I’m interviewing author CJS Hayward today, the author of creative non-fiction / religion / spirituality “The Best of Jonathan’s Corner”.
Q: Please tell us about yourself.
That’s right now; in general, across the years, I am very impressed by the parable at the end of Matthew 25:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” Then shall they also answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” Then shall he answer them, saying, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
My book is a collection across twenty years of my favorite works of theology. If there is anything of lasting value that I have produced–and I say if–there is a good chance it’s included here.
It’s worth taking the time to flip through and explore. Not that you have to read all of it, but I think most readers would find something of value for at least some of the creations gathered together.
Q: What inspired you to write The Best of Jonathan’s Corner?
Individual works went through a rough process of inspiration, catching fire from some spark and then being fanned into a flame. The spark might be an irritation, or might be a realization of something in greater depth than I had understood it before. But in either case something crystallizes, and I try to bring it into a full-fledged work.
In another interview I had talked about the first of my “inspired” works, Religion Within the Bounds of Amusement, and the most recent, “Social Antibodies” Needed: A Request of Orthodox Clergy.
Here, I would particularly mention The Arena, and to a lesser extent Apprentice gods. Both of them were written with a profound sense that life in this world is not self-contained: it is an apprenticeship to eternal realities. And going with some awareness of this dimension is better than being completely oblivious.
Q: How much time per week do you spend writing/editing your work?
At the moment, nothing. Overall, a couple of hours a week; I know all the advice speaks for a regular discipline of writing but I have found my discipline only in responding to at least a seed of inspiration, not something I can command of my own.
C.S. Lewis would be one. I owe him a great deal, even as I depart from him in A Pilgrimage from Narnia, and he probably formed me as an author more than anything else.
St. John Chrysostom is probably, of the authors I am presently reading in the Ante-Nicene Fathers and Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers collections, the one I would most seek to emulate.
Lastly, I would like to meet Plato. Platonism, including neo-Platonism, is some of the best philosophy ever written, and while I would hear suggestions that the Bhagavad-Gita, or possibly the Tao Te Ching, are worth considering alongside Plato, the great figures of modernism and post-modernism simply do not stack up to the neo-Platonism that was at once the air breathed by Church Fathers and the main shadow they were wrestling with. I’ve heard people say that the Church Fathers used the best philosophical resources of their day, meaning neo-Platonism, and we should follow their lead by using the best philosophical resources of our day, meaning some form of continental philosophy. But I honestly consider the best philosophical resources available to us to still be neo-Platonism, and I note that those enthusiastic to embrace “the best philosophical resources of our day” never seem to give continental philosophy the same caution and even rebellion with which Church Fathers received neo-Platonism. There is a difference between the best philosophical resources of an age and those which are most in vogue.
OK, enough crankiness. Or almost enough. I’ve been at times very deeply influenced by the Tao Te Ching and understand why other Orthodox writers would write Christ the Eternal Tao. And I could easily see St. Maximus Confessor discussing ascetical struggles with the guru who wrote my (commentary on) the Bhagavad-Gita. But the moderns and postmodern seminal works do not stack up!
Some of the pieces in The Best of Jonathan’s Corner are Socratic dialogue modeled after the genre of Plato’s dialogues. These include The Damned Backswing, Singularity, and Plato: The Allegory of the… Flickering Screen?, which very lightly adapts Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” to discuss an imitation of an imitation in technologically mediated experience.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I’m not writing much besides things connected with my blog tour; I’m trying to work my way into a regular job. Again, I’d really like to be on something more exalted, but right now I’m working on regular employment.
But I invite you to read The Best of Jonathan’s Corner!
About The Book
Author: CJS Hayward
Genre: Creative non-fiction / many genres / religion and spirituality / Eastern Orthodox
The Best of Jonathan’s Corner, newly expanded after getting five star reviews, is a collection of varied works of Eastern Orthodox mystical theology. It spans many topics and many different genres of writing, but it keeps coming back to the biggest questions of all. It is inexhaustible: the works are independent, and you can read a few, many, or all of them to suit your taste. Fans of CS Lewis and GK Chesterton will love it.
Some have asked, “If a much lesser C.S. Lewis were Orthodox, what would he be like?” And the answer may well be, “C.J.S. Hayward.”
Hayward has lived in the U.S., Malaysia, England, and France, and holds master’s degrees bridging math and computers (UIUC), and philosophy and theology (Cambridge).