C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children

C.S. LewisC.S. Lewis is by far one of my favourite authors and thinkers. His writings were instrumental in my early development as a Christian and they continue to impact me.

When people think of C.S Lewis, they often think of his complex works such as Mere Christianity and Miracles. They are two of my favourites but they don’t give a full picture of who Lewis was.

I have had the chance to read a number of collections of his letters and have really come to appreciate the insight they give us as to who Lewis was. This is especially true of the short little book, C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children.

First, it is amazing that Lewis cared enough to write back to all of these (and this is just a small sample) children who had written to him. You can tell that their letters meant a lot to him and he took it seriously.

But I also find it interesting that he doesn’t just answer their questions, but makes himself vulnerable. Not only does he offer to pray for them, he asks them to pray for him.

The final letter in this collection was typed the day before C.S. Lewis died.

I have met many Christians who long to be an apologist like C.S. Lewis. But what kind of apologist is that? It is not just the kind that could write Mere Christianity and Miracles. It is the kind that could write Letters to Children.

If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, I encourage you to read this short book. It will only take you an hour or two but it will give you valuable insight into this influential Christian thinker.


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C.S. Lewis’ Most Controversial Beliefs

Without a doubt. C.S. Lewis is my favourite Christian author. Although he is popular among evangelicals, some of his beliefs are not without controversy.

Few figures loom larger over the past century of Christianity than C.S. Lewis, whose rare and beautiful coupling of an indomitable mind and a sparkling imagination make for some of the most gripping writing on Christian thought a person could hope to read. If Lewis’ only achievement had been the creation of Reepicheep, it would have secured his place in literature. Fortunately, he did much more. In fact, he did more than most people realize.

Lewis missed the digital age, which means his great body of work is mostly remembered for the parts of it that have been accepted—not for its controversy. Twitter has made controversy the memorable part of today’s public personalities. Any thought leader who expresses an unpopular opinion is likely to be dismissed entirely, their works thrown in a furnace, they themselves banned, excommunicated and sent off to our social media pillories.

But Lewis did have beliefs that would not sit well with today’s audiences. Indeed, if he were around for his work to by hyper-analyzed by the Facebook theologians, he may well have experienced the ostracization so common for our edgier leaders today.

So here is a list of a few of Lewis’ less orthodox beliefs. These are not listed here to suggest that Lewis ought to be held in lower regard or to diminish his legacy. This is not an attempt to rally an anti-Lewis movement.

You can read the full article by Tyler Huckabee for Relevant here.

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C. S. Lewis and the Great War

Like his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis fought in the First World War. Joseph Loconte has written an article on this for the National Review.

In the spring of 1918, Germany and the Central Powers staged a final massive offensive that threatened to overwhelm British and French forces along the Western Front. Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in Europe, issued the order: “Every position must be held to the last man. . . . With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each man must fight to the end.”

One of the young soldiers with his back to the wall was Second Lieutenant Clive Staples Lewis. A confirmed atheist at the time, C. S. Lewis would survive the storm and steel of the First World War. But the experience of war would transform him, launching him on a spiritual journey that culminated, years later, in his conversion to Christianity. He would earn worldwide fame as a Christian apologist and author of a series of children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia, which tell the story of “a great war . . . with all the world looking on,” a battle between the forces of Light and Darkness.

You can read the rest of the article here.


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C.S. Lewis on Prayer

Prayer is an important part of the Christian life. But role does it play? Does prayer accomplish anything or is it just a religious duty?

No one has all the answers, but C.S. Lewis, like with all topics, is able to get to the heart of the matter. I appreciated his comments in this reflection on prayer. This is taken from “The Efficacy of Prayer” from The World’s Last Night and Other Essays.

C.S. LewisThe very question “Does prayer work?” puts us in the wrong frame of mind from the outset. “Work”: as if it were magic, or a machine⏤something that functions automatically. Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adorations its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary⏤not necessarily the most important one⏤from that revelation. What he does is learned from what He is.


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Thoughts on the Last Battle

Last BattleI recently finished rereading The Chronicles of Narnia with the final battle being The Last Battle. A good book (or series of books) is only as good as its conclusion and The Last Battle is a satisfying conclusion to the Narnia stories.

If The Magicians Nephew is the Genesis of Narnia, The Last Battle is Revelation. It tells the final story of the adventures in Narnia, tying together much that had happened in previous stories.

The story begins with an ape who manipulates a donkey into wearing a lion skin, thus pretending to be Aslan. This is used for the simple purpose of power but it quickly spirals out of control. Not only do the Calormenes get involved, but their god Tash (who seems to be some sort of demon) appears as well.

Jill and Eustace, who had been important parts of the Silver Chair, play an important role. We learn that there are actually seven friends of Narnia, including: Lord Digory, Lady Polly, High King Peter, King Edmund, Lord Eustace, Queen Lucy, and Lady Jill. The saddest part of the story is that Susan is not included, as she had stopped believing in Narnia.

This is definitely the darkest of the Narnia stories and I could see some overlaps with the tone of That Hideous Strength from C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy.

That is not to say that it is completely dark. The book ends on a very positive note as Aslan appears. The old Narnia is wiped away but a new Narnia, a better Narnia, a more real Narnia is created. Old friends from throught the series make their appearance. It is one of the clearest portrayals of a Christian worldview in the books.

The Last Battle is worth reading for both children and adults. In a world where people are often talking about the end, it is probably one of the better books to learn from.


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Thoughts on the Silver Chair

Silver ChairLike any series of books, C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia vary in quality. Although they are all good, some are better than others. One of my favourites is The Silver Chair.

This story features Eustace Scrubb, a character introduced in the Voyage of The Dawn Treader. Eustace should get the award for most developed character and greatest improvement in maturity. He moves from one of the least likeable to one of the most likeable characters in the stories. Eustace is joined by a school friend named Jill Pole in his adventure in Narnia.

