Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dating Jack

Every once in awhile, I date C.S. Lewis. He's a good date, too: always available, a great listener, gets right into deep conversations. Usually our dates last for a couple of intense days, then I'll "put him back on the shelf" so to speak and we won't talk again for awhile. I like him though, and I don't mind when he talks about his wife, Joy (mostly because, well, he's dead, and I'm married and we're not really dating).

This past week we had a great time. On of the reasons I like Jack (he lets me call him this) is because of the straightforward, no-nonsense way he talks about life, people, and the Christian life. Plus, he uses words like "drudgery" and "muddled" and "trotted about". I can practically hear his crisp, British accent clipping off profound statements and practical, ridiculously reasonable arguments as though they were the simplest ideas in the world. I'm pretty sure that every line this man ever wrote is quotable. I mean, there are good writers, great theologians and sometimes a mixture of the two. But, do very many of them get books dedicated to the singular purpose of anthologizing their quotes?

Another thing I get a kick out of is the way he describes people. In today's world, when we're discussing the plights and struggles, the choices and conundrums, the failures and victories of all our varying human conditions, we tend to be pretty psychological and shall we say, "gentle" in our language. Not Jack. He calls it like it is and it is surprisingly refreshing, and helpful. He is the furthest thing from arrogant and is probably more compassionate and able to put his feet in most other people's shoes than the rest of us, but he is still honest and endlessly forthright. He believes that people can actually be fools, cowardly, lazy, and selfish. He doesn't just harp about it though, he shows us the way out.

One of the things he is most well known for and that I am always discovering in new places, is his love and appreciation for imagination. I am literally sitting on my hands as we speak trying to restrain myself from pasting all sorts of quotes in here so that you can share in the wonder. It's not just imagination though, it's the idea that this world is just a glimpse, a shadow, a faintly fleeting, distorted image of what True Reality is. There is Hope in this life precisely because we know we were created for good, things became (and remain) very bad, but because of the God-man Jesus, one day the Good and inexpressibly Delightful creation will be ours and His again. But Jack is no heavenly-minded-and-thus-no-earthly-good kind of man. As he says, "if you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought the most of the next."
If you want to read a some excerpts a little more at length than what I think you will put up with here, go here.  But, really you should just read all his books!

So, that's my challenge for you this week. Read C.S. Lewis. He would say "if you want to learn more about God and Jesus and the like, don't read me, read the Bible." But I think it's great fun to do both. Most of us are mere toddlers when it comes to thinking sanely about the lives we lead. And I am thankful for the women and men God has gifted with the clarity of thought to help us along the way.

And while you're here, I would love to know what your favorite Lewis books have been or the ones you are hoping to read...


  1. (Yes, I realize you JUST posted this. I promise I'm not stalking you. I just happened to be online when you put it up.)

    Two things.

    Did you seriously just use "anthologizing" in a sentence?

    Hm, I can't remember the second thing now.

  2. The second thing is... which book do you like or want to like?!

    I swear, I'm not stalking YOU.

  3. I have wanted to read more C S Lewis for ages. To date I've only read the Chronicles of Narnia. This post has given me a little nudge, so I'm off to order some "Jack" in from the library :)

  4. I like the Screwtape Letters, the Problem of Pain, the Horse and His Boy....and my favorite is A Grief Observed.