Podcast Recap – The Hobbit

The Hobbit 2nd MovieI can’t image that any of you are not aware that this weekend marks the release of The Hobbit movie (part 2). So, it only seemed fitting to review some of the material I’ve previously done related to it. I believe these resources will help you better enjoy the book (and movie). In addition to what I’ve posted, I also selected a few additional places online that you should find useful. Since this post last year I had another author interview; meaning I’ve now done interviews with three different authors on this topic.

Bilbo’s Journey (Interview with Dr. Joseph Pearce)

spoke with Dr. Joseph Pearce about his book Bilbo’s Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of The Hobbit. Dr. Pearce is Writer in Residence and Visiting Fellow at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrmack, New Hampshire.

SERIES on The Christian World of The Hobbit

Even though I first did a single interview about this book (see below), I’m listing my five-part series that was just finished on Monday first because if provides the more details. In it, Dr. Devin Brown answers questions from myself (William O’Flaherty) and Sorina Higgins about his book that does a good job at of highlighting Christian elements in The Hobbit without seeing something Christian “under every stone.” Each program is 15-20 minutes long and cover each of the chapters in his book.

  1. “An ‘Essentially’ Christian Story”
  2. “Providence in The Hobbit”
  3. “Purpose in The Hobbit”
  4. “The Moral Landscape in The Hobbit”
  5. “Response and Legacy”

SINGLE INTERVIEW on The Christian World of The Hobbit

If you want a quick overview of Dr. Devin Brown’s book and have no more than about 20 minutes to spare than this single interview I did first with him is what you need!

On the Shoulders of Hobbits Interview

This interview is about 30 minutes long and deals not only with The Hobbit, but actually discusses how some of the themes from The Chronicles of Narnia relate to it. Dr. Louis Markos is the author of On the Shoulders of Hobbits (who has written several other books related to C.S. Lewis that you can find mentioned here).

Other Resources

There are several other books either recently out about The Hobbit or previously released. Feel free to mention them by leaving a comment. I have at least one other interview planned, but not recorded yet on another recent book. Additionally, please feel free to post comments suggesting other online resources.

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Other Helpful Links

Land Lower Than Underland (CSLM-36)

CLICK TO LISTEN TO AUDIO/PODCAST VERSION

Just when Jill, Eustace and Puddleglum think there is no place lower than Underland they find out how wrong they were.

Lady of the Green KirtleIn The Silver Chair our friends become trapped while trying to rescue the lost prince. They find Gnomes, or Earthmen who are under the spell of the Lady of the Green Kirtle. She rules Underland and is planning to use Prince Rilian as a slave-king to take over Narnia.

When they defeat the Queen they learn of Bism, an entire world below Underland where the Gnomes previously lived. There is a fire river between Bism and Underland that is inhabited by Salamanders. In Bism itself things like diamonds and rubies grow that you can eat or squeeze into juice. The prince is so fascinated by this place he nearly goes there.

If you could visit one place from the Chronicles what would it be? Let me know by sharing your thoughts and leaving other comments or questions below.

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Jack & Tollers MOVIE

Many Lewis fans are excited (and rightly so) about news of a new Narnia movie. Realistically, however, that movie (The Silver Chair) will not be released until 2017 or 2018 (if you haven’t heard about this you can read my previous post about it). In the meantime I’m please to announce another movie in the works that will be out much sooner that deals with the true story of the unique friendship between Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Jack and TollersIt’s called JACK AND TOLLERS. The screen writers are the two people (Darren Jacobs and Dr. Louis Markos) who had work on The Lion Awakes project. In the coming days I hope to have them on my podcast show (All About Jack) to give you more details (and to explain why the previous project didn’t work out). For now, I want to encourage you to visit and LIKE the Facebook page of the studio doing the project. This will do two things: 1.) It will let them know of your interest in the film and 2.) You’ll be able to get updates about what’s happening in your FB News Feed.

You also will want  to also consider checking out their Indiegogo page. There you will find a short concept trailer video that includes a short explanation by Chris Dodge, the Executive Producer on the project. This fundraising page was setup to fund the upcoming teaser trailer only. Accomplishing this goal will help show others who have the funds to back the film itself that there are people who want to see this movie made. The goal is to raise$29,500 by January 3, 2014. However, even if you can’t contribute you can show your support/interest in the project by liking the Facebook of Third Dart Studios and by sharing that FB page with others who would be interested in a movie about the early life of C.S. Lewis and his friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien.

