Legacy of C.S. Lewis (Essay)
January 14, 2012
Just yesterday I had an article published in my local newspaper. I actually wrote it a few weeks before the anniversary of Lewis’ death, but they didn’t get around to printing it until now. Because it may not be available in the future at the site I’ve posted it below with a link to the source at the end.
The lasting legacy of C.S. Lewis
By William O’Flaherty
Nearly 50 years ago C.S. Lewis died on the same day that John F. Kennedy was murdered.
While the mystery of who killed Kennedy remains in some minds, it is clear why C.S. Lewis continues to be admired and his popularity is ever growing.
The key reason is because he wrote in several diverse realms and thus had a variety of audiences. Some are only familiar with him as the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” while others respect him because of his works dealing with understanding or defending the Christian faith.
Then, there are those who have regard for him due to his academic books resulting from teaching Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Ironically almost as each decade passed since his death someone predicted his legacy was about to peak. But if recent years suggest anything it’s a continued growth that shows little sign of stopping. One small indication is the monthly meetings of independent C.S. Lewis Societies around the country and even around the world that gather to discuss one of over 40 of his published books. The closest to our area is the Pittsburgh group that meets in Murrysville.
There are also various events held throughout the year. Last fall, there were two events held in the United States alone. In Northern Michigan they had an annual C.S. Lewis Festival that focused on “The Magician’s Nephew” from the Narnia series. The C.S. Lewis Foundation held its yearly workshop for writers and a retreat at Camp Allen in Texas. Their theme dealt with spotlighting the 80th anniversary of Lewis’s conversion to Christianity.
Recently, fans of the Narnia movies were disappointed to learn there is a major delay in another film being released. Douglas Gresham, step-son of Lewis and co-producer of the last three films discussed, in an online interview on Middle-Earth Radio show that it will likely be three or four years before production begins on a new story. This means at least five years will pass before Narnia is on the big screen again.
Fortunately fans will be treated soon to another movie about Lewis’ life. A production company is working on a movie that focuses on his earlier life, dealing with events prior to the 1990s movie “Shadowlands” that only dealt with the love story between him and his wife, Joy Davidman. Presently the working title is “Jack’s Life.” (Jack was the name his friends called him).
Having read books written by Lewis and about him for the last 30 years I’ve learned more than a few interesting aspects about him. His first published books were poetry and while he continued to write short poems after this none were collected in book form until after his death.
It was after his conversion to the Christian faith in 1931, which came two years after becoming a theist (simply only believing in the existence of God) that he became a successful writer.
Prior to “The Chronicles of Narnia,” his first claim to fame was “The Screwtape Letters” in 1942. In Britain during World War II his voice was the most recognized one next to Winston Churchill. “Mere Christianity” is the book that eventually came out of those series of broadcasts. Prior to this he even served in World War I, despite the fact that because he was Irish born he didn’t have to.
As previously noted he taught at Oxford and Cambridge. What interests me about this is the fact that he didn’t see the need to “quit his day job” to go into “full-time ministry” which is so common today for Christians. For Lewis, he had a love for literature that he felt didn’t conflict with his faith and he was comfortable writing articles or books that were not directly religious.
William O’Flaherty is a resident of Uniontown. His podcast blog, C.S. Lewis Minute is available at http://LewisMinute.WordPress.com