Friday, March 25, 2011

Update: C.S. Lewis and The Problem of Pain

I started reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis this month. Though I'm not finished with it yet I wanted to share a quick update on how things are going.

The Problem of Pain
It, like everything by C.S. Lewis, is amazing. It's a step-by-step examination of the nature of human suffering and why a good, powerful, and loving God would allow His creation to experience pain. If you have ever struggled with this issue, I would highly recommend it.

However, it hit me while I was reading it that, though C.S. Lewis is a phenomenal author and his books are rich with practical and inspiring wisdom, few people read him anymore (Chronicles of Narnia, aside). This is tragic to me because I believe that Mere Christianity alone could revolutionize the heart of believers and non believers alike.

So why don't we read him anymore? I've decided that, though he writes in English, C.S. Lewis needs a translator.

In case you are not entirely sure who Clive Staples "Jack" Lewis actually is, let me give you a very brief biography.

He was born right around the turn of the century and died in 1963. Though he was English by birth, he was actually born and raised in Ireland and did not move to England until he attended college at Oxford. Though he was baptised into the Church of Ireland, like many, he walked away from the faith as a teenager. He did not become a Christian until his 30s largely in part to the influences of his friend J.R.R. Tolkien (what I wouldn't have given to have gone to Oxford in the 30s!) and the writings of G.K. Chesterton (love love love!). After his conversion, C.S. Lewis wrote over 100 nonfiction books, articles, essays, novels, and poems including, notably:

Mere Christianity
A Grief Observed
The Great Divorce
The Screwtape Letters
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Space Trilogy
and, of course, The Problem of Pain

His background as an atheist, his time at Oxford, and his love and study of mythology gave him a simultaneously academic and playful manner of writing that I just love. But, because he was an Oxford professor and scholar in early 20th century England, he really does speak a different language than an average, publicly educated, 21st century American.

So we don't read him. And we miss out!

Someone really should take on the task of writing a C.S. Lewis companion to go along with his books. I'm not talking about a cliff notes volume, though there is something like that available, I mean a NASB-style, line by line translation.

Someone needs to do this because, if they don't, I might get crazy and do it myself.

 Mere Christianity Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life The Screwtape Letters: With Screwtape Proposes a ToastThe Chronicles of Narnia (7-Volume Box Set, Books 1-7)

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