Monday, December 12, 2011

An honest plea

I may not know the answer to most of those stock ice-breaker questions (Who's your favorite singer? What's your favorite color? What's the best movie of all time?), but I do know the answer to a much more obscure one: If you could go back in time and meet one person, who would it be?

It probably won't surprise you that I would like to meet an author.

There is one man whose books are worth reading again, and again, and again. His fiction entertains, his essays challenge, and his arguments convince.

He was childless, though many children adored him and would write him. He was nearly wife-less, until rather late in life he decided to marry and even later decided to make the marriage a real one.

He lectured at Oxford with his overcoat on, not because the room was cold but because his clothes were never properly mended.

He was an atheist and an agnostic at different points in life, and yet later he came up with the greatest logical case for Christ in all of modern history.

I am speaking, of course, of CS Lewis.

I decided to re-read The Chronicles of Narnia during the holidays. They are short, easy to read, and can be put down and picked up at irregular intervals without having lost any momentum. They also make me love Lewis anew every time I read them.

I first read them in college (actually, it is possible I read them as a child, but it is quite a different matter to read them as an adult) and remember happily crying at the beauty they held. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about these stories is that they make me love Jesus more than any other man-inspired book ever has, and Jesus is not mentioned even once in their many pages. In fact, Lewis never intended for the Chronicles to be a Christian allegory; rather, he said that he wondered what it would look like if another world had been created and also needed redemption. But still, parallels remain. In these fairy tales, Aslan, the redeemer of the traitorous and the rescuer of the vulnerable, is both wonderfully dangerous and good, grows only as his follower grows, can be harder to see at times or for certain people, and knows a beautiful world we can only dream about. "Farther up, farther in" will forever be linked to heaven for me. (I sincerely hope you are familiar with the scene I just referenced.)

Before I learned I was pregnant with Coralie, I begged my headmaster to let me develop and teach a class on CS Lewis and his writings. Even after I realized that my "retirement" meant I would never actually teach the class, I still developed a semester's worth of curriculum. It is one of my great professional regrets that I wasn't able to introduce some young men and women to the writer who changes lives even today.

Read his science fiction, and marvel at his creativity. Read The Chronicles of Narnia and live in wonderment that you can know Jesus. Read his essays and admire his logic. Read Mere Christianity and become (re?)convinced of the Reality that is God the Creator and Christ the Redeemer. Read his letters to children, and discover how to inspire a child. Just. read. him.

And if you should ever happen upon a time machine, please call me. I would love to go back just a few short decades and shake the hand of the man called Jack who truly changed my life.


  1. Here here! Well done! A couple of the narnia books are the only Lewis books I haven't crossed off my list yet, I'm exited to get to them, hopefully this year.

  2. My favorites: "The Weight of Glory" and "A Grief Observed"...
    And yes, I've seen dragons too.

  3. Travis, please let me know what you think. Some of the passages in "Dawn Treader" and "Horse and His Boy" make my head swim with wonderment at who Jesus is. Kathleen, I have never actually read "The Weight of Glory", though I can imagine it is also a life-changer.

    Thanks for reading, both of you.

  4. Have you ever heard of "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken? I'm pretty sure you would love it. And he corresponded through letters often with Lewis during his life, many of which are in his book.

  5. Erika, yes! I've read it! It's another great read. I've totally forgotten about it... I am going to head down to my bookshelf now to look for it! Thanks for the reminder!

  6. So I really have nothing amazing to add since I haven't made the time to read anything lately (I kick myself about this a lot), and I'm the girl who says, "but I saw the movie!". But, I saw the movie Chronicles of Narnia (hehehe, see?!) and was bawling thinking about the connection it had to Jesus. Good stuff.

  7. Erika,
    I'm headed to my bookshelf for that one too. I haven't re-read it for a long time and remember its power. Thank you for the reminder!

  8. I love The Great Divorce. I read it for the first time in a graduate level philosophy class and I was hooked.

  9. I agree with Alice. I read The Great Divorce aloud to myself (yes, I am weird like that) and wept at some of the scenes. It is so beautiful, even better than some of the Chronicles.