C.S. Lewis: His Contribution to the World

C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis - A brief bio

Clive Staples Lewis, known to the world as C.S. Lewis (or Jack to his friends) was one of the most influential Christian scholars and writers to grace the 20th century. The impact of his life and work continue today with ever increasing renown. He was so many things - atheist turned Christian, Oxford scholar, Cambridge professor, prolific fiction and non-fiction writer, essayist, Christian apologist, theologian, literary critic, broadcaster, poet, husband, stepfather, brother, and friend,

C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland on Novemeber 29, 1898. His childhood was quite happy. He lived with his father Albert and mother Florence, and older brother Warren (Warnie) in Belfast. As a small boy, he named himself Jack, after his beloved dog, Jacksie, died. The name stuck. When he was seven they moved to east Belfast in a home they called "Little Lea." From a young age he was quite taken with stories where animals were portrayed with human characteristics and behavior. He was particularly taken with the stories by Beatrix Potter. This would later be a dominate theme in his fantasy novels. Jack was a voracious reader from an early age and wrote and illustrated his own stories with his brother. He was a passionate lover of nature, also artistically seen in his fantasy work later on.

His later childhood was difficult, much of it full of sadness and pain. Tragedy struck when his beloved mother, Florence, died when he was ten years old, left with his father Albert and brother Warren (Warnie). Her death by cancer was a portent of his future wife. Though his father loved his two sons dearly, he did not know how to cope with his wife's death and care for his boys, thus young Jack was sent off to boarding school (his brother had already been attending) and schooled by a headmaster that struggled with mental illness. Thus began several years of changing schools. At one point he went through prep school at Malvern and began taking great interest in mythology. Jack was desperately lonely and unhappy leading up to and during his time in Malvern and decided God did not exist. He would hold to his atheist convictions until much later in life.

Lewis continued to study at various schools and with various teachers and mentors. As a teenager, he began writing poetry, and also learned the fine art of debate. This skill would later show up in works such as his Mere Christianity, a classic apologetic work.

Adult life

Jack Lewis enlisted in WWl in 1917 in the British army and was wounded. After several months of recovery, he went back on the field. His best friend Paddy Moore, a former roommate and now fellow soldier, was killed in battle. All this served to strengthen his atheist convictions. As he'd made a vow to Paddy that he would care for his mother and sister should something happen to him, Lewis supported and helped Mrs. Moore and her daughter Maureen for many years.

After discharge Lewis began writing essays and published them, winning awards and earning the respect of other scholars and writers. He studied at Oxford between 1919 and 1924 studying Greek and Latin literature, English, as well as philosophy and history. He also tutored other students in philosophy, English and literature for 29 years. He became a Fellow of Magdalen College, and chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature.

George McDonald's writings and G.K. Chesterton's book The Everlasting Man, and his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien all served to lead Lewis back to Christianity. His writings soon began to have Christian themes.

Jack's brother, Warnie, lived with Jack most of their adult lives. He remained a bachelor and had a problem with alcohol that concerned Jack. They were very close friends as well as brothers.

In the 1940s Lewis was asked if he would be willing to do a series broadcast talks on BBC. His masterful apologetic book Mere Christianity was born out of the first set of broadcast messages. He went on to do three more broadcast series.

C.S. Lewis with his wife, Joy Davidman
C.S. Lewis with his wife, Joy Davidman

Jack takes a wife

In the 1950s, an American poet and writer named Joy Davidman Grehsam began writing him as a fan of his work. She had quite a checkered past, once a communist and an atheist, but finally found Christ and converted to Christianity. She was separated and was eventually divorced from an alcoholic abusive husband. She moved to England with her two sons and she and Lewis became very close friends. He married her in 1958 in a civil union to prevent her deportation back to the states. She was found shortly after to have cancer. Lewis realized his love for her and married her at her bedside in a religious ceremony. She later recovered and they spent the next two years in wedded bliss, traveling and loving one another. Sadly, however, the cancer returned and she passed away in July 1960. Lewis was devastated. Out of his grief he penned the book, A Grief Observed, relating with raw candor the pain of losing his wife. He was so concerned about his association with it that he penned it under the name NW Clerk; however it was placed under his name after his death. It is a very powerful read.