The mission they are on is to find Prince Rilian, son of King Caspian, who had been missing for some years. The elderly King Caspian attempted to use his last strength to find his son. Thankfully, Aslan called in some help with the two earth children.

The adventures in Narnia are generally fun is a similar way but there is something I especially like about this story. Aslan gives Jill some signs to watch for, so that they will be able to make their away and accomplish their mission. These signs soon leave Jill’s mind and they get into all sorts of trouble that never needed to.

What is good about this is that Aslan is able to work through all their mistakes and disobedience. It is really a story of grace and is a tremendous encouragement to children and adults alike.

I need to also say that the scenes with the giants are great. I love how they are invited for dinner but don’t quite understand what (or who) is on the menu.

Puddleglum is another fun character. He is a pessimist, who not only sees the glass half-empty, he sees it as cracked as well. Despite his gloomy outlook, he is brave on the inside and demonstrates heroism exactly when he needs to.

The Silver Chair definitely ranks up there with Lewis’s best. The next Narnia movie to be made with be The Silver Chair. I hope they do it justice.


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C.S. Lewis: My Life’s Journey

This is a video of David Payne performing his one man play on C.S. Lewis. Enjoy!


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Sexual Morality by C.S. Lewis Doodle

I really appreciate the videos by C.S. Lewis Doodle. They bring C.S. Lewis’s writings to life.


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5 Dead Christians I Would Like to Meet

Christianity has a long and respectable heritage of deep thinkers. I was recently thinking about the Christians of the past and who I would choose as potential conversation partners. I decided to include people outside the Bible. Who would you include in your list?

Augustine


John Wesley


Dietrich Bonhoeffer


C.S. Lewis


Francis Schaeffer


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C.S. Lewis: Christian Reflections – Review

Christian ReflectionsI’m always looking for some more C.S. Lewis to read. So I was quite happy to read a collection of his essays in the book Christian Reflections.

Many of the chapters in this book were originally talks that he gave to a variety of groups. They are on a number of different topics, although all related to Christianity. They include reflections on culture, science, biblical interpretation, ethics and more.

This book is worth reading, not just for the content of the chapters. It is the style of Lewis that we can learn from. There are two things that readers can get from it. One is his clear thinking and careful examination of each subject he tackles. The other is the way he communicates. Lewis knew he had to do more than just pass on information, he need to connect with his audiences.

If you are a C.S. Lewis fan or are interested in becoming a clearer Christian thinker, I recommend Christian Reflections.

 

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Pilgrim’s Regress – Review

Pilgrim's RegressI’m up for reading anything by C.S. Lewis. I have reread a number of his books. But one that I had not read was The Pilgrim’s Regress. I had heard by some that it was boring and even Lewis had described it as one of his least favourite books.

For those that are not familiar with The Pilgrim’s Regress, it is a allegorical description of Lewis’s spiritual journey written in the style of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

Going into the book with low expectations, I actually very much enjoyed it. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that I’m open to the allegorical style.

But another reason is that I was already familiar with Lewis’s story and so I could recognize the actual events represented by the allegory. If I had known nothing about Lewis, I would have found this book very difficult. In addition to reading a number of biographies of Lewis by other authors, I have also recently read Lewis’s autobiography, Surprised by Joy. I think a knowledge of Lewis’s story makes a major difference in understanding The Pilgrim’s Regress.

In the allegory, we read the story of John (C.S. Lewis) on his journey to capture the experience of the island he had seen in his childhood. This represents the joy that Lewis is looking for in Surprised by Joy.

In his journey, he encounters different individuals who represent a number of worldviews that Lewis faced as he made his way from atheism to Christianity. John also is accompanied for much of his journey by Vertue. Having passed through a number of ideologies in my own journey from atheism to Christianity, this allegory really rang true to me.

If you have been intimidated by the allegorical style, I would encourage you to take the chance and read The Pilgrim’s Regress. Despite being written quite a while ago, it accurately represents the spiritual challenge of wrestling with competing worldviews.


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Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?

The problem of suffering is one of the most difficult subjects connected to faith. One of the resources we have in discussing this is C.S. Lewis. Whitney Dotson tackles this in an article in the Christian Herald.

Since we are only very young, we learn to become quite acquainted with physical pain. It exists even before we cut our first tooth, and, while unpleasant, comes as hardly a surprise as we grow older. Psychological and emotional wounds, no matter how common on the other hand, tend to continually jar us. There never seems to be a remedy powerful enough to ease the tears of anxiety or the burden which wreaks havoc on our blood pressure and digestive tracts. Perhaps this is what Saint Paul identified as the thorn in his flesh; perhaps each Christian, individually, must struggle with such a thorn.

You can read the full article here.


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Thoughts on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Voyage of the Dawn TreaderI have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my daughter. We have now read five of the seven books having just completed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Strangely, I have not seen the movie based on it and so I have no idea how close it stayed to the book.

What I can say is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is one of my favourite books in the series. It is far superior to A Horse and His Boy and is right up there with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Part of it is that Lewis is tapping into the ancient genre of the quest. The story keeps the reader’s attention because we want to know what they will find at the end.

The basic plot is that Edmund and Lucy are staying with their relative Eustace, when they are magically transported to Narnia. There they find King Caspian on his way on the quest to find the lost lords who were friends of his father. Each step of the way becomes more bizarre and more dangerous.

I love the character development of Edmund, Lucy and Caspian. Lewis doesn’t just reuse characters, he develops them shows their growing maturity through their adventures. The real miracle, however, is the change in Eustace. His physical change is a symbol of his spiritual and emotional change.

