C.S. Lewis: An Admonishing Angel for the Modern Age
Heaps of tailings have been strewn outside deep shafts where not a few prospectors have sought to discover the rich vein that makes C.S. Lewis’s corpus worth its weight in gold.
Like the 49ers of the California Gold Rush, hoards of writers, educators and theologians have flocked to the Sutter’s Mill of English literature, hoping to stake a claim and strike it rich in literary ore.
Another way of saying this is a lot of writers would like to get their hands on Lewis’s secret sauce. They would like to discover the mystery of his mojo.
Lewis was indubitably for the modern age what Raphael was to Adam’s age in Milton’s Paradise Lost; he was to a previous generation what Ransom was to Perelandra.
Any author whose work has, for more than 50 years after his death, remained as influential as Lewis’s certainly deserves exploring.
The question is, can such a man’s abilities actually be explained?
Lewis, when asked in an interview by Decision Magazine shortly before his death how a writer could learn to write “strong enough to influence our generation,” he replied: “There is no formula in these matters. I have no recipe, no tablets. Writers are trained in so many individual ways that it is not for us to prescribe.”
If even Lewis could not explain how to reproduce his own effect, is it possible we are just wasting time and resources digging where we can never hit paydirt?
In a helpful essay, I’ve titled, “Write Like A Human,” I show Lewis’s success as a writer was due to something more than his own abilities–and at the same time it was not something less than them either.
Writers who desire to write as influentially in their own generation as Lewis did in his are not guaranteed the success and platform Lewis had—that is not something any of us fully have control over. However, writers can learn to write with both the weightiness and the winsomeness of C.S. Lewis.
And given the proper tools, one may just discover his or her voice will be that of Raphael’s in this slice of human history; you, writer, may be the next Ransom or Lewis in our post-modern Thulcandra.
That said, we mustn’t forget what Richard M. Weaver wrote in his book, Ideas Have Consequences:
“There is no correlation between the degree of comfort enjoyed and the achievement of a civilization. On the contrary, absorption in ease is one of the most reliable signs of present or impending decay.”
In other words, writers cannot be of the spirit of this age and think they’ll ever make an impact. They must invest effort, but not just raw effort; it must be effectual, reasoned effort.
“The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night.” -H. W. Longfellow
Are you interested in discovering the kind of education C.S. Lewis received?
Are you interested in learning the big ideas that undergirded most of his writing–and for that matter nearly every writer worth his or her salt throughout human history?
Are you interested in learning to develop the healthy reading habits C.S. Lewis practiced–even if you currently hate to read or find it difficult?
Are you interested in actually discovering the gold in the classic books that ran through the veins of C.S. Lewis?
Are you interested in discovering the rich theology that transformed Lewis, the atheist, into Lewis, the leading Christian apologist of his generation?
Are you interested in discovering your own significance as a writer, a teacher, a leader, or a creative in this vast and noisy universe?
Even if you are just interested in going deeper into literature, the Scriptures, and discovering a clearer meaning of the world around you, even if you are just interested in discovering what it means to be fully human, or understanding the truth behind what all the political fuss is really about in the world, I invite you to subscribe to this blog where you’ll get valuable tips on writing and teaching, rich insights into the arts and humanities, and meaningful perspective on faith and culture. Plus I’ll give you “Write Like a Human” absolutely free.
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 The Final Interview of C.S. Lewis, Decision Magazine, September 1963, CBN.com
About Scott Postma
Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He shares valuable tips on writing and teaching, rich insights into theology and literature, and meaningful perspective on living a life of significance. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.
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