Category: C.S. Lewis (Page 2 of 6)

Miracles and C.S. Lewis


According to “Goodreads” Lewis’s book on miracles (Miracles: A preliminary study, Geoffrey Bles, 1947) has had 507 reviews. A study guide to the book by the C.S. Lewis Foundation (2001) states that “Lewis’ lucid, generous minded and comprehensive apologetic for miracles is, in its own way, no less compelling than Mere Christianity in the case it makes for the overall rationality of the Christian faith. Perhaps even more striking than its careful arguments for why the Naturalistic picture of reality is insufficient to describe reality as a whole, is the unusually transparent window it offers us as to what ‘the glorious resurrection of the new humanity’ might be like.”

To begin with Lewis notes that “…the question whether miracles occur can never be answered simply by experience” (11)…. This book is intended as a preliminary to historical inquiry…. Those who assume that miracles cannot happen are merely wasting their time by looking into the texts: we know in advance what results they will find for they have begun by begging the question” (13).

After outlining the scope of the book in chapter 1, Lewis examines the nature of the naturalist and the supernaturalist positions in chapter 2(15-22); Lewis uses the word miracle to refer to a supernatural power interfering with nature.

In chapter 3 Lewis notes the self-contradiction of the naturalist (23-31), a contention debated and criticized by Elizabeth Anscombe. The argument of Anscombe regarding naturalism is carefully analyzed in a book by Victor Reppert called “C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea: In defense of the argument from reason” (InterVarsity Press, 2003). “C.S. Lewis’s dangerous idea is the idea that if we explain reason naturalistically we shall end up explaining it away, that is, explaining it in such a way that it cannot serve as a foundation for the natural sciences that are themselves the foundation for naturalism” (128).

Naturalism claims “that the natural world is all there is and there are no supernatural beings (Reppert, 46). “On the mechanistic view of the world, material particles can, through evolution, further the survival of the organism and the species” (Reppert, 47). “Anscombe’s contention was that Lewis conflated all nonrational causes with rational causes” (Reppert, 56). Reppert discusses the issue that had arisen between Lewis and Anscombe and concludes tht rationalists “must accept the idea that at least some beliefs are inferred from other beliefs,” and if they do “their position rules out the possibility of rational inference” which would “provide a very powerful reason to reject naturalism” (Reppert, 57). Ripper updates his argument in chapter 3 of C.S. Lewis as philosopher: truth, goodness and beauty, edited by David Baggett, Gary R. Habermas and Jerry L. Walls (2008, 53-67) and concludes “A naturalistic view of the universe, according to which there is nothing inexistence that is not in a particular time and a particular place, is hard-pressed to reconcile with the fact that some truths that we know are not only true in this world, but in all possible worlds” (67).

Lewis’s Chapter 4, “Nature and supernature” (33-42) and chapter 5, “A further difficulty in naturalism (43-48)” deal with the “problem of reason,” which is central to Lewis’s argument. Lewis concludes the chapter with “But logical thinking—Reasoning—had to be the pivot of the argument became, af all the claims which the human mind puts forward, the claim of Reasoning to be valid is the only one which the Naturalis cannot deny without (philosophically speaking) cutting his own throat. You cannot, as we saw, prove that there are no proofs…. That is, you can do so without running into falt self-contradiction and nonsense” (41).

Chapter 6, “Answers to misgivings (49-54),” notes that because the Supernatural is so near and obvious (as he says, a daily and hourly experience) it is a miracle that human rationality observes it at all.

Chapter 7 (55-65) is on “red herrings,” arguments thrown in like “miracles are contrary to the laws of nature” without specifying just what those are. Things may be impossible unless they are overruled by something beyond nature (57).

“Miracle and the laws of nature” (67-75) is the title of chapter 8; Lewis first outlines the three views of the Laws of Nature that have been held: 1) they are mere observable brute facts, with no rhyme or reason to them; 2) they are applications of the law of averages; 3) they are “necessary” truths. According to Lewis “A miracle is emphatically not an event without cause or without results. Its cause is the activity of God; its results follow according ot Natural law” (73).

Chapter 9 (77-81), while “not strictly necessary” reflects on immortality and how Christians, who are Supernaturalists, really see God (80).

Chapter 10, “Horrid Red Things” (83-97) is built on an imaginary story of a little girl who was told by her mother that she would die if she took too many tablets of aspirin. The child knew it was poisonous because it had “horrid red things” in side it (87). The result is that “thinking may be sound where the images that accompany it are fake” (ibid). We interpret Christian doctrines  metaphorically (95) because we most often cannot make some things apparent literally.

“Christianity and ‘Religion’” (Chapter 11, pages 9-114) reflects on how the opponent of “religion” is Christianity (101) because “the normal instinctive guess of the human mind, not utterly wrong, but needing correction” (102). People dabbling in religion may find Him.

Chapter 12, “The propriety of miracles” (115-120) takes us from a form of rudimentary belief to the mind of God, a great gap. Mixed in is a great story—the Gospel.

Lewis claims in Chapter 13, “On probability” (121-130) that most stories about miraculous events are probably false (121). However, people would probably accept the most ludicrous “improbable ‘natural’ explanations”

In Chapter 14, “The Grand Miracle” (131-158), Lewis calls the Incarnation the doctrine which, “if accepted, can illuminate and integrate the whole mass” (133). It informs four other principles:

  • The composite nature of man
  • The pattern of descent and re-ascension
  • Selectiveness: “Man is in fact the only rational creature in this spatio-temporal Nature” (147).
  • Vicariousness: “[it] is the very idiom of the reality He has create, His death can become ours” (157)

In “Miracles of the Old Creation” (Chapter 15, 159-170) and the New Creation (Chapter 16, 171-195) Lewis notes that biblical miracles are quite different than mythological ones  because “they show invasion by a Power which is not alien” (159). The miracles of Christ are of several kinds (161):

  • Miracles of fertility “Every year God makes a little corn into much corn” (164)
  • Miracles of healing “The magic is not in the medicine but in the patient’s body” (168)
  • Miracles of destruction (the withering of the fig tree)
  • Miracles of dominion over the inorganic (stilling a storm; walking on water)
  • Miracles of reversal (resurrection and immortality)
  • Miracles of perfecting or glorification (the transfiguration)

“[The Christian’s] God is the God of corn and oil and wine. He is the glad Creator. He has become Himself incarnate” (194).

In his Epilogue (197-204) Lewis notes that “We all have Naturalism in our bones and conversion does not at once work the infection out of our system” (197) We have probably not seen miracles because “God does not shake miracles into Nture at random as if form a pepper-caster” (201).

Then follows Appendix A. On the words Spirit and Spiritual (205-210) Lewis discusses 5 speal meanings of the words; Appendix B. On ‘Special Providences’ (211-216) “’Providence’ and Natural causation are not alternatives; both determine every event because both are one” (214); and finally an Index (217-220).

God in the dock: Essays on theology and ethics. Edited by Walter Hooper (Eerdmans, 1970) has a chapter (2, pp. 25-37) called “miracles,” which is the title of a sermon by Lewis first preached in St. Jude, London in 1942 and later appeared in their Gazette, as well as still later in The Guardian. Lewis points out that “Whatever experiences we may have, we shall not regard them as miraculous if we already hold a philosophy which excludes the supernatural” (25). Such a belief cannot be proved or disproved by experience and “No doubt most stories of miracles are unreliable; but then, as anyone can see by reading the papers, so are most stories of all events. Each story must be taken on its merits: what one must not do is to rule out the supernatural as the one impossible explanation” (27). Lewis says that modern people seem to dislike miracles but “If a miracle means that which must simply be accepted, the unanswerable actuality which gives no account of itself but simply is, then the universe is one great miracle” (36). The chapter on miracles is again republished in a collection by Lesley Walmsley (chapter 13 in C.S. Lewis essay collections, (HarperCollins, 201, pp. 107-117).

The joyful Christian: 127 readings from C.S. Lewis was compiled by William Griffin, (Macmillan Publishing Co, 1970) and contains four Of Lewis’s writings on miracles: 1) Miracles and the Laws of Nature; 2) Miracles of Fertility; 3) Miracles of Healing and 4) Miracles of Destruction.

Readings for meditation and reflection was edited by Walter Hooper. (Harper Collins, 1992) was republished in 2008. It contains 81 essays by Lewis and one of them is called “Belief in miracles” (54-55) and is taken from the first chapter of Lewis’s book on miracles.

David Baggett, Gary R. Habermas and Jerry L. Walls, edited a book called C.S. Lewis as Philosopher: Truth, Goodness and Beauty (IVP Academic, 2008). Chapter 13, “Lewis’s Miracles and Mathematical Elegance” is by Russell W. Howell and explores that question if Lewis’s philosophical framework was compatible with the notion of miraculous events. They suggest “a very close connection: mathematical elegance poses problems for naturalism—problems that connect with Lewis’s own ideas of beauty” (211). Lewis had taken Anscombe’s criticisms seriously and rewritten a chapter of Miracles as a result. His reply was called The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism” and was published in 1960. The authors conclude that “Whatever being in God’s image exactly entails, it seems to include a rational and aesthetic capacity reflective of his that enables humans to understand and admire his creation” (236).

Lyle W. Dorsett’s book, A love observed: Joy Davidman’s life and marriage to C.S. Lewis. (Harold Shaw Publishers, 1983) includes a chapter called “Miracles, pain, peace (1953-1960). Joy, riddled with cancer in her bones had a miracle happen when she responded and Lewis noted “My wife’s condition…has improved, if not miraculously (but who knows?) at any rate wonderfully” (128-129 Lewis, quoted in Dorsett). She remained in reasonable health for some time but cancer returned and she died in 1960.

In Bruce L. Edwards’ monumental four volume work on Lewis, Victor Reppert has a chapter (153-181) called “Miracles: C.S. Lewis’s Critique of Naturalism.” (See C.S. Lewis: Life, works and legacy. Volume 3: Apologist, philosopher, & theological, Praeger 2007) Reppert discusses Lewis’s arguments on miracles and the criticisms to it, particularly Anscombe’s famous case, as well as some other rather famous opponents of Lewis. Reppert maintains that those who disregard any miraculous event “use a principle of methodological naturalism” and presuppose that mothering can happen that would involve the supernatural (155). He also explains the tenants that evolutionists hole and the hole in Lewis’s argument than led to Anscombe’s rejection of it. Reppert examines Lewis’s original postulates and also those of Anscombe, then turns to Lewis’s revision of a chapter in Miracles that deals with naturalism. The arguments about intentionality, psychological relevance and reason are philosophical and develop into complex arguments. However “I [Reppert] conclude…that the argument from reason is unrefuted and constitutes a substantial reason for preferring a theistic understanding of the universe to a naturalistic one” (178).

Glaspey, Terry W. 1996. The spiritual legacy of C.S. Lewis. Nashville TN: Cumberland House Publishing.

“Lewis helps us see that the rejection of the miraculous is a matter of choice rather than evidence” (88). Lewis rejects naturalism “because it undermindes the validity of thought itself, and …because it provides no basis for the moral sentiment that we universally hold” (89).

Lindskoog, Kathryn Ann. 1973. C.S. Lewis: Mere Christian. Foreword by Dr. Clyde S. Kilby . Glendale, CA: Regal Books Division, G/L Publications.

In her chapter on miracles (117-131), Lindskoog first examines the “problem” of miracles by asking several questions: 1) Is there a supernature? 2) What is a miracle? 3) Are miracles possible; 4) Are miracles probable? and 5) Are miracles proper? That is, “our sense of fitness related to historical evidence” (123). Part two of the chapter examines the meaning miracles: 1) the miracle of Jesus’ coming; the miracles Jesus worked; and the miracle of the new life. Finally, the reader is exhorted to “be on guard” because few people believe in miracles and only if we are “special places in spiritual history are we apt to see miracles for ourselves” (130).

Purtill, Richard L. 2004 [1981]. C.S. Lewis’s case for the Christian faith. San Francisco: Harper&Row.

In chapter 5, “Miracles and History,” Purtill notes that Lewis considered a miracle as a violation of natural law so that the intervention must have come by a power outside of nature (86). He concludes: “If we admit the full reality of Christ’s miracles…our inescapable conclusion must be the divinity of Christ, in a full sense: Christ as God the Son, coequal and coeternal with the Father” (98-99).

Schriftman, Jacob. 2008. The C.S. Lewis book on the Bible: What the greatest Christian writer thought about the greatest book. Moonrise.

In chapter 14 Schriftman asks: What Kind of God Would Work Miracles? We learn that God is a personal being and that world is real, so miracles occur in nature because “If ordinary Nature did not exist, neither could extraordinary (miraculous) events exist in that Nature” (132).

Schakel, Peter J. and Charles A. Huttar, eds. 1991. Word and story in C.S. Lewis. Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press.

