Please sit down and be comfortable. Perhaps get a cup of tea, coffee, Dr. Pepper or some sweet tea. This will be a learning experience for all of us.
Let me set down some ground rules for our discussions of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
- Reading must be done. You can’t be a part of a book club without reading the book.
- There are several different types of people in this group from various backgrounds. We all will have different views at times. So everyone is to be cordial to one another.
- I am here to organize discussion. I will do my best to explain things.
- There will be questions based on the reading in hopes of facilitating a lively discussion.
- C.S. Lewis is the real teacher, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
- Post will be made each Thursday starting March 30, 2016.
- It is possible that I will ask some of you to handle the post. If you would like to that let me know.
Now so that you know something about who we are reading about this is a Bio of C.S. Lewis.
Clive Staples Lewis—known to his friends and family as “Jack”—is one of the most influential writers on Christian faith of the twentieth century. Author of more than 70 titles, including works of science fiction, fantasy, poetry, letters, autobiography and Christian apologetics, Lewis’s book sales are reported to be more than 2 million annually.
Born in Belfast in 1898, Lewis was educated at home and at boarding schools in Britain. After his mother died when he was almost ten, “Jack” grew closer to his brother Warren, who was two years his senior.
Lewis studied English and philosophy at Oxford and served in the military. He became a university man who taught (mostly English literature) at Oxford’s Magdalen (pronounced “Maudlin”) college for much of his life. Later in life he was appointed to a professorship at Cambridge. As a member of the Oxford faculty, Lewis developed a strong reputation in English literary criticism and a much larger reputation as a witty and imaginative writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction works on Christian faith.
In a time of growing secularism, Lewis was a persuasive defender of Christianity. Some of his best-known books began as broadcast talks in which he explained the essentials of the Christian faith to a broad listening audience. To do this, he spoke in simple terms, using homely comparisons. These talks were collected and published as Mere Christianity, one of the most popular books about Christian belief in recent history. Mere Christianity has brought many people to the Christian faith and contributed to ecumenical dialogue, moving easily across Christian denominations by focusing on the basic teachings that most Christians believe.
As a young man, Lewis was agnostic—possibly even an atheist— though he had been raised as a Christian. After serving in World War I, he returned to Oxford to teach, and there he experienced a religious conversion. His religious quest was stirred in part by literature and vigorous use of the intellect. He was partly influenced by friends at Oxford who were thoughtful believers, among them J.R.R. Tolkien.
Because of his conversion experience, Lewis turned his creative energy toward Christian writing. Many of his books were attempts to answer his own nagging questions. The Problem of Pain took up the perennial question of how God, if he is good, permits suffering. Miracles examined questions about divine intervention and supernatural events. Lewis also wrote two treatments of his own conversion—The Pilgrim’s Regress, in which he attempted a modern narrative inspired by John Bunyan; and Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, which traced his own pursuit of faith in a strongly literary vein, describing how books and events had converged to bring him to his knees. Lewis became a faithful member of the Church of England and developed a strong spiritual life.
Friendship—especially male friendship—was vital to Lewis. Together with his brother Warren, a former military man and a writer, C.S. Lewis took part in a literary circle known as “The Inklings.” Over decades this group met to share their works in progress. Such works as Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were first read at the Inklings. Many of these scholars and writers had a common view of literature and faith. Another of Lewis’s ventures was the Socratic Club, in which he argued questions of faith with any atheists who were rash enough to debate him.
Late in life, after Mrs. Moore’s death, Lewis became involved with an American divorcée, Helen Joy Davidman. They married. Joy’s death from cancer shattered that happiness. Lewis captured his agony in a touching memoir, A Grief Observed. The influence of their marriage is also found in his book, The Four Loves, which he dedicated to his late wife.
Lewis died at his home, "The Kilns," in Headington Quarry, near Oxford, on November 22, 1963, after a brief illness. On his gravestone is a line from King Lear—one of his mother’s favorites: “Men must endure their going hence.”
copyright ©2005 Emilie Griffin
This should be fun and eye opening. Look forward to the first official post next week March 30.
Question 001: Why are you reading this book?