“A Christmas Sermon for Pagans” is quintessential Lewis at the height of his renown. “Cricketer’s Progress” is more of a mystery.
The topic of ‘A Christmas Sermon for Pagans’ was suggested to him by the editors of The Strand.
In ‘A Christmas Sermon for Pagans’ Lewis writes about the life of pagans. In the past pagans often had a sense of religiosity and believed that there was an objective moral code which we, human beings had to adhere to, and also that human beings were not perfect in that. In the modern post-Christian world, much of this has gotten lost. Where the pagans lived in a kind of ‘enchanted world’ there the post-Christian believes he awakened in the true freedom from “the old fear, the old reverence, the old restraints,” even if the new reality is decidedly less “fun.”
A universe of colourless electrons (which is presently going to run down and annihilate all organic life everywhere and forever) is, perhaps, a little dreary compared with the earth-mother and the sky-father, the wood nymphs and the water nymphs, chaste Diana riding the night sky and homely Vesta flickering on the hearth. But one can’t have everything, and there are always the flicks and the radio: if the new view is correct, it has very solid advantages.
With sarcasm Lewis describes how Modernity is dreary when compared to a Pagan’s enchanted reality. Where the old pagan still knew that there was more than just this material world, there the modern post-Christian has lost all this. Paganism had a feeling of deep sadness and fear, brought onto the world by sin. Where pagans lived in fear because of this, there Christianity brought the cure: Jesus Christ. Modern post-Christians are farther away from this with their ‘freedom’ from the old fear.
However, the very Pagan thing we do on December 25 of “singing and feasting because a God has been born” just may be, Lewis suggests, our “way back not only to Heaven, but to Earth too.”
The second article, I’m sure, will have the special interest of many Australians. It is not often that Lewis mentions cricket in his writings. The few mentions of cricket recall his frustration at being forced to play as a boy. Yet the article, subtitled “A Famous Reputation and What Became of It,” follows the career of Maurice W. Tate, a real-life, famous cricketer and contemporary of Lewis.