Happy Birthday - C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis was an intellectual giant, & arguably the most influential Christian writer of our day. He was a Fellow & Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954 when he was elected to the Chair of Medieval & Renaissance English at Cambridge. He wrote more than 30 books, allowing him to reach a broad audience from children to scholars.
Mr. Lewis has been one of my favorite writers since I was little. I started reading the Narnia series & have been entralled by his wrinting ever since. He has a way with words that few writers or speakers have. A favorite example of this is when he says that we are content to play in the mud when God offers us a holiday at the sea.
Most people are aware of Mr. Lewis' more popular works - Mere Chriatianity, The Chronicles of Narnia, & The Screwtape Letters - and those are works that should be on everyone's have read or to read list. Today, I would like to highlight 3 of my favorites - A Grief Observed, Till We All Have Faces, & The Great Divorce.

In A Grief Observed, Mr. Lewis deals with the loss of his wife to cancer. Many are familiar with this work & this story & a wonderful portrayal of this story is called Shadowlands (starring Anthony Hopkins & Debra Winger). The book is a gut-wrenching journal-like book which shows the agony & heartbreak of a man broken. This little book has helped me tremendously through my past pain & grief. Quote of the book -

"Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself & turn to Him with gratitude & praise, you will be - or so it feels - welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, & what do you find? A door slammed in your face, & a sound of bolting & double bolting on the inside. And after that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity & so very absent a help in time of trouble?"

A lesser known work of Mr. Lewis is Till We Have Faces. This is a novelization of the classical myth of Cupid & Psyche. Mr. Lewis said this about the rationale behind the retelling of the myth - "The idea of re-writing the old myth, with the palace invisible, has been in my mind ever since I was an undergraduate and it always involved writing through the mouth of the elder sister. I tried it in all sorts of verse-forms in the days when I still supposed myself to be a poet. So, though the version you have read was very quickly written, you might say I’ve been at work on Orual for 35 years. Of course in my pre-Christian days she was to be in the right and the gods in the wrong." Go here for a plot summary from Wikipedia.

The Great Divorce takes the reader on a bus ride which travels through heaven & hell. In the preface of the book, Mr/ Lewis writes, "But what, you ask, of earth? Earth I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself."
The interesting thing that Mr. Lewis paints regarding Hell is that there is no community life. I found The Great Divorce not only wildly entertaining to read, but also profound in it's thought.

C.S. Lewis, for me, always provoked my thinking & helped me grasp concepts I might otherwise have never understand. I hope that if you ahve not become aquainted with his writings, that this will spur you on to visit both his popular & under-the-radar titles. Visit the Wikipedia article for further information on C.S. Lewis

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