Shadowlands(IMPORT ALL REGIONS)
Shadowlands(IMPORT ALL REGIONS)

The beautiful and poignant love story between C.S. (Jack) Lewis and Joy Davidman. Starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. A truly wonderful movie.

 
Statue of C.S. Lewis looking into a wardrobe. Entitled "The Searcher," by Ross Wilson. It stands in Belfast, Ireland where Lewis was born.
Statue of C.S. Lewis looking into a wardrobe. Entitled "The Searcher," by Ross Wilson. It stands in Belfast, Ireland where Lewis was born. | Source

C.S. Lewis wrote in many genres. Which did you prefer?

  • I loved his fantasy fiction, such as the Chronicles of Narnia
  • I loved his intellectual and apologetic works like Mere Christianity.
  • I loved his more biographical books, like Surprised by Joy.
  • I loved his other fictional work like the Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters..
  • I love them all.
See results without voting

The best of C.S. Lewis Literature

As a writer, C.S. Lewis' brilliance was evidenced in his ability to write in a wide variety of genres with equal mastery. Here is an author who wrote the children's classic fantasy novel series, The Chronicles of Narnia (enjoyed equally by adults), with extraordinary imagination and creativity, and the brilliantly shrewd, apologetic work, Mere Christianity.

Following are a few of my favorite works of C.S. Lewis and why:

Non-fiction

Mere Christianity - A theological classic. In my humble opinion, and many others, this book is the best apologetic work ever (beside the Bible of course). He used reason to make a case for Christianity with both artistic and intellectual flair - artistic in the sense of how with a beautiful synergy of creativity, intellect, and sound reason, he weaves a theological tapestry and defense for the faith. This work is easy to read and understand. Mere Christianity was in the top 3 of Christianity Today's list of most influential books among Evangelicals in the 20th century.

Fiction

The Screwtape Letters - A must for every Christian library. A satirical, provocative tale of a senior demon, Uncle Screwtape, mentoring his demon nephew, Wormwood, in the fine art of tempting Christians. There are 31 letters addressed to dear Wormwood, giving him detailed instructions, methods and tactics to lure Christians to sin. It's a comical, yet eye-opening revelation of the devil's bag of tricks. Christian's will see their own weaknesses and how the devil uses them in an attempt to destroy them. But they will also find ways to stop the devil and his cohorts and send them packing.

Fantasy Fiction

The Chronicles of Narnia - Lewis' most well known and top selling book series, which has sold over 100 million copies. The series tells of the beautiful land of Narnia, a magical world ruled and protected by the great lion Aslan (a type of Christ). Narnia is filled with endearing, mythical beasts, kings and queens, princes and princesses, and a great enemy, the White Witch. Narnia is discovered by four children who stumbled in through a their uncle Digory's Wardrobe. The books in order are:

The Magician's Nephew

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Horse and His Boy

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Silver Chair

The Last Battle

Non fiction/Biographical

A Grief Observed - After the death of his beloved wife, Joy, Lewis' wrote of his struggles while in the throes of grief. It's a raw, vividly honest outpouring of grief. With vulnerability he asked the question, "Where is God?" An honest, human question we all ask during tragedy. His confessions and doubts boldly fill the pages. His insights are sobering. This is the human side of Lewis, not the great intellect, or creator. Just a broken man. But perhaps this makes it one of his better works, because it's life and faith and the struggle therein up close and personal. Testimony and personal story are more likely to impact than knowledge based works. It is a book worth reading if only for the fact that he dares to ask the questions and express the thoughts that we, as "good Christian's," often are afraid to speak out loud. But the book is filled with profound truths.

