I am an avid reader. I think most of you who read this blog know that. And I enjoy good conversations with my many friends and colleagues who are avid readers as well. We will often refer to authors when we preach and teach. We know that these authors are not always so familiar to you, so I decided that I will do an occasional post on the authors who have influenced me and whose insights inevitably are woven into sermons and all kinds of lessons.
I do have favorite authors and quite a few of them, but none of them stand higher or are more prevailing than C.S. Lewis.
Lewis is a favorite author for evangelicals around the world.
Whether it is the children’s (and adult) stories known as The Chronicles of Narnia, or the witty revealing of how the devil works against us in The Screwtape Letters, or the amazingly, still popular explanation and defense of the Christian faith, Mere Christianity, Lewis remains a best seller.
Over 200 million copies of his books have been sold. Every year, Mere Christianity still sells 150,000 copies!
There is a C.S. Lewis Bible (NRSV edition) that includes hundreds of reflections and notes of Lewis throughout. (By the way, I don’t have one, although I just noticed that it is available on Kindle!).
Why do I like Lewis so much? There are many reasons.
I love the story of his conversion to Christ. You can (and should) read his early journey in Surprised by Joy. It is an autobiography that is very well written.
I love the way he understands the nature of the human heart, and how the heart runs after other gods and refuses to pursue the one true God. This is the theme in my VERY FAVORITE Lewis book, The Great Divorce. This book is not about marriage, it is about people who have a chance to get into heaven, but they all refuse, preferring to be miserable in their independence from God.
I love his brilliant and beautiful creativity in writing and speaking: his use of metaphors, wit, word pictures, and juxtapositions of contrasting ideas that suddenly make sense; his creativity, the word-smithing he provides; his insight into desires, motives, and emotions; and the obvious love that fills everything he writes.
I love how he uses every tool and technique at his command to communicate to a non-Christian world. Mere Christianity is the most famous example of this, but he does this in so many books.
I love how Lewis describes the end of the world in The Final Battle (Book 7 of the Narnia series) and how he describes the outskirts of heaven as the children and talking beasts begin to explore the True Narnia.
I love how Lewis describes the creation of the universe in The Magician’s Nephew. Aslan “sings” the universe into existence.
I love how Lewis grows in his understanding and bares his soul along the way. His first book on suffering, The Problem of Pain, was an apologetic of the mind to a suffering world. His second book, A Grief Observed, written after his wife dies of cancer, is the story of how his heart struggled to trust in what his mind affirmed. It is a story of doubt, unbelief, and despair–seeking faith, hope, and love.
I have 35 books by Lewis and over 60 books about Lewis. He will remain a lifelong teacher, mentor, and inspiration.
If you are new to Lewis, I actually recommend you first read his short autobiography, Surprised by Joy. Get to know Lewis personally, then read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (even if you are an adult, or maybe, especially because you are an adult).
Next, I suggest The Screwtape Letters and my personal favorite, The Great Divorce.
You can read this essay online: The Weight of Glory.
If you want to read a book about Lewis, there are so many good ones to choose from. One is a series of 60 reflections on various themes. It is well written and the chapters are short. It is called The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis by Terry Glaspey.
If you want to read an overview of C.S. Lewis, this Wiki article is good.
If you want to see the list of Lewis’ books, check out the official Lewis website.
P.S. I think many of you know my mother passed away a few months ago. When I was growing up, she had a delightful bookcase of four shelves with glass doors. I often told her over the years that when she was gone, I would lay claim to that and have it in my house. Well, sure enough, the first thing to make its way over to our condo was that bookcase.
Mom had Amish novels and collectible books stored in it. I have turned that bookcase into my C.S. Lewis bookcase. I fondly remember mom every time I see it.
Top shelf – Lewis books
Middle two shelves – books about Lewis
Bottom shelf – books by the Inkling friends of Lewis and core influences on Lewis
A Hobbit who would enjoy living in Narnia,