Sheldon Vanauken

Sheldon Vanauken (1914 — 1996) is an American author, best known for his autobiographical book A Severe Mercy (1977), which recounts his and his wife's friendship with C. S. Lewis, their conversion to Christianity and dealing with tragedy. He published a sequel, Under the Mercy in 1985.

recent articles

The Supreme Court and Young Minds

Religion originally designated that which was forbidden because it desecrated the sacred or holy. Incredibly, the sacred itself is becoming taboo, forbidden, unmentionable in this vast land of Federally united smaller nations, or states. Religion is becoming forbidden not because it is the will of the majority of the people but because it is the … Read more

Old Western Man: C.S. Lewis and the Old South (and Other Dinosaurs)

Editor’s note: Sheldon Vanauken took the M.A. at Jesus College, Oxford, and while there met C.S. Lewis. Their subsequent friendship is recounted in his A Severe Mercy. A convert to Catholicism, Vanauken presented this essay as the lecture for Willie Pie’s Day 1993 at the rural Virginian home of Crisis’ executive editor David A. Bovenizer. … Read more

Destination: A Modern Fable

Adam, after an excellent breakfast, strolled into the lounge. An erect, competent-looking man with dark hair, he nodded to the man with whom he had discussed foreign markets the night before in the bar and sank into an easy chair. There were a dozen or so people scattered about the lounge, chatting with each other … Read more

The Undermining Of Friendship: Homosexuality’s Hidden Cost

Among the increasingly uncivil wars tearing the fabric of this country is the war between those motivated by homophilia (affinity or fondness for homosexuals) and those loosely accused of homophobia (fear of or aversion to homosexuals). As always in war, truth is distorted or lost altogether, particularly the truth that there is a large middle … Read more

The Idler: Journey into Mystery

Editor’s note: If you have never read Sheldon Vanauken’s novel Gateway to Heaven (Richelieu Court), reviewed last month by Gregory Wolfe, you should know that the hero and heroine are Richard “Val” Valiance and Mary, whom he marries. Mary, who was crippled as a girl, was brought up in her father’s house in Georgetown. This … Read more

Observations: On Bended Knee—Awe and Mystery in the Mass

Once upon a time, in the dim days beyond recall prior to the Council, the Catholic Church, copied by the Anglicans, was known as a kneeling church. It was also known as a church of “bells and smells.” Protestants or the unchurched who chanced to come to a Mass were simultaneously put off and drawn … Read more

The Death Penalty What Should Be the Christian Attitude?

And may God have mercy on your soul. The judge’s face is quiet and stern as his level voice ceases. Death. The words hang in the air. The courtroom is hushed. Dust motes dance in a bar of sunlight. The jury look down at their laps. A gray-haired woman weeps silently. Somewhere in the distance … Read more

Listening to the Homosexual

The Catholic Church is told repeatedly, sometimes plaintively, sometimes angrily, by homosexuals as well as by supportive priests and even bishops, that it must listen to the homosexual. The earnest demand seems to hint at some great secret that will altogether change our perception of the homosexual. It also carries the faint sug­gestion that the … Read more

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