The Humility of C. S. Lewis’ Writing

Good word from Gavin Ortlund on the humility of C.S. Lewis’ writing. Some money quotes:

• “It is not that Lewis lacks learning, but that he finds a way to hide his learning in order to help the reader.”

• “To write clearly is a matter of one’s character even more than one’s brain: it stems from being good more than from being smart. Virtues like charity and humility . . . shape and restrain and reorganize our writing towards clarity and accessibility because they value the edification of the reader above the reputation of the writer.”

Read the entire post here.


10 books that have deeply affected me

Books, books, books!

Death-by-Living-e1375235818221A friend today asked me to list ten books that have affected me in some significant way. Knowing me, you probably won’t be surprised it’s a mixture of fiction, theology, biography, and poetry. These are books that in various seasons of life have taken hold of me and have not let go—they have transformed me into who I am today. I could easily echo C. S. Lewis: “I am a product of … endless books.”

Though not always perceived, books make certain indelible impressions upon the reader. We will not always be aware of the mark they are making, but unquestionably books mold us and refine us, they allow us to expand our thinking, to venture into worlds unknown and times not our own. Books can paint with words as stories unfold and worlds are created and history is retold and budding theologians like me are made.

Well, here’s my list (in no particular order):

(1) The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis)
(2) Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (D. A. Carson)
(3) Death by Living (N. D. Wilson)
(4) George Whitefield (Arnold Dallimore)
(5) Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)
(6) Holiness (J. C. Ryle)
(7) A Heart for Missions (Andrew Fuller)
(8) A Timbered Choir: Sabbath Poems (Wendell Berry)
(9) The Gospel according to the Apostles (John MacArthur)
(10) Written in Tears: A Grieving Father’s Journey Through Psalm 103 (Luke Veldt)

I wish I had time to expand on each these books. Maybe down the road I will. In the mean time, tolle lege!

Laughter and Humility

9781595554789_p0_v2_s260x420“Laughter is a divine gift to the human who is humble. A proud man cannot laugh because he must watch his dignity; he cannot give himself over to the rocking and rolling of his belly. But a poor and happy man laughs heartily because he gives no serious attention to his ego.”

— Terry Lindvall, Surprised By Laughter: The Comic World of C. S. Lewis (Thomas Nelson, 1996), p. 131.

C. S. Lewis’ Review of The Hobbit (1937)

C. S. Lewis’ 1937 review of Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937). I love the last paragraph:

For it must be understood that this is a children’s book only in the sense that the first of many readings can be undertaken in the nursery. ‘Alice’ is read gravely by children and with laughter by grown-ups; ‘The Hobbit,’ on the other hand, will be funniest to its youngest readers, and only years later, at a tenth or twentieth reading, will they begin to realize what deft scholarship and profound reflection have gone to make everything in it so ripe, so friendly, and in its own way so true. Prediction is dangerous: but ‘The Hobbit’ may well prove a classic.

You might say C. S. Lewis got it right. Read the entire review here.

C. S. Lewis — The Lord of the Rings as Life!

C. S. Lewis on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (Collected Letters, 3:971–2):

I’ve never met Orcs or Ents or Elves — but the feel of it, the sense of a huge past, of lowering danger, of heroic tasks achieved by the most apparently unheroic people, of distance, vastness, strangeness, homeliness (all blended together) is so exactly what living feels like to me. Particularly the heart-breaking quality in the most beautiful places, like Lothlorien. And it is so like the real history of the world: “Then, as now, there was a growing darkness and great deeds were done that were not wholly in vain.” Neither optimism (this is the last war and after it all will be lovely forever) nor pessimism (this is the last war and all civilization will end), you notice. No. The darkness comes again and again and is never wholly triumphant nor wholly defeated.

(HT: John Piper via Tony Reinke)

C. S. Lewis’ Childhood & Books

surprised-by-joy“I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstair indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books… There were books in the study, books in the drawing-room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interests, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not…. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.”

via Surprised by Joy

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