Faithful Heroes: C.S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis set out to prove that Christianity was a farce and discovered Christ along the way. He became a well known lecturer, lay theologists and novelist following his conversion.
Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He was the son of Albert James and Florence Augusta Hamilton Lewis. He had an older brother, Warren.
At the age of four, his dog Jacksie was killed by a car. He announced that his name was now Jacksie and would answer to know other name for a while. Finally, he accepted the name Jack, which is friends and family called him for the rest of his life.
He loved to read, saying that finding a book to read was as easy as walking into a field and “finding a new blade of grass”. As a child he wrote and illustrated his own animal stories.
He learned from private tutors in his formative years. His mother died from cancer in 1908. He was then sent to Wynyard School and later Campbell College, before winding up at Cherbourg House. During this time he abandoned his childhood Christian faith, becoming an atheist and interested in mythology and the occult.
He grew to love nature and the songs and legends referring to the Scandinavia Icelandic sagas. He began to experiment with writing poetry, opera and capturing his interest in nature and Norse mythology.
In 1916, he entered Oxford University on scholarship. Shortly thereafter he was drafted into a Cadet Battalion. He entered the British Army as a 2nd Lieutenant and arrived on the front line in France on his nineteenth birthday. “His experience of the horror of war confirmed his atheism.”
During his army training, he made a pact with his roommate Edward “Paddy” Moore that if either died during war the survivor would care for both families. Paddy was killed in action in 1918 and Lewis kept his promise.
He was wounded on April 15, 1918. He suffered from depression and homesickness during his convalescence. He was demobilized from the Army in December 1918 and soon returned to Oxford.
Lewis became good friends with Paddy Moore’s mother, Jane, and often cared for her until she was hospitalized in the late 1940s. He often referred to her as his mother, having lost his own as a child.
In 1919, while an atheist, he published his first book Spirits in Bondage under the pseudonym Clive Hamilton.
Lewis had a keen interest in the works of George MacDonald. The writings of MacDonald and G.K. Chesterton and arguments by several Christian friends. This included his good friend, J. R. R. Tolkien, whom he met on May 11, 1926, eventually led to his return to Christianity. He recorded that he made his commitment in 1929, when he and his brother were on the way to the zoo.
Lewis, Tolkien and other literary friends formed a literary circle that became known as the Inklings.
In 1939, WWII broke out and Lewis tried to re-enter military service, but was not accepted. He and his brother took in child evacuees from London.
By this point, the two brothers lived with Paddy Moore’s mother and sister, Margaret, in a home they referred to as The Kilns.
In 1949, he wrote his popular Narnia series. The series of seven books took him five years to complete.
In 1954, he went to Magdalene College in Cambridge, as the new founded chair of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature. He would remain here for the remainder of his career.
He married Joy Davidman on April 23, 1956. The relationship eventually developed from a civil marriage to a Christian marriage. Lewis’s brother Warren wrote: “For Jack the attraction was at first undoubtedly intellectual. Joy was the only woman whom he had met … who had a brain which matched his own in suppleness, in width of interest, and in analytical grasp, and above all in humour and a sense of fun.”
As he wrote to one friend soon after their marriage, “It’s funny having at 59 the sort of happiness most men have in their twenties … ‘Thou hast kept the good wine till now.'”
Joy Davidson Lewis died of cancer on July 13, 1960.
Lewis continued to raise her two sons from a previous marriage.
Lewis’ grief over her death, led to his book A Grief Observed.
He died on November 22, 1963, a week before his 65th Birthday. He was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Oxford, England. His death was overshadowed in the media coverage by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
His brother, Warren, died on April 9. 1973.
His home, The Kilns, is now owned and operated by the C.S. Lewis Foundation.
C.S. Lewis renounced God until he had no choice but to kneel before him #heroesofthefaith #faithfulheroes Click To Tweet