This book also includes some of the most spiritual and Christian content. Near the end, Aslan tells Lucy that he is in their world but under a different name. That is of course Jesus. If the lion form of Aslan didn’t give it away, the lamb form should have. But it seems to be a surprise to Lucy.

The journey to Aslan’s country has always moved me. Lewis’s description of their journey to the world’s end grabs my imagination and I feel like I’m there. It is almost a spiritual experience to read it.

If you have never read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, you really need to. Fiction at its best.


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What C.S. Lewis Can Teach Us About True Love

Love is one of the highest values of our culture. It is the subject of countless songs and stories. But what do we mean by love? Zachary Krueger turns to C.S. Lewis for wisdom on the nature of love.

So I brewed a pot of coffee (the natural starting point of my inquiry), poured a cup and turned to my trusted friend, Clive Staples Lewis, for insight and guidance.

You can find the article here.

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How C.S. Lewis Encouraged J.R.R. Tolkien

Two of my favourite authors are C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Not only were they friends, Tolkien was instrumental in Lewis becoming a Christian. What not as many people know is that Lewis helped encourage Tolkien to complete The Lord of the Rings. Alicia Kort has written an interesting article on their relationship for Newsweek.

A year after Tolkien began teaching at Merton College at Oxford University, he met fellow professor Lewis at a faculty meeting in 1926. But it wasn’t necessarily friendship-at-first-sight. In his diary, Lewis describes Tolkien as “a smooth, pale fluent little chap—no harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” But the pair soon bonded over a shared interest in Norse mythology, from which Tolkien would draw heavily for The Lord of the Rings.

You can find the full article here.

 


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What Does it Mean to Become Like Christ?

James Knight has written an article on Becoming Like Christ.

Lots of writing has had a huge impact on my life – particularly in the fields of philosophy, economics, politics, literature, science and, most pertinent here, theology. Here I want to talk about a particular chapter in C.S Lewis’s Mere Christianity called Let’s Pretend, that I recall at the time (nearly 20 years ago,) made a significant impression on my journey of exploration into Christianity, and was perhaps the piece of writing that shone the most light on the bridge between the Christian faith in theory and the Christian relationship in practice.

You can read the full article here.


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C.S. Lewis on Pain and Suffering

I recently did something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I read together two books by C.S. Lewis on a similar subject. I read both The Problem of Pain and A Grief Observed.

C.S. LewisThe Problem of Pain was written in 1940. It is a solid apologetic treatment of the reasons for suffering. He tackles such issues as the power of God, the goodness of God, animal suffering and hell. It is really a helpful resource for a person interested in the intellectual problem of suffering. It is interesting to note that Lewis originally wanted to publish this under a pseudonym because he was afraid that people would accuse him of not living up to the high standards in the book. His publisher didn’t let him but he does present honesty. He admits the truth to readers that he responds to pain as a coward, despite knowing the theological foundation for suffering.

C.S. LewisLewis returned to the subject of pain in 1961, this time he got his wish to publish A Grief Observed under a pseudonym (N.W. Clerk). Unfortunately this was under less than ideal circumstances. This book was written in response to the death of his wife from cancer. Writing under a pseudonym gave Lewis the freedom to be brutally honest, without any fear of affecting his public reputation. He asks the hard questions and truly pours out his heart in the pages of this book. My thoughts while reading this book was this it was like reading a modern psalm. It was also interesting that giving up the faith was not an option for Lewis. He may have hated what happened to his wife and himself, but rejecting God was not a path he would go down. The process of coming to terms with his own suffering is believable and is void of all Christian cliche.

Which book is better? There is no comparison as they are doing two different things. Both address pain but one from an intellectual perspective and the other from an experiential perspective. They are both good and both should be read. The Problem of Pain is the book to lay a theological foundation from which to understand pain and A Grief Observed is the book to read while going through suffering. Reading these two books together has increased my admiration for C.S. Lewis.

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What If the Chronicles of Narnia Was Released Today?

In this age of information overload, we can sample media sources from every perspective. John Ehrett has put together a hilarious collection of imagined media reactions to the Chronicles of Narnia from the most popular sources today. It is funny because it is true.

You really need to read his Here Are The Media Hottakes We’d See If The Chronicles Of Narnia Were Released This Year. It’s worth the two minutes of your time.

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C.S. Lewis’s View of Women

Randy Alcorn has written an interesting article on C.S. Lewis’s view of women.

In 1949, Lewis sent his five-year-old god-daughter Lucy Barfield the completed manuscript of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with a letter saying, “I wrote this story for you,” which later became the dedication in the printed book. The way he portrays Lucy, as the most spiritually perceptive and good-hearted of the children, is itself a compliment to females—no male character in the Chronicles compares to Lucy in her love for Aslan, nor does Aslan love any character more than Lucy.

You can read the full article here. You can find the book that he refers to here.


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A Hobbit, a Wardrobe and a Great War – Review

Hobbit Wardrobe Great WarIf you were to look at my interests, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and military history would be near the top of my list. Therefore, I was quite pleased to come across A Hobbit, a Wardrobe and a Great War by Joseph Loconte.

Many people know that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have some things in common. Both taught at Oxford, both were Christians, both were part of a literary group called the Inklings and both are known for writing fantasy literature, loved by children and adults alike. What many people do not know is that they both fought in the First World War.

What impact did that conflict have on Lewis and Tolkien? There are definitely nods to Tolkien’s experience in the trenches in his descriptions of Mordor. But there is so much more. Living a century after the events, many do not realize the intellectual shift that took place with this war. Before the war, there was great optimism that human skill and ingenuity could create a heaven on earth. World War One demonstrated that the same knowledge and technology could also create a hell on earth. People, especially in Europe, were confronted unprecedented slaughter.

