Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From the Library of C.S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey by James Stuart Bell with Anthony P. Dawson

"Let us then according to the Gospel consider this visible world chiefly in this view, as an emblem of things invisible, and a means to lead us by reason and