Debating in Writing (CSLM-35)

CLICK TO LISTEN TO AUDIO/PODCAST VERSION

C.S. Lewis was no stranger to debate, but did you know he encountered it at times when his essays were published?

In 1940 Lewis wrote an article entitled “Christianity and Culture” that was published in the March issue of the journal Theology.  Two months later S.L. Bethell and E.F. Carritt responded to what he said.

Then in June Lewis replied back, which lead to George Every joining in the discussion three month later. It all ended when Lewis closed out the year with his final reply in December. While the issue of the relationship between culture and Christianity can be complex, you can find the opinion Lewis held at the time in the essay collection Christian Reflections which was first published in 1967.

What is your favorite essay or essays by Lewis? Tell me by sharing your thoughts and leaving other comments or questions below.

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Special Gifts from Father Christmas (CSLM-34)

CLICK TO LISTEN TO AUDIO/PODCAST VERSION

Everyone likes gifts at Christmas, but the Pevensie children didn’t know how useful certain presents would be.

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Narnia is under a spell that makes it always winter, but never Christmas. Aslan’s appearance breaks the spell, but as this is happening Peter, Susan and Lucy become part of an unusual scene. Father Christmas shows up to greet them and provide gifts.

Peter is given a sword and shield, Susan a bow and arrows, along with a magical horn for requesting help, and Lucy gets a dagger along with a magic cordial with healing powers. While each uses them in that story, they also become of practical help in future adventures.

Do you remember why Edmund doesn’t get a gift? Tell me and leave other comments or questions below.

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Summary of Lewis in Poets’ Corner

Poets Corner MemorialC.S. Lewis was buried 50 years ago today (11/26/1963). As you are likely aware he was just memorialized this past Friday in Poets’ Corner. The follow are some pieces related to that event and then also a few additional general articles about C.S. Lewis that were posted since my earlier post or ones I wasn’t aware of at the time. Feel free, as before, to post any additional links of other reports not mentioned here.

CS Lewis honoured in Poets’ Corner – from The Telegraph a short VIDEO of the event itself.

Abbey dedicates memorial to C.S. Lewis – this is a press release from the Abbey itself and includes 20 minutes of AUDIO and a downloadable PDF of The Order of Service.

C.S. Lewis Memorialized in Poets’ Corner – blog post by Lancia E. Smith

C S Lewis’ Memorial Service –  blog post by Jeanette Sears

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MORE GENERAL REFLECTIONS:

Puddleglum and the Savage – from The New York Times; by Ross Douthat

Five Reasons ‘Doctor Who’ Owes C.S. Lewis A Debt Of Gratitude – from BBC America; by Fraser McAlpine

A ‘mere Christian’? Assessing C.S. Lewis after fifty years – a piece by Alister McGrath from ABC Religion and Ethics (Australia)

Alister McGrath also has a series of videos on YouTube on C.S. Lewis; the forth was just posted on 11/23/2013

Why Narnia Still Matters –  from Time; by Lev Grossman

C.S. Lewis, more popular 50 years after his death than he was in life – from Religion News Service; by Sarah Pulliam Bailey

C.S. Lewis: Scholar to the Common Man – from The American Conservative; by Gracy Olmstead

11/22/63 – from A Pilgrim in Narnia; by Brenton Dickieson

 

Favorite C.S. Lewis Quotes on 50th Anniversary

C.S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963. In honor of his life I’ve collect a small handful of quotes by him. These are not necessarily my favorites, but a few selections from quotes I’ve shared over the last year. The first however is an exception. It is a longer quote about death from his book Miracles. Also I’ve included a quote below from his brother, Warnie that is available in the memoir section of  Letters of C.S. Lewis.

“Friday, the 22nd of November 1963, began much as other days: there was breakfast, then letters and the crossword puzzle. After lunch he fell asleep in his chair: I suggested that he would be more comfortable in bed, and he went there. At four I took in his tea and found him drowsy but comfortable. Our few words then were the last: at five-thirty I heard a crash and ran in, to find him lying unconscious at the foot of his bed. He ceased to breathe some three or four minutes later.”

From: Letters of C.S. Lewis – Edited, with a Memoir by W.H. Lewis (1966)

 

“On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more. On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.”

Miracles, chap. 14

“No good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights.”

(from Reflections on the Psalms)

“The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.”

The Abolition of Man

“If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God.”