In this very readable book, Loconte places the war in its cultural and intellectual context. He describes Lewis and Tolkien’s experience in the war but also how a world war shaped their thought world. Lewis and Tolkien reacted to what they had experienced but also what the world had experienced.

A Hobbit, a Wardrobe and a Great War should be required reading for anyone interested in Lewis and Tolkien. This is one of the most interesting books that I have read so far this year.


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Thoughts on Prince Caspian

Prince CaspianI recently finished reading Prince Caspian. I had read it before, but most of my memories of the story come from the movie version. Prince Caspian was the second of the Chronicles of Narnia to be written, although it is the fourth chronologically according to Narnian history. Having reread the book, I enjoyed it much more than the movie (not that the movie was bad).

The basic story is that it is many centuries since the events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Humans have migrated from Earth to Narnia and have conquered it. All memory of old Narnia with its talking beasts and mythical creatures has been removed from history. Young Prince Caspian is the rightful heir to the throne but he is removed by his evil uncle Miraz. Caspian finds himself in the company of some old Narnians and leads a revolt against his uncle.

Things don’t go well for Caspian and so he blows an ancient magical horn that is said to bring help in times of need. This is the same horn that was given to Susan by Father Christmas back in the earlier story. This horn brings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy back to Narnia. Because time runs different in Earth and Narnia, it has not been long for the children but it has been centuries for Narnia.

One of the interesting things about the story is that it is difficult even for the Earth children to see Aslan, especially the older Peter and Susan. Growing into adulthood can make faith more difficult. However, Lucy not only sees Aslan, but sees him as bigger than before.

In many ways, this story represents the post-Christian culture that C.S. Lewis was trying to speak into. Not only do the new Narnians reject belief in Aslan and the kings and queens of Narnia, some of the old Narnians do as well. The old stories are written off as myths and fables. However, the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve are real and respond to the summon for help. And it is Aslan that ultimately brings the victory.

Prince Caspian is definitely one of my favourite books in the series. It is a great story and an insightful reflection on faith in a post-Christian world.

 

 

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Lewis, Tolkien, and the Shadow of War

Both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis served in the First World War. Chris Gehrz has written on this:

Tolkien, older than his future friend by nearly seven years, entered military service first, arriving in France in June 1916 — not quite three months after getting married and mere weeks before the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. “Junior officers were being killed, a dozen a minute,” he remembered. “Parting from my wife then… it was like death.” And while he suffered a severe case of the lice-born ailment known as “trench fever,” Tolkien survived the war. All but one of his best friends, he later recalled, did not.

You can read the full article here.

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The Lion, the Lamb and the Manger

For our family, there are a handful of movies that no Christmas season would be complete without watching together. One of these is the most recent film adaptation of C. S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Perhaps it is the snow, or the fact that Father Christmas makes an appearance, or that one of my daughters, as a little girl, played the part of Lucy one Christmas—maybe it’s all of these things—but whatever the reason, this movie has somehow ensconced itself as a Christmas tradition.
Lewis sets his story in 1940, and introduces us to four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, who are evacuated from war-torn London and sent to live with a kind but mysterious professor in a rambling old house. One afternoon as the children are exploring, they find a room with a timeworn wardrobe. Once the others have left the room, Lucy (the youngest) opens the wardrobe doors and climbs inside, attempting to feel her way to the back of the wardrobe. But instead of the back of the wardrobe, Lucy finds herself  standing in the middle of a wintry wood at nighttime with snow under her feet and snowflakes drifting through the air. She has arrived in the magical Kingdom of Narnia.

You can read the rest of the post by Drew Williams here.

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Always Winter and Never Christmas

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe can be considered a Christmas story because it is set in Narnia, a cursed kingdom where it’s “always winter but never Christmas.” Fortunately, for Narnia, the spell is conquered by the “deep magic from before the dawn of time” and the inhabitants can finally brighten their dark days with a solstice celebration.
Author Clive Staples Lewis spent his life searching for the magic that would break the curse of his darkest days. The despair he sought to overcome may be just what endears fans to this book and earned them such a prominent place in pop culture.

Read the full post by Joan MacDonald here.

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Thoughts on The Horse and His Boy

Horse and His BoyI have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia to my youngest daughter. I have decided to read them in chronological order rather than publication. So we read the Horse and His Boy third, even though it was the fifth one published. That is because it takes place during the events of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I read all of the books years ago, but I find that I have forgotten much. However, of the three books that I have re-read, the Horse and His Boy is so far my least favourite. That is not to say it is a bad story or that I didn’t enjoy it. C.S. Lewis, even at his worst, is still brilliant.

I would say that I enjoyed it less than the others because it feels the least like a Narnian book. Much of it takes place outside of the country of Narnia and the main characters are not from England. In many ways, it feels like a non-Narnia story inserted into the Narnian world. Sort of like what Tolkien did with Tom Bombadil.

One of the things that I found strange is the presence of the human cultures. During the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Witch seemed surprised to discover humans. You don’t get the sense that the Witch would encounter other humans from the south. The humans in Prince Caspian make more sense because it takes place many years after the defeat of the Witch.

That is not to say I didn’t like the book. It was enjoyable and I found the characters quite interesting. I’m glad I read it, even if it didn’t feel very Narnian.

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What Narnia Teaches Us About the Star of Bethlehem

The following is an article written by Mark Woods for Christian Today.

In CS Lewis’ novel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund, Lucy and their obnoxious cousin Eustace fall into the magical world of Narnia again through a painting on their wall of a ship at sea. It’s the Dawn Treader, and on board is Prince Caspian. They have all sorts of exciting adventures before they arrive safely home again.
One of them involves a meeting with a friendly wizard on an island inhabited by invisible monopods. Another is when they are almost at the end of the world, and they meet a strange old man and his daughter. Every day a bird brings the man something like a live coal and puts it in his mouth. It is a fire-berry from the valleys in the sun, and every day it takes away a little of his age.
It turns out that he is a “retired star”, who set for the last time and was carried to the island to grow young again. The wizard, Koriakin, turns out to have been a star as well, exiled to his island as a punishment.