Chapter 5, “Sanctifying the literal: Images and incarnation in Miracles” is by Thomas Werge (76-85) opens his chapter by saying “Yet his [Lewis’s] argument [on miracles] relies not so much on formal logic and analysis as on the affirmation of images, imagery and the imagination as ways of knowing” (76). Despite this claim, most of the arguments against Lewis on miracles are about his logic. Werge sees Lewis as most  outraged against the overly spiritualizing and gnostic vision (79). “For Lewis, images inhere both in language and in our nature as experiencing imaginary beings. They immerge from and point to analogies of the mind and imagination about the world (80). “While reason and logic may approximate the paradox of the Incarnation, only faith and imagination can directly apprehend its salvific mystery and be moved by the dramatic images from which that mystery cannot be separated” (84). For Lewis the ultimate miracle is the concreteness that comes into our vision, providing reality to the story.

Walsh, Milton. 2008. Second Friends: C.S. Lewis and Ronald Knox in Conversation. With a foreword by Walter Hooper. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Both “Lewis and Knox steered a course between two opposite extremes: materials who claim that miracles are impossible and magicians who claim they are everywhere, provided you know how to conjure them” (136). The two great miracles were the Incarnation and the Resurrection of Jesus. Walsh quotes Lewis by noting that miracles by God subsequently follow the rules of nature: its wine intoxicates, its pregnancy gives new life and its bread can be ingested (114).

“C. S. Lewis and Ronald Knox were two of the most popular authors of Christian apologetics in the twentieth century … and for many years they were neighbors in Oxford. In Second Friends, Milton Walsh delves into their writings and compares their views on a variety of compelling topics, such as the existence of God, the divinity of Christ, the problem of suffering, miracles, the way of Love, the role of religion in society, prayer, and more. They both bring to the conversation a passionate love of truth, clarity of thought, and a wonderful wit.

White, Roger, Judith Wolfe and Brendan Wolfe, eds. 2015. C.S. Lewis and his circle: Essays and memoirs from the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society. NY: Oxford University Press.

Chapter 2 “C.S. Lewis’s rewrite of Chapter III of Miracles” by Elizabeth Anscombe, is based on a talk she gave that was recorded at Oxford. It is highly argumentive and (for me), difficult to follow, using as it does, one part of Lewis’s argument about the nature of miracles.

Wielenberg, Erik J. 2008. God and the reach of reason: C.S. Lewis, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell. Cambridge University Press.

3) Miracles: 3.1 Introduction; 3.2 Debating Miracles in the Eighteenth Century; 3.3 A Preliminary Skirmish; 3.4 Hume’s Main Assault; 3.5 Lewis’s Counterattack; 3.6 The Fitness of the Incarnation; 3.7 Lewis’s Mitigated Victory and the Trilemma; 3.8 Conclusion.


Mere Christianity and C.S. Lewis

Perhaps no book written by C.S. Lewis has had more influence on people turning to Christ than Mere Christianity. George Marsden stated in a newspaper review that “since 2001, the book and had been translated into at least 36 languages. Marsden has written a book that deals exclusively with Lewis’s book and according to him (in 2016), 3.5 million copies of it have been sold. (100 million copies of the Chronicles of Narnia have been sold.)

Marsden’s book, C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: Princeton University Press published a biography (Lives of great religious books) in 2016.

The contents of his book on Lewis are: 1) War service; 2) Broadcast talks; 3) Loved or hated; 4) A classic as afterthought; 5) Into the evangelical orbit; 6) Many-sided Mere Christianity; 7) Critiques; 8) The lasting vitality of Mere Christianity. An Appendix, “Changes in Mere Christianity” compares the original version to later publications to the original three books.

“So the question this present volume seeks to answer is this: what is it about this collection of informal radio talks that accounts for their taking on such a thriving life of their own?” (p. 2) Marsden claims that the answer to his question involves knowing something about Lewis, the circumstances in which the book was written, the purpose of the book and its intended audience. He attributes “The lasting vitality of Mere Christianity” (the title of his chapter 8) to a number of factors:

  • Lewis looks for timeless truths as opposed to the culturally bound
  • He uses human nature as the point of contact with his audience
  • Lewis sees reason in the context of experience, affections and imagination
  • He is a poet at heart, using metaphor and the art of meaning in a universe that is alive
  • Lewis’s book is about “mere Christianity”
  • Mere Christianity does not offer cheap grace
  • It is based on the luminosity of the Gospel message itself

George Marsden is the Francis A. McAnancy Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Notre Dame.

The original 1943 publication of Mere Christianity is based on broadcasts that Lewis gave for the BBC. Additional publications include:

1) a revised and enlarged edition, with a new introduction, of the three books The Case for Christianity, Christian Behaviour, and Beyond Personality. Collier Books. NY: Macmillan Publishing Company. 1981.

2) Mere Christianity: An anniversary edition of the three books The Case for Christianity, Christian Behaviour, and Beyond Personality. Edited and with an introduction by Walter Hooper. NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. The long introduction by Hooper (in this 1981 edition) gives the history of Lewis’s association with the BBC and where the lectures included in the book were first presented.

3) Broadcast Talks, from two series “Right and Wrong: A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe” and “What Christians Believe,” given in 1941 and 1942. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1942.

Appendix A includes some of the letters that Lewis wrote in response to listeners’ questions. Lewis explains that he is not trying to convert anyone with his talks, nor is he focusing on any particular denomination and “the book, however faulty in other respects, did at least succeed in presenting an agreed, or common, or central, or ‘mere’ Christianity” (Preface, xl).

Appendix B is on “Sexual Morality” and Appendix C is called “The Anvil,” which was a programme conducted by Dr J.W. Welch, Director of the Religious Broadcasting Department of the BBC.

Chapters in Christian behaviour (published separately in 1943) are: 1) The three parts of morality; 2) The “Cardinal Virtues”; 3) Social morality; 4) Morality and psychoanalysis; 5) Sexual morality; 6) Christian marriage; 7) Forgiveness; 8) The great sin; 9) Charity; 10) Hope; 11) Faith; 12) Faith. (Not a typo—there are two chapters on “faith.”)

In the Mere Christianity preface Lewis warns that he offers no help to anyone who is hesitating between two Christian “denominations.” He believed that divisions among Christians should be discussed only when people with opposite points of view were present (vi). He uses the word “Christian” to mean those who accept the common doctrines of Christianity (ix). He uses the analogy of a hall with many rooms and that each has “fires and chairs and meals.” The hall is for waiting to enter one of the doors, which each person must knock on and, upon entering, ask which door is the true one, not which one he likes best. The focus is not upon whether we like the particular kind of service but upon the truth of the doctrines concerning holiness, and not because of our pride or personal taste. People all over the world that they ought to behave in a certain way, but in fact they do not and in so doing they break the “Law of Nature.”

Book I. Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe. 1) The Law of Human Nature: How people focus on fairness (right and wrong) as a universal value but with a “law” already within them 2) Some Objections: Moral law is simply an instinct, like others but Lewis points out that if it was we ought to be able to point to an instinct called good and call it up for the right behavior; 3) The Reality of the Law—it is not what we do but a law that tells us what to do and which we do not do, something beyond the actual facts; 4) What Lies Behind the Law—if it were a blind force it would never interfere with what we want to do; 5) We Have Cause to Be Uneasy—Christianity does not begin with comfort, it begins with dismay because of our knowledge of good and evil.

Book II. What Christians Believe: 1) The Rival Conceptions of God—atheism turns out to be too simple because the universe has no meaning; 2) The Invasion—Christianity believes the ‘Dark Power’ was created by God and went wrong; 3) The Shocking Alternative—God cannot give us peace and happiness unless it comes from Him; Jesus is either who he said he is or a lunatic (41); 4) The Perfect Penitent—the “formula” is that by dying, Jesus disabled death and washed away our sins. Jesus’s sufferings were possible only because he was good; true, but it would be an odd reason for rejecting them; 5) The Practical Conclusion—we believe things “on authority” and it is no difference for Christians. “…if you are worried about people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them Cutting off a man’s fingers would be an odd way of getting him to do more work.”

Book III. Christian Behaviour: 1) The Three Parts of Morality—Lewis notes that when we think about morality three are three areas: relations between people, between the things within us and with the power that made us; 2) The “Cardinal Virtues”— Prudence (practical common sense), temperance (going the right length and no further), justice (fairness, honesty and truthfulness) and fortitude (perseverance); 3) Social Morality—the application of Christian Principles to the life around us; 4) Morality and Psychoanalysis—what a good man is and does and the philosophy of Freud is in contradiction to general philosophy and moral choices; 5) Sexual Morality—it is everything to be ashamed of if this is all we think about. We learn to accept some desires and reject others. We have two things inside of us: The Animal self and the Diabolical self and the latter is the worse of the two. “That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither” (80); 6) Christian Marriage—“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union”; 7) Forgiveness—For Christians “thy neighbor” includes “thy enemy”. “We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy hating. We must punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it; 8) The Great Sin—Pride or Self-Conceit and the opposite is Humility. “The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether”; 9) Charity—one of the “Cardinal” virtues. “Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, ‘If I were sure I loved God, what would I do?’ When you have found the answer, go and do it’”; 10) Hope—It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: am at earth and you will get neither”; 11) Faith—you must train the habit of faith because if it depends on our moods, they change; 12) Faith—a second or higher sense: “A man who starts anxiously watching to see whether he is going to sleep is very likely to remain wide awake”.

Book IV. Beyond Personality: or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity: 1) Making and Begetting—we don’t get to God by studying nature or feeling the presence of God, we need a map to follow. We read that Christ was begotten, not created. Lewis calls nature Bios and the spiritual life Zoe. “The world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumour going around the shop that some of us are some day going to come to life”; 2) The Three-Personal God—God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers” (127); 3) Time and Beyond Time—“You cannot fit Christ’s earthly life in Palestine into any time-relations with His life as God beyond all space and time. It is really, I suggest, a timeless truth about God that human nature, and the human experience of weakness and sleep and ignorance, are somehow included in his whole divine life” (132); 4) Good Infection—If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone” (137); 5) The Obstinate Toy Soldiers—when we were children we might have thought that it would be fun if our toy soldiers came to life but they are all separate and if one came to life it would make no difference to the rest. Human beings are not like that; 6) Two Notes—turning toy soldiers into real people would not be difficult if the human race had not turned away from God. A Christian should not be either a Totalitarian or an Individualist; 7) Let’s Pretend—“Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important” (147). We don’t need to act like Jesus died 2000 years ago and is not now with us; 8) Is Christianity Hard or Easy—“In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them into little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time” (155); 9) Counting the Cost—“To shrink back from that plan [Christ making a difference] is not humility; it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience” (159); 10) Nice People or New Men?—“The change will not be completed in this life, for death is an important part of the treatment?” (161) Some people are slowly becoming less Christians (162). “We must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people…would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save” (167) 11) The New Men—“It is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to His Personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own” (174).

Brown, Devin. 2015. Discussing Mere Christianity Study Guide. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. [On my Kindle]

How to use this study guide. Introduction: It all began with a letter. Session 1: Our sense of right and wrong; Session 2: What’s behind our sense of right and wrong; Session 3: The rival conceptions of God; Session 4: Free will and the shocking alternative; Session 5: Christian behavior and the great sin of pride; Session 6: The Christian virtue of hope; Session 7: God in three persons; Session 8: Counting the cost. Afterword: A life-changing response.

Bruce L. Edwards edited four volumes on Lewis, published in 2007. Volume 3 is on Lewis as “apologist, philosopher, & theological. Chapter 3 (51-75) is by Joel D. Heck and is called “Mere Christianity: Uncommon Truths in Common Language.”

The term “Mere Christianity” comes from a theologian named Richard Baxter. Lewis takes the meaning to be “historic Christianity, centered in the incarnation of Jesus Christ” (51) Lewis is avoiding denominational interpretations and providing a “common core of beliefs that nearly all Christian denominations have held since the first century A.D.” (ibid) He had vetted his first broadcast materials with four theologians: Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of England and Roman Catholic. MC is autobiographical because it reviews Lewis’s own thought process and how he reached his conclusions. Heck’s summary: “Mere Christianity contains uncommon truth in common language” (68).

