by Tobin Wilson
Pastor, Lake Burien Presbyterian Church
November 22, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of one of Christianity’s modern patriarch’s of the faith – C.S. Lewis. This is the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Perhaps JFK’s horrific and untimely death overshadowed the life and writing of C.S. Lewis.
Lewis was born in Ireland, the second of two sons to a pastor’s daughter and a solicitor (lawyer). His early career aspirations were to write poetry, this was exchanged for his true calling as author, lecturer and apologist. He was a respected scholar and teacher at Oxford University for 29 years and then professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University to the end of his career. A devout atheist throughout his early adult life, he adopted theism in 1929 and converted to Christianity in 1931 while riding in a motorcycle sidecar en route to Whipsnade Zoo.
A talented debater and writer in many genres: novels, poetry, children’s literature, fantasy, science fiction, literary criticism and apologetics. In addition he wrote many essays, sermons, and hundreds of hand written letters, rich for their insight and human concern. His rise to fame came through a weekly radio broadcast with the BBC, while tackling the role of faith in the midst of the backdrop of World War II. He became a compelling thinker, eccentric in many ways, and a reluctant prophet for our times.
Perhaps he is best known for authoring the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of children’s books that seek to answer what Jesus would like if a world like Narnia existed. Three of those books have become Hollywood movies; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Prince Caspian.
A fourth and earlier movie was produced called Shadowlands featuring Anthony Hopkins as a middle aged academic C.S. Lewis and Debra Winger playing his cancer ridden wife, Joy Davidman. He explored in his book, A Grief Observed, the pain of loss in a rare show of authenticity after her death that would make room for anyone who has undergone the tragic and sudden demise of a loved one and stayed true to faith.
He has sold approximately one billion copies of his books, his most famous being Mere Christianity. Second in sheer numbers as a Christian academic only to the 6 billion Bibles sold throughout all time.
Perhaps his greatest idea was to present what is merely central to a life of faith. He was not interested is specific dogma, doctrines or their ideological polarizations that are implied therein. He was concerned with the simplest profundity and challenging all people respectfully to make their own choice. If you are interested in hearing more about the great themes of Lewis and their correlation to the Christmas story, we will be tethering these themes together this holiday season at Lake Burien Presbyterian Church. Our service begins at 9:30 AM. Childcare will be provided.
Perhaps we could all use a little more of his merely simple rule of love and respect as we seek to live flourishing lives in an increasingly diverse culture.
Rev Dr Tobin E Wilson
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