(The Rival Conceptions of God; BBC talk 1/11/1942)

“Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad mando very bad things.” (

from the essay The Inner Ring

“Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well..”

The Efficacy of Prayer

“You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness.”

The Weight of Glory

“The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum.”

The Poison of Subjectivism in Christian Reflections

“Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.”

Great Divorce 13th Installment 2/2/13

‘Those who read poetry to improve their minds will never improve their minds by reading poetry.”

from Lilies That Fester (World’s Last Night)

“There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite…Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael.”  

SL & Screwtape Toast BOOK 1961

“The Bible itself gives us one short prayer which is suitable for all who are struggling with the beliefs and doctrines. It is: ‘LORD I believe, help Thou my unbelief.'”

a letter to Genia Goelz, March 18, 1952

“Friendship is unnecessary…it has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

(The Four Loves)

“The voice of God indeed daily calls to us; calls to the world to abandon sins and seek the Kingdom of God wholeheartedly. O that we may all hear the call of the Father and, sometime, at last be converted to the Lord.”

from a letter to Don Giovanni Calabria, April 17, 1949

“The Christian must wage endless war against the clamour of the ego as ego: but he loves and approves selves as such, though not their sins.”

Two Ways with the Self

“The function of allegory is not to hide but to reveal, and it is properly used only for that which cannot be said, or so well said, in literal speech.”

The Allegory of Love

 

 

 

Roundup of Recent C.S. Lewis News and Articles

4 BooksAs you may have heard Friday is the 50 anniversary of C.S. Lewis death and he will be honored with a memorial service at Poets’ Corner. It’s no surprise that more than a few new articles about Lewis has been posted online. Some are audio and may be only available for a short time. The following is my attempt to provide a quick reference to material I was aware of at the time. If you notice something I didn’t include and think I should then feel free to include it by leaving a comment with a link to it.

As noted above, if you know of any other items that should have been included you can give them below in the comment section!

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Transcript of Douglas Gresham Interview (Sept. 2013)

The following is a transcript of the interview I did with Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis. It was recorded on 9/24/2013 during his visit to Asbury University. You can hear the podcast interview here. Because about a week after this interview an announcement was made about the next Narnia film, I removed my questions and his comments related to this, as they are now obsolete.  

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Gresham with OFlahertyO’FLAHERTY: While this is the 50th anniversary of Lewis’s death and his legacy has lasted this long, looking ahead, not to the present here but ahead, what do you think will be the most remembered about Jack 50 or maybe 100 years from now if you don’t mind speculating.

GRESHAM: I don’t think it’s going to change very much you know.  I think Christianity worldwide is at an all-time ebb at the moment and I think it’s starting to gather pace to come back with huge force again, Jack is going to be at the forefront of that resurgence I think, his work will be.

Because Jack tells the truth, and I think truth is something that the human race is addicted to in a sense.

We do tend to recognize truth when we hear it, we get very tired of the opposite thing all the time.  The lies and the dissimulations.  Jack tells the truth and he tells it straightforward and very simply and his books are full of grace and he passes it on to you when you read them, so I think those books are going to be around forever as long as people read and read books, no matter what form they read them in, Jack’s going to be at the forefront of that movement.

O’FLAHERTY: You mentioned in a previous interview I was listening to from Focus on the Family radio drama about The Screwtape Letters that Jack used his time wisely.  His idle time while traveling on the train was an example I believe that you gave.  Are there any other habits that he did have that helped make him the great person that he was?

GRESHAM: Well… as far as a great scholar is concerned and a great writer, one of his habits was to read and I mean he would do it deliberately.  He would select a book and he would spend so many hours a day reading it and thinking about what he was reading and of course occasionally someone would recommend a book and he would find it not to be worth reading and he would dismiss it.  But usually he would read a book right through the end very carefully; so many hours of each day were spent in reading.  Also of course he spent quote a lot of hours each day in writing and in writing letters to people.  A great part of his ministry was answering all the letters he ever received except ones from obvious raving lunatics of course and we all get a few of those now and again. So I found him frequently writing letters and I must Lewis Picture (Green Book)confess I’ve adopted the same policy.  Jack taught me that if someone has done you the honor of writing to you, you must at least have the dignity to reply (except of course to the raving lunatics).  But that was another part of his day and all of these things put together, his constant charity by answering every letter he received, his constant concentration on reading good works of literature wherever he could find them and finding out how other writers were using words in different ways than the ways he used them and whether they were better or worse than his and so on.  He was also a constant student, he read the Bible every single day and he oscillate between one version and another.  Often he would be reading the New Testament in the original Greek.  Sometimes he would read the Latin translations and so on.  So he studies at least a chapter of the Bible every day and sometimes more if he had the time. So his whole being was concentrating on words, their usage and their meanings and how you could convey the essential truth with them.  One of the things he pointed out quite strongly was that we can never expect to learn to understand God.  What we are here to try to do is to learn to misunderstand him a little less completely and I think that’s what Jack was trying to do and he was trying to enable other people to do it in his writings and it works.  It really works.