You can read the rest of the article here.


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A Critical Look at the Last Battle

I’m currently reading through the Chronicles of Narnia for the second time, the first time having been about ten years ago. So far, I’m only four books into the series (I won’t go into the order here). My memories of the final book, Last Battle are vague.

However, Shane Morris has recently written a post on why this is his least favourite book.

I am a lifelong Narnia fan. I treasure these books, constantly refer to them, and still mysteriously get something in my eye when Aslan explains the Deeper Magic from Before Time. C. S. Lewis was simply a master world-weaver, and Narnia is Lewis par excellence. So I don’t make this confession lightly. But I’ve stayed in the closet (wardrobe?) for too long. Here goes:
I’ve always found “The Last Battle” disappointing.

You can read the rest of the article here.


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3 Things You Didn’t Know About C.S. Lewis

John Blake has written a post on C.S. Lewis at the CNN Belief Blog. You may discover that there is much that you didn’t know about C.S. Lewis.

He looked like a “red-faced pork butcher in shabby tweeds,” lived secretly with a woman for years and was so turned on by S&M that he once asked people at a party whether he could spank them.
We’re talking, of course, about C.S. Lewis, the Christian icon and author of classics such as “Mere Christianity” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
It’s tempting to remember Lewis only as the self-assured defender of Christianity who never met an argument he couldn’t demolish. His death 50 years ago, on November 22, 1963, was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He has since become a patron saint of American evangelicals.
But the actual man whom friends called “Jack” had a “horrible” personal life, thought he had failed as a defender of Christianity and spent so much time in pubs that his publishers initially struggled selling him to a religious audience, scholars say.

You can read the rest of the article here.

 

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C.S. Lewis and the Art of Disagreement

We live in a world where disagreements are sharp and people are easily offended. Does C.S. Lewis have anything to teach us on this? Michael Ward has written an interesting post for the Intercollegiate Review.

As a fellow of one of the colleges at the University of Oxford, I have the responsibility of being senior member (faculty supervisor) of two student-run societies, the C. S. Lewis Society, a literary and theological discussion group, and Oxford Students for Life, a group that aims to promote a culture in which the unborn, the disabled, the terminally ill, and other vulnerable minorities have a place.
In recent years, the pro-life group has discovered how deeply people at Oxford disagree not only with its viewpoint but also with its very right to exist and hold meetings. On one occasion, the group had permission to stage a debate on abortion rescinded at just a few hours’ notice because of a threat of disruption from students who objected to their college hosting such a discussion.

You can read the rest of the article here.

 

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How J.R.R. Tolkien Led C.S. Lewis to Christianity

“I’ve always been so impressed with how J.R.R. Tolkien led his atheist friend C.S. Lewis toward faith in Christianity,” begins Tim Keller in the video clip below. He says Tolkien explained to Lewis that the fulfillment of human longings (eternal love, triumph over evil, heroic sacrifice, life out of death) that we find in beautiful stories—the stories Lewis loved so much—can be found in reality.

You can find the rest of the article here.

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The Art of the Thank You Note

David C. Downing has written an interesting post on being thankful at the official C.S. Lewis website.

On the subject of thanksgiving, C. S. Lewis believed we should be grateful for all the fortunes that come our way, both good and bad. It is easy, of course, to be grateful for the good things in our lives. But Lewis felt that we should be equally thankful for bad fortune, for that is what “works in us patience, humility, the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country” (Collected Letters 2, 869).

You can read the rest of the article here.

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C.S. Lewis and Rational Argument

In this opening lecture on “C.S. Lewis and the Rational Argument”, Professor Alister McGrath, the author of a recent biography of C.S. Lewis, explores the role that rational, philosophical argumentation played throughout Lewis’s life, before and after his conversion to Christianity. The lecture is followed by questions from the audience.

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The Power of Conversation: A Lesson from C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

A major part of C.S. Lewis’s conversion came from a conversation he had with J.R.R. Tolkien. Brett and Kate McKay have written an interesting article on this event and the example it gives for the power of conversation.

It is the evening of September 19, 1931.

Three men stroll down Addison’s Walk, a picturesque footpath that runs along the River Cherwell on the grounds of Oxford’s Magdalen College. Two of the men — C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien — are particularly engaged with one another, deep inside an animated discussion on the nature of metaphor and myth.

While both men are 30-something war veterans, teach and lecture at Oxford colleges, and share a love of old literature, the two friends are in many ways a study in contrasts. Lewis has a ruddy complexion and thickly set build. His clothes are loose and shabby. His voice booms as he speaks. Tolkien is slender, dresses nattily, and speaks elusively. Lewis is more brash; Tolkien more reserved.

Besides differences in personality, the men are divided by something more fundamental: Tolkien has been a faithful Catholic since childhood, while Lewis has been a committed atheist since the age of 15.

You can read the full article here.

C.S. Lewis J.R.R. Tolkien

 

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Lewis and Tolkien: An Epic Friendship

There were many things that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had in common, including a love of literature, brilliant minds, gifted writing and Christian faith. One of the other things that they had in common is that they both served in World War One.

Paul Glader interviews Joseph Loconte, author of A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918, for American Legion magazine. You can find the article here.

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The Three Parts of Morality by C.S. Lewis Doodle



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C.S. Lewis: His Theology and Philosophy

How would you like to take a course on C.S. Lewis? You can find one on the BiblicalTraining website for free. It is taught by Dr. Michael L. Peterson. You can find it here.


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Men Without Chests by C.S. Lewis

Men Without Chests is the first chapter of C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. C.S. Lewis Doodle does another fantastic job of presenting Lewis’s thoughts in a fresh way.


