Today’s Fantastic Friday Feature is a man who’s writings have greatly impacted me, and the more I read his books, the more I enjoy them. That man is C.S. Lewis, Christian author and apologist.
Clive Staples Lewis was born November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He had one older brother, Warren, who was his best friend through most of his childhood. Though Lewis was raised in a Christian manner his mother’s death, his father’s stress, and bad influences at school caused him to forsake his faith. It wasn’t until much later, after serving in World War I, that Lewis was reluctantly converted to Theism, and later, to Christianity. As he says in his autobiography Surprised by Joy, “The fox [him] had been dislodged… and was now running in the open, ‘with all the woe in the world’, bedraggled and weary, hounds barely a field behind. And nearly everyone was now (one way or another) in the pack; Plato, Dante, [George] MacDonald, Herbert, Barfield, [J.R.R.] Tolkien, Dyson, Joy itself. Everyone and everything had joined the other side.” Lewis went on to become one of the apologists on the front line, dealing with issues of the day, and defending the faith. He passed on into eternity November 22 of 1963.
There has been some dispute as to whether or not Lewis’s books should be read, due to some of his less-than orthodox views. However, the difference between Lewis and some modern authors is that his theology is not the subject of his books. Lewis confesses that he is no theologian, and the deep thoughts ought to be left to the deep thinkers; he, meanwhile, will be focused on what he calls “Mere Christianity”, the stuff that we all believe and agree with. When his beliefs do come up, they are presented more as his view, not necessarily the end all of truth. I, for one, read his books and thoughts and am drawn closer to Christ because of it. For more on that note, I encourage you to read this blog, “Why Do We Love C.S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell?” (Fantastic title, I know). http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/11/why-do-we-love-c-s-lewis-and-hate-rob-bell/
At any rate, C.S. Lewis wrote many books, poems and stories. I have read a selection of these and I hope that you, dear reader, will add them to your reading list; or, if you have already, pick them up again, for, as Lewis said, “I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”
Perhaps the books Lewis is most famous for is The Chronicles of Narnia, a fantasy series set in the mystical land of Narnia. I am guessing that you, dear reader, have likely heard the name Narnia before, if nothing else, due to the movies that have come out. However, the books are much deeper than the movies; there’s a lot that doesn’t translate to the screen. Though the focus is on seven children during different stories, the driving force behind it all is the great Lion, Aslan. If you have not read this series before, I highly recommend it. It’s appropriate for children of all ages, I think; but that doesn’t mean it’s only for children.
Mere Christianity is the written version of BBC Radio War Time talks that Lewis gave during World War II about the fundamental truths of the Christian faith. Beginning with the Moral Argument, Lewis gives proofs for God’s existence; he then describes Christian morals and ends with a discussion on the Trinity. Lewis has a knack for taking big, theological (and often confusing) truths and boiling them down to simple, layman’s terms. This book is one of the most influential Christian books written in the past 100 years, and I can see why.
My most recent addition to the “have read” list of Lewis books is Surprised by Joy, an autobiography of Lewis’s early life and his conversion to Christianity. Within we see the Master Chessplayer making His moves, as a young agnostic attempts to evade them; eventually the youth is entrapped: Checkmate. Whether you want to know the inner workings of Lewis’s mind or simply want to know how he became a Christian, this is the perfect book.
A fantastic allegory of life on earth, The Great Divorce presents a unique view of Heaven and Hell, where the inhabitants of Hell may ride a bus up to Heaven and see it. Some stay, conquering their lesser desires; others leave Heaven, preferring Hell if they can’t have things their way. This is not meant to be a literal story, but an allegory for how we live our lives now. Are we living with our minds on Heavenly things, focusing our time and energies on things that matter? Or are we living our lives clinging to the smallest trinkets of earth that shall drag us into Hell?
These four are the ones I’ve chosen to specially recommend. I do not want to tire your eyes, dear reader, so I shall not ask you to read my thoughts and summaries on more of Lewis’s books. However, I do wish to recommend a few more to you before you go back to what you were doing before you stumbled upon this page:
The Problem of Pain – Lewis here confronts the age old question, “If God is good, why do we suffer?”
The Screwtape Letters – A selection of letters from an elder demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, giving him tips on how to conquer mankind.
The Weight of Glory – A selection of essays written by Lewis on various subjects; some titles include, “Why I’m Not a Pacifist”, “Learning in War Time”, “On Forgiveness”, and the title essay, “The Weight of Glory”.
The Four Loves – Lewis writes about the four different forms of love that we may have as men. There is actually an audiobook of Lewis reading this himself. I highly recommend it.
On top of these Lewis wrote many more books and essays, which would be too many to list here. All his life, C.S. Lewis tried to be a writer; it wasn’t until after he became a Christian that that dream became a reality. His words are still impacting souls today, and I think they will continue to throughout the generations when many modern authors have been lost and forgotten.