Rereading Lewis

Back in high school I discovered an author that I came to consider a wise companion (even a friend if I could call him that). While everybody else was reading… well I don't know what they were reading honestly, I was reading C.S. Lewis. This of course included The Chronicles of Narnia series, but more deeply I was reading books like Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and a few others. It might of been my sophmore year that my mom bought me a book of collected quotations from Lewis that was arranged topically. I read alphabetically through that book as well. You could say in my developing years Lewis was a very formational author for me.

And then he fell off the map. I don't know why, or what happened to end it all, but I stopped reading him. Sure from time to time I'd pick up The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (which in my opinion is the best book in the Narnia series), but overall I stopped reading Lewis. I wonder if it was a pride in thinking that I've already read him and know his material or if I just got caught up in reading other books at large. My suspicion is that I got "warned" away from Lewis because of some of his theological positions. Maybe some people thought I'd end up an Anglican Univseralist like he was, or so it is supposed. For whatever the reason I stopped reading him.

That was until lately. At the beginning of the year I was reading Douglas Wilson's book Wordsmithy to try and gain a foothold on how to be a better writer on the published page. One of the key peices of counsel that he gave was to read good writers. On a whole I've found myself reading authors that usually write non-fiction, descriptive or expository books. They are trying to teach something, usually as if they are giving a lecture or sermon. Some of it is dry, most of it is systematic and much of it turns into either behavioral or mental manuals for right thinking or living. Not to say that it isn't helpful or useful writing and material. In many ways I owe much to these kinds of books. I have to read more of them. But overall I was missing reading people who could take a thought, infuse it with a creative and faithful imagination and make it something that I would be immersed in from start to finish. In reading Wilson I was reminded that Lewis has done that for me.

All of that to say, lately I've been rereading Lewis. I've picked some of my favorites that I vaguely remember from high school and have been back in the midst of them. It's amazing what almost 20 years of life and perspective and maturity will do to you as you go back to what you consider formative in those years. Last night I finished the one book I never understood, Till We Have Faces. While I am not sure that it's my new favorite (although it might be close), I did discover what I missed so long ago. Lewis, through the genre of fiction, crafted a tale that pushed me in thinking about evangelism and engaging the lost with a world that I seem to see all to easily.

Several other issues were brought out to deal within this book as well, but I find it interesting that through the medium of fiction I'm challenged to see things from a different perspective than I would if I had read a discourse of another form about it. If all you read is non-fiction Christian literature let me encourage you to pick up some good, well writen fiction as well. Not those sappy (and poorly written) Christian rapture or love novels. Pick up time-tested, highly regarded writers like Lewis. You might add a few different shades of color to your perspective and (oh the horror) you might really like it too.