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Your First Encounter With Lewis

The man. The myth.

Your First Encounter With Lewis

Postby Tumnus's Books » 31 Aug 2008, 01:33

I'm new here, and I would imagine this type of question has been posed to the Forum before, but as a newbie, I'm interested: What was your first encounter with Lewis and what was your first impression?
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Postby mgton » 31 Aug 2008, 03:27

Somehow I heard about Mere Christianity. I think maybe it was Peter Kreeft who mentioned him somewhere. So I read the book and noticed that the first few pages listed some of the other works by this C.S. Lewis. One of them was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I thought it couldn't be that the little cartoon movie about Narnia and frozen people that my brothers and sister and I watched as kids was actually a book, and this same guy wrote both of them (i.e., Mere Chr. and LWAW). I then discovered all the rest about Lewis and by now he has influenced my life more than any other person I've ever known or read about.

But reading Mere Christianity opened up a world to me that I never knew existed. I though Christians were just ignorant people who needed a crutch. The first few chapters about right and wrong being a clue to the meaning of the universe, and the philosophical argument (whether it's actually a good argument or not) that he explained, really impressed me and made me wonder. For a long time I thought Lewis was a philosopher; I didn't know he was a literature professor! I now graduate this December with a B.A. in philosophy and plan to go to grad school to study philosophy of religion. Ha! I blame Lewis.
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Postby Tumnus's Books » 31 Aug 2008, 17:21

I now graduate this December with a B.A. in philosophy and plan to go to grad school to study philosophy of religion. Ha! I blame Lewis.


Congrats to you on that, mgton! Believe it or not, I can't remember coming across Lewis as a kid. I remember Tolkien- the Hobbit and the cartoon Lord of the Rings, but not Narnia, which seems odd, given that I liked fantasy books (remember the Pick-a-Path to Adventure books in the 80s? I think I had fifty of those books...)

So it wasn't until I was an adult that a revived interest in Tolkien led to an introduction to Lewis. I picked up his apologetics first (The Weight of Glory, I think), but Narnia followed soon after that, which I think at this point makes me appreciate them more than if I read them as a kid...
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Postby robsia » 31 Aug 2008, 18:21

Had to be Narnia - my dad read them to me as a kid, until I learned to read and read them myself.

He's here too somewhere . . .
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Postby postodave » 31 Aug 2008, 20:06

There used to be a TV program called Jackanory. What it did was to have someone usually an actor read a book aloud (I mean it would have been boring if they had sat there and read it to to their selves right) and they sometimes had a few pictures in the background. When I was about seven years old they did the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was very taken with it. So taken in fact that I wrote a sort of pastiche of the story in an exam at school (I am embarrassed to admit it had a lion in it called Alazin). Anyhow a while later I described the book to my Mum and asked if she could get it for me. She was so disappointed that my great exam story turned out to have been a copy and between that and not knowing who the author was I never did get to read it as a child. Though I once heard some kids talking about the books in a library and tried to overhear the author's name. I didn't manage it. Oh and I remember very clearly Jackanory doing Prince Caspian and that really spooky idea of going back after thousands of years impressed me. There were lots of other stories on Jackanory but apart from the Lewis ones I only remember Mrs Pepperpot and Sam Pig.

A couple of years ago they brought Jackanory back and had someone read the Magician of Samarkand which my daughter listened to and I ended up reading aloud to her. Jackanory was a great idea. It introduced working class kids to books and stories.

Anyway I became a Christian at 19 after reading a book by Michael Green called You Must be Joking. It had a list of recommended reading in the back and Lewis was on the list. I started reading his books and soon found out this was the man who wrote the stories I had heard on TV as a kid.
So I drew my sword and got ready
But the lamb ran away with the crown
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Postby Karen » 31 Aug 2008, 21:38

I read LWW at about age 9 or 10 and didn't much like it. Nor did any of the Christian references resonate with me, a secular Jewish kid. But when I began to explore Christianity in my late 30s, I came across Mere Christianity and fell in love with CSL's non-fiction. I didn't become a Christian merely because of Lewis (so to speak), but his writings were certainly one of the many factors involved in my conversion.
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. -- Jorge Luis Borges
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Postby Tuke » 01 Sep 2008, 01:55

