The Inklings lived in a society that became successively less Christian-a society that more and more resemble our own-but they offer some hope for us in our own fragmented culture.
The Inklings were men who had seen the worst the world has to offer, but who wanted to offer, in contrast, something higher, a vision of a reality we only sometimes glimpse that is as real as any horror, and more eternal. Carol Zaleski summed up the great gift of The Inklings in this way:
We read, Lewis once said, because “we seek an enlargement of our being. We want to be more than ourselves. . . . . We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own.” All literature offers us this gift – it takes us out of ourselves – but mythopoeic literature has a particular power to make spiritual realities imaginatively plausible. That doesn’t mean that religious people need or wish to live in a dream world, lulled by compensatory fantasies. Far from it! If the Inklings succeeded as writers it was because they wedded realism to hope and fantasy to reason.
The Inklings were involved in a great enterprise, and to a larger degree than they might have imagined possible, they created something lasting and important. As the book puts it, “their great hope was to restore Western culture to its religious roots, to unleash the powers of the imagination, to reenchant the world through Christian faith and pagan beauty.” Because they worked largely in fantastic realms, in fantasy and science fiction and faerie, the Inklings were able to approach many real-world issues obliquely, without, as Lewis once put it, “waking the sleeping dragons of reason,” to deal with faith, war, technology, and many other contemporary concerns. The Fellowship does an admirable job of capturing why the Inklings mattered–and of arguing for their ongoing relevance.