C.S. Lewis remembered
There is an interview with CS Lewis’ adopted son Douglas Gresham here. Gresham is an advisor on the upcoming movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
What is the least understood or least recognized aspect of Jack’s character?
Gresham: His humor. Everybody sort of pictures Jack as this dour professor, isolated in the ivory towers of academia of Oxford. But in fact he was this enormous bon vivant. He could tell great stories. On the drive coming out to Oxford, taking Jack back after a weekend or a holiday, I’d go along for the ride. We’d stop somewhere at a pub for a pork pie and a pint, and within minutes, Jack would have the public bar surrounded by builders, workmen, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, roaring with laughter and enjoying every story he was telling them. And he would be laughing with them, conversing as equals with them. Nobody ever sees this in modern depictions of Jack. People would say, “Who’s the guvnor? He’s a real gent, isn’t he?” That was Jack.
Were these true stories he was telling, exaggerations, or what?
Gresham: Sometimes he’d just be telling jokes. And he wasn’t averse to ribald joke, as long as it was funny for itself and not simply for its obscenity. But if he would come up with a joke that was both ribald and funny for its own sake, he would use it.
Americans have latched on to C. S. Lewis, and yet here’s a guy who was a chain smoker, who liked his pints, who told ribald jokes, and in general, wouldn’t fit what we think of as the “typical evangelical.” And yet we’ve all wrapped our arms around him. Why is that?
Gresham: One of the reasons is that through the – if you can excuse the expression – the bulls–t that has come to be taken so seriously in American Christianity, through all of that, they can still see the essential truth that Jack represented. The problem with evangelical Christianity in America today, a large majority of you have sacrificed the essential for the sake of the trivial. You concentrate on the trivialities – not smoking, not drinking, not using bad language, not dressing inappropriately in church, and so on. Jesus doesn’t give two hoots for that sort of bulls–t. If you go out and DO Christianity, you can smoke if you want, you can drink if you want—though not to excess, in either case.
But I think that even past the trivialities, many evangelical Christians can see the ultimate truth to what Jack wrote. I think that’s why he’s so popular.
Oh, one last thing. It is Hallowe’en night after all, so here is a look at the history of this celebration and how it’s become what it is.