In an appendix, Heck gives an overview of the original broadcast dates and themes that became Mere Christianity (69-70

Goffar, Janine, Compiler and editor. 1998 [1995]. The C.S. Lewis index: A comprehensive guide to Lewis’s writings and ideas. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

“This extraordinary volume is a combination topical index and “concordance” of C.S. Lewis’ best-known works, both fiction and non-fiction. It catalogs nearly 14,000 alphabetical entries — both words and theological concepts — from his various books, including Mere Christianity, God in the Dock, Surprised by Joy, The Four Loves and the Screwtape Letters. A wonderful resource endorsed by leading Lewis scholars the world over, it serves as both a tool for locating useful quotations and as a window to topical study for all who wish to explore the range and depth of thought from this inimitable 20th-century Christian scholar.” (From

In 1974 Roger Lancelyn Green & Walter Hooper published a biography. Then in 2002 it was revised and given the title: C.S. Lewis: A biography. Fully revised & expanded. Chapter 9 (240-268) is on “Mere Christianity.” Lewis’s invitation, given by the BBC, and Lewis’s subsequent exchange of letters is included in the chapter. His feelings about the talks and responses to them are also included. They conclude: “However modern or unusual the dress of his apologetics, Lewis was a thoroughgoing supernaturalist who appealed to the reason as well as the imagination in explaining [doctrine]” (267).

Griffin, William. 1998. C.S. Lewis: Spirituality for mere Christians. NY: The Crossroad Publishing Co.

Contents: Introduction. 1) Diversion; 2) Blues; 3) Broadcasts; 4) Buffoon; 5) Trudge; 6) Festoon; 7) Business. Afterword. Notes. Bibliography.

“Lewis’s spiritual legacy, if it’s anything, is to believe oneself, and to encourage others to believe, the basic doctrines of Christianity and to put into action the basic practices of Christianity as they are taught by one’ denomination. All Christians are included, none excluded. It doesn’t require hopping, skipping, and jumping to another denomination” (198).

William Griffin is an editor, novelist, journalist, literary agent and publishing consultant.

Walter Hooper ( ed. 1996), in C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide has a section on theology that outlines and discusses these books by Lewis: The Problem of Pain; Mere Christianity; The Abolition of Man; Miracles; Reflections on the Psalms; The Four Loves; and Letters to Malcolm.

In the preface of his book, Reading C.S. Lewis: A commentary (2016), Wesley A. Kort says “An overarching intention behind this book is to suggest the sense of the whole and to see why his broader project led him to give attention to religion and to value Christianity so highly” (viii).

In chapter 4, “Mere Christianity,” (85-108) Kort notes that the talks by Lewis were “an attempt by the BBC to consider the question of England’s ‘national character,’ a topic that enjoyed a recurring place in English consciousness since the end of the eighteenth century” (85). According to Kort, it is this idea that led Lewis to try and articulate the essence of Christian belief. Kort makes other observations that are relevant to Mere Christianity:

Lewis begins with reasonable and sharable assumptions about human beings

Lewis believes there is a right way and a wrong way to live and that humans can distinguish—the “Law of Human Nature”

  • Humans are inclined to choose evil, given their pride and self-interest
  • God responds to human evil and need vis à vis the atonement
  • Sexual morality limits humans to sex belonging to marriage
  • Charity implies and demands humility and a concern for others
  • God is personal and we approach him through prayer
  • This demands a transformation on the part of the individual

Peter Kreeft has outlined an imaginary dialogue between C.S. Lewis, John F. Kennedy & Aldous Huxley called “Between Heave & Hell.” The time is on the date the three men died: November 22, 1963 and the location is “somewhere beyond death.” Lewis is represented as a theist, Kennedy as a humanist and Huxley as a pantheist.

“These three men also represented the three most influential versions of Christianity in our present culture: traditional, mainline or orthodox Christianity (what Lewis called “mere Christianity”), modernist or humanistic Christianity (Kennedy), and Orientalized or mystical Christianity (Huxley)” (7).

“Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He was baptized in the Spirit in 1972; is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 75 books…” (From

McCusker, Paul. 2014. C.S. Lewis & mere Christianity: The crisis that created a classic. [Focus on the Family]. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

“Mere Christianity is one of the best books of Christian apologetics ever written. Arguably, no book other than the Bible itself has had as much influence for the cause of the gospel over the past 60 years. The story of how that message came to be created, during the rigors of World War II in England, is fascinating in and of itself. But it also addresses a very important question: How do we present the gospel effectively to a culture that has Christian foundations but has become largely secularized and ignorant of biblical truth? C. S. Lewis & Mere Christianity develops the circumstances of Lewis’s life and the inner workings of the BBC. It also goes into greater detail about life in the middle of war against Nazi Germany, and Lewis’s series of broadcasts that extended into 1944.” (From Amazon)

Contents: Prologue; 1) “Peace for our time”; 2) The Kilns at war’ 3) Reporting for duty; 4) Déjà vu; 5) The very real phony war; 6) Crossing the line; 7) The blitz; 8) Convergence; 9 “The art of being shocked”; 10) The rim of the world; 11) The high cost of success; 12) Miracles, Narnia, and Mere Christianity. Acknowledgments. Notes. Bibliography.

Paul McCusker is an author and dramatist who scripted the Chronicles of Narnia and other Lewis works for the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre.

Metaxas, Eric and Devin Brown. 2015. Discussing Mere Christianity: Exploring the history, meaning, and relevance of C.S. Lewis’s greatest book. Study Guide with DVD. Zondervan. [On my Kindle]

Contents: How to use this study guide. Introduction: It all began with a letter. Session 1) Our sense of right and wrong; Session 2) What’s behind our sense of right and wrong; Session 3) The rival conceptions of God; Session 4) Free will and the shocking alternative; Session 5) Christian behavior and the great sin of pride; Session 6) The Christian virtue of hope; Session 7) God in three persons; Session 8) Counting the cost. Afterword: A life-changing response.

David Mills, (ed. 1998), The pilgrim’s guide: C.S. Lewis and the art of witness has the following contents: Introduction by David Mills (xi-xiii); Contributors (xiv-xviii); followed by:

The Character of a Witness: 1) Bearing the Weight of Glory: The Cost of C.S. Lewis’s Witness by Christopher W. Mitchell (3-14); 2) Teaching the Universal Truth: C.S. Lewis among the Intellectuals by Harry Blamires (15-26); 3) A Thoroughly Converted Man: C.S. Lewis in the Public Square by “Bruce L. Edwards (27-40).

The Work of a Witness: 4) Saving Sinners and Reconciling Churches: An Ecumenical Meditation on Mere Christianity by Michael H. Macdonald and Mark P. Shea (43-52); 5) God of the Fathers: C.S. Lewis and Eastern Christianity by Kallistos Ware (53-69); 6) The Heart’s Desire and the Landlord’s Rules: C.S. Lewis as a Moral Philosopher by James Patrick (70-85); 7) Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp: Myth and “Real Life” by Stratford Caldecott (86-97); 8) The Romantic Writer: C.S. Lewis’s Theology of Fantasy by Colin Duriez (98-110); 9) To See Truly through a Glass Darkly: C.S. Lewis, George Orwell, and the Corruption of Language by David Mills (111-132); 10) The Triumphant Vindication of the body: The End of Gnosticism in That Hideous Strength by Thomas Howard (133-144); 11) Fragmentation and Hope: The Healing of the Modern Schisms in That Hideous Strength by Leslie P. Fairfield (145-160); 12) The Abolition of God by Sheridan Gilley (161-167); 13) Awakening from the Enchantment of Worldliness: The Chronicles of Narnia as Pre-Apologetics and The Structure of the Narnia Chronicles by Stephen M. Smith (168-184); 14) Growing in Grace: The Anglican Spiritual Style in the Narnia Chronicles by Doris T. Myers (185-202); 15) The War of the Worldviews: H.G. Wells and Scientism versus C.S. Lewis and Christianity (203-220); 16) Tools Inadequate and Incomplete: C.S. Lewis and the Great Religions by Jerry Root (221-235); 17) Nothningness and Human Destiny: Hell in the Thought of C.S. Lewis by Kendall Harmon (236- 254).

Appendices: A Reader’s Guide to Books about C.S. Lewis and Other Resources by Diana Pavlac Glyer (257-273); A C.S. Lewis Time Line compiled by David Mills, with Michael Nee, James Kurtz, Dan Klooster and Sarah Mills (274-293); The Source of C.S. Lewis’s Use of the Phrase “Mere Christianity” (294); Permissions (295-297).

The Pilgrim’s Guide is intended for the serious general reader, though academic readers should find it helpful. The book explores the art of Lewis’s witness, which was both a moral art, in the formation of his character, and an intellectual art, in knowing how to speak the Word so that it would be heard. The distinction is a poor one, in some ways, because, as Lewis himself know, one can only communicate what one knows, and one only knows what one sees, and one sees well or badly depending on one’s character” (xi).

Mr. David Mills is director of publishing at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and editor of the school’s journal Mission & Ministry.

Robert E. Morneau has prepared a book entitled, 1999. A retreat with C.S. Lewis: Yielding to a pursuing God. (1999). Day Three, “More Than Mere Christianity. Conversion,” enjoins participants to “come together in the Spirit.” Considerations are:

  • The human causes God uses to continue the conversion process
  • How God brings liberation into one’s life: physical, psychological and spiritual
  • Why courtesy is insufficient for discipleship
  • Techniques to improve one’s life and faith
  • Responding when the ‘old self’ is reactivated
  • How Christ’s sayings have radically altered attitudes and behaviour
  • How God interrupts one’s journey and provides progress

Phillips, Justin, ed. 2002. C.S. Lewis in a time of war: The World War II broadcasts that riveted a nation and became the classic Mere Christianity. HarperSanFrancisco.

Contents: Author’s Introduction. 1) 1 September 1939; 2) The BBC;s Early Vision; 3) Censorship Kicks In; 4) The Radio Talk; 5) Broadcasting House Bombed; 6) Lewis Approached: Right and Wrong; 7) Life in Oxford; 8) Getting Lewis to Air; 9) What Christians Believe; 10) Communicating Core Beliefs; 11) Attracting Attention; 12) The Joys of Domesticity; 13) Radio Drama; 14) The Man Born to be King; 15) ‘ Not my pigeon, I think’; 16) A Pox On Your Powers; 17) ‘We understand and we regret…’; 18) The Legacy. Acknowledgments. Appendix 1: The BBC Sound Archives; Appendix 3: The History of Mere Christianity; Appendix 3: The Anvil. Index.

Appendix 2, 203-207 compares the order and title of broadcasts with the chapters in the publication.

“… Justin Phillips explores the fascinating story of the radio broadcasts that evolved into Lewis’s seminal work, Mere Christianity, and the enthusiastic response they evoked in London during World War II….. C.S. Lewis Goes to War reveals a new facet of Lewis, never before explored, which will intrigue and delight any Lewis fan.” (From the back cover)

Justin Phillips was a radio journalist for the BBC for over twenty years….Phillips died in 2000.

Root, Jerry, Mark Neal and Stephen A. Beebe. 2015. The surprising imagination of C.S. Lewis. Abington Press.

Religious Writing: 2) Hunting the woolly mammoth: Shared imagination in Mere Christianity.

Urban, Steven. 2015. Mere Christianity study guide: A Bible study on the C.S. Lewis book Mere Christianity.

“Mere Christianity Study Guide takes participants through a Bible study of C.S. Lewis’s classic, Mere Christianity. This weekly format Bible study workbook is the only study that digs deep into each chapter and in turn into Lewis’s thoughts.” (From Amazon)

Contents: The author. Foreward. Author’s course note and study formats. Introduction: Why a “thinking” faith? Preface. Book 1 Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe: 1) The law of human nature; 2) Some objections; 3) The reality of the law; 4) What lies behind the law; 5) We have cause to be uneasy. Book 2 What Christians Believe: 1) The rival conceptions of God; 2) The invasion; 3) The shocking alternative; 4) The perfect penitent’ 5) The practical conclusion. Book 3 Christian Behavior: 1) The three parts of morality; 2) The ‘Cardinal Virtues’; 3) Social morality; 4) Morality and psychoanalysis; 5) Sexual morality; 6) Christian marriage; 7) Forgiveness; 8) The great sin; 9) Charity; 10) Hope; 11) Faith; 12) Faith. Book 4 Beyond Personality: First steps in the doctrine of the Trinity: 1) Making and begetting; 2) The three-personal God; 3) Time and beyond; 4) Good infection; 5) The obstinate toy soldiers; 6) Two notes; 7) Let’s pretend; 8) Is Christianity hard or easy? 9) Counting the cost; 10) Nice people or new men; 11) The new men. Appendices for ‘Further Up and Further In’: Appendix 1) “Anti-intellectualism” in today’s education, culture and church and the consequences on Christianity; Appendix 2) The law of human nature around the world; Appendix 3) Rival conceptions of God; Appendix 4) Made for each other: the Gospel and the world; Appendix 5) Evolution and thinking (Or is C.S. Lewis an evolutionist?) Appendix 6) The purpose of giving; Appendix 7) Producing a “Christian Society”; Appendix 8) Psychological make up & choice; Appendix 9) Hope: Longing for heaven; Appendix 10) Transformation: From compatible to intimate; Appendix 11) New men: Theological gas or reality? Appendix 12) C.S. Lewis’s spiritual secret.

