CS Lewis on list of Catholic Books

Greetings, all,

A day or two ago, I received a copy of the latest Christian Booksellers Association magazine. (My brother is in the trade, and I do consulting for him.) This particular association is mostly Protestant, and over the years has been at times hostile to Catholicism. At this point, however, they do report on Catholic books and issues, if for no other reason than to recognize Catholic readers as a niche market.

On their list of Top 10 Catholic Softcovers, were several CS Lewis titles, including “Mere Christianity”, “The Screwtape Letters”, and “The Great Divorce”, along with an omnibus edition containing 7 Lewis books!

As someone who is both a Catholic and a huge CS Lewis fan, I found this most intriguing! ('Course I don’t blame Catholics for wanting to claim Lewis!!!)

Fasctinating, huh?

Quite interesting…I am a big fan of Lewis. I would really like to read Mere Christianity.

I would highly recommend it.

What is The Great Divorce about?

It is a very interesting work of fiction which involves a “dream” by Lewis in which he travels from Hell/Purgatory to the edge of Heaven and has many interactions with the souls he encounters. Quite a good companion to “Screwtape”.

Another big fan of Mr. Lewis here. I credit him with starting the conversion process that ultimately led me to the Catholic Church; it was his books that did it for me. I read them all at one fell swoop about twenty years ago, and all I needed to know then was which denomination to join. That became clear soon enough! :smiley: His works are marvelous and I encourage everyone to read them, especially if all you know of his work is the Narnia books: they are great, but his apologetics will really open your eyes to a lot.

By the way, just to explain in a little more detail about the plot of The Great Divorce: the premise of the book is taken from a concept in medieval philosophy known as the refrigerium, which was the idea that the damned in Hell were allowed periodic ‘day-trips’ to Heaven to see if they wanted to stay. The Great Divorce is an account of one of these trips and is full of little scenes showing how the lost souls react to Heaven and just why it is that so many of them end up deciding to go back to Hell after all, though certainly not all of them do. It is a fascinating book and is quite short; it can be read cover to cover in a few hours.

What I find most wonderful about Lewis’ writing is how clear and penetrating it is. No high-falutin’ phraseology or deliberate obscurity for him. He writes just as if he is speaking to you, and one could wish that more modern writers would follow this excellent example. His works reward frequent and careful reading, and I recommend them to everyone.

I love Lewis, when your asked that old question who would you like to meet, hes on my list :slight_smile:

Lewis has cleared up so many misconceptions I had. Mere Christianity is a must read.

After reading this post, I think I will have Mere Christianity on my To Read list. Thanks for the information.

I’m a CS Lewis fan too but it’s quite wrong to describe him as a Catholic. He was an Anglican and had no particular leaning or liking for Catholicism. He hardly ever mentions the sacraments, the Blessed Virgin and the saints, and other points on which catholics differ from protestants. However he never attacks Catholicism nor accuses it of being anything less than fully Christian. So I can half-understand why a strongly evangelical protestant would regard him as leaning towards Catholicism. In fact Lewis represents a type of Anglicanism that in his day comprised the majority of Anglicans but is now almost extinct.

Mere Christianity is available here for free MP3 download. Scroll about half a mile down the page to find it.

Thanks mercygate! You are always so helpful!

Thanks! I didn’t think anybody noticed. I disappear for all of Lent each year, and when I come back, nobody has asked: Where’s mercygate?

Would anyone guess that I’m a big Lewis fan?:smiley:

Let me clarify a couple of points here.

It is quite true that Lewis never became a Catholic, though his former student, close friend, and biographer, George Sayer (who was a convert) felt that he came close to doing so around 1950. The Anglicanism in which Lewis was brought up was the Northern Ireland Ulster version which was quite anti-Catholic. However, when Lewis returned to Christianity he was much more aligned with the “High Church” party theologically than with the “Evangelical” party (even though he eschewed church politics.) The parish where he worshiped faithfully was a “High” parish. I don’t think it would be completely accurate to suggest that Lewis’s Anglicanism reprepresented what was mainstream during his day – not at all. He was far more Catholic.

Lewis accepted 7 Sacraments, practiced frequent reception of communion and auricular confession, and believed in Purgatory. Many of his closest friends were Catholics, including JRR Tolkien, his physician Dr. Havard, and Sayer.

I think that it is an open question to ask whether Lewis would be a member of the Church of England in 2007 – but that is perhaps a matter best left for another thread.

Personally, I have used “Mere Christianity”, “The Abolition of Man”, “The Screwtape Letters” and “That Hideous Strength” as required reading in some of the classes I teach (at a Catholic university) and I’m not the only teacher who does so.

He also wrote an essay in which he explained his reasons for not becoming an RC - there is an excellent essay here: www.ctlibrary.com/bc/2004/novdec/12.30.html -

which goes into that issue more deeply. (To read all of it, one will need to subscribe; it is well worth doing so.)

I think he would have been ruined if he had become an RC; English RCism then, like US RCism now, was very keen on insisting on its own rightness, & so, on the wrongness of everyone else. Lewis would have become just another apologist - by staying in a Church of a rather different temper, he managed to stay Christian and Catholic in the fullest sense. He says himself somewhere that he did not want to become an apologist.

Well, I’m still pretty new to this forum…but I WILL notice when you’re not around next year answering my questions and providing me with such wonderful resources!!

You are a big help to me and I appreciate it immensely.

Personally, I have used “Mere Christianity”, “The Abolition of Man”, “The Screwtape Letters” and “That Hideous Strength” as required reading in some of the classes I teach (at a Catholic university) and I’m not the only teacher who does so.

That Hideous Strength may quite possibly be my favorite work of fiction of all time.

OK, I’m putting this post in the folder I take with me when I approach the pearly gates and the Boss says – “So, MG, what did you ever do for ME?” :smiley:

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