Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Were the Inklings a Forbidden Society? No. · HGL'S F.B. WRITINGS : Craig Crawford's view on Harry Potter (feat. réprise of his view on Tolkien and CSL, feat. Dan Brown) · CSL Not Arian · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : Commenting on Schnoebelen's at al:s comments on HP
Here is Baltimore Catichism n° 3 on what societies we must keep out of:
- Q. 1228. What societies in general are we forbidden to join?
- A. In general we are forbidden to join:
- 1. All societies condemned by the Church;
- 2. All societies of which the object is unlawful and the means used sinful;
- 3. Societies in which the rights and freedom of our conscience are violated by rash or dangerous oaths;
- 4. Societies in which any false religious ceremony or form of worship is used.
Were the Inklings condemned by the Church? No.
Was their object unlawful? Was the means used sinful?
The object was Christian men of diverse confessions discussing "letters" and sometimes also producing such.
The means involved meeting in a bar and reading ongoing literary projects to each other. The quantities of beer consumed are presumed to have been below each person's level of tolerance.
I also presume Tolkien and the Catholic Physician known as "useless quack" were not supposed to pray together with non-Catholics, they held no prayer meetings.
Was their right and freedom of conscience violated by a rash or dangerous oath? No. There was no oath and no formal procedure for adding a new member.
Was any false religious ceremony or form of worship used? If so, that would have excluded Tolkien and at first his son Christopher Tolkien immediately, as they were Catholics in good standing. Up to 1962, this would have meant membership in the real Catholic Church and C. S. Lewis (never an actual Catholic by formal reception in the Church and never expressing a final desire to join it, alas) died in 1963.
His final unitary work, posthumously published (but several essay collections and torsos were published after that) was Letters to Malcolm, chiefly on prayer. In it, he refuses to speak up much on liturgic prayer (since not the right person to say anything), except for one thing, liturgy ought to change only in response to pastors of the Church discovering a doctrinal error in the porevious one, and he said he disliked liturgic changes within Anglicanism, and mentioned Catholics had been complaining about that too.
That sentence was very probably referring to John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. He is known to have detested the liturgic changes brought on in the end by a combination of a Vatican II document (Sacrosanctum Concilium was published after CSL had died, but preceded by some sporadic more cautious experimentation) and its application or misapplication by Antiopope Montini (whom JRRT was accepting as Pope until he died in 1973).
So, Inklings cannot have had common religious ceremonies, perhaps except for meal prayers, if Catholics had a dispensation to say grace with non-Catholics, but arguably they each said grace over a preceding meal before going to the pub or said grace silently each according to his own liturgic tradition. Probably, unlike Chesterton, they did not say grace over the beer.
In other words, joining the Inklings was no sin.
Against this has been alleged that they included Owen Barfield known to be Steinerian, esoteric, but this is because C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield were friends even before C. S. Lewis converted to Christianity. It was Owen Barfield's description of Chronological Snobbery which cured C. S. Lewis of the illusion that Christianity must be wrong because a thing in those days more and more (in England's bourgeoisie) of the past.
It has also been alleged that C. S. Lewis had a duty to avoid Barfield's company and failing that became himself a company to avoid.
I do not think that the duty to avoid freemasons adds up to avoiding people who were one's friends before one converted, and even if it did, I do not think the failure to live up to that supposed duty would constitute a masonic initiation and make C. S. Lewis himself a bad company. Not to mention that if Steinerians were condemned ... yes, they were, by the way, and this may explain quite a lot on why C. S. Lewis did not convert to Catholicism. They were condemned in 1919 as a society or as a doctrine, and that was the year in which C. S. Lewis became Owen Barfield's friend.
Anthroposophy was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in 1919.
This would also explain why Tolkien displayed what C. S. Lewis considered as "jealousy" of Owen Barfield - Tolkien was trying to get his Jack away from Steiner at times. Not that he was really into it. Anyway, when C. S. Lewis became Barfield's friend, he was not yet Christian and could not be expected to obey a condemnation by the Catholic Church. Either way, an Inkling meeting was not a Theosophic ritual or Anthroposophic ritual. Being part of the Inklings was not obviously violating the rules as outlined above by the Catechism.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St. Gregory of Tours