Chad Walsh, in C. S. Lewis: Apostle to the skeptics (1949), notes that “A careful reading of Lewis’s books leaves the conviction that he is squarely in the middle of the Christian tradition: an uncompromising defender of the doctrines telescoped into the Creeds, but chary of excessive Bibliolatry” (75). That is what “Mere Christianity” represents.

Wolfe, Judith and Brendan Wolfe. 2011. C.S. Lewis and the Church: Essays in honour of Walter Hooper. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark.

Part III: Lewis and the Churches: In “Mere Christianity’ and Catholicism” by Ian Ker (129-134), Ker gives a sympathetic reading to Lewis but comes down on the side of the [Catholic] “Church” being paramount to an individual’s beliefs.

Longing (Sehnsucht), and C.S. Lewis


C.S. Lewis often talked about his longing, which he called Sehnsuch in German, for another—a better and more “distant” country—than the one we are living in. Why is this longing present if no such place exists? Living in our present place and life does not satisfy the longing. We find the hope for such a place throughout his writings.

Brown, Devin. 2013. A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis. Foreword by Douglas Gresham. Grand Rapids, MI: BrazosPress.

“While other biographers have provided excellent comprehensive, broad-ranging accounts of the events—large and small—which surrounded Lewis’s life, my goal is to focus closely on the story of Lewis’s spiritual journey and his search for the object of the mysterious longing he called Joy (always capitalized), a quest which he claimed was the central story of his life” (xi).

“This book is different. It is the story of Jack’s real true live—not the more flash of the firefly in the infinite darkness of time that is our momentary life in this world, but the one he left the world to begin—and how he came to attain it” (x, from the Foreword).

Devin Brown (Ph.D., University of South Carolina) is a Lilly scholar and professor of English at Asbury University, where he teaches courses on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Carnell, Corbin Scott. 1974. Bright Shadow of Reality: C.S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co.

“Many writers have seen in nature some evidence for the existence of a divine being, and this awareness has come not only in her sunnier, more benevolent aspects…. [But] often in fear, in awed surmise, in the lush of the deep mystery of man’s finitude and creatureliness” (15).

Sehnsucht may be thought of as one of the rooms in the house of literature; it has a variety of ‘furnishings’ and associations, but these are united in a common basis—a sense of displacement” (23). “I am indebted chiefly to C.S. Lewis for my understanding of Sehnsucht, I turn now to the subject of his development as an author and thinker” (ibid).

Chapter VII, “Sehnsucht and the New Romanticism,” deals with Lewis’s theory of it, how his concept meets recent theology and aesthetics, contemporary modifications and the value of his concept. Sehnsucht is related to “joy” which is often “a sense of displacement or disorientation which seems often to unite them in the vocabulary of poetic language….. Lewis uses the terms interchangeably” (143).

Goetz, Stewart. 2015. A philosophical walking tour with C.S. Lewis: Why it did not include Rome. NY: Bloomsbury Academic.

Part one: 1) Hedonistic happiness; Common sense and happiness; The nature of happiness, good and evil; Euthyphro and action; Hedonism; The relation between happiness and morality; Eudaemonism; Possible objections to Lewis’s understanding of happiness; Joy or Sehnsucht; Can we really understand the nature of perfect happiness? 2) Supernatural persons; The body and happiness; Lewis’s view of the body; Mental to mental causation; Mental to physical causation; The soul is the person; Once more on common sense; The pleasure of the soul.

Glaspey, Terry W. 1996. The spiritual legacy of C.S. Lewis. Nashville TN: Cumberland House Publishing.

Lewis had a romantic temperament and the vision of his surrounding geography gave him a longing—a Sehnsucht—as a kind of symbol for the supernatural joy that he longed for (7). His first stories (called Boxen by Hooper) were created in imaginary place, complete with chronologies, maps, and lists of rulers” (8) The author maintains that if Lewis were alive today he would (not so musch be “longing” but see:

  • A generation who had lost touch with any moral law
  • Men who were unable to reason in their hearts
  • An education resulting gin violence, moral chaos and the breakdown of families
  • Ethical chaos
  • The loss of human dignity because of moral relativism

“The tragedy of our current state is mad more pronounced by contemplating the glory from which we have fallen” (183).

Glover, Donald E. 1981. C.S. Lewis: The art of enchantment. Athens, Ohio: Ohio U. Press.

Contents: Acknowledgments. Preface. Introduction. I) Letters; II) Critical Theory; III) The Fiction: 1) The Pilgrim’s Regress (1933); 2) Out of the Silent Planet (1938); 3. The Dark Tower (1938) (1976); 4) Perelandra (1943); 5) That Hideous Strength (1945); 6) The Screwtape Letters (1942); 7) The Great Divorce (1945); 8) The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956); 9) Till We Have Faces (1956); Conclusion. Endnotes. Index.

“Lewis has clearly distinguished his reader from his critic. The good reader is what most of those who have come this far in the book are: open, receptive to all the works have to offer, ready to look, listen, and receive….The good reader feels the theme more than the form…and that look will deepen and broaden our appreciation of what Lewis meant to say to us….Lewis had essentially one message: the search for truth begins with a longing to recapture an impression which has tantalized our senses and our minds. We look and long to find that truth and search through life in books and music, in paintings, in nature, and in other people, and ultimately we discover that we have mistaken the earthly experience for a spiritual one. We have accepted the reflection of the truth for its reality” (201).

Hannay, Margaret. 1981. C.S. Lewis. NY: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.

3) The Cord of Longing.

“C.S. Lewis should provide a starting point, a map of Lewis’s two worlds, that of his life and that of his imagination. Lewis emerges as a man haunted by longing, a man both passionately romantic and scrupulously logical, a man who, through love and suffering, progressed from dogmatism to gentleness” (xiii).

Holmer, Paul L. 1967. C.S. Lewis: The shape of his faith and thought. NY: Harper & Row.

Contents: Preface. 1) Some Reminders About Lewis and His Literature; 2) About Theories and Literature; 3) Concerning the Virtues; 4) What People Are; 5) On Theology and God.

“A prominent theologian who was also an acquaintance of C.S. Lewis offers an engaging, lively discussion of one of Christianity’s greatest apologists. Lewis’s great insight…was in understanding the special role that literature can play in drawing the reader into new constellations of emotion, virtue and belief.” (From the back cover.)

“The things in Lewis’s account of human life that are also the best are clearly the most costly. The gospel cost God the life of Jesus Christ. We do not have to sacrifice our intellects in order to be redeemed, but we do have to be converted, even in thought. Lewis gives us a clue to the transformation that is like a restoration. Once effected, it as if the unbidden reward is a world that once more makes sense. Our daily life hides a longing so pervasive, a need so powerful, that noting save God, immortality, and redemption will assuage them” (116).

Paul L. Holmer is Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School.

Kreeft, Peter. ed. 1994. The shadowlands of C.S. Lewis: The man behind the movie. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

  1. Joy: The Mysterious Longing (“Joy”); Two Mysteries of Desire (From the Preface to The Pilgrim’s Regress).

Happiness, Not Unhappiness, Begets Longing (From Till We Have Faces): The Preciousness of Longing (from Poems).

“This anthology is a necklace of gems from C.S. Lewis’ mine of some fifty books. Its unifying principle is the point of the title of the movie Shadowlands, in five steps, as summarized above” (11) [1-haunting sense, 2-innate longing, 3-soaring imagination, 4-knockout argument, but not, 5-escapist fantasy].

Lindvall, Terry. 1996. Surprised by laughter. Thomas Nelson Publishers.

6) Sehnsucht.

Menuge, Angus J.L., ed. 1997. Lightbearer in the Shadowlands: The evangelistic vision of C.S. Lewis. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Chapter 4, “Longing, Reason, and the Moral Law in C.S. Lewis‘s Search” (103-114).is by Corbin Scott Carnell. He first discusses Lewis’s inner journey (family relationships) and then his outer one (his education and scholarly output). “The three ideas tht so haunted Lewis’s intellectual and spirutal search—longing, reason, and the moral law—allcame to be understood by Lewis as being the results of living in a world made by a gracious Creator who seeks to draw human beings to Himself” (112). Lewis used various genres in his literary works: narrative, space fiction, children’s stories, and others but he is always careful to do two things: 1)not talk down to readers, and 2) use varied images and analogies (113).

Sammons, Martha C. 2004. A guide through Narnia. Revised and Expanded Edition. Vancouver: Regent College Publishing.

“For Lewis, marvelous literature evoked and satisfied his intense longing” (168) In his book, The Weight of Glory, Lewis speaks of a “far off country’ that contains secret desires, but something that has not occurred in experience. Longing is a spiritual exercise to receive beauty, often by means of gods, goddesses, nymphs and elves—“such creatures present to us an old reality we have forgotten, help us see nature and man in a visionary way, and illustrate the idea of heirchy and cosmic order” (169). Such stories are not escapism but rather “their true significance lies in their ability to arouse one’s mind a longing for something” (170).

Puckett, Joe, Jr. 2012. The apologetics of joy: A case for the existence of God from C.S. Lewis’s argument from desire. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, Publishers. [Also on my Kindle]

Contents: Foreword by Mark Linville. Preface. Introduction.

Part 1: C.S. Lewis and the argument from desire: 1) The argument as presented in selected works of C.S. Lewis; 2) Defining “joy” as Sehnsucht; 3) Plantinga and Lewis: Balancing the mystical and the natural in Sehnsucht; 4) A word on the different forms that the argument can take.

Part 2: Examining Beversluis’s objections of the argument: 5) Does Lewis “Beg the Question”? 6) Does the quality of Sehnsucht lack innateness? 7) If “Joy” is so natural and desirable then why did Lewis run away from it? 8) Does the concept of Sehnsucht contradict the Bible? 9) Why do some people never experience what C.S. Lewis calls “Joy”?

Part 3. Haunted by desire: 10) Echoes and evidences of the second premise; 11) Imagination and the heart’s deep need for a happy ending; 12) In the defense of beauty; 13) Lewis, leisure, and Sehnsucht.

Part 4: Concerning the conclusion of the argument from desire: 14) The evolutionary objection; 15) Is there a human gene for Sehnsucht? Conclusion. Appendix: The end of human desire. Bibliography. Subject/name index.

Schakel, Peter J., ed. 1977. The longing for a form: Essays on the fiction of C.S. Lewis. Kent, OH: Kent State U. Press.

In addition to the editor, some 14 authors contribute to provide “a critical study of Lewis’s works of fiction” (ix) with the aim of having “each essay suitable to general readers of Lewis” (ibid). The authors are intent on drawing “attention…to Lewis as a creative artist” (xi). To Lewis “form” was a type of literary composition, subject to his control. There was always a “shape” to his compositions, such that arrangement and handling of material were critical for unity (xiv).

Schakel, Peter. 1979, Reading with the heart: The way into Narnia (A Reader’s Guide). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Schakel has three chapters that relate specifically to “longing”: Chapter 6 on “Longing and learning in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and Chapters 9 and 10, which deal with endings and beginnings in The Magician’s Nephew and endings and transcendings in The Last Battle.

Schakel, Peter J. 1984. Reason and imagination in C.S. Lewis: A study of ‘Till we have faces’. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Chapters 6 and 7 deal with “Love” and longing. “It would not be unfair or misleading to call Till We Have Faces a development in fiction of the central themes Lewis would spell out a few years later in The Four Loves” (27).

Starr, Charles W. 2012. Light: C.S. Lewis’s first and final short story. Hamden, CT: Hinged Lion Press.

The story is about earthly Longing and the story of a man born blind. Starr analyzes the story, first of all, as one of intrigue: “an unknown manuscript by the twentieth century’s most famous Christian author” (1) that suddenly appears out of nowhere some 20 years after Lewis died.

Stellars, J.T. 2011. Reasoning beyond reason: Imagination as a theological source in the work of C.S. Lewis. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications.

Contents: Acknowledgments. Introduction. 1) The nature and limits of naturalistic reason; 2) The function of the imagination; 3) The imaginative drive; 4) Desire and longing in Lewis, Plato and Augustine; 5) The ethics of fairyland; 6) Poetic labors; 7) The theological imagination. Bibliography. Subject index. Name index.

J.T. Sellars is an instructor of philosophy and humanities in northern California and southern Oregon.

Sellars attempts to: 1) place Lewis’s work in a premodern era; 2) enlist others to show that Lewis views the imagination “as purely phenomenologically funded” (p. 5): 3) show how Lewis’s imaginative self developed; 4) examine the role of desire in Lewis’s work; 5) demonstrate that Lewis rejected a purely rationalistic approach; 6) explore his debt to MacDonald; and 7) connect his reasoning and narrative framework to theology.

Travers, Michael, ed. 2008. C.S. Lewis: Views from Wake Forest. Collected essays on C.S. Lewis. Wayne, PA: Zossima Press.

This collection, edited by Michael Travers, professor of English at Wake Forest, contains 15 chapters, divided into four parts. Chapter 8 (137-155), “Wilderness, Arcadia and Longing: Mythic Landscapes and the Experience of Reality” is by Kip Redick of Christopher Newport University. “His specific research interest centers on the study of wilderness trails as sites of spiritual journey” (279).

Redick notes that “Lewis’ mythopoeic construction of vivid landscapes associated with spiritual journeys enlivens the reader’s interaction with characters and places” (137). This was indicative of the longing that Lewis experienced (Sehnsucht) and was evident in particular kinds of landscape. This desire was not more than intellectual and but rater communicating with God through the medium of nature.

Williams, Thomas M. 2005. The heart of the Chronicles of Narnia: Knowing God here by finding Him there. Nashville: W Publishing Group.

The enthusiasm of Lewis for adventure, fun and joy comes alive in the Narnia series and Williams blends them together in Part 1, with chapter titles like The song of Aslan, Not a tame lion, Deep magic before time and Romping with the Lion. The second part of the book is equally entertaining with Aslan on the move and The Blind Dwarfs. But it is in the 3rd part of the book that we have the chapters: Beyond the Shadowlands, Further up and further in and Longing for Aslan. It is this last chapter that includes the features Lewis best captured in the notion of Sehnsucht. Aslan, in The Last Battle, reminds his earth children that “This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you might know me better there” (173). Lewis had learned about “looking for joy in all the wrong places” (174), which led to the question, “How can we love God?” We find out when we reach Aslan’s country because “If Aslan no longer looks like a Lion, it’s not too hard to guess just what he does look like or who he is…. One whom we were created to love” (180).


Letters and C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis was a consummate letter writer: even with arthritic pains in his hands and fingers, he never stopped writing. His brother Warnie helped him by often typing out answers to correspondents for him. However, it was Lewis himself who felt obligated to those who consulted him about his books and to provide an answer or comment.

This section includes letters by Lewis to individuals and imaginary people, as well as collections of letters written to Lewis by his many correspondents.

  1. The Screwtape letters. London: Geoffrey Bles. Illustrated, with a study guide. Prepared by Walter Hooper and Owen Barfield. Lord and King Associates, Inc. Distributed by Fleming H. Revell Company 1976. Published in 1961 as The Screwtape letters & Screwtape proposes a toast, with a new Preface by the author. Macmillan Company.

Revised edition contains the C.S.Lewis Preface of 1960, Screwtape Proposes a Toast, and the never-before-published Lewis Preface to the Toast.

Probably the best known of Lewis’s books (apart from the Narnia series), it is a series of 31 letters written and published weekly in the Guardian. The story’s principal actor is a senior devil (Screwtape) who gives instructions to a junior devil (Wormwood) on how to best tempt a particular man (and people in general). God is referred to as “The Enemy.”

The edition I have was published in 1942 and dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien. As part of his rationale for this type of genre, Lewis quotes Luther, who said: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

  1. Mere Christianity. NY: The Macmillan Company. See also: 1955.

Appendix A includes some of the letters that Lewis wrote in response to listeners’ questions. Lewis explains that he is not trying to convert anyone with his talks, nor is he focusing on any particular denomination and “the book, however faulty in other respects, did at least succeed in presenting an agreed, or common, or central, or ‘mere’ Christianity” (Preface, xl).

  1. A grief observed. [N. W. Clerk, pen name] London: Faber & Faber.

A very intimate account of Lewis’s journey of grief after his wife died. He comments “Where is she now? That is, in what place is she at the present time. But if H. is not a body—and the body I loved is certainly no longer she—she is no place at all” (21). “If the dead are not in time, or not in our sort of time, is there any clear difference, when we speak of them, between was and is and will be?” (22) “Unless, of course, you can literally believe all that stuff about family reunions ‘on the further shore’, pictured in entirely earthly terms. But that is all unscriptural, all out of bad hymns and lithographs. There’s not a word of it in the Bible. And it rings false. We know it couldn’t be like that. Reality never repeats” (23). “Probably half the questions we ask—half our great theological and metaphysical problems—are like that [nonsense]” (55). “There is also, whatever it means, the resurrection of the body. We cannot understand. The best is perhaps what we understand least” (59).

  1. Letters to Malcolm: chiefly on prayer. NY: Harcourt, Brace & World; 1964 by Geoffrey Bles. Fontana Books 1966; Fount Paperbacks 1977.

There are 21 letters to “Malcolm” that begin with the subject of private (not corporate) prayer. Lewis reminds us that the charge to Peter was to feed His sheep, not to experiment with rats or teach dogs new tricks (5). He suggests that prayers without words are best (11) and that the relationship between us and God should be private and intimate (13). Although he allows for the possibility of prayers for the dead he sees it as a “great danger” (15) and also that the place or position we pray in is not the issue as much as praying with discipline. Lead us not into temptation is a petition to make our paths straight and that we be spared, when possible, from crises (28). Some things we don’t pray about: “We don’t pray about eclipses” (38). “In every Church, in every institution, there is something which sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence” (43). Lewis often makes the point in his writings that “God and His acts are not in time. Intercourse between God and man occurs at particular movements for the man, but not for God” (48). He concludes that the images we have are more important and more to be trusted than theological abstractions because the latter is “itself a tissue of analogies: a continual modelling of spiritual reality in legal or chemical or mechanical terms” (52). “There is always hope if we keep an unsolved problem fairly in view; there’s none if we pretend it’s not there” (59). God listens to our prayers and takes them into account (61) even if he does not answer them like we wish. He points out that the increased number of people that we need to pray for is one of the burdens of old age! (66) “The true Christian’s nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool” (98). “Our emotional reactions to our own behaviour are of limited ethical significance” (99). See (108) for comment on purgatory. “If we were perfected, prayer would not be a duty, it would be a delight. Some day, please God, it will be” (114). “I must say my prayers today whether I feel devout or not; but that is only as I must learn my grammar if I am ever to read the poets” (115). There are many rich moments in prayer to God but “It is no good angling for rich moments. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard” (116).

  1. Letters to an American lady. Edited by Clyde S. Kilby . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Preface by Kilby . “These letters accentuate rather than change the character of Lewis as it is generally known. In them are his antipathy to journalism, advertising, snobbery, psychoanalysis, to the false and the patent, to wheels and stir and ‘administration’ and the multitude of petty or insidious practices that sap personal and national freedom. And we must not fail to add his antipathy to letter-writing….Yet here we have enough letters to fill a book written to one person in a far country whom he never expected to meet in this world. Although this is one of the longest of Lewis’s correspondences, it is not the only one running to a hundred or more letters….The obvious thrust of these letters is spiritual encouragement and guidance and it is chiefly here that they have their value” (6,7).

Lewis never met the woman or expected to, but his letters run to over 100 and he could have found reasons “to justify pitching his mail into the wastepaper basket” (6). Nevertheless, Lewis regarded it important to offer some encouragement and guidance to the woman. And, fittingly, “Because both Lewis and his correspondent had in common a mélange of physical troubles, we learn more here than anywhere else of his increasingly numerous maladies that were finally to join hands in his decease” (8).

  1. They stand together: The letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914-63). Edited by Walter Hooper. NY: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.

Contents: Introduction by Walter Hooper; Editor’s Note: Letters from C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves; Letters from W.H. Lewis to Arthur Greeves; Letter from Joy Davidman to Arthur Greeves; Letters from Arthur Greeves to C.S. Lewis. Index.

“When, as I have said, the bulk of these letters came into his hands, Warren showed not the slightest interest in reading them. Indeed, when I suggested that they would almost certainly clear up some of the ‘problems’ he saw in the Lewis-Moore friendship he made it clear that he did not wish to read the letters, much less hear them discussed. But, oddly, he had no objection whatever to my editing them for publication” (21).

  1. The collected letters of C.S. Lewis: Family letters. 1905-1931. Volume 1. Edited by Walter Hooper. HarperSanFrancisco.

“One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, C.S. Lewis continues to fascinate those who have been enchanted by The Chronicles of Narnia and thrilled by his theological books….This collection, the most extensive ever published, brings together the best of these, carefully selected and arranged.” (From the back cover)

  1. The collected letters of C.S. Lewis: Books, broadcasts, and the war. 1931-1949. Volume 2. Edited by Walter Hooper. HarperSanFrancisco.

“In this, the second volume of C.S. Lewis’s letters, we witness the formation of both a world-class scholar and a world-changing popular writer. Lewis was not only a great author but also an extraordinary correspondent and in his lifetime wrote thousands of letters to family and friends. This carefully selected and arranged collection, the most extensive ever published, brings together the best of these.” (From the back cover)

  1. The collected letters of C.S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy. 1950-1963. Volume 3. Edited by Walter Hooper. HarperSanFrancisco.

“Arranged in chronological order, this final volume covers the years 1950—when The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was published—through 1963, the year of Lewis’s untimely death.” (From the back cover)

  1. Yours, Jack. Spiritual directions from C.S. Lewis. NY: Harper Collins.

Contents: Editor’s Note. Acknowledgments. C.S. Lewis Letters: 1916; 1920-1921; 1929-1936; 1938-1963. Index. Biblical Index.

“Most of these letters are currently only available in their entirety—a collection consisting of three hefty tomes. Yours, Jack features the best inspirational readings and sage counsel culled from C.S. Lewis’s letters, offering an accessible look at this great author’s personal vision for the spiritual life. This thematic selection from his letters offers the freshest presentation of Lewis’s writing since his death in 1963. Yours, Jack will showcase Lewis’s remarkable teachings and vision for a new generation.” (From the dust jacket)

Bleakley, David. 1998. C.S. Lewis at Home in Ireland: A Centenary Biography. Bangor, Northern Ireland: Standtown Press.

On the 100th anniversary of Lewis’s death David Bleakley, who was born and lived close to the Lewis family in Strandtown, Belfast, Ireland, put together a book that shows us Lewis growing up and interacting with his community. Lewis’s Irish identity is the focus of the book, with pictures and stories of the Lewis extended family. There are letters and comments by his Oxford and Cambridge teachers and friends, by monastic acquaintances and, especially, from the voices of his hometown. Children also write about the influence the Narnian books, in particular, have had on them. There is even a letter by evangelist Billy Graham, who had met and knew Lewis personally.

Bloom, Harold, ed. 2006. C.S. Lewis. Bloom’s Modern Critical Views. NY: Infobase Publishing.

Bloom states that “C.S. Lewis was the most dogmatic and aggressive person I have ever met” (1). He met Lewis at Cambridge and classifies Lewis as “a Christian polemicist and I an eccentric Gnostic Jew, devoted to William Blake” (1). With this statement Bloom proved himself to be quite dogmatic and aggressive.

Each chapter is written by an author who is thoroughly acquainted with Lewis’s works and many provide personal insights into Lewis’s  character and values. The chapters are:

Introduction by Harold Bloom; Dreams and letters by Chad Walsh; Fallen and redeemed: Animals in the novels of C.S. Lewis by Margaret Blount; The inconsolable secret: Biography by Margaret Patterson Hannay; The power of language by Dabney Adams Hart; “Logic” and “Romance”: The divided self of C.S. Lewis by Lee D. Rossi; The ‘Narnia books by C.N. Manlove; The apologist by Joe R Christopher; The revered image: Elements of criticisms and Medievalism by David C. Downing; Masking the misogynist in Narnia and Glome by Kath Filmer; Children’s storyteller by Lionel Adey; and C.S. Lewis: Poet by Don W. King. A chronology of Lewis follows.

Christensen, Michael J. 1971. C.S. Lewis on Scripture: His thoughts on the nature of Biblical inspiration, the role of revelation and the question of inerrancy. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Appendix A. Two Letters from C.S. Lewis: The first is to Corbin Carnell, April 4, 1953, in which he comments on questions about the historicity of certain Bible stories, such as on Jonah and calling it a miracle. In the second letter (May 7, 1959) he writes to Clyde S. Kilby on the divine authority of Scripture. Lewis believes “the over-all operation of Scripture is to convey God’s Word to the reader (he also needs his inspiration) who reads it in the right spirit, I fully believe” (99).

Collins, Owen, Compiler. 2000. To quote C.S. Lewis. London: Fount. (an imprint of HarperCollinsReligious)

Contents: Introduction. A brief chronology. Quotations by subject: [109 items]. Fifty of C.S. Lewis’s one-liners. The last will of C.S. Lewis. A select bibliography of C.S. Lewis’s work. Books and letters by C.S. Lewis: a chronological list.