O’FLAHERTY: Thinking about the Narnia books themselves, I know you’ve gone on record saying your favorite book is whatever you’re reading at the time but I want to take you back to when you were first a child reading them after you had read all seven, around that time what was your favorite?

Chronicles Box SetGRESHAM: Again it’s a very difficult question to answer, I was completely enthralled with all of them.  I think I loved The Horse and His Boy because I enjoy horses, I’ve had some very good friends who’ve been horses (and one or two enemies).  But I usually get through to the enemies eventually and they become friends.  So I loved horses and as a child and still do and some of the characters and one in particular in The Horse and His Boy resonate with me very strongly.  I’m not going to say which one, it’s almost as if one of them was modeled after me, but I don’t think that’s the case.  But I loved The Horse and His Boy for its deserts…you know basically I loved them all it’s so difficult to choose one.  The Voyage of the Dawn ‘Treader’… I love the sea I love being at sea I love yachting and so on and sailing.  There’s something for me in every single one of them, The Narnia Chronicles, I think you’ll find that’s probably true for all children who read them.  They all find something special about each one of those books so it’s difficult to have a favorite.  My least favorite though is The Last Battle and that’s only because it is the last Narnia chronicle and I was disappointed to know that was going to be the end of the series.  Other than that it’s a wonderful book, of course.

O’FLAHERTY: And of course The Horse and His Boy was dedicated to your brother…

GRESHAM: Myself and my brother, that’s right.

O’FLAHERTY: In addition to this year 2013 being the 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death, the 75th anniversary of the publication of Out of the Silent Planet actually was happening yesterday at the time that we were recording this.  Can you reflect first on some of the significance of the first story in the Ransom or some say Science Fiction trilogy…

GRESHAM: Yea I think that what Jack did with that whole series starting with Out of the Silent Planet was remarkable.  Up to that period, all science fiction had been the case where man manages to get out one way or another into space to some other planet, finds evil monsters who are intent on killing all mankind and possibly eating them or whatever.  Jack flipped that on his head and thought it was far more likely that man would go out into space and find pure creatures and be the evil monster who wants to devour and destroy and so he wrote this book Out of the Silent Planet illustrating how mankind will take his evil with him out into other planets out into other spheres of space and start to degrade and destroy and I think this is where Jim Cameron probably got his ideas for Avatar from because in that it’s the same thing that happens it’s man who goes out and is the evil destroyer.  Again it’s a very pure and unfallen species and that’s what Malacandra is, along with Perelandra for that matter.  It’s a place where human beings have not fallen, they are pure, sin free and of course the devil is trying really hard to get in there and he does it on in this case by sending two businessmen from here with the kidnapped Ransom along and his name is no accident either.  And he of course manages to triumph through the power of the Holy Spirit over the evil, the evil of man that’s trying to be worked in these different planets, so I think it’s a hugely remarkable piece of work for the time that it was written.  But Out of the Silent Planet is followed by Perelandra which is a very beautiful book from my way of thinking anyway. Ransom (Space) TrilogyI love the stories and I love the descriptions and so on.  But then That Hideous Strength is probably one of the most prophetic books ever written at that time of history.  And if you look at what he wrote there and look around our universities and scientific laboratories and the various business enterprises that have got into the universities you can see that Jack knew exactly what was going to happen 50 years down the track.  It’s happening right now all around us.  And that’s pretty scary actually, but Jack was very accurate in his predictions.  So I think that the science fiction trilogy is hugely significant.  The trilogy needs to be read by far more people than it is I think.

OFLAHERTY: One of the things about the final book is, I didn’t realize when I initially read it that it was finished before the end of World War II and even if you just consider, it was almost as if it had already finished and people had reflected on it and gained all the wisdom and he seemed to have captured it before that actually happen.

