxford scholar.

Regarding the lecture, Terry did a fantastic job. For one he’s talking about humor and he’s actually funny (like professor funny, not Brian Regan funny, ok?). What I liked is the access that he had into Lewis’ thought and work. You probably already know there is a section of academics that have studied Lewis’ work for years but I have found it difficult to hear about it (considering how often Lewis is quote and illustrated. I suppose this is true about anything and that’s why I think this Society is cool). For those interested in more of Lewis’ understanding of humor, check out Terry’s book,  “Surprised By Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis” available on Amazon.

The first part of the lecture demonstrated Freud saw humor and contrasted with Lewis’ perspective. Among many points, it was pointed out that since Freud saw most things sexual, humor was often included in that. Terry showed humor in Lewis’ work and life and offered that Lewis protested that humor did not need to be sexual. Making the point that sometimes things are just funny for their own sake. He used the example that Freud saw sex in everything from cigars to rose gardens. Lewis felt that although you could see sexuality in those things, he simply liked cigars for what they were and enjoyed rose gardens because they were beautiful.

Perhaps my favorite part was the Terry telling of the story of Abraham and Sarah. He asked is there any greater comedy than humor about and between men and women? Both created in the image of God but among other things, so much humor is found too. He recreated the encounter well with Abraham and Sarah and highlighted the part where Sarah laughs. Indeed the thought of their geriatric love-making and conceiving at this age is funny (but don’t think about it. Really. I’m just trying to help. Ok, fine think about it). Instead of rebuking Sarah for laughing, God blesses them and tells them to call their son “Isaac” which we all know means “laughter”. God understands humor, He’s the creator of it, and among the blessings that He bestows on those He loves is children and laughter.  As a young dad, there is a world of pleasure and goodness in that thought.

So much more was said in the night but I appreciated most that God enjoys humor and again, is the giver of it.
I don’t know how many I can get to but let me know if you want to attend one evening. They meet the second Friday of every month (except for August). It’s free to attend but you can “join” the society for $10. The benefit of that is enjoying their newsletter that is filled with essays on Lewis. If you would like more information on the CS Lewis society, here’s the site.

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