Jack at home: editor's note

Christian History has done two issues solely on C. S. Lewis over the years—#7 (1985) and #88 (2005). Lewis also played a role in our Seven Literary Sages issue (#113, 2015) and our recent Advent devotional The Grand Miracle, and was part of the inspiration for our issue about George MacDonald (#86, 2005). Yet when we ask folks what topics they’d like to see an issue on, he continues to poll high on the list.

Why such a continued fascination with Lewis? Certainly he is one of the most famous fantasy authors of the twentieth century; he was also an accomplished scholar of English literature, his books remain bestsellers, movies have been based on his life and works, and he was a prominent Christian. Yet all of that also describes his friend and colleague J. R. R. Tolkien, and while our issue on Tolkien (#78, 2003) was well received, we haven’t heard nearly as much demand for a follow-up issue on Tolkien, or on some other great Christian writers of the mid-twentieth century whom Lewis counted as friends. (Many appear in the Seven Sages issue.)

Smart and a christian

Some of our fascination may have to do with how many of us encountered Lewis’s works as small children. Even very young children can follow the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and both of mine could read it on their own by the time they were seven. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Narnia existed.

Others of us fell in love with Lewis through his theological and apologetic works. In Lewis’s own lifetime, it was probably The Screwtape Letters that put him on the map (and on the cover of TIME); but perhaps the book many would cite as a favorite is Mere Christianity. It was certainly the book that first made me fall in love with Lewis. “Look!” I thought. “You can be smart and still be a Christian!”

But sometimes Lewis’s fame gets in the way of our seeing him as a person. (For example my husband and his best friend used to argue in the middle of their college quad by yelling “C. S. Lewis said . . .” at each other.) So when we opted, once again, to do an issue on Lewis, we decided to see him not just as apologist and fantasy author and scholar, but as son, brother, friend, mentor, student, teacher, husband, and stepfather. And we decided to introduce you to his fascinating ancestors and family and more of

his friends.

If you’ve never met C. S. Lewis, we hope this issue makes you fall in love with him. If you’ve loved him all your life, we hope this issue helps you see him in a new light.

“Further up and further in.” CH

CH thanks the staff of the Wade Center for their extensive help in the preparation of this issue. P. S. Throughout this issue, there are ten article titles taken from books by or about Lewis. Can you spot them? (Answers p. 53)

By Jennifer Woodruff Tait

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #140 in 2021]

Jennifer Woodruff Tait is managing editor of Christian History
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