Screwtape was my first because required by my junior or senior High School English teacher four decades ago. I don't remember any impressions from that initial encounter other than recognizing the author's work after I became a Christian six years later. This familiarity catalyzed my appetite for Lewis and I quickly consumed the CON, The Four Loves, and The Space Trilogy. I am now a Lewis disciple and he is my main literary mentor.
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Postby Tumnus's Books » 01 Sep 2008, 14:21

I am now a Lewis disciple and he is my main literary mentor.
He is an author that seems to make an immediate connection with his readers. Very conversational and straightforward in his prose.
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Postby Jenny » 08 Sep 2008, 03:58

I first read TLWW as a fourth grader on a recommendation that it was "a good Christian book" and I was thoroughly confused trying to figure out why. It gave me the impression of something large and looming that I didn’t understand and the uneasy feeling that I needed to “watch my back”. I read it again at 13 and I was completely captivated. Since then I read everything I could get my hands on of his several times…except the Discarded Image.

I wish Narnia was not advertized so much as “Christian”. A label doesn’t do it justice because it’s kind of cosmic and universal.
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Postby ami » 08 Sep 2008, 05:15

"Mere Christianity" was the 1st Lewis's book I read 10 years back, it did extend my view of Christianity, been many times I picked up it again, is like call up an old friend when lost. "A Grief Obsered" was the other book I read a few times, reminded me no matter how I planned, there is a primary will before mine - nothing I can really do. These days I am chewing "The Great Divorce". :coffee:
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Postby archenland_knight » 08 Sep 2008, 06:55

The Screwtape Letters was the first of Lewis' works I ever read. At the time I thought it to be the most inspired thing I had ever read short of the Scriptures themselves. The insight into human behavior, and how the tempter tries to lead us astray was frightening. So many times while reading the book I said to myself, "HEY! I thought I was the only one who ever experienced that!"

And even more often, "OH! I totally understand why I do that now!"

It's still one of my favorite books.

I read "Mere Christianity" not too long after that and was thrilled at what a wonderfully logical approach to Christianity it was, because the Christian faith has always seemed inherently logical to me. I think most people simply don't take the logic far enough. Lewis takes it further than most. I liked that about him.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
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Postby postodave » 08 Sep 2008, 17:41

That's a good point Jenny that Narnia should not be advertised as Christian. I had no idea when I first heard the stories. I wonder if Atheists say to their children, 'read His Dark Materials, it's a good atheist book.' My guess is that they are not that daft.
So I drew my sword and got ready
But the lamb ran away with the crown
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Postby Adam Linton » 12 Sep 2008, 13:33

I was ten or eleven--1965, I think. My father took me to the old Tides bookstore in Sausalito, CA, with the offer to buy me any one book that I wanted (within reasonable parameters, of course). After a long time of searching, pondering, and interior debate I chose Out of the Silent Planet. It may have been a bit of a stretch for me then, but I much liked it. A couple of years later I started to read the Narnia books. The latter part of my first year of college (early 1973) I finished the Space Trilogy--and a couple of years later, Mere Christianity. My college reading of Lewis was very important in my return to active Christian faith. Perelandra sent me right to the edge, the very edge! Mere Christianity was key support and nourishment early on after going over the edge.
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Postby Tumnus's Books » 13 Sep 2008, 00:40

I have yet to dive into Out of the Silent Planet, and I know I'm missing out. Am I correct in thinking this was not a trilogy written for a younger audience like Narnia, but rather more for adults?
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Postby Adam Linton » 13 Sep 2008, 00:44

Tumnus's Books wrote:I have yet to dive into Out of the Silent Planet, and I know I'm missing out. Am I correct in thinking this was not a trilogy written for a younger audience like Narnia, but rather more for adults?


Yes; indeed. This was an unusual starting point for Lewis at my age then.

And--certainly--dive into the Space Trilogy, I'd say.
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