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A Crash Course in C.S. Lewis

Have you always wanted to know more about C.S. Lewis? Ken Samples has written a blog post that offers a crash course on C.S. Lewis. You can find it here. I encourage you to browse his blog and discover some of the other posts in his crash course series.


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Thoughts on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

For many people, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is the Chronicles of Narnia. It was likely the success of this first book (in publication order) that called for the rest of the series. In the same way, the movie for this book was successful enough for them to make more movies.

This is definitely one of C.S. Lewis’s best book, including his non-fiction. It may be that the attraction of this story is because this is the book that most closely follows the Christian story of all in the series.

As I read this book to my daughter, I was again moved by the description of the death and resurrection of Aslan. Although not identical to the story of Jesus, Lewis captures the emotion of the passion and presents it in a fresh way.

However, this book deserves to be read for more than just that part. I love the sense of wonder as Lucy, and then her siblings, enter into Narnia. I can see why many argue that this should be read first and not the Magician’s Nephew. We are meant to discover Narnia and Aslan along with the children.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will continue to be a classic of both children’s literature and Christian reflection.


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5 Books That Every Christian Should Read

Christianity has a long and rich history of talented and insightful writers. We are blessed with thousands and thousands of excellent books. I would like to share what I think are five books that all Christians should read. Some are listed not because they are the best of Christian literature but because they teach basic skills that all Christians need.

  1. City of God by Augustine. Augustine is one of the greatest theologians to ever live. The City of God is a classic both of theology and western literature. It is not the easiest book to read and I wouldn’t start with it, but all Christians should read it.
  2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. There are more complex and detailed works of apologetics and yet Mere Christianity will remain the gold standard. This book may have influenced more conversions than any other modern books.
  3. How to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart. There may be better books on hermeneutics out there, but this book explains biblical interpretation in a clear and easy to understand way that is not matched by any other book. The ability to understand the Bible in context may be one of the greatest needs today.
  4. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey. The western church experiences constant temptation to recreate Jesus a western figure. This book by talented biblical scholar helps us to see Jesus in his Middle Eastern context. After reading this book, you will never see Jesus the same again.
  5. Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. Discipleship includes the gaining of knowledge but there is much more to it. Discipleship should be a transformation into a more Christ-like life. This classic of spiritual formation is filled with insight that is challenging but encouraging.

What books would you add to this list?

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C.S. Lewis: Atheist to Christian

One of the things attractive about C.S. Lewis’s story is his journey from atheism to Christianity. You can learn about his experience in this video.


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The World’s Last Night by C.S. Lewis Doodle


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Men Without Chests Threaten Civilization

It is incredible how C.S. Lewis’s writings continue to speak to us today and seem increasing relevant to our world. Chris Banescu has written an interesting article for American Think that you might enjoy.

Mid-twentieth-century C. S. Lewis witnessed and wrote about the increasing moral breakdown and intellectual decay of Western civilization.  He observed how secular and atheistic academics, philosophers, politicians, intellectuals, and cultural elites abandoned reason, denied universal truths, undermined Christian doctrines, and rejected moral principles that formed the foundation of civilized society.  “Lewis walked our cultural ground,” explained Chris R. Armstrong.  “He lived, as we do, in a society that denied objective value; lacked a coherent social ethic; wallowed in instant gratification, sexual license, moral evasion, and blame-shifting; and failed to pass on a moral framework to its children.”

You can find the rest of the article here.


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C.S. Lewis on Self-Interest and Selfishness

Is there a difference between self-interest and selfishness? Art Lindsley has written an article on C.S. Lewis’s position for the Washington Times.

C.S. Lewis wrote much about the tension between self-interest and selfishness, offering renewed clarity on these topics. To Lewis, there is a huge difference between self-interest and selfishness, and there is a proper place for self-interest in our lives.

You can find the full article here.

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C.S. Lewis on Reading Old Books

Old Books

C.S. Lewis couldn’t have predicted the details of this digital age and yet his wisdom might be exactly what we need to hear right now. Justin Dyer has written a very interesting article on this for Forbes.

In our mass democratic culture, where majority sentiment ruthlessly limits the moral and intellectual horizon, reading old books is especially important. Our only palliative to the pressures of the present outlook, Lewis concluded, “is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only be reading old books.”

You can find the full article here.


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Thoughts on the Magician’s Nephew

Although I have read the Chronicles of Narnia some years ago, I’m currently reading through them again with my daughter. I’m sure I’m enjoying the stories as much as, if not more than, my daughter.

Magician's Nephew

I decided to read them in chronological order instead of publication order and thus started with The Magician’s Nephew. The Magician’s Nephew was actually the sixth of the seven books published and it made its appearance in 1955. I suppose this book would be one of the first of what we now call a prequel.

The Magician’s Nephew is not talked about as often as some of the other books in the series and I’m not sure that they will be making a movie of it anytime soon. Still it is one of my favourites in the chronicles.

One of my favourite parts of the concern young Digory Kirke has for his sick mother’s health and the temptations he experiences to find a cure. I also liked how Uncle Andrew is so corrupted that he could not understand the speech of the animals in Narnia. What Uncle Andrew heard when Aslan spoke was much different from what the children heard. I love the transformation of Frank, from a seemingly low member of society, to the king of Narnia. Lewis really works his magic in the description of these characters.

Although I like reading the book in chronological order, I can understand why some people do not. When one reads The Lion, the Witch in the Wardrobe, there should be the same sense of discovery in learning about Aslan as the children experience.

One of the things that I notice in reading the first two books (chronologically) is that the white witch comes across a bit differently. Reading the second book, it seems as if Jadis had always been in Narnia, while the first book reveals she came from Charn, a world in which she had killed everyone. The second book also describes her as half-giant and half-djinn, something not mentioned in the first. I get the picture that Lewis was not overly concerned about continuity.

