Arts & Entertainment

Remembering C. S. Lewis

Lewis’ “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment” is well worth checking out.

By David Downing, Chronicles

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) is arguably the most influential Christian writer of the 20th century. To tell the story of his life is to speak of a remarkable journey out of youthful skepticism into the joyful discovery of faith; of an embattled defense of traditional moral sanity; and of a profound artistry in the creation of fictional worlds that has touched the lives of millions around the globe.

Among his works of Christian apologetics, The Screwtape Letters (1942) and Mere Christianity (1952) continue to be best sellers more than half a century after his death. His literary criticism, such as The Allegory of Love (1936) and A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), are still required reading for many graduate students in English. And The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956), a series of children’s stories, have sold more than 100 million copies.

Despite this spectacular success in connecting with readers, Lewis liked to call himself a dinosaur. In his 1954 inaugural lecture as the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Lewis explained that he was one of the last living specimens of “Old Western Man,” someone whose worldview was grounded in classical learning and shaped by Christian faith. He applauded his newly created title, saying that the continuity between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was much greater than any changes that might have occurred during the years encompassing those two eras.


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