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22 November 2005
  + C. S. Lewis +
22 November AD 1963

C S LewisClive Staples Lewis ("Jack" to his friends) was a tutor and lecturer at Oxford University, and later became Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge University. He may be the most popular modern Christian writer. Many would consider him the most effective English-language explainer and defender (apologist) of Christianity in the last century.

Lewis normally tried to avoid extended writing on areas of disputed Christian doctrine, focusing mainly upon those beliefs which Christians hold in common. His work is valued by people in most branches of Christendom.

Lewis was a long-time atheist whose conversion came as he struggled to disprove Christianity once and for all. Instead of overthrowing God's Word, the Holy Spirit used it to convict, convince, and convert him to the truth. Once that happened, Lewis couldn't hold back writing and speaking about the Faith.

Along with his writing, Lewis was also a radio speaker. Some of his over-the-air chats were later published as Mere Christianity, one of his most popular works. He was also part of the Inklings, a noted literary group which included J. R. R. Tolkien and a number of other respected academics and writers.

Here follows a partial list of his works:

Mere Christianity originated as a series of fifteen-minute radio talks addressed to a general audience, giving a general account of Christian belief. It intentionally avoids almost all controverted teachings, hence the "Mere" in the title.

Miracles examines the grounds for supposing whether or something could or would interfere with the workings of Nature with special emphasis upon the Incarnation (God taking human nature upon Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ).

The Problem of Pain undertakes to answer the question of pain and evil in the world if there is a good and omnipotent God.

The Great Divorce is an allegorical dream owing some debt to Dante, wherein the author visits Heaven and Hell. While Lewis provides some descriptive narrative, the focus is upon the meaning of ending up in either place.

The Abolition of Man is a series of three lectures defending the concept of Natural Law.

The Screwtape Letters purport themselves to be a series of letters from experienced devil Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter on his first assignment. Dealing with the psychology of temptation, the letters can make most readers both laugh and cringe.

Reflections on the Psalms are Lewis's thoughts on questions or problems occurring to him as he prayed and studied the Psalter.

A Preface to Paradise Lost is a series of lectures on epic poetry, especially Milton's "Paradise Lost." While Lewis delivered them as Mediaeval and Renaissance English specialist, they should interest Christians as well as English students, since Lewis maintained that understanding the poem's presupposed beliefs is necessary to understanding and appreciating the poem.

The Space Trilogy consists of three science fiction novels on Christian themes. These are Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

The Chronicles of Narnia are a series of fantasies, each of which overtly or covertly introduces any number of Christian topics. The books are linked by common characters and cover the entire history of an alternate reality from its creation to its last day and the new life which follows. In order of writing, these books are The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew, and The Last Battle. If one reads them in the order of Narnia's chronology, then The Magician's Nephew would come first.

Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer is what the title says.

Till We Have Faces is a novel retelling the story of Eros and Psyche from the viewpoint of one of the sisters.

The Pilgrim's Regress follows somewhat the course charted by Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, telling how a young man, reared a nominal Christian, abandoned his belief, looked for something better, but eventually arrived at a destination alike, but very different from, his starting point.

The Four Loves examines four different uses of the word, based upon four Greek words for kinds of love.

God in the Dock is a posthumous collection of essays, memos, letters to the editor, and the like.

An Experiment in Criticism examines Lewis's understanding of art, particularly literature. Instead of first distinguishing between good and bad books and defining good and bad taste according to one's preference for either type of literature, Lewis reversed the proposition. He asked that we first examine two distinct types of pleasure we might derive from books, music, painting, and the like and then distinguish art based upon the type of pleasure it offers.

Surprised by Joy is an autobiographical account of his conversion. One might think it also a bit prophetic, since it predates his meeting and falling in love with his later-life wife, Joy Gresham.

This brings us to A Grief Observed, which does deal with his wife, particularly with Lewis's reaction to her death from bone cancer. He wrote it under the pseudonym N. W. Clerk but had so many people recommend it to him that he finally publicly established his own authorship.

This is only a partial list, with works I consider to be highlights accessible to most readers.


Almighty God, whose servant C S Lewis received of Your grace singular gifts of insight in understanding the truth in Christ Jesus, and of eloquence and clarity in presenting that truth to his readers, raise up in our day faithful interpreters of your Word, that we, being set free from all error and unbelief, may come to the knowledge that makes us wise unto salvation; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
I hope Herman Otten doesn't see this. He doesn't like Lewis very much, from what I've read in CN...
Herman Otten doesn't like a great many people very much.
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