Scott Postma

Discover your significance, create meaningful art, and make a difference that actually matters

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?

25th November 1950: Irish-born academic, writer and Christian apologist Clive Staples Lewis (1898 - 1963). As a Fellow and Tutor of Magdalen College he taught at Oxford from 1925 to 1954. Original Publication: Picture Post - 5159 - Eternal Oxford - pub. 1950 (Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Getty Images)

25th November 1950: Irish-born academic, writer and Christian apologist Clive Staples Lewis (1898 – 1963). As a Fellow and Tutor of Magdalen College he taught at Oxford from 1925 to 1954. Original Publication: Picture Post – 5159 – Eternal Oxford – pub. 1950 (Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Getty Images)

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.”[1]

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?

Definitely not!

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.

I promise not to bombard your inbox. I promise I won’t share your email. And I promise to deliver maximum value that will not be a waste of your time.


 

[1] The Final Interview of C.S. Lewis, Decision Magazine, September 1963, CBN.com

About Scott Postma

Scott is a writer and teacher living in North Idaho. He loves teaching the Great Books, writing and blogging, and collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Subscribe for free, and get Write Like A Human, a resource that will teach you C.S. Lewis’s “secret sauce” for excellent writing. Plus, I’ll send you updates directly to your inbox every time I post.


 

Comments Policy: Comments that are relevant and add value to the conversation are encouraged, even if they express disagreement with the topic or the writer. All comments must be free from gross profanity, or otherwise distasteful language (at moderator’s discretion), and accompanied by a valid first name and email address (all anonymous comments are blocked).

2 Replies

  1. Pete Hamilton

    Hey Pastor Scott. I have read C.S. Lewis series on the Witch and the Wardrobe, etc. I also read a couple of his other books many years ago, but have since forgotten the apologist’s books. Would you explain what an apologist is?

    1. Hi Pete, C.S. Lewis is a gold mine of Christian and philosophical wealth. A Christian apologist is someone who defends or gives an explanation for the faith, usually someone who is competent to debate and discuss the finer nuanced criticisms of Christianity. Lewis’s most famous work is Mere Christianity, a transcription of World War II radio addresses on Christianity. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it yet.