Happy Birthday?

I'm sure you knew it, but November 29th was the anniversary of C. S. Lewis's birth (to call it his "birthday" is surely pushing the bounds of good taste).

112 years is not a significant anniversary, but Lewis is current because of the imminent release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third Narnia movie, following the deeply disappointing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian, which I avoided in case it was equally dismal. The production company Walden Media bought the rights to Narnia with the stated aim of producing "wholesome" films, which seemed to equate in this case to "po-faced". However new owners Fox have apparently sacked them, so there may be hope for The Dawn Treader.

I loved Narnia as a child, and honestly, I still do. As an adult reader one becomes sensitive to Lewis's rather strong opinions forcing themselves into the narrative, but what right-minded person would not want to live the life of Narnia, to fight for justice and Aslan, and to go to his country when they die? Of course, some people don't, but that is precisely the point. Narnia beautifully illustrates Lewis's genius for conveying profound truths with imagination, clarity, and pure style.

I use the word "genius" intentionally. Lewis had a rare gift. He was a scholar, master wordsmith, and a true-hearted friend. But his genius lay in that ability to communicate his thoughtful faith in a way that seized the imagination of not just his generation, but of successive generations. Not only his children's stories, but almost all his books were deeply influential on the thinking and faith of countless readers.

Lewis so shaped the idea of Christian literature that, for the last 50 years, every Christian writer has wanted to be him. The "Christian" publishing industry has churned out thousands of metaphorical children's adventures, humorous reflections on the Christian life, and worldly-wise apologetics. A few of these have been successful, most have been rubbish. But no-one has really conquered the territory in the way that he did.

And now the world has changed. Could we imagine a book called "Mere Christianity" having such an impact in 2011? The post-war, church-schooled audience isn't there any more. What would a modern-day Lewis write, and how would he capture the minds of this generation?

Re-posted from "Always Hope - Life, faith (and hope) in Cornwall" : http://charliepeer.blogspot.com/


Charlie said...

Hi Roger, thanks for the re-post. I'm interested to hear if anyone has any thoughts on the question: what would the writing of a modern-day Lewis look like? Here's a link to my original post if anyone wants to comment there as well:
In the shadow of Lewis

Anonymous said...


My name is Rose Trabbic and I am the publicist for Ignatius Press.

We recently published a book you may be interested in called “Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel.” You can learn more on the book’s website: www.lookingfortheking.com

I would be happy to send you a copy for review on your blog - please contact me if you are interested!

Thank you,
Rose Trabbic