Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, but preferred to be called ‘Jack’. His father was a solicitor and his mother, who died when Jack was a child, was a clergyman’s daughter. His time as a boy was spent with his brother, or more often reading alone in an attic full of books. As an academic at Oxford he taught English at Magdalen College. As he tells in his book ‘Surprised by Joy’, he recognised the existence of God in 1929 and came to belief in Jesus in 1931.
He was a brilliant Christian apologist. His radio broadcasts, now collected as ‘Mere Christianity’, made theology practical and accessible for ordinary people when much of the Church was awash with modernism and scepticism. His ‘Screwtape Letters’ – the writings of a fictional demon – alerted a whole generation to the stratagems of hell, the existence of which many Christians no longer retained the courage to believe in.
His science fiction trilogy and the seven ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ allow all who have been scared by the ‘watchful dragons’ of religion to experience awe, joy and wondering love in the presence of One who, in our world, is known by a different name. He was a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams and was profoundly influenced by the writings of George MacDonald.
As a middle-aged professor he married, and then fell in love with, Joy Davidman, an American divorcée with two young sons. Her death devastated and deepened him, prompting the poem ‘As the ruin falls’.
Instead of a prayer today, a meditation in C.S. Lewis’s own words, also found in C.D.P. Finan Readings June 6th. Let our prayer arise out of it:
Love’s as hard as nails. Love is nails: blunt, thick, hammered through the medial nerves of One who, having made us, knew the thing that He had done: seeing (with all that is) our cross, and His.