I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Especially because tomorrow, dreamers and thinkers around the world will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis: Oxford & Cambridge professor, writer, theologian, and arguably one of the 20th century’s luminary minds.
For a philosopher, he was remarkable adept at fantasy. In fact, if you were enchanted by lions, witches, and wardrobes as a child, then you’ve probably been touched by his most famous fiction, the Chronicles of Narnia.
But Lewis’s work goes far beyond fantasy. He also penned revolutionary books like Mere Christianity (which explores his own counterintuitive journey from skepticism to faith); the diabolically clever Screwtape Letters; the gut-wrenchingly honest A Grief Observed; and A Mind Awake, which argues for a balance of logic and belief. Just to name a few.
Since my childhood, Lewis has been my hero for a couple reasons.
For one thing, I’ve always loved metaphor. Even as a small girl, I recognized the rich spiritual metaphors packed into Narnia. As much as I loved his whimsical characters and their world, what I loved more was his way of talking about faith through fantasy.
It was a language I understood. One I wanted desperately to speak.
I still do.
For another thing, Lewis was a voracious student of languages and myth. As a teenager I was obsessed with both. Yet I was the only person my age I knew who wanted to be a linguist. And in my church, not many adults encouraged the study of Greek mythology, Norse gods, and other literary traditions that Lewis freely (and fearlessly) drew from.
At the end of the day, C.S. Lewis held out a vision I’m still pursuing: a life of informed, artistic, and rigorous belief. One that embraces scholarship, is unafraid of science, and celebrates the mysteries of this gift called life.
And that’s when I realized the true measure of a life.
Fifty years after his death, C.S. Lewis’s impact echoes in countless lives. He’s probably the major reason I became a writer. His words and thoughts still shape my own.
I hope, fifty years after my passing, even one of my readers can say the same.