Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, April 29, 2016

J. Skylar Dean
Section 4
Dr. P. Oliver

Post #2 C. S. Lewis and John Wayne: Manhood

“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
- C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis is probably my favorite philosopher because in his works he continually draws me out of my seemingly established ideas and turns everything upside down. I grew up with a “John Wayne mentality” on who I wanted to be as a man. I naturally gravitated towards all things out doors, physical activities, and loved to learn about manly acts of valor. These characteristics are not, in themselves, wrong to strive for as one becomes a man, but I began to have a one dimensional idea of life. I began to see these qualities as the only beneficial traits for manhood, and attempted to cultivate them while scoffing on other vital ideas. This is what I mean by the “John Wayne mentality”; a man who sees fighting, hard work, confrontation, firmness, courage etc. as the most desirable qualities to the detriment of cultivating other, equally important ones. I am not discounting any one of these traits, each one is an absolute necessity in certain situations, but C.S Lewis has helped to bring me full circle and see other, often undervalued, aspects of life. 
One of the ways in which Lewis broke into my neatly organized ideals, was in his love for fairy tales, or “fairy stories” as he called them. He firmly believed that fairy tales were for adults as well as children, and fought against the stigma that fairy tales fall into the same category as nursery rhymes. He believed that actually, fairy tales are more profitable and teach more about life and the unseen, than realistic fiction. This went against my preconceived code of I believed it meant to be a man, and I did not understand what he knew until recently. Fairy tales have never been my favorite genre of reading or entertainment when it comes to fiction, but they do now have a special place of reverence when created by someone who understands their work can have value worth more than simple enjoyment. I have begun to see inner desires surface when reading fairy tales that I did not know I had, and other desires that I have known but never felt so clearly. As a christian, my belief in an afterlife and in a spiritual world is much like many fairy tales. Many people would consider that a detrimental light in which to place my faith and I once thought the same. Lewis has crept in and I have felt what he calls “the longing for something beyond” when reading his stories in a way that reaches far deeper than I would have cared to admit not too long ago. More than the impact that even the stories themselves have left on me, I have gained a little humility and a curiosity as to what else I may be missing out on. I do not want to become John Wayne as I once did. I want to have some of his qualities, but I also want to be open to the next area in my life that needs cultivating, whether John Wayne would approve or not. 

"It would be much truer to say that fairy land arouses a longing for he knows not what. It stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted. This is a special kind of longing."

                                                                            - C. S. Lewis

Link to first post: http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2016/04/j_23.html#comment-form

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