Thursday, July 05, 2007
Walking with St. Clive, Part One
I surprised myself by pursuing one odd habit recently—reading the entire collected corpus of C. S. Lewis’s letters from 1950-1963. Besides noting my own idiosyncrasy, I also realized something in the process of reading these 1500 pages of epistles: I have walked with a mentor through significant events in his life and even with him to his death.
Through these words, I’ve seen him in a remarkable array of situations. To note just a few examples: he became increasingly well-known, perhaps even “famous” (although that definitely happened after he died) as The Chronicles of Narnia saw the light in the early ‘50s. I traveled with him through meeting, then marrying, and then experiencing the death of Joy Davidman. (And, by the way, his famous “crisis of faith” after Joy’s death seems overwrought—he wrote letters replying to various theological and philosophical queries within a couple of days.) And I read his final letter, written the day before he died—a reply to a young reader who had enjoyed Narnia.
Since there’s a fair amount of Lewis worship going on in Christian circles, I probably should add that what becomes clear from these letters the imperfections of Clive Staples Lewis—and that he clearly recognized his flaws. That fact has made the journey with him all the more remarkable. More on that in future posts…