Still, it is a fantastic book and deserves to be included not just as one of the best children’s stories but one of the best fantasy novels in general.

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C.S. Lewis and Natural Law

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

Many fans of C.S. Lewis never get around to reading his Abolition of Man and yet it has been a very influential book. Justin Dyer writes an interesting article on C.S. Lewis and natural law and objective values for the National Review.

Ayn Rand, the Russian-born libertarian novelist and playwright, had no love for C. S. Lewis, whom she described in the margins of her copy of The Abolition of Man (1943) as “abysmal scum” and a “cheap, awful, touchy, social-metaphysical mediocrity.” In Abolition, ranked seventh on National Review’s list of the greatest non-fiction books of the 20th century, Lewis defended the objective reality and practical importance of such metaphysical concepts as beauty and goodness.

You can read the full article here.


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Why is C.S. Lewis Popular Among Evangelicals?

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is a hero to many evangelicals. But the reason for this is not very obvious. Lewis by no means fits the typical evangelical mould.

David Russell Mosley, an ex-evangelical and now catholic, has written an interesting article on this surprising popularity.

Lewis was seen as something of an evangelical hero. His work in apologetics particularly making him popular, and is probably one of the many sources for the wrong-headed opinion that the Chronicles of Narnia are an allegory. Still, as time has gone by, I’ve begun to question the evangelical love for Lewis and many, though certainly not all (or not to the same degree), of the Inklings.

You can find the full article here.


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Alister McGrath on the Life of C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

Of all the books on C.S. Lewis that I have read, one of my favourites is C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath. In this video, McGrath talks a bit about Lewis and why he wrote this book.


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C.S. Lewis’s Approach to Apologetics

Although C.S. Lewis had many talents, his apologetics writing is what attracts quite a few of his fans. Jerry Roots leads a seminar on C.S. Lewis’s approach to apologetics found on the Bethinking website.

You can find the audio for the seminar here.


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The Philosophical Journey of C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

How much do you know about the philosophical journey of C.S. Lewis? Glenn J. Giokaris has written an interesting essay on this topic.

As many people who have read the life story of C.S. Lewis realize, at one time he was an atheist. However, for the most part, that is all that anyone knows. In most cases, there is an unavoidable absence of material. He goes from an atheist in 1915 to a Christian in 1931 by way of fraternizing with men like J.R.R. Tolkien. Although this is indeed very true and in many respects very important in the conversion of C.S. Lewis to Christianity, it is not the complete story. Instead, it is important to view the conversion of C.S. Lewis within the context of the world around him. For Clive Staples Lewis was caught in a time of great philosophical debate at Oxford and England as a whole. Consequently, to better understand C.S. Lewis and his gradual conversion to Christianity, one must examine the philosophical battle between realism and idealism that was raging within Oxford. This battle eventually led Lewis down a road that caused him to reject both ideologies in favor of Christianity.

You can find the full article here.

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How Hollywood Reinvented C. S. Lewis

I remember when the movie Shadowlands came out a number of years ago. As a huge C.S. Lewis fan and someone who enjoys Anthony Hopkins’s acting, I was pretty excited. While it was a good movie, I remember being confused by the end of it. The picture of Lewis in this movie did not seem to fit with what I knew of Lewis. I had even read some of his letters from after his wife died, and he did not seem as pessimistic toward God as the movie portrayed.

John G. West, Jr. has written an essay on this called, How Hollywood Reinvented C. S. Lewis in the Film “Shadowlands.” You can find it here.

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How Serious Are You About Studying Tolkien and Lewis?

Signum University

Are you a diehard fan of Tolkien and Lewis? Do you wish that you could do some serious study of them and related topics? It is possible.

There is a school called Signum University that offers an online MA in Language & Literature. This school was founded by Corey Olsen, popularly known as the Tolkien Professor. They offer some amazing courses that any Tolkien or Lewis fan would love. They also have courses in Latin, Harry Potter and Science Fiction. How fun is that?

I do need to say that this degree is not currently accredited. I can’t promise that an MA from this school will make you an English professor at a university. But when you factor in that it is online and quite affordable, it is definitely worth it as a learning opportunity.

Even if you are not prepared to do graduate studies, if you go to their website, you will find all sorts of resources that you will love. It is definitely worth checking out.

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C.S. Lewis and Conservative Politics

Jacob Lupfer has responded to Peter Wehner’s recent post about C.S. Lewis and politics. Here is a short sample:

Instead of claiming Lewis would be for an idealized vision of the religious right, they should acknowledge where they’ve missed the mark. Wehner’s op-ed comes across a little like, “My pals and I totally get it and are Lewis’ true political heirs, but all those old-guard religious right guys and latter-day Trump apologists ruined it for us.”

You can find the full article here.

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C.S. Lewis and Politics

Even the person normally not interested in politics is thinking about it these days. We are all looking for wisdom. Is it possible that we could learn from C.S. Lewis in our time of need?

Peter Wehner recently wrote an interesting piece on The Political Magic of C.S. Lewis for the New York Times. It is worth reading.


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Why Wasn’t C.S. Lewis Roman Catholic?

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis was by no means anti-Roman Catholic. He had a number of very close friends who were Catholic, not least of whom was J.R.R. Tolkien. Despite his deep respect and love for Catholics, Lewis chose to be an Anglican rather than a Roman Catholic.

Melissa Cain Travis has written a very interesting post on why Lewis was not a Roman Catholic. It is worth a read.

