Friday, 20 June 2014

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis was one of the 19th century's most towering intellects. A professor at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities Lewis is probably best known, these days, as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia although he was a prolific writer who left a great body of work.

While The Chronicles of Narnia borrows from Greek and Roman themes and mythology it is primarily a telling, or a retelling, of the Bible story of redemption with Aslan, the Lion, as Jesus Christ. It never ceases to amaze me how that goes sailing over the heads of so many readers today.

While raised in the Anglican Communion Lewis spent most of his life as an atheist and only slowly embraced Christianity through the influence of his friend J. R. R. Tolkien and through reading the works of G. K. Chesterton.

Lewis said of his conversion to Christianity that he was brought into the fold "kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape." In his biography, Surprised by Joy, Lewis describes his conversion thus. "You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."

Lewis arrived at Christianity as a result of an examination of the facts, not as the result of some emotional upheaval. I am sure he would be quite dismayed at the intellectual paucity of the new atheists. More so of the atheistic dismissal of the general public.

Having served in WWI Lewis tried to re-enter the military during WWII but his offer was rejected. Lewis had been badly injured in WWI and was, at the outbreak of the new war, 41.

From 1941 to 1943 Lewis often spoke on BBC radio doing a series of addresses on religion. After the war theses addresses were anthologized into the book Mere Christianity which, all these years later, is still a work of towering genius and the finest Christian apologetic ever produced.

Mere Christianity is one of those books I revisit from year to year and am always surprised anew at the depth of Lewis' intellect.

Mere Christianity is a book I wish everyone would read if for no other reason that to understand how faith is informed by facts which is not how it is seen today by those who really do not seem to think.

For those without the time to read this I have posted an MP3 series of the book being read aloud that is in the public domain. It is quite good and easy to listen to. I hope you enjoy it.

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