Faith · Literature

Lessons from the Life of C. S. Lewis (part 1)

I’m listening to an audiobook on the life and writing of C. S. Lewis.

You know, for fun, over summer break.

The book is C. S. Lewis — A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Dr. Alister McGrath. It was published in 2013, honoring the 50th anniversary of Lewis’s passing.

(P.S. – I’m not receiving any payment for advertising this book, mostly because I’m not savvy enough to know how to make that happen. Lol. But, hey, if you are, send me a message.)

The audiobook began with an interview of the book’s author, Dr. McGrath. He talks about the intensive research he did on the life of Lewis, reading basically everything Lewis has written. A primary source of information were letters written by Lewis. The interviewer and author both commented on the dying art of letter writing and the struggle future historians will have lacking these sources.

The job of a researcher, biographer, or historian is to objectively piece together evidence left from someone’s life and develop as complete of a picture as possible of who that person was, what they valued, and the impact they made. This comment started me thinking – what will future historians use to piece together our lives? Social media maybe? And, what do my social media pages say about me as a person? Do I want to be remembered that way? The evidence Lewis left behind showed a man who wrestled with his beliefs, but committed himself intellectually, academically, and artistically to them in the midst of the struggle.

“Lewis the Christian writer and apologist, concerned to communicate and share his rich vision of the intellectual and imaginative power of the Christian faith — a faith he discovered in the middle of his life and found rationally and spiritually compelling.” (Preface)

 

Lewis was drawn to Christianity from a place of skepticism, and much of his apologetic work came from the questions he himself wrestled with. Lewis is also widely known for his friendship with J. R. R. Tolkien. The two were part of an organically formed writing community that allowed the writers freedom to collaborate and develop some of their best known works. What Lewis and Tolkien were able to accomplish is perfectly captured in the quote above from McGrath – they were able to engage their faith intellectually and imaginatively in a way that gave power to their beliefs.

We need a new generation of C. S. Lewis’s and J. R. R. Tolkien’s. We need Christian writers who engage their imagination and intellect and use both to write stimulating fiction that is neither trite nor morally base. Lewis and Tolkien were both able to write novels that neither compromised artistic expression nor their biblical worldview. They conveyed absolutes. They did it in a way that was relatable, entertaining, and thoughtful. They avoided crude humor, profanity, and sexual depictions – and were completely authentic in their portrayal of humanity. And before you start thinking, “It was a different time,” or “Standards have changed,” or “It was easier back then,” look up some of their contemporaries. Remember that they were writing during a time of world wars. Both authors were able to turn the agony of battle, terrors of war, and skepticism of politics into vehicles to drive man closer to God and closer to truth. I look at them, and feel inspired. And intimidated. My prayer is that I can use my limited talents in the same manner as these men used  their great talents.

I honestly don’t know IF I will be remembered long after my death. But I do know HOW I want to be remembered. As someone who used what God gave me to bring God glory.

C. S. Lewis on Literature

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