Thinking Out Loud

November 1, 2013

C.S. Lewis: Still Very Much Alive

Filed under: apologetics, books, children — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:16 am

If you die on the same day as someone more famous, you probably don’t make the evening news. Your newspaper obituary will probably be hidden away on a back page, if space allows it to run at all. So it was with C. S. Lewis.

Clive Staples Lewis, after whom the Staples office supply store is named

Clive Staples Lewis, after whom the Staples office supply store chain is named

Much will be made with month about the 50 year anniversary of the passing of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, but only on Christian websites and blogs will you read about Lewis. In some respects, I like to think it keeps him very much alive; that Lewis is at the same time one of our best classic writers and one of our best contemporary writers.

But a blog post a few days ago at Faith Village suggests that Lewis’ appeal is more focused in the United States (and Canada) and less so in his native Britain:

Lewis may be the most popular Christian writer in history, with millions of copies of his books sold, the vast majority in the United States where his influence is far greater than in his native country.

Many readers of the Narnia series have no knowledge of Lewis the Christian apologist, while others who enjoy books like Mere Christianity often forget the connection to the children’s fantasy series.

It’s not uncommon to read other authors where his approach to the claims of Christ are reiterated, or hear them interviews such as this one with U2 frontman Bono:

…Bono imitated C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, where Lewis argued that Jesus had to be a lunatic, liar or Lord.

“When people say ‘Good teacher,’ ‘Prophet,’ ‘Really nice guy,’ … this is not how Jesus thought of Himself,” Bono said. “So, you’re left with a challenge in that, which is either Jesus was who He said He was or a complete and utter nut case.”

“And I believe that Jesus was, you know, the Son of God…”

The 50th anniversary of his death has already been remembered in Oxford, England with a September festival,  with guest speakers such as Alister McGrath:

“Lewis is now read by more people today than during his lifetime. What makes people keep reading him?” said McGrath.

Answering his own question, McGrath ranged over the ‘three Lewises’ – Lewis the Oxford don, Lewis the Christian writer, and Lewis the creator of Narnia.

“The latter two are why he is remembered,” said McGrath, a professor of theology at King’s College London.

In addition to The Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis’s best known writings include The Problem of Pain, A Grief Observed and Mere Christianity.

McGrath praised Lewis for his skill in explaining the Christian faith in a way that “made sense” while still managing to “engage the imagination”.

“Lewis does need to be heard,” he said.

On Narnia, McGrath said academics were still unsure as to what motivated Lewis to write a series of children’s books seeing as he did not have children of his own and there was, he asserted, some evidence to suggest he did not particularly like children.

“Maybe Lewis is saying: I wish I had this kind of thing when I was younger, I might not have lost my faith,” he speculated.

We’ll have more on the Jubilee celebration of C. S. Lewis’ life and death later this month.

January 17, 2012

Make Us Courageous

Today Courageous, the fourth movie from Sherwood Pictures — the media ministry of the little church that could — makes it appearance in retail stores.  Because you get to eat cake when you work in a cake store, we got to watch a copy on Saturday night. Here are some observations.

First, the boys (17 and 20) sat through the entire thing. That’s major at our house. For two hours computers beckoned, but were left unanswered. I’d give the movie a 10 out of 10 on that basis alone.

Second, this is a Christian movie that played in mainstream theaters, but everyone knew upfront it was a Christian movie. I mean, the Sherwood logo has a cross in it; so that’s a dead giveaway. (No pun intended; but there’s an interesting song lyric idea there.) So, I don’t think anyone was fooled or tricked or deceived into hearing a bit of a Christian message. The film’s message was about the role of men in families, but the gospel was tastefully embedded. And the phrase, ‘Christian film’  no longer means ‘cheesy.’

Third, those Sherwood people are getting better and better at this. Sometimes the lighting was a little harsh, or the pacing is a little slow; but the overall audio was less sterile (some of the early pictures were crying out for Foley background sound), the camera angles were realistic and the casting and characters were more believable. 

Fourth, even though this is the fourth time around (following Flywheel, Facing the Giants and Fireproof) the closing credits are still moving when you think that this is the product of one local church. Everyone gets a credit at the end. Even the people who babysat the kids of cast and crew.

Fifth, even though this film didn’t start with the letter F — see list above — it could have been called ‘Fatherhood’ because it’s about the family (which also starts with F) unit which was God’s best plan from the beginning. In one scene it’s pointed out that if guys had strong role modelling, actively involved fathers in their lives, many of the policemen in our cities and towns wouldn’t need to be on the streets. And when you combine that with the effect of alcohol, which also accounts for so many police calls, and is referenced tangentially in the plot, it means that so much crime and misdemeanor is so preventable.

So…if you missed the run at the local movieplex, buy a copy; or better yet, buy two and give one away.

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