Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Brief Tribute to C.S. Lewis

This month (November 22 to be exact) marks a half century since C.S. Lewis’ death.  Now I would like to talk about him a bit, for he is one of my most favorite writers of all time.   

I have most of Lewis’ fiction books in my literature collection; The Chronicles of Narnia books, the “Space Trilogy” (or “Cosmic Trilogy”) novels, The Great Divorce, and The Screwtape Letters (the volume I have includes Screwtape Proposes a Toast, an essay sequel) – I have all of these.  But for his rich non-fiction works, I only have Mere Christianity, but I have read plenty of excerpts of his most important non-fiction books from articles and books.  Still, I plan of acquiring most of C.S. Lewis books someday (as soon as I can find and afford them) – it’s gonna be worth it.

Lewis is a wonderfully talented writer.  He wastes no words; it’s as if he always nails the best words to use to perfectly strike his points home.  He provides thoughtful and clever illustrations to make his ideas more empathic and engaging.  His writings are always meaty, insightful, thought-provoking, appealing, and delightful.  Reading Lewis’ works is very rewarding and refreshing. 

My first encounter with Lewis was with, arguably his most famous work, the children’s book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, which remains as popular now as ever (a large thanks to its movie adaptations).  His creative and amazing integration of Christian themes and allegories blew me away.  It was sheer genius writing.   Later on, after encountering more of his writings, I found that Lewis had utilized this technique deeper, more compelling, and more creatively on his other works of fiction – especially with The Screwtape Letters

Lewis writes as much mind-stimulating non-fiction as he writes enjoyable fiction.  The Christian apologetics (particularly Mere Christianity) and theses he tackles are generally delivered through well-reasoned and interesting writing.  In fact, he is one of the reasons why I value the substance and beauty of logic. Many of his arguments are solid and intelligent, but, of course, I find some occasional points of his that I don’t agree with. Lewis has no proper theological training that he errs on some of his views.  Nonetheless, Lewis has perfect understanding on the most important truths, especially on the immense importance of pursuing ultimate joy in God, and he presents them with clarity and fresh, interesting perspective.    

In fact, it was due to his realization and longing for joy that led him to Christ, for he was an atheist as a young man but would become a theist and a Christian in his thirties.  Lewis is a thinker, and he had thoroughly searched for answers to his deep questions of life.  He understood that the arguments for the non-existence of God don’t make sense and that the evidences of the existence of God were screaming everywhere around him.  Moreover, he also understood that there is an infinite desire in his heart that can’t be fully satisfied by anything of this world.  Therefore, he concluded that since this satisfaction can’t be found in this world, then the satisfaction he seeks must be from out of this world – and that can be only found in an infinite God alone.

Lewis would then argue that the problem with human beings is that “we are far too easily pleased” by worldly pleasures that we don’t pursue a greater, eternal pleasure that is found in God.  He compared it to “an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”  Lewis concluded that the problem with us is not because our desire for pleasure is too strong, but it was actually because our desire for pleasure is too weak.  “We are far too easily pleased.”  C.S. Lewis has shared plenty of great thoughts to us, but this was, I think, his most important sharing.

Truly, Lewis has greatly influenced and touched plenty of lives (including mine) even up to the present period. His writings have been great blessings. And I thank God for his life.

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