Remembering C.S. Lewis

I am not exaggerating when I say that C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books were an important element in my moral development.  I read them as a child because I loved the fantastic stories.  I appreciate them as an adult because I value their spiritual and moral underpinnings.  I have no doubt that the books’ foundational ideas seeped into my subconscious when I was too young to realize that I was reading a series of beautifully crafted moral and religious allegories.

Sadly, my kids do not share my passion for the Narnia books.  They did, however, love the first movie, which I thought had some important lessons about honor and manliness.

Why am I suddenly talking about C.S. Lewis?  Because (unbeknownst to me) tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of his death.  Peter Wehner has a lovely homage to Lewis, who was one of the last great 20th century moralists and thinkers.

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  • Ymarsakar

    Get em hooked on anime designed for 20+ year olds.
    Plenty of modern day applications on wisdom there.
    I remember a fifth grade teacher reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
    I didn’t know why but I liked it and looked forward to it. In fact purchasing a lot of books and learning quickly from reading.

  • jj

    There were a good many of us who knew that despite events in Dallas, humanity took a far more meaningful loss in England, on November 22, 1963.

  • Charles Martel

    I agree with jj’s take on 11/22/63. It’s interesting that along with JFK and Lewis, Aldous Huxley died that day. The classical western axis of Rome-Athens-Jerusalem was well represented with those deaths: JFK/Rome; Huxley/Athens (its mystical-pagan streak); Lewis/Jerusalem.
    In a different universe it would have been interesting to eavesdrop on a conversation among those three men.

  • Kathy from Kansas

    Charles Martel,
    Did you know that Peter Kreeft wrote a book that is a fictional rendering of that very conversation you imagine eavesdropping on? It’s titled Between Heaven and Hell, and it is written like a play with only three speaking parts. The dialogue (or should I say trialogue?) between the three men as they’re waiting an a kind of anteroom of heaven is Kreeft’s device for comparing three different worldviews. However, Kreeft sees Jack Kennedy as representing not Rome, but America, i.e., modern secular liberalism, whereas C.S. Lewis represents orthodox Christianity. 
    It’s a quick, enjoyable read — both witty and profound — and I heartily recommend it to you and other Bookworm readers.

  • jj

    Anteroom of heaven?  How the hell – so to speak –  did Kennedy get there?

  • Charles Martel

    Kathy, thank you! I just went on Amazon and ordered the book. I very much appreciate the lead.
    jj, it’s the author’s prerogative: He has to get them in one place somewhere at the same time. Skype isn’t always reliable. 

  • Kathy from Kansas

    Charles Martel,
    I’m so impressed. I figured you must have already encountered the book somewhere along the line since you proposed the same “eavesdrop on their conversation” motif that Kreeft conceived. Instead, it would appear that great minds think alike! Since I am a total Kreeft nut, that is high praise indeed coming from me. I think Kreeft is the closest thing we have to a successor to C.S. Lewis. I’m glad you ordered the book. He’s written many, many more — several of which are in the “imaginary conversations” vein.

  • jj

    Interesting that Lewis is, in this book, representative of orthodox Christianity.  ‘Orthodox Christianity’ would, it seems to me, almost by definition mean Catholic.  Lewis of course was not Catholic, he was a devout revolutionary of the C of E variety.  (One of the many varieties possible, which is why ‘orthodox’ becomes a somewhat odd appellation to apply to them.  The term ‘orthodox,’ when its use is pure, admits of only one variety.)  I suppose he was orthodox insofar as the C of E itself is – and less so on points of divergence.
    But a huge loss nonetheless.  A thinker; a humanitarian; and a lovely, graceful, writer.  He was at his best as a critic, and a literary historian; less good as a Christian apologist (the word is used in the classical sense: he isn’t ‘apologizing’ for anything).  Much of that will live nonetheless, for the sheer simplicity with which he presents complex thoughts often made excessively abstruse (and obtuse), living up to his belief that you should be able to explain it to children, if not so they completely comprehend it, then at least so they get enough to start them thinking.

  • Katja

    Kind of in response to jj, but the post above seems to completely overlook that there is an Orthodox Christian Church, and that because Christianity was unified for its first millennium, there are still plenty of things that the “Orthodox” and the “Catholics” share.  
    Coincidentally enough, the Church of England was much more orthodox back in Lewis’ day, and for many years, there were talks with the idea that the Church of England may actually join the Orthodox Church, but in the end it didn’t work out, and as things sit now with the Church of England, there is no way that the Orthodox Church would consider such a union without, at the very least, a major rollback of Church of England “developments” of the last couple decades.
    My favorite Lewis book is <i>Till We Have Faces</i>.  I borrowed it from the library, but it’s one of those things that I ought to purchase for myself, NOT in electronic format.  :)

  • Ron19

    Katja #9:
    Some large chunks of the Anglican and Episcopalian Church were received into the Roman Catholic Church a few years ago, e.g.:

    An Anglican priest who made the transition some years earlier has a blog on Patheos: