Beginning on the 9th of October, 2016, C.S. Lewis will show up at St Timothy United Methodist Church in Mandeville, LA.
This I find surprising, in that I thought Lewis had died on November 22nd, 1963. It was the same day, we are told, that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas and Aldous Huxley, the great philosopher and atheist, died in England. Peter Kreeft, in his book “Between Heaven & Hell” sets up an imaginary dialog between them and refers to Lewis as a Christian theist, Kennedy as a modern humanist and Huxley as an Eastern pantheist.
But only Lewis will be showing up in Louisiana, although he promises to resurrect in Annapolis, Maryland,on the 13th of October, a day later in Springfield, Virginia and another day later in Youngstown, Ohio. That is not all: his spirit with then move to Oregon, California, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Montana, Washington (the State, politicians in D.C. will have no part of him), back to Ohio, Indiana, and finally he will float back across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in Edinburg, Wirrai, Swindon, Twickenham, Tavistock, Basingstoke, Hereford, before settling near his birth site in Belfast. Apparently, even eldila (spirit-angels) get tired!
The bodily avatar for Lewis will be David Payne, “who, on stage, uncannily looks like Lewis,” including vintage horn-rimmed glasses, and has “played the famous author in … 500 performances.” Payne, (pronounced ‘pain’) is somewhat taller than Lewis was, not as bald, but has developed a British accent which substantially authenticates his presentations. There is not much more he can do to look like Lewis, who once described himself as ruddy, slightly overweight and bald. Of course Lewis smoked a pipe (and cigarettes) and Payne could enhance his routine with a pipe in one hand and smoke twirling about his head, reminiscent of Lewis’s picture on the cover of Time magazine.
Hopefully, Payne has cleared all his performances with Walter Hooper and the C.S. Lewis estate, which, according to Kathryn Lindskoog (Sleuthing C.S. Lewis: More light in the Shadowlands), charges money for quoting Lewis. Consulting Lingskoog’s book, we read that by the end of 1998 the royalities of Lewis’s books had totaled over fourteen and a half million dollars. Not bad for an eldila.
I don’t know whether to attend one of Payne’s appearances, but probably not. I don’t know about this recent spirit of Lewis: It has been reported to have associated with Satan in a number of shows as the released soul (in the bodily form) of one Max McClean and may still be at large. Despite the Wall Street Journal reporting it as “one hell of a good show”, it does not seem right to heighten my view of Lewis by putting his words into the mouth of the devil.
There is no reason to stop now: Lewis could be rendered as a child writing Boxen, as a student studying under the Great Knock, as an Oxford don, sitting with the Inklings at the Bird and the Baby, lecturing at the Socratic club, drinking tea in his den, quoting MacDonald’s Phantastes to his students, debating Weston, speaking Hlab-Eribl-of-Cordi to the pfifltriggi, confiding in Walter, shooting rabbits with Joy, riding on a motorcycle with Warnie, taking a bus trip to heaven, walking the hills with his colleague Tolkien, praying in Latin to Oyarsa, meeting the Green Lady or Prince Caspian, reciting poetry in Greek or Old Norse—the possibilities are endless.
And because Lewis taught us about the resurrection of the body, with Aslan as an animal image of Christ sacrificed to save the kingdom of Narnia, why not a tour rebuilding its capital, Cair Paravel? This would provide some competition to the Noah’s Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky—tickets are $40 per adult or $31 for seniors (over 60).
Perhaps even Aslan the Lion could tour the U.S. soon. If so, I hope that he will start in Texas, perhaps in the temple of McLain Stadium where autumn human sacrifices are made to the gods of the gridiron. Donald Trump could play the part of the lion perfectly.