Imagination & the Health of the Soul by Dale Nelson

Imagination & the Health of the Soul

Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds
by Peter J. Schakel
Columbia: University of Missouri, 2002
(214 pages; $32.50, cloth)

reviewed by Dale Nelson

When unhappy young people used to visit the St. Herman of Alaska skete in the hinterlands of northern California, the late priest-monk Seraphim Rose realized that they often had basic needs of the soul that had to be addressed, matters not specifically Christian. And so, rather than directing their attention to the ascetic-mystical texts and practices that some of them were interested in, he would have these adolescents watch an old Dickens film, listen to Bach, or read Dostoevsky. “Dickens communicates an extremely warm feeling about human relationships, which is not given in school today. And this very feeling of warmth about human relationships might have more effect in keeping a boy pure than giving him the abstract standard of Orthodoxy,” he said. “By contrast [to Dickens, Dostoevsky, et al.] the contemporary upbringing in schools emphasizes crudity, coldness, and inability to judge what is better and what is worse—total relativity, which only confuses a person and helps fit him into the world of apostasy.” Rose’s visitors needed to be fed, without haste, with wholesome imaginative fare to strengthen their anemic or poison-accustomed souls.

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