GRESHAM: Yes he did, that’s exactly it.  It was a prophetic work, a very powerfully prophetic work and it still is, I mean the things he talks about they are still happening in the world today as time goes by.  So I think, or rather hope that his tomorrow where everything is one and everything is lost by the enemy will come to play, pass, as he described; it will be rather fun I think.

O’FLAHERTY: Thinking again more specifically to the first in the series Out of the Silent Planet, it was published a dozen years before any Narnia story was published and at this point, he later noted about the evangelical or how you can put Christianity in it…there’s the letter to Sister Penelope I believe where he talked about that and then how people are calling this out of the silent planet really his first imaginative apologetic work and of course some thought that Narnia was, but here we have 12 years before that he was already doing that naturally.  Any reflections on how he integrated his faith so well within that story?

GRESHAM: I don’t think in a sense it’s a physical effort.  I think if you have the sort of faith that Jack had, if you have the sort of writing talent that Jack had, when you write something your faith is going to sneak it as it were and in fact in Jack’s case, it’s going to go charging in to whatever you write.  He was so wide open to the Holy Spirit of God and the inspiration from the Holy Spirit of God that everything he wrote had his faith vibrantly alive in it and I think any truly committed Christian who has submitted his life to Christ entirely finds that will happen to him.  If he just relaxes and lets A Grief Observed (Clerk not Lewis)the Holy Spirit speak through him.  I think that’s all Jack did in a sense.  I mean I know that Jack wrote the Narnia Chronicles down on paper, but I’m perfectly convinced that the Holy Spirit of God is the genuine author of them and the same would be true of Till We Have Face and indeed of the science fiction trilogy.  I mean it’s very difficult for a man to have the gift of prophecy so powerfully as Jack exhibits and I think there’s quite a lot of prophecy in the Narnia Chronicles as well, it’s rather more covert and it’s there and if we look deeply enough and study we will find it.  We will see things that Jack, sort of almost promises us in the Narnia Chronicles coming to life around us.

O’FLAHERTY: Thinking of Jack’s life as a whole, he’s known for all his successes, yet he did experience failure quite a bit. If I’m not mistaken his first attempt at getting Spirits in Bondage his first book published was rejected which was a poetry book and that’s an area that he was wanting to be known for so he somewhat failed in that area.

GRESHAM: Well he failed in lots of areas, but the interesting thing about it was he always realized when he made a failure of some sort it was because God had something better for him.  He was wanting to be the great lyric poet, the next Lord George Byron or someone like that.  It just didn’t happen and it didn’t happen because quite frankly he wasn’t good enough at it.  So he turned to prose and prose turned out to be his absolute genius because God knew that he wanted him to write prose rather than poetry.  So when he turned himself over to Christ and let Christ run his career and his life, the whole thing snapped into sharp focus as happens to so many of us.

O’FLAHERTY: You almost anticipated my next question, and there may not be anything further you want to add, but if there is it would be great; that is, you know even other failures like Out of the Silent Planet, which we just mentioned, was rejected twice if I’m not mistaken.

GRESHAM: Don’t forget, the rejection by a publisher of a book that you’ve written is not a failure.  It’s a failure on the publisher’s part if that book goes on and makes millions and millions of dollars.  For example The Lord of the Rings was turned down by about four or five publishers.  But that was not a failure on the part of the writer, it was a failure on the part of the publisher and they’ve probably been kicking themselves in the backside ever since.  Now the failures Jack suffered was he just couldn’t write really good lyric poetry that people would get a grab hold of and run with. But I think it’s also partly the time because the lyric poetry of the great poets of that previous era was [when Jack started writing] past history. It’s all pop stars now it’s a bit crazy for someone to try and start something in a fashion that’s gone out of fashion which was just about when Jack was doing it, he loved the poetry so much and he wanted to do the same thing, not taking into account that it was already passe.

O’FLAHERTY: Even though it maybe wasn’t a failure per say for him there was discouragement. Are there any maybe further lessons other than what you may be noted, commented already that he learned from those different challenges or perceived failures?

GRESHAM: I think he learned never to give up, one of the most important lessons in life.  Winston Churchill used to say never give up, never give up, never, never give up.  And if you want to publish something and your first publisher says no and your second publisher says no and your third publisher, keep trying there are lots of publishers out there.  Sooner or later one of them is going to be smart enough or stupid enough depending on the quality of your work to publish it for you.  Never give up; and Jack kept on sending stuff out and of course eventually he became well known and his stuff was sort of sought after. Than he didn’t have to peddle it anymore.  He had a literary agent who just said this would suit so and so and send it to them and it was published.  But that’s the state a writer gets to when he’s already successful.

