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C.S. Lewis' parents

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My recent reading includes THE QUESTION OF GOD (2002) by Dr. Armand M. Nicholi Jr., a contrast of the worldviews of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud, considered as exemplars of Christianity and secularism respectively.

Early on there's a nice quote from Lewis' own memoir about his parents, I'll simply reproduce here.

On his father's side were "true Welshmen, sentimental, passionate, and rhetorical, easily moved both to anger and to tenderness, men who laughed and cried a great deal and had not much talent for happiness." On his mother's side one encounters "a cooler race. Their minds were critical and ironic and they had the talent for happiness in a high degree."

The situation bred in Lewis, on his own reflection, "a certain dislike or distrust of emotion as something uncomfortable and embarrassing and even dangerous."

I'm not making any point here folks, I just enjoy the wording of that. But if you're curious whether this plays a larger role in the Big Picture of Nicholi's book, it does: Lewis ended up reserving the word "joy" for the emotion that his adult conversion to Christianity allowed. Calling it Joy allowed him to enjoy happiness while retaining his suspicions about the Welsh side of his family tree.


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