“This collection brings together over two hundred of quotations from more than forty of Lewis’s various books, together with extracts from some of his letters and spoken words” (xi).

“C.S. Lewis has long provided an abundant source of succinct and original quotations for speakers, teachers, and preachers. Lewis was a prolific writer and commented on many subjects of theology, literature, philosophy and the arts. In this book a wealth of short quotations has been gathered together and arranged helpfully in subject matter from A-Z, enabling the reader to find a suitable quotation for every occasion. The wisdom and wit of C.S. Lewis is accessible here as never before.” (From Amazon)

Owen Collins is the editor of several books including Speeches That Changed the World and The Oral History of Christianity.

Cording, Ruth James. 2000. C.S. Lewis: A celebration of his early life. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Chapter 5 (50-65), “Flora’s letters,” are excerpts from Lewis’s mother to his father, Albert, while she and the children were on holidays to the seaside. The letters were written between 1900 and 1907; photos are included throughout the book.

“Having worked in the collection of Lewis letters and books since 1965, I hope to help others enjoy the vast serendipity of the anthology he left for us….I want this book on my ‘coffee table’ to remind me—and to share with others, through story and pictures—things about C.S. Lewis that are too good to miss, and a few reminiscences that may not be found anywhere else” (xiii).

Ruth James Cording is a freelance writer living in Wheaton, Illinois. She is a member of The National League of American Pen Women and a graduate of Wheaton College.

Dorsett, Lyle W. and Marjorie Lamp Mead, eds. 1985. Foreword by Douglas H. Gresham. C.S. Lewis letters to children. NY: Macmillan Publishing Co.

Contents: Foreword. Introduction. 1) C.S. Lewis: His Childhood; 2) A Note to Children; 3) The Letters. Bibliography.

In this volume Lewis answers the letters of children who have contacted him with questions about the various Narnia books. The editors note that Lewis’s letters to children are “too large [to collect all of them] and the author frequently repeated himself. What we have is a representative sample” (7). Although many of the letters are to unidentified individuals, an exception is those to Sarah, his godchild. In those cases he signs the letters as “your affectionate godfather, C.S. Lewis.” He often includes little sketches as well. Another exception was “Joan,” who received 28 letters from Lewis over a period of almost 20 years. In one of the letters to Joan (63-64) Lewis gives her practical advice on writing, e.g., “Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean ‘More people died’ don’t say ‘mortality rose’” (64).

Lewis would often comment on and recommend books to his admirers and was always courteous and forthright about his feelings on his Narnia books. For example, he told “Michael” not to look forward too much to The Silver Chair or “you are sure to be disappointed” (31).

Dorsett, Lyle W., ed. 1988. The essential C.S. Lewis. NY: Collier Books. Macmillan Pub. Co. (An Anthology)

Contents: Preface; Acknowledgments; Chronology. Part I C.S. Lewis: An Introduction to His Life and Writing; Part II Autobiography: From Surprised by Joy; From The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (Lewis and Greeves corresponded for years); Part III children’s Fiction: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (complete); Part IV Adult Fiction: Perelandra (complete); From The Screwtape Letters; Part V Nonfiction: Christian Topics: From Mere Christianity; From Undeceptions; From Christian Reflections; From The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses; From The World’s Last night and Other Essays; From Reflections on the Psalms; From Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer; Part VI Poetry: From Poems; Part VII Philosophy: The Abolition of Man (complete); Part VIII Literary History, Theory and Criticism: From They asked for a Paper; From The Allegory of Love; From English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama; From Studies in Words; From Essays Presented to Charles Williams; From An Experiment in Criticism; From Fifteen Poets; Part IX Letters: From Letters of C.S. Lewis; From C.S. Lewis Letters to Children; From Letters to an American Lady. Selected Bibliography.

Dorsett reminds us that “C.S. Lewis never expected his personal letters to be published. Nevertheless, they now comprise some of his most important contributions…. Like a kindly shepherd, yet never patronizing or condescending, he provided pastoral advice to everyone who sincerely sought his help” (521).

Lyle W. Dorsett was professor of Christian formation and ministry at Wheaton College and Graduate School. He is now the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School.

Edwards, Bruce L., ed. 2007. C.S. Lewis: Life, works and legacy. Volume 4: Scholar, teacher, & public intellectual. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Chapter 2, “The Letters of C.S. Lewis C.S. Lewis as Correspondent” (19-47) by Michael Travers. Letters by Lewis begin as early as November 1905 and continue until a few weeks before he died in September 1963. The letters of Lewis between 1914 and 1920 are mainly to his father, but also to his life-long friend, Arthur Greeves. This period includes his time in the war, his wounds and subsequent return to Oxford. The next period is from his conversion in 1931 until the his last weeks in 1963. Edwards writes that “The striking impression  of Lewis’s mature letters is one of a humble, quiet man who loves a tranquil life, and on e who genuinely cares about the people to whom he writes” (25). Lewis’s audiences included family, friends, former students, and with people seeking advice. In addition to Greeves , his brother and father, he wrote regularly to Owen Barfield and Sister Penelope.

Edwards, Earl. 2013. C.S. Lewis: 100 amazing facts, letters and last will. [On my Kindle]

Contents: Introduction. 1) Romans 5:3-5; 2) Facts 1-10; 3) The Ass; 4) Facts 11-20; 6) De Profundis; 7) Facts 21-40); 8) Satan speaks (II); 9) Facts 41-76; 10) Alexandrines; 11) Facts 77-100; 12) Books that shaped C.L. Lewis; 13) Three letters by C.L. Lewis; 14) The last will of C.L. Lewis. [On my Kindle]

Harwood, Laurence. 2007. C.S. Lewis: My Godfather. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Letters from Lewis as the Godfather of Harwood include one that is especially encouraging—the time Harwood had to drop out of Oxford due to his grades.

Hooper, Walter, ed. 1966, 1988. Letters of C.S. Lewis. Second edition, with a memoir by W.H. Lewis. Harcourt Brace & Company. This is a “revised and enlarged edition.”

Introduction by Walter Hooper; Memoir by Warren Lewis; The Letters; Index.

“Introduced and edited by Walter Hooper, this volume represents an important revision to the collection of Lewis’s letters published in 1966 [by W.H. Lewis]: several letters have been added, proper dates have been restored to some, correspondents’ names to others. And, as in the original volume, selected entries from Lewis’s own diary are included, as is Warnie Lewis’s fascinating memoir of his brother’s life.” (From the back cover)

Part IX (522-532) contains  letters from Lewis that have been previously published, including those to children and to an “American Lady.”

Howard, Thomas. 1987. C.S. Lewis: Man of Letters. A Reading of His Fiction. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Contents: Preface by Peter J. Kreeft. 1) The Peal of a Thousand Bells; 2) Narnia: the Forgotten Country; 3) Out of the Silent Planet: The Discarded Image; 4) Perelandra: The Paradoxes of Joy; 5) That Hideous Strength: The Miserific Vision; 6)Till We Have Faces: The Uttermost Farthing.

“At last! A book about C.S. Lewis that doesn’t sound like a term paper…a book that looks along Lewis rather than merely at him; a book that looks at something far important than Lewis: his world, which is also our world because it is the real world.” (From the Preface, p. 9)

Howard examines several stories to examine Lewis’s imagery, characters and value, as well as interjecting comments from his own readings that relate to the book of Lewis he is examining.

Kent, Daniel. 2015. The Screwtape Letters study guide: with answers. @thatdankent. [On my Kindle]

According to the author, “This study guide unpacks the major lessons Lewis emphasizes and will seek to apply these lessons in our daily lives. Also included: Teaching Tips and a 6 Week Teaching Outline.” Kent uses provocative questions and illustrations of his own as commentaries on each “letter” of Screwtape.

Daniel Kent is an adjunct professor at Bethel University and has taught on The Screwtape Letters for 17 years.

*King, Don W. 2009. Out of my bone: The letters of Joy Davidman. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

“Although best known as the wife of C. S. Lewis, Joy Davidman was an accomplished writer in her own right, with several published works to her credit. Out of My Bone tells Davidman’s life story in her own words through her numerous letters — most never published before — and her autobiographical essay “The Longest Way Round.” / Gathered and expertly introduced by Don W. King, these letters reveal Davidman’s persistent search for truth, her curious, incisive mind, and her arresting, sharply penetrating voice. They chronicle her religious, philosophical, and intellectual journey from secular Judaism to atheism to Communism to Christianity. Her personal engagement with large issues offers key insights into the historical milieu of America in the 1930s and 1940s. Davidman also writes about the struggles of her earlier marriage to William Lindsay Gresham and of trying to reconcile her career goals with her life as mother of two sons. Most poignantly, perhaps, these letters expose Davidman’s mental, emotional, and spiritual state as she confronted the cancer that eventually took her life in 1960 at age 45. / Moving and riveting, Out of My Bone reveals anew the singular woman whom Lewis deeply loved and who influenced his later writings, especially Till We Have Faces.” (From Amazon)

King, Don W. 2013. Plain to the inward eye: Selected essays on C.S. Lewis. Abilene Christian U. Press. [On my Kindle]

Kort’s C.S. Lewis: Then and Now; A Review Essay on The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis.

*King, Don W., ed. 2014. The Letters of Ruth Pitter: Silent Music. Newark: University of Delaware Press.

A friend and frequent with C.S. Lewis, they met dozens of times. Like Lewis , she was moved by the writings of George MacDonald. (Reviewed in CSL, The Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis Society, May/June 2014)

Lewis did not save Pitter’s letters but she reconstructed their contents. She comments on Lewis’s poetic style, among other things. (She was negative about it and he thanks her.)

Lewis, W.H., ed. 1966. Letters of C.S. Lewis. Edited and, with a Memoir, by W.H. Lewis. Later revised and enlarged edition edited by Walter Hooper NY: Harcourt, Brace Company, 1988.

Illustrations are: C.S. Lewis in childhood; The family in Northern Ireland, circa 1901; Jack and Warren with their father, 1911; Jack aged ten with his father and Warren; Jack and his father; C.S. Lewis  on leave, 1918; C.S. Lewis in 1938; The brothers at Annogassan, 1949; The kilns at C.S. Lewis’ home; C.S. Lewis, circa 1958. The Memoir of C.S. Lewis is pp. 1-26.

Among other notable entries, Warnie notes: 1) his brothers “re-conversion to Christianity,” his honorary degrees, “a lavish and improvident scattering of cheques to various societies and individual lame dogs” (20), his fellowship at Cambridge and his marriage to Joy. In selecting the Letters, Warnie chose those that would help show “show what manner of man he was…[his] liveliness, [and] the colour and wit displayed throughout his life” (25).

See Hooper, ed. 1988, for a revised and enlarged edition of the letters.

W.H. Lewis was an authority on sixteenth-century France.

Morneau, Robert E. 1999. A retreat with C.S. Lewis: Yielding to a pursuing God. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press.

“Robert E. Morneau weaves excerpts from Lewis’s allegories, letters and poems into a week of prayer and deepening acquaintance, ending with a list of resources to help you continue this relationship.” (From the Back Cover)

Moynihan, Martin, translator and editor. 1987. The Latin letters of C.S. Lewis to Don Giovanni Calabria of Verona and to members of his congregation, 1947 to 1961. Distributed by Crossway Books, Westchester Illinois. A Division of Good News Publishers.

Originally published under the title “The Latin Letters 1947-1961 of C.S. Lewis to Don Giovanni Calabria of Verona (1873-1954) and to Members of His Congregation,” in Seven: An Anglo-American Literary Journal, Vol. 6, published by the Marion E. Wade Center and Bookmakers Guild, Inc. © 1985 Bookmakers Guild, Inc. “The letters reveal what kind of friend C.S. Lewis was—concerned and encouraging, honest as well as gentle. They exhibit a joyful sense of intellectual camaraderie between two men committed to serving God with all their talents.”

O’Flaherty, William. C.S. Lewis goes to hell: A companion and study guide to The Screwtape Letters. Hamden, CT: Winged Lion Press.

Contents: Introduction: Why read a book about another book? A note on the arrangement of this book; How to get the most out of this book. Part One: Topical glossary: A) Major characters; B) Alphabetical listing of topics. Part Two: Flexible study guide; Includes short summary of key topics. Part Three: Extended summary of key topics. Part Four: Suggested answers to study guide. Appendices: 1) Lessons from The Screwtape Letters; 2) The popularity of C.S. Lewis; 3) Screwtape facts; 4) Keeping things out—the devils best tool? 5) God’s love in The Screwtape Letters: Where Wormwood is told about the love of God; 6) Publication history of The Screwtape Letters & Screwtape proposes a toast; 7) Screwtape speaks at Deomon-: Chapel: An original piece. Acknowledgments. About the author. Other books of interest.