I’ve done quite a bit of biographical reading on Lewis, and one of the things I love about him is how well he related to Christians of other traditions. He truly lived out his “mere Christianity” philosophy, which so beautifully reflects Christ’s heart for the universal church. It is a philosophy that I strive to emulate both professionally and on a personal level. As a champion for the mere Christianity ethos, Lewis very rarely wrote publicly about why his chosen “room” of Christendom was Anglicanism, or why he chose Protestantism over Roman Catholicism. However, he carried out private conversations and correspondence with his academic colleagues, acquaintances, and friends who were Roman Catholic laypersons or clergy about why he was so firmly Protestant. Importantly, he did so without being argumentative and with admirable graciousness.

You can find the full post here.

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Real Maturity, C.S. Lewis and Imagination

Barnabas Piper has written a very interesting post on the role of imagination in maturity.

C.S. Lewis

Healthy maturity is that which knows when and how to be childlike. A child might interrupt her parents to blurt out a seemingly random question about fruit flies or bodily functions or Barbie dolls or why the iPad won’t work because she’s too immature to recognize the discourtesy. A mature adult might have the same question but knows when and how to ask it so as not to disrespect or disrupt others.

Children love fairy tales, adventure stories, mystic lands, and heroic characters that launch their imagination and turn a backyard into Middle Earth, a swing set into Hogwarts, a rocking chair into a TIE fighter, and a bunk bed into a Captain Hook’s ship. Every stick is a wand or weapon and every towel a cape. Children embody their heroes in their play and live out the lives of legends. Mature adults love the same stories, are moved by the same heroes, and lose themselves in the same far-away places but without the towel-capes and slat board swords. (I’ll leave you, dear reader, to interpret what this might mean for ComicCon and Cosplay fans.) Many of us call these stories “guilty” pleasures. We indulge them privately and feel a bit sheepish about it.

You can find the full article here.

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C.S. Lewis: A Life

C.S. LewisBy far the greatest influence on me, both as a Christian and as an apologist is C.S. Lewis. I was fortunate to discover him very early on in my Christian walk and he has helped to shape my thinking in many ways.

I have been doing research recently on Lewis, reading both his works and books about him. One of the books that came my way was C.S. Lewis: A Life by Alister McGrath. Having read a number of books about Lewis, I wasn’t sure what McGrath would have to add. I’m glad that didn’t stop me.

This was one of the best books that I have read about C.S. Lewis. McGrath has so thoroughly researched Lewis that I now feel like I knew almost nothing before reading this book. McGrath really interacts with the historical and literary material, fleshing out what many fans consider a familiar story.

Some may struggle with certain aspects of the book. While McGrath obviously has tremendous respect for Lewis, this book is not designed as hero worship. McGrath presents a Lewis who is no saint, but who experienced God in the midst of his own weaknesses and struggles. Lewis’s relationship with Mrs. Moore and Joy Davidson are presented as being very complex and at points, disturbing. This need not tarnish Lewis, as the reader can appreciate him as a real human being, who is not so different from us.

McGrath’s writing style makes the book easy to read and it is filled with photos that help bring the reader into Lewis’s experiences. I particularly appreciated McGrath’s depth of exploring Lewis’s relationship with Tolkien. Numerous questions that I always had about Lewis, were answered in this book.

If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, I highly recommend that pick up a copy of C.S. Lewis: A Life. Although I have not read it (yet), you might also want to consider McGrath’s The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis.

 

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C.S. Lewis’s Surviving BBC Radio Talks

One of C.S. Lewis’s most popular and influential books is Mere Christianity. Mere Christianity was published in 1952, but what many people do not know is that the book is based on a number of talks that Lewis gave on the BBC during World War Two. Unfortunately, most of those recordings have been destroyed.

Thankfully, some has survived and can be found in the following two videos. Please ignore the bad spelling in the introduction to the video and enjoy the voice of C.S. Lewis. If you want to hear more C.S. Lewis, you can hear him read the text of his book, The Four Loves.


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The Essential C.S. Lewis

Essential C.S. LewisI have read many of C.S. Lewis’ most popular books but there are plenty of his writings that I have not read. That’s why I was happy to pick up a copy of The Essential C.S. Lewis, edited by Lyle W. Dorsett.

This collection includes portions of many of Lewis’ writings from a wide range of genres. The reader will get a taste of his apologetics, philosophy, fiction, sermons, poetry and literary criticism. It also includes some of his letters.

This book also includes the full text of Perelandra (from the Space Trilogy), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Abolition of Man.

As I read this book, my respect and appreciation for Lewis only grew. He was brilliant in so many areas and not just the few subjects he is quoted in sermons and blogs. There is a reason that Lewis is still admired so much.

If you have only had a taste of Lewis or if you want to introduce someone to Lewis, I highly recommend The Essential C.S. Lewis.

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C.S. Lewis: Lightbearer in the Shadowlands

C.S. LewisI have been doing some research into the life and writings of C.S. Lewis and one of the books that I came across was C.S. Lewis: Lightbearer in the Shadowlands, edited by Angus Menuge. The focus of the book is the evangelistic vision of Lewis.

It is an older book, coming out a few years after the Shadowlands movie about C.S. Lewis came out. In fact the first chapter responds to the movie, points out the errors but also notes how it increased interest in Lewis as well as playing a role in some people’s faith journey.

The book is divided into four sections:

  • The Motivation: The Influence and Potential of Lewis’s Evangelism
  • The Explanation: Why Was Lewis Such an Effective Evangelist?
  • The Technique: Making Christianity Plausible
  • The Argument: Defending the Faith

Each chapter is written by a scholar who knows Lewis’s work well and able to draw relevant conclusions for the church today. I found the book to very readable and it strengthened my already strong interest in Lewis.

Unfortunately the book is now out of print, but that also means you can get a copy at a reasonable price. If your are interested in C.S. Lewis, I highly recommend this book.

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‘Right & Wrong’ – A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe by C.S. Lewis

 


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