O’FLAHERTY: An area that we could spend hours talking about but we only have a few minutes left here is Lewis’s shorter works or his essays you may say generically.  Are there any essays whether it be articles sermons other published talks that are maybe are not as well-known as some of his other writings that you wish more people would read?

GRESHAM: I think most of his essays, most of his sermons or things like that are less well known than his apologetic novels for example or his fictional works, but that’s as it should be.  These are works for scholarly people, these are works for people who have the intellect and thought processes to deal with them.  But we try as a company to keep everything Jack wrote in the public eye all the time, available to the public all the time and one of the things that’s going to help us with that of course is the advent of the electronic publishing.  We will be able to move ahead in the electronic areas with lots of things we still want to keep in front of the public but not necessarily want to stock on bookshelves all over the planet.  So these things are…this whole new technology’s making life a lot easier in that respect.  So we will keep everything Jack wrote that we can fine or know about or keep getting our hands on available to the public; I think that’s an important thing to do.

Image and ImaginationO’FLAHERTY: Now Walter Hooper is editing Image and Imagination…anything that you can comment about that or should we just wait for that to come out?

GRESHAM: Wait for it to come out, Walter will do a wonderful job it’s the sort of thing Walter’s very good at and he’s been doing it for us for a long time editing books of various different esoteric pieces and genre and I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful volume.

O’FLAHERTY: Now another Narnia question, I didn’t know the other day I was reflecting with a friend about the Susan issue and thinking about with having read the different biographies this past year it helped me to you know recall what’s already, clearly stated, Lewis had come to faith during his preteen or teen years then he left it and then he later came back as an adult, is maybe Susan, modeled after this…was this maybe in the back of his mind?

GRESHAM: Well the whole point is you’re not supposed to know.  It’s a mystery what happened to Susan and what’s going to happen to Susan.  We must all try to learn as we read Narnia, we must try to learn it’s one of the reasons for Narnia, if we had time; to look at time as a piece, all of time.  We can take the seven volumes of the Narnia Chronicles and look at them all as a piece that’s all one, that’s the time from the beginning of creation of Narnia to the end of Narnia all happens in the one group of books.  So we can look at it that way and looking at it that way of course we have to remember that the life of Susan and eventual eternal life of Susan is also part of one piece.  I mean let’s just leave it where Jack left it.

O’FLAHERTY: Right and in the story she did not die on the train because she wasn’t on the train so she’s still alive and has an opportunity…

GRESHAM: That’s right, in fact she may be a great grandmother somewhere around Asbury, I don’t know.  I know the actress very well that played her, mind you.

O’FLAHERTY: You commented about Mere Christianity and recommended it along with another work when you were speaking at Asbury. You said in reply to some that asked what you would recommend to their friend that is an atheist. You recommended Mere Christianity and also to follow it up with A Grief Observed. Could you just briefly comment on that?

1st U.K. Edition

GRESHAM: Well Mere Christianity obviously is one of the finest works of apologetics ever written in any century anywhere on this planet and probably any other.  It’s a work which so simplifies all of the difficult questions and makes it so obvious to people why those of us who do, worship Christ.  It’s a wonderful book, it’s entrancing to read, it’s fascinating to read, and it makes difficult things very easy.  What it does is it shows you why people turn to faith.  Whether you want to or not but you can understand why other people do if you decide not to having read Mere Christianity.  It also then shows you one of the greatest challenges that your faith can be put to and that is the grief of losing someone you love and how a man who is committed to Christ in a very big way dealt with it.  He goes to the edge of losing his faith, not in God existing, but in the nature of God and pulls himself back by his knowledge of earlier life and all sorts of other facets.  It’s a book that shows you a man walking to the very edge of the pit of despair and the hell lies beneath it and then turning around and coming back to God and it explains why.  I think the two books, in a sense a pair and they show the beginnings of faith and why of the beginnings of faith and then they show you the dangers that happen and how to avoid them.  But I think they’re both just very valuable books for people to read.

O’FLAHERTY: Now focusing on Mere Christianity, I’ve had some Christians when they approach it since it is actually, not fully aware that it’s three separate books, four separate broadcasts, that they say that I don’t really struggle about doubting and I’ve recommended that they start with book three, Christian Behavior.  I didn’t know if you’ve have any comments about that?