Dickerson and O’Hara offer a new understanding of his pioneering style of fiction. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis deftly combined an active imagination with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, the first book-length work on the subject, explores the marriage of Lewis’s environmental passion with his skill as a novelist and finds the author’s legacy to have as much in common with the agrarian environmentalism of Wendell Berry as it does with the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien. In an era of increasing concern about deforestation, climate change, and other environmental issues, Lewis’s work remains as pertinent as ever.” (From Amazon)

Peters, John. 1985. C.S. Lewis: The Man and His Achievement. Exeter, U.K.: Pater Noster Press.

Contents: 1) An Abiding Influence; 2) A Sketch of Lewis’s Life; 3) Visionary and Allegorist; 4) The Imaginative Apologist; 5) Science Fiction Too; 6) Letter Writer Extraordinary; 7) Appraisal. Notes. Index.

“My chosen method has been to allow Lewis to speak for himself as much as possible; he is by far the best and ablest commentator on and elucidator of his works, and this is where his letters act as companion volumes to his published works and help to substantiate certain of his attitudes and beliefs” (14).

*Sammons, Martha C. 2000. A far-off country: A guide to C.S. Lewis’s fantasy fiction. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

“A Far-Off Country offers a comprehensive introduction to C.S. Lewis’ major works of fantasy fiction: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, and Till We Have Faces. Drawing on Lewis’ manuscripts as well as unpublished letters, Sammons provides a detailed background for the novels, including biographical information on Lewis as it pertains to each work. She thoroughly investigates the characters, symbols, and themes of the novels, highlighting the Christian doctrines that are embedded in them in addition to the many Biblical parallels.

Vanauken, Sheldon. 1977. A Severe mercy. [Includes 18 previously unpublished letters by C.S. Lewis.] SF: Harper and Row.

Lewis and the author share their deep feelings as their wives live their last days on earth with cancer. Vanauken came to see his wife’s (Davy) death as a “severe mercy.” He saw Lewis a fortnight before Lewis’s death and they made tea “in the Kilns and talked about prayer and books” (229). “The disappearance of the grief is not followed by happiness. It is followed by emptiness” (231). But Vanauken found a foretaste of eternity in Davy’s dying.

Vaus, Will. 2010. The hidden story of Narnia: A book-by -book guide to C.S. Lewis’ spiritual themes. Cheshire, CT: Winged Lion Press.

“In a number of Lewis’ letters he comments on how children almost always recognize who Aslan is, whereas grown-ups seldom do.”

White, William Luther. 1969. The image of man in C.S. Lewis. Nashville: Abingdon Press. Also published by Hodder: London, 1970.

“I will be considering all forty-nine of Lewis’ books, but it is not essential for my purposes to survey all of Lewis’ articles, book reviews and letters….I will offer no extended biographical treatment….” (18)

White examines all of Lewis;’ books and articles and adds his own training in theology and literary criticism to his study.


Imagination and C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis had an incredible imagination: the Narnia Chronicles and the Space Trilogy are two examples, but so are The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces. His imaginations started early: he and his brother Warnie had their own world, chronicled in Boxen, which was edited by Walter Hooper in 1985. Lewis was only 8 when the story was first written, complete with Lewis’s original illustrations.

Boxen is the name of a kingdom, united in Parliament with a Rajah of India and the King of the Animaland (Boxen, 61) Although Lewis seldom rewrote any of his works, there is “much to suggest that of all he wrote, published and unpublished, it was the Boxen stories that he and Warnie read most often” (19). The Boxen characters were to form a major part of his incomplete Encyclopedia Boxoniana.

William Griffin compiled and in 1977 published The joyful Christian: 127 readings from C.S. Lewis.

In the reading “Thought, Imagination, Language” (called “Horrible Red things” in other essay collections) Lewis asserts that thought is different from imagination, that the false images maybe mistaken for true ones and that “anyone who talks about things than cannot be seen, or touched, or heard, or the like, must inevitably talk as if they could be….” (109).

  1. C.S. Lewis: Image and imagination. Edited by Walter Hooper. Cambridge University Press.

Lewis has a chapter in the collection called “Old English Syllabus” (21-33) in which he says that literature is different from the other arts by using language, which means using words that have meanings (37).

Baggett, David, Gary R. Habermas and Jerry L. Walls, eds. 2008. C.S. Lewis as Philosopher: Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

Chapter 15 is on “Lewis and Tolkien on the Power of the Imagination” and is by Gregory Bassham. The author notes that Lewis distinguished three kinds of productive imagination: 1) daydreaming with wish fulfillment; 2) creating an imaginative world that often includes a protagonist; 3) fantasy, which includes impossible things.

Barfield, Owen. 1989. Edited by G. B. Tennyson. Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis. Middletown, CN: Wesleyan University Press.

Barfield and Lewis had a close “literary friendship” that lasted from 1919 to 1925. After Lewis’s conversion thye “ceased to engage each other directly in philosophical exchange (xix).

In chapter 7, called “Lewis, Truth, and Imagination (90-103),” Tennyson follows Barfield in noting that Lewis not only used imagination, but also had a theory of imagination. Barfield and Lewis argued over the nature of imagination (revelation, subjective, objective?, p. 97) but Lewis’s later reticence to discuss it was, in Barfield’s opinion, partly due to how imaginative statements differ from those that are logical (99).

Bassham, G., and J. Walls, eds. 2005. The Chronicles of Narnia and Philosophy: The Lion, the Witch, and the Worldview. Chicago and LaSalle, IL: Open Court.

In Chapter 11 “Narnia and the Moral Imagination,” Gayne J. Anacker defines moralimagination as “the ability to consider our decisions, our values, and our lives from fresh and different perspectives” (130). This can be expressed in various ways, such as by beautiful scenery, a tragic accident, a song or a sermon, but the most powerful contributor to our moral development is by means of stories (131).

Bell, James Stuart, Compiler, with Anthony Palmer Dawson. 2004. From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers who Influenced his Spiritual Journey. Colorado Springs, CO: A Shaw Book, Published by Waterbrook Press.

“This volume doesn’t attempt to ‘figure out’ C.S. Lewis but to provide a smorgasbord of the content and style of those who have shone forth as messengers of light in his life….So I believe that from these readings we can obtain clearer insight into C.S. Lewis as well as feed our imaginations and intellects upon those whose talents produced works of theology and literature that contain timeless standards” (2). For example, Chapter 1 contains readings of Julian of Norwich, George MacDonald (two), Joy Davidman, Anders Nygren, John Bunyan and George Herbert.”

Carnell, Corbin Scott. 1974. Bright Shadow of Reality: C.S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co.

In Part III of his book, the theme of “The Baptized Imagination” is prominent, with the Inklings, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield and older literary works playing an important role in Lewis’s orientation and interpretation of biblical images. Carnell notes that “Lewis’ own highly imagistic style addresses the whole person” and that only Lewis and Archbishop Temple could fill the Oxford University Church to capacity (74).

Dickerson, Matthew and David O’Hara. 2009. Narnia and the fields of Arbol: The environmental vision of C.S. Lewis. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. [On my Kindle]

Introduction: Ecological crisis, environmental critique and Christian imagination.

“The authors examine the environmental and ecological underpinnings of Lewis’s work by exploring his best-known works of fantasy, including the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia and the three novels collectively referred to as the Space Trilogy. Taken together, these works reveal Lewis’s enduring environmental concerns, and Dickerson and O’Hara offer a new understanding of his pioneering style of fiction. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis deftly combined an active imagination with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, the first book-length work on the subject, explores the marriage of Lewis’s environmental passion with his skill as a novelist and finds the author’s legacy to have as much in common with the agrarian environmentalism of Wendell Berry as it does with the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien. In an era of increasing concern about deforestation, climate change, and other environmental issues, Lewis’s work remains as pertinent as ever.” (From Amazon)

Duriez, Colin. 2003. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The gift of friendship. Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring. Also: Paulist Press. (Includes a complete list of both of their writings.)

In his chapter called “Meeting of Minds and Imaginations: “Tolkien and I were talking of dragons….” (1926-1929),” Duriez comments that what emerged from Lewis’s rich background in reading was “a richness of thought, imagination, and writing that impregnated his later literary criticism, science fiction, children’s education, literary approaches to the Bible and Christian apologetics” (35)..

Glaspey, Terry W. 1996. The spiritual legacy of C.S. Lewis. Nashville TN: Cumberland House Publishing.

“What sets Lewis apart from them [Christian philosophers], and allows him to speak so effectively to so many varied people, is his ability to communicate in a way that is creatively compelling as well as intellectually satisfying. Lewis demonstrates the power of an imagination which has been captured for the cause of truth” (179).

Hannay, Margaret. 1981. C.S. Lewis. NY: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.

“C.S. Lewis should provide a starting point, a map of Lewis’s two worlds, that of his life and that of his imagination. Lewis emerges as a man haunted by longing, a man both passionately romantic and scrupulously logical, a man who, through love and suffering, progressed from dogmatism to gentleness” (xiii).

Margaret Patterson Hannay is Assistant Professor of English, Siena College, Loudonville, New York.

Hart, Dabney Adams. 1984. Through the open door: A new look at C.S. Lewis. University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press.

“This book focuses on Lewis as a teacher, how he opens doors by challenging 20th-century views… Two ideas run through and unify the book. The first is that in all his writing Lewis encourage ‘radical key’ to all Lewis’s critical and imaginative writings. Hart’s aim is to show that there is in Lewis a single, integrated, systematic theory of literature focused on the importance of imagination and language. “The book raises many of the right questions about Lewis and explores them in a stimulating and informative way.” (From Amazon)

Hein, David and Edward Henderson, eds. 2011. C. S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination. London: SPCK.

Introduction: Faith, reason and imagination by David Hein and Edward Henderson.

1) C.S. Lewis: Reason, imagination and knowledge by Peter J. Schakel.

2) Austin Farrer: The sacramental imagination by Edward Henderson.

“These essays helpfully remind us why imagination should matter to people of faith. The contributors make a compelling case that C.S. Lewis and his circle were not merely tellers of tales by theologians in their own right, whose stories and images advance faith’s search for understanding.” (From the back cover, quoting Kevin J. Vanhoozer)

Hillegas, Mark R., ed. 1969. Shadows of Imagination: The Fantasies of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

“Shadows of Imagination consists of essays by thirteen scholars who treat seriously the fantasies of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.”

Honda, Mincho. 2000. The imaginative world of C.S. Lewis: A way to participate in reality. NY: U. Press of America.

“In this book I want to make my point that Lewis’s intrinsic appeal lies in the fact that he is concerned not only with Christianity, but also with the whole objective Reality and that he perceives, participates in, and communicates that Reality with all his reason, oral consciousness and, above all conspicuously strong imagination” (vii, viii).

Mineko Honda is Associate Professor in English  in the International Politics and Economics Department at Nishogakusha University in Japan.

Khoddam, Salwa. 2011. Mythopoeic Narnia: Memory, metaphor, and metamorphoses in the chronicles of Narnia. Winged Lion Press.

“This book is primarily an attempt to secure a well-deserved place for C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in the history of the Western Imagination as product of the confluence of the classics and Christianity….The stories are a literary, and subtle form of what he had reiterated in his Broadcast Talks…and other apologetic and literary works (assuming one can separate the two), that the purpose of life is to live in imitation of Christ….” (i)

Salwa Khoddam, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita of English at Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City.

Latta, Corey. 2016. C.S. Lewis and the art of writing: What the essayist, poet, novelist, literary critic, apologist, memorist, theologian teaches us about the life and craft of writing. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books. [On my Kindle]

3) Entirely in the imagination.

13) Imagination and mere fancy.

27) My imagination seems to have died.

Lindsley, Art. 2005. C.S. Lewis’s case for Christ: Insights from reason, imagination, and faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

Lindsley outlines a number of reasons to study C.S. Lewis’s case for Christ: 1) more than anyone else in the 20th century, Lewis’s writings have had a tremendous effect; 2) his ability to combine reason and imagination; 3) his unbelieving past; 4) his breadth of knowledge and intellectual abilities; 5) his interaction with other top thinkers; 6) his personal qualities (23-24).

Art Lindsley is senior fellow at the C.S. Lewis Institute in Springfield, Virginia.

Markos, Louis. 2012, A to Z with C.S. Lewis. Amazon Digital Services. [On my Kindle]

“Professor, apologist, novelist, literary critic, fantasy writer, philosopher, theologian, and ethicist, Lewis has exerted a profound influence on the way millions of people read literature, make moral choices, think about God, and live out the Christian faith. By means of a genial blend of reason and imagination, logic and fantasy, profound academic insight and good old common sense, Lewis has challenged the modern world to re-examine the claims of Christ, the Bible, and the Church, re-experience the goodness, truth, and beauty of literature, and re-expand its vision of God, man, and the universe. In each 600-word entry, Markos enlist Lewis’s aid in the study, both theoretically and practically, of a topic of perennial interest to humanity and of particular interest to the early 21st century.” (From Amazon)

Marsden, George M. 2016. C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: A biography (Lives of great religious books). Princeton University Press.

