As if I don’t have enough books already and won’t be getting even more as I head off to seminary later this year, Scriptorium has introduced me to a lesser known Inkling (the group of writers of whom C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien are the most famous) – Charles Williams.
Williams was first mentioned as the “preternaturally eerie” friend of Lewis in Fred Sanders’ post concerning the ten books that most influenced the Narnia writer. (Ah, more books to read.)
In response, John Mark Reynolds describes the five essential works of Williams and why Williams, while “an uneven writer,” had a “gift of using small details to get a big picture right that more ‘careful’ scholarship often gets wrong.”
Sanders, somewhat in response, gives a summation of the gifts of the previously mentioned Inklings (Tolkien, Lewis and Williams). He writes that their perspectives make Christianity interesting. Tolkien saw Christianity as a “sprawling saga,” Lewis a “fairy tale” and Williams a “ghost story.” In it he writes:
Williams didn’t have a normal mind, but it would be cheap to dismiss him as abnormal. He was paranormal to the core, and he described a kind of Christianity that feels haunted and deep, conspiratorial and ineffable.
Finally, the ever present defender of Williams, Reynolds agrees that enjoying Williams’ writing is a matter of taste and his writing should not be taken alone in large quantities.
He does however argue that instead of viewing Christianity as a “ghost story,” Williams would be better understood through the question: “What if Christianity were a modern Romance?“
Sanders views Williams as “spooky” while I think him a failed romantic. Williams meant to introduce his new Beloved, but described his old love better than his new. This leaves a fair number of readers wanting to meet the old girl instead of his wife.
While I’m not sure which of Williams’ loves I will prefer based upon his writing, I do feel as if I would enjoy reading his descriptions of either.