GRESHAM: People who say to you I don’t really doubt, one of two things, quite bluntly they’re rather a liar or a fool.  All of us doubt.  Every single Christian on earth is beset by doubts.  Whenever things go bad, when a great friend of yours is dying in great agony you think how could there possibly be a God while this is happening and then you have to revert your mind back and think well of course there’s a God, He tries to protect us against these things but the devil inflicts them on us and we try to make the best we can of them, but He will bring great good of it if we allow Him to and we stand back and watch it happen.  We are always beset by doubts, if anyone says I haven’t got any doubts about Christ, they’re either a liar or self-deceiving.  So that’s the first part.  I think people should just pick up the book and read it from wherever they feel like reading it, but after chopping into it and having little bits here and there, go back start at the very beginning and read the whole book if you can sit in one place read it from beginning to end.  When you’ve done that, take a week off come back and read it again.  Do that about three times and you’ll really start to get the gist of it because it’s a book that’s very dense with meaning.  Like Till We Have Faces, I’ve read it 15 times at least and I’m still finding levels of new meaning in it. So in Mere Christianity is a book that needs to be thought about. One of the problems I have with modern education in America is that people are trained rather than educated in many cases.  As Jack put it, education is for free men, training is for slaves.  People in America are taught to look at things, but we need to be taught to look into them.

O’FLAHERTY: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you have two books yourself Lenten Lands and Jack’s Life, could you briefly tell us about them?

GRESHAM: Lenten Lands written because I was asked to do so.  Some friends of mine at Wheaton College asked if I would go over and record my memoires on video tape… that’s back a long way, so I did and then someone said afterwards, look Doug this is a book and you have to write it. So I said ok and I wrote the book.  It’s basically an autobiographical work from my birth to 1973 which is about how far we got at that stage and people keep asking me when I’m going to write the second volume and I have to say well I’ve got to wait for people to die or I’ll be sued for libel… but they keep saying when are you going to write another book so eventually you’ll see a book I hope if I live long enough appear on the book stands as Another Book by Douglas Gresham, that will be the title.  But I was asked to write that one wasn’t my idea. And I did [have a friend] send me a review (because I don’t read reviews of none of my books).  One of them said “we can’t understand why Mr. Gresham bothered to write an autobiography, he’s never really done anything.”  But I thought the man who writes an autobiography because he’s done something remarkable is a braggart,  a man who write an  autobiography because he’s had an interesting life and other things happening to him I think is the man who should write an autobiography personally, that’s my view point.  And then I wrote Jack’s Life again because I was asked to write a biography of Jack for children, young people.  Lenten LandsIt was written in a very experimental style, I start off in very simple word structures and sentence structures and as the book progresses the complexity of the words and language get more complex, increase.  My idea being if I can take a ten year old child with reasonably good basic reading level and advance him through the book to be 13 or 14 years old in his reading standards it will be great.  And again one of my friends sent me a review that somebody wrote that said “I don’t understand Mr. Gresham’s tone in this book.  It’s almost as though he were writing for children.”  Well duh, it’s got written on the front this is for book for…however the reviewer should have read a bit more than just a few pages I suppose.  But yes it’s been quite successful still in print, both of my books are still in print to my amazement.  Lenten Lands was translated into both Chinese and Spanish as well.  They sent me some copies I couldn’t read a word.

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Lewis at the BBC (CSLM-33)

NOTE: Since writing this back in February, 2012 another resource has become available from Focus on the Family, called “C.S. Lewis at War.” Hear an interview I did with Paul McCusker about it

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CLICK TO LISTEN TO AUDIO/PODCAST VERSION

Can you image what it was like to be C.S. Lewis preparing for and delivering his radio talks in the 1940’s?

As noted in a previous minute Lewis made his radio debut in August 1941. The result became four series of talks that eventually become known as Mere Christianity. Prior to Justin Phillips writing C.S. Lewis at the BBC there had not been any detailed account of the behind the scenes preparation before and between these historic broadcasts.

It’s important to note this book can also be found under the title C.S. Lewis in a Time of War. Whichever copy you pick up will provide a fascinating history of the things that lead up to Lewis going on the air and his process of writing these landmark talks.

What’s your favorite part of Mere Christianity? Let me know by leaving your comments or questions below.

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