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The Lasting Legacy of C.S. Lewis (2013 Edition)

November 16, 2013

The following is a revised edition of an article I wrote that was first published 1/13/2012) in a newspaper from Uniontown, PA called Hearld Standard. I had posted that original version online at my pre-Middle Earth Network version of EssentialCSLewis.com. I actually wrote the piece in late 2011 for those who were likely not very familiar with Lewis at all. 

Fifty 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.

Lewis SpeakingIronically 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 forty of his published books.

There are also various events held throughout each year related to his works or themes he addressed. For 2013 there were at least, if not more than a dozen in the United States alone. Plus, just last month we learned that the Narnia films are going to continue with The Silver Chair being next (even though details at this time at very thin). This will help an already growing interest in Lewis continue. In the meantime fans of Lewis’s Mere Christianity  have been treated to a new radio drama from Focus on the Family called C.S. Lewis at War.

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, which came two years after becoming a theist (simply only believing in the existence of God) that he became a successful writer.

The Screwtape LettersPrior 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 was unlikely to have to serve.

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.

Adapted from at article first published by Herald Standard on Friday, January 13, 2012

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