The Commerce Journal

December 19, 2012

Staff writer finds enjoyment in C.S. Lewis reading odyssey

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — I fancy myself somewhat of a Christian thinker, (at least I think I do) that I am able to hold my own in an argument and can make a valid argument of my own that you can be both intillectual and a Christian, they are not mutually exclusive.

With that, I found myself surprised upon realizing that I had not read much in the way of C.S. Lewis. Of course I’d heard of much of his works, read portions of The Screwtape Letters and his Out of the Silent Planet space trilogy and used a quote or two of his on occassion, but that was my literary extent of the man who was arguably the most influential Christian writer of the 20th century.

So, one day two weeks ago after spending a good while in the Commerce Public Library, his name appeared in my head after I was looking for a J.R.R. Tolkein book, (the two were good friends) so I picked up a five book volume of his works and sat down to read The Great Divorce over a weekend.

I could not put it down. The imagery and emotion it evoked in me captured my thoughts well after I was finished with it. It was then that I decided I must press on and go on a Lewis reading odyssey of sorts.

My next read was The Abolition of Man, which is a great argument where he painted a picture of what the final victory of man over nature would be.

“The final stage is come when Man by eugenics, by pre-natal conditioning, and by an education and propaganda based on a perfect applied psychology, has obtained full control over himself. Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man. ... The battle will indeed be won. But who, precisely, will have won it?”

In reading his arguments, it feels as if he was not writing, but talking directly to me. At times I wanted to begin a conversation with the man while reading, (knowing that he died nearly 50 years ago, I am not supporting mediums or other nonsense) which made the reading all the more personal.

My next book was supposed to be A Grief Observed, but a friend requested that I read The Problem of Pain first, then the other book. In light of the recent school shooting this was a fitting choice. This book was more of a scholarly look of pain throughout time, while the other book was a personal journal he wrote after his wife died of cancer.

Whereas in The Abolition of Man, I found myself wanting to have a conversation with him, in this one I wanted to have a good argument with him. This was the book where the Theological differences surfaced. He disbelieved Total Depravity, I hold to it. He believed (at the time, I believe his view changed after more evidence came out) in macro evolution then God put a soul into primates and they became man, I do not.  

It was still a very enjoyable read where strong arguments were made.

My current book is The Weight of Glory, a series of talks he held, much like Mere Christianity, during World War II. After that I plan to Lordwilling read his book Miracles, then maybe a trip back to visit Ransom and his adventures in Out of the Silent Planet.

All in all it has been a very enjoyable experience delving into the mind of one whose intillect was on par with Einstein, and whose warmth and booming voice inspired Tolkein to write him as Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings.