In the US, many today will be remembering the assassination of John F Kennedy. Indeed, the memory of where I was when I heard this news and the images of that weekend are seared in my mind. But another man died that day, C. S. Lewis, and the impact of his work has been far more pervasive in my life than the memories of JFK’s presidency and tragic death.
C. S. Lewis modeled for me communication of one’s faith in a manner that was logical, thoughtful, and connected to the experience of everyday people, even though he was an Oxford and later Cambridge don. It is an ideal I strive after in my own life, speech and writing, if poorly. Mere Christianity is a masterpiece of such writing.
Lewis taught me in the Screwtape Letters and elsewhere that one could use wit to convey a very serious matter, the warfare for our souls. In an age where humor has been reduced to the sexual and scatological, and thus avoided by most believing people, Lewis teaches us how it can be used redemptively.
Lewis was not the greatest fiction writer by any stretch and yet his children’s books and his space trilogy imaginatively integrate Christian themes into memorable stories. And who cannot forget delightful characters like Reepicheep or the nobility of Aslan. One of the best book discussions I’ve participated in wrestled with Till We Have Faces. The themes the havoc that can be wrought by disordered love is a cautionary tale to any parent or lover than one can love overmuch.
Lewis was also a fine scholar, writing a classic work on Paradise Lost, and a number of scholarly works. I am currently working through his Studies in Words, which gives one a great appreciation for the uses and abuses and changes in language over time. Lewis winsomely demonstrated how one could be both a fine scholar and a devout Christian at the same time.
So much more could be (and has been) said about Lewis! Perhaps it is simply appropriate today (and Lewis would like this!) to raise a glass, or fill a pipe, and give thanks to God for the life and work of this saint!