The Way of Friendship
"You modify one another's thought; out of this perpetual dog-fight a community of mind and a deep affection emerge." That is what C. S. Lewis said about his enduring friendship with Owen Barfield, who greatly influenced his bedrock views on imagination and myth.
C. S. Lewis's writings often concern friendship and even more often are shaped by his friendships. Characteristically, his writings, from the Chronicles of Narnia to his scholarly The Discarded Image (on the medieval picture of the world), seek to rehabilitate values and virtues once known and lived out in what he called the Old West. He saw this as a civilization and consciousness increasingly lost to us since an unprecedented fracture that occurred, he speculated, early in the 19th century. Loss of these old virtues and values, he famously argued in his essay, The Abolition of Man, put the very future of our humanity in jeopardy. One of the central values he sought to rehabilitate, both in his fiction and in his nonfiction, was that of friendship. In his life, his friendships played a dramatic role, shaping and coloring his years.
Lewis took a classical and Judeo-Christian view of friendship, seeing it as "the school of virtue." Properly lived out, friendship could open one's eyes to previously unseen aspects of reality. In our modern times—in the new, post-Christian West and its sphere of influence—friendship can function in a restorative way, bringing us back into contact with lost reality. The friend who follows the proper character of friendship, with its inner laws, can be very like the traveler in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, a book deeply important to Lewis. The pilgrim has to face dangers and tribulations, finding that "shortcuts" are anything but. ...