Thursday, 28 November 2013

Mormons and CS Lewis: Virtue by Association

CS LewisNovember 22 marked the 50th anniversary of CS Lewis’ death. The great man is being honoured with a memorial stone in Westminster Abbey. The CS Lewis Foundation is marking the anniversary with a series of events celebrating his enduring legacy.

Belfast city council has funded a festival celebrating his life and a 50th anniversary memorial weekend was held on 22-23 November. All in all, Christians all over the world have found some way to make the time special and all about CS Lewis.

The Mormon Church, too, has marked the special anniversary but their “celebration” is somewhat different. While Christians concentrate on Lewis, celebrating his life, faith and accomplishments, Mormons have made a great deal of how many times he has been quoted by Mormons, in Mormon conferences and periodicals.

It is reported that Lewis has been quoted in LDS Church magazines more than 100 times, and almost one-third of the citations are from speakers in general conference. Aren’t you glad I told you that?

The first time he was quoted in conference was in 1977 by Paul H Dunn. Now that is an unfortunate association since Dunn turns out to have been one of the biggest fibbers in Mormon Church history, rivalling even the great obfuscator himself, Joseph Smith.* Its a name the church will not appreciate being dug up and thrown around.

Neil A Maxwell, so beloved of right-thinking Mormons, quoted him most with 19 different citations, then James E Faust with 9. There is even a list of 23 quotes cited by Mormon leaders, along with a brief account of when, where and in which context.

Virtue by Association

There was an old British music hall song from the Edwardian era that ran:

I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales.
I'm crazy with excitement, completely off the rails
And when he said to me what she said to him -the Prince remarked to her
It was simply grand, he said "Topping band" and she said "Delightful, Sir"
Glory, Glory, Alleluia! I'm the luckiest of females;
For I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales.

The pleasure of reflected glory is a heady business for some. To have heard from her dance partner the words, he assures her, were uttered by the Prince to his partner was something to write a song about - apparently.

“Topping band,” remarked the Prince. “Topping band,” reported his dance partner. “Topping band,” repeated her friend to another girl; Swoon!

So it was that, for everyone else, it is all about CS Lewis, but for Mormons it is all about Mormonism. “What a great Christian thinker,” remarked his friends. “What a great Christian thinker,” repeated other Christians. “I quoted him,” said a Mormon.

One has to wonder at the state of the mind that can make capital of simply having quoted someone, but then this is a key facet of Mormonism. It might be said to be virtue by association.


*Former BYU researcher Lynn Packer extensively researched the General Authority and his lies and got sacked from BYU as a result of his publishing the truth, while Dunn was quietly retired “for health reasons” and never held to account for his perfidy.


  1. "I think we may accept it as a rule that whenever a person's religious conversation dwells chiefly, or even frequently, on the faults of other people's religions, he is in a bad condition."
    -C.S. Lewis (Collected Letters Vol. 3 p. 209).

    1. I don't welcome anonymous comments but they are sometimes published at my discretion. I wanted this published to illustrate the saying, 'to be hoist by one's own petard,' something that happens to Mormons quite a lot and no more so than in reference to handling criticism, as here.

      The saying is found in Shakespeare (Hamlet, III, iv, 209) "For 'tis the sport to have the engineer, Hoist by his own petard.'

      "The petard was a newly invented device in Shakespeare's day, used for blowing up walls, etc., with gunpowder. Thus the image is of the operative being blown up into the air by his own device." (Nigel Rees, A Word in your Shell-like and Other Curious & Everyday Phrases)

      Clearly, you thought it applied to me but I think the following quote has rather the reverse effect:

      "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they [the Christian churches] were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that, 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof'." (Joseph Smith, JSH 1:19)

      Your Mormon religion is founded on the very thing you want to criticise here, the faults of other churches.