Marsden attributes “The lasting vitality of Mere Christianity” (the title of chapter 8) to a number of factors:

  • Lewis looks for timeless truths as opposed to the culturally bound
  • He uses human nature as the point of contact with his audience
  • Lewis sees reason in the context of experience, affections and imagination

*Marshall, Cynthia. 1991. Essays on C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald. Lewiston, NY: E. Mellon Press.

“Studies that go beyond observations noting thematic connections between C. S. Lewis’ theological writings and his imaginative fictions to probe the basic foundation of Lewis’ conception of fiction and advance our understanding of the importance Lewis granted to the imagination in perceiving truth. Also, explores the role George MacDonald (who Lewis said “baptized [his] imagination”) played in the development of his theory of fiction. Walter Hooper and Ann Loades offer essays on questions of autobiography raised by A Grief Observed; Robert Holyer writes on the epistemology of Till We Have Faces; Frank Riga discusses dreams as conduits for the imagination; and Waldo Knickerbocker discusses Lewis’ sense of Christianity as “a true fairy tale.” (From Amazon)

McGrath, Alister. 2013. The intellectual world of C.S. Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

McGrath sees reason, experience, and imagination as Lewis’s apologetic method.

Mills, David, ed. 1998.  The pilgrim’s guide: C.S. Lewis and the art of witness. Eerdmans.

Chapter 7 “Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp: Myth and ‘Real Life’” is by Stratford Caldecott (86-97). He asks why imaginary tales are so fascinating and told universally. “Perhaps because it is just such a journey that gives meaning to our own existence” (88). Lewis takes us into realms of meaning through imagination and story.

Payne, Leanne. 1979. Real Presence: The Holy Spirit in the works of C.S. Lewis. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books and Eastbourne: Monarchy Publications.

10) The Whole Imagination I: Surprised by Joy.

11) The Whole Imagination II: The Two Minds.

“The book is written primarily for all who have loved and benefited from the writings of C.S. Lewis, but it is also for those who would like to step for the first time into Lewis’s unique world of understanding. One can only marvel at the Holy “Spirit’s use of Lewis’s talents—not only in the life of the individual believer, but in the ongoing renewal that the Church is experiencing today” (9).

Mrs. Payne has been active in the ministry of healing prayer for over thirty years. She is the founder and president of Pastoral Care Ministries.

Piper, John & David Mathis, eds. 2014. The romantic rationalist: God, life, and imagination in the work of C.S. Lewis. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Kevin Vanhoozer notes (in chapter 4) that “In bright shadow: C.S. Lewis on the imagination for theology and discipleship” (81-104) “Lewis’s own awakening, or at least the first stage of his awakening began with what he describes as the ‘baptism of his imagination’” (86). Vanhoozer maintains that Lewis taught him  that imagination dos not bring us to Christ, but helps us to abide there. “Lewis did nto but reason on the side of truth and imagination on the side of falsehood. No, but reason and imagination communicate truth….” (95) Imagination is an organ of theological meaning (98) in the respect:

  • It is a cognitive faculty for creating meaning through conceptual associations
  • It engages the will and emotions as well as the mind (the “metaphorical invitation” (99))

“Disciples need imagination to stay awake to the reality of what is in Christ. To be in bright shadow is to live in the shadowlands as people with eyes of the heart enlightened, alert to the mystery of grace in the mundane, awake to God in the ordinary” (104).

Puckett, Joe, Jr. 2012. The apologetics of joy: A case for the existence of God from C.S. Lewis’s argument from desire. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, Publishers. [Also on my Kindle]

The title of chapter 11, “Imagination and the heart’s deep need for a happy ending” sums up Puckett’s case.

Root, Jerry, Mark Neal and Stephen A. Beebe. 2015. The surprising imagination of C.S. Lewis. Abington Press.

Contents: Part 1 Imagination and the Literature of the Mind. Autobiography: 1) The book in the bookstall: Baptized imagination in Surprised by Joy. Religious Writing: 2) Hunting the wolly mammoth: Shared imagination in Mere Christianity; 3) The smell of deity: Satisfied imagination in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. Literary Criticisms: 4) Breaking out of the dungeon: Awakened imagination in An Experiment in Critism; 5) On the shoulders of giants: Realizing imagination in The Discarded Image. Part 2: Imagination and the Literature of the Heart. Fairy Stories: 6) Narnia and the North: Penetrating imagination in The Horse and His Boy; 7) A passionate sanity: Material imagination in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Science Fiction: 8) Discovering new worlds: Primary imagination in Out of the Silent Planet; 9) The magician’s bargain: Generous imagination in That Hideous Strength. Satire: 10) The hellish nature of projection: Transforming imagination in The Great Divorce; 11) The grey town: Controlled imagination in The Screwtape Letters. Poetry: 12) Searching for the hidden country: Absorbing imagination in Poems and Spirits in Bondage. Conclusion: Illuminating the path ahead. Appendix: Additional uses of the imagination as identified by C.S. Lewis.

*Sammons, Martha C. 2009. War of the fantasy worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on art and imagination. Praeger.

“Most scholarship about J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis describes their shared faith and academic interests or analyzes each writer’s fantasy works. War of the Fantasy Worlds: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on Art and Imagination is the first to focus solely on their contrasting concepts of fantasy. The authors’ views of art and imagination, the book shows, are not only central to understanding the themes, value, and relevance of their fantasy fiction, but are also strikingly different.” (From Amazon)

Martha C. Sammons is Professor of English at Wright State University and a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A.) and the University of North Carolina (Ph.D.).

Schakel, Peter J. 1984. Reason and imagination in C.S. Lewis: A study of ‘Till we have faces’. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Contents. Preface. Section one—Till we have faces: the work itself. I. Introduction: The background; II. Part I, Chapters 1-2: Methods, motives, materialism; III. Chapters 3-5: Of divine mysteries and sacrifice; IV. Chapters 6-7: Love and longing; V. Chapters 8-11: Believing and perceiving; VI. Chapters 12-15: Seeing and knowing; VII. Chapters 16-20: Loving, hating, hiding; VIII. Chapter 21: The myth and the retelling; IX. Part II, Chapters 1-4: “Real life is meeting”. Section two—Till we have faces: The work in context. X. Poet of the teens and twenties: The struggling imagination; XI. Critic and story-writer of the thirties: Imagination as servant; XII. Apologist of the forties: Reason as master; XIII. Autobiographer of the fifties: Reason and imagination reconciled; XIV. Person writer of the sixties: Reason and imagination united. Notes. Table for converting page references to chapter numbers. Index.

*Schakel, Peter J. 2002. Imagination and the arts in C.S. Lewis. Columbia, MO: U. of Missouri Press.

“Peter Schakel begins by concentrating on the way reading or engaging with the other arts is an imaginative activity. He focuses on three books in which imagination is the central theme—Surprised by Joy, An Experiment in Criticism, and The Discarded Image—and shows the important role of imagination in Lewis’s theory of education. He then examines imagination and reading in Lewis’s fiction, concentrating specifically on the Chronicles of Narnia, the most imaginative of his works. He looks at how the imaginative experience of reading the Chronicles is affected by the physical texture of the books, the illustrations, revisions of the texts, the order in which the books are read, and their narrative “voice,” the “storyteller” who becomes almost a character in the stories. Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis also explores Lewis’s ideas about imagination in the nonliterary arts. Although Lewis regarded engagement with the arts as essential to a well- rounded and satisfying life, critics of his work and even biographers have given little attention to this aspect of his life. Schakel reviews the place of music, dance, art, and architecture in Lewis’s life, the ways in which he uses them as content in his poems and stories, and how he develops some of the deepest, most significant themes of his stories through them. Schakel concludes by analyzing the uses and abuses of imagination. He looks first at “moral imagination.” Although Lewis did not use this term, Schakel shows how Lewis developed the concept in That Hideous Strength and The Abolition of Man long before it became popularized in the 1980s and 1990s. While readers often concentrate on the Christian dimension of Lewis’s works, equally or more important to him was their moral dimension.” (From Amazon)

Sellars, J.T. 2011. Reasoning beyond reason: Imagination as a theological surce in the work of C.S. Lewis. Eugene, OR: Pickwick.

“Within C. S. Lewis studies, there is also a common conception of Lewis as a modern rationalist philosopher, i.e., a rationalist who thinks arguments (and his arguments in particular) are the last answer on the questions he undertakes. Reasoning beyond Reason attempts to take this view to task by placing Lewis back into his pre-modern context and showing that his sources and influences are classical ones. In this process Lewis is viewed through the idea that imagination and reason are connected in an intimate way: they are different expressions of a single divine source of truth, and there is an imagination already present upon which reason works. Lewis’s “transpositional” view of imagination implicitly pushes towards a somewhat radical position: the imagination is to be seen as theological in its reliance upon something more than the merely material; it necessarily relies on a transcendent funding for its use and meaning. In other words, the imagination is a well-source for what we might normally label “rational.”
“To the modern mind, reason belongs to the cold, objective stare of science. Imagination and story are mere ‘culture,’ of value only as escapism or entertainment. J. T. Sellars’s remarkable book shows how one of Christianity’s most learned but enduringly popular defenders, C. S. Lewis, belonged to a richer, classical world where reason is imaginative and the imagination is rational. I warmly welcome its publication.”
–Simon Oliver, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham.

Smith, Robert Houston. 1981. Patches of Godlight: The pattern of thought of C.S. Lewis. Athens, GA: U. of Georgia Press.

In chapter 6, “Imagination and the Mystical Ascent,” Smith writes that “One of the specific values of the imaginative approach to reality is that it allows for the expression of those dark, sensuous, awesome aspects that the prose of rationalism and abstraction seldom provides” (137) However, “Lewis was emphatic in his insistence that imaginativeness not be confused with creativeness (138). He did not see the latter as genuine on the part of humans. Further, “The concepts of the imagination and of the nature of the self’s journey toward the absolue are fundamental to Lewis’s thought” (163). Lewis “lived in the conviction that ultimate reality alone could provide hope, beauty, joy, and, in the final reckoning, meaning to life” (164).

Starr, Charles W. 2012. Light: C.S. Lewis’s first and final short story. Hamden, CT: Hinged Lion Press.

This story goes “Beyond Reason and Imagination” with a dramatic ending to a man who was born blind.

Sellars, J.T. 2011. Reasoning beyond reason: Imagination as a theological source in the work of C.S. Lewis. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications.

Sellars attempts to: 1) place Lewis’s work in a premodern era; 2) enlist others to show that Lewis views the imagination “as purely phenomenologically funded” (p. 5): 3) show how Lewis’s imaginative self developed; 4) examine the role of desire in Lewis’s work; 5) demonstrate that Lewis rejected a purely rationalistic approach; 6) explore his debt to MacDonald; and 7) connect his reasoning and narrative framework to theology.

*Thorson, Stephen. 2015. Joy and poetic imagination: Understanding C.S. Lewis’s “Great War” with Owen Barfield and its significance for Lewis’s conversion and writings. Hamden, CT: Winged Lion Press.

1) Joy and poetic imagination: The experience : Lewis and the experience of joy; Barfield and poetic imagination; Anthroposophy.

6) Joy and the importance of imagination: Barfield’s Poetic Diction: Imagination as knowledge; Lewis’s Summa: Imagination as spiritual awareness; The “Great War” Letters: imagination and truth; Post-conversion: Imagination in the Psyche.

7) The Holy Spirit and the role of revlelation: Barfield: Spirit is anterior; Lewis: The Holy Spirit is other; Barfield: Inspiration from within; Lewis: Revelation from without; Imagination and revelation.

Ward, Michael. : 2008. Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the imagination of C.S. Lewis. Oxford University Press.

Planet Narnia is a ground-breaking study that will provoke a major revaluation not only of the Chronicles but of Lewis’s whole literary and theological outlook. Ward uncovers a much subtler writer and thinker than has previously been recognized, one whose central interests were hiddenness, immanence, and knowledge by acquaintance.” (From the dust jacket)

West, John G., ed. 2012. The magician’s twin: C.S. Lewis on science, scientism and society. Seattle: Discovery Institute Press.

Lewis was concerned ab out the importance of “elementary text-books” because there the “intellectual scaffold of scientism” took place. Lewis felt that we need to read good stories, re-sensitize ourselves to good and evil, recover objective beauty, re-build authentic subjectivity, rehabilitate the heart and cultivate silence so that the ‘moral imagination’ can take place.


« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 Karl J Franklin

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