Everyone has their own favorite C.S. Lewis books. He left us with so much.

Death of C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis died November 22, 1963. Lewis' death was eclipsed by the murder of John F. Kennedy on the same day. Both left a legacy of enduring wisdom and knowledge. C.S. Lewis' immense contribution to the world through his writings will continue for decades to come.

Another of Lewis' finest

The Four Loves (Harvest Book)
The Four Loves (Harvest Book)

The Four Loves summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God.

 

© 2013 Lori Colbo

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16 comments

lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Great hub LS,

When I first looked at the title I thought, "Oh, another Kennedy article." I only caught the "50th Anniversary of the Passing . . . ." It was so nice to see this instead. God gets more glory out of a changed man's life than He does out of bringing up a 50 year old crime - and you (as usual) did an excellent job of highlighting the life of C. S. Lewis.


mattmilamii profile image

mattmilamii 3 years ago from Chicago - Be A Blessing... Become A Hand Of God

Dear lambservant,

Thanks' for this tribute to one of literatures greatest, and histories finest son. This well written piece not only captures the diverse essence of who he was but also eludes to your passion and fondness for him as well. I must say I enjoyed the read. Happy Thanksgiving, and...

Blessings


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Very interesting bio. He was a very talented man, would love to see some of his artwork. ^


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

LG, I decided Kennedy, worthy as he is of a tribute, had plenty to go around, while Lewis has few.

Matt, thank you for stopping by. "Diverse essence" - a wonderful use of words to describe his work.

Jackie, thank you as well for your comments. You can find Lewis in any book store, new or used.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Oh, I just love C.S. Lewis, especially, "The Screwtape Letters" and "Mere Christianity" and really many of his other works. Wow, I cannot believe it has been 50 years!

You have written an excellent tribute! Up and more and sharing.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and every day thereafter,

Faith Reaper


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Thank you Faith. You have a blessed Thanksgiving as well. So much to be thankful for.


BeverlyHicksBurch profile image

BeverlyHicksBurch 2 years ago from Southeastern United States

Lamb,

Thank you for this wonderful tribute to a great Christian apologist. My mechanical engineer/pastor dad made sure Lewis was part of our education and I'm so thankful for that.

As an adult I followed that up and read Joy Lewis' book and as part of my journey discovered one of Lewis' inspirations - G.K. Chesterton. So glad to see you also mentioned that wonderful man.

Great hub. Thank you again.

Bev


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Hi Beverly, I did not know Joy wrote a book. I will have to look into it. I was aware of the influence and inspiration of GK Chesterton and I'm not surprised. Blessings sister.


BeverlyHicksBurch profile image

BeverlyHicksBurch 2 years ago from Southeastern United States

Lamb,

I read it many, many years ago and it chronicled her life as a communist, her abusive first marriage and of course her life with Lewis. I remember reading it and thinking what a marvelous example of grace. I can't remember the name of the book it's been so long ago. I don't even know if it's still in print. I hope you're able to find it.

I know Chesterton was "orthodox", but the man just makes so much sense. The EWTN network is headquartered here where I live and I discovered they have a 30 minute program dedicated to Chesterton. The one on creativity was priceless. I couldn't bring myself to erase it from my DVR.

Blessings


John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 2 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

A wonderful article, lamb, which brings back happy memories of discovering C.S. Lewis.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

Outstanding tribute to CS Lewis. I'm a fan of his quotes. I often share them to brighten up friends days :)


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

I do too, sunshine. You have a favorite?


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

"We are what we believe we are." :)


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

That's a good one sunshine. Thanks for sharing.

Mine is "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world."


MVKilgore profile image

MVKilgore 9 months ago

C.S. Lewis, a true giant of a Christian with great wisdom and influence. I love his works and you did a fine job telling his tale.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 9 months ago from Pacific Northwest Author

MV, there is no doubt his influence and impact on the world are profound. Thank you for your comments.

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