It was 56 years ago today that C. S. Lewis passed into eternity. But the world hardly noticed as it was also the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In fact, Aldous Huxley died on the same day, too.
The Chronicles of Narnia were the first Lewis books I ever read. Couldn’t put them down. I was then prompted to read Mere Christianity, not so much because of his children’s books but mainly because I was so disappointed in the lack of depth and substance of my college chapels. Lewis, however, did not disappoint. His writing had a creativity and a clarity that I found to be engagingly beautiful and profound. He helped me see key issues of eternal significance with a lot more clarity.
So how did this scholar of medieval literature, with no formal theological training — an active atheist in his youth — become, in the words of Time, “one of the most influential spokesmen for Christianity in the English-speaking world”?
One of things I always found interesting about Lewis was what happened after he became “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England,” accompanied, by the way, with J.R.R. Tolkien’s influence. He did not stop being a professor of medieval literature…he did not run to seminary and become a preacher…or go to a Bible college and become a missionary. There’s, of course, nothing wrong at all with doing something like that, but that’s not what Lewis did.
Lewis kept teaching literature. I am told by my friend and Lewis scholar, Dr. Devin Brown, that virtually every person who knew Lewis, who he has interviewed, remarked how his character and personality were marked by an authentic joy. People liked being around him. He even answered all his letters—personally. During World War II he was the second best known voice of the British airwaves…the first was Winston Churchill. He asked good questions. He told great stories. Many of us have been the beneficiaries as a result…
C. S. Lewis’ influence on me was such that in 2010 I determined to begin working on a documentary with Dr. Brown and Dr. Mike Peterson. It started as a passion project…a labor of love. But I am not going to mince any words here, it was a LOT of work and a royal pain in the neck at times. There were moments when the problems were such that I just didn’t think we were going to get it done. Sometimes…hate to admit it…I wished we had never even started it. Yep, Lewis deserved better.
Funny how things end up.
A few days ago, I received an email asking if the documentary could be embedded on a web site. I was honored and happy to oblige. (Click here to see it for yourself.) While checking the settings on my Vimeo site, I also checked the analytics. This month alone, almost 1000 people have watched the documentary. Literally thousands have watched it since we made it public. This does not include the many live showings Dr. Brown has had across the country in conjunction with talks about his fine books on Lewis.
I think I’m ready to make another documentary…
Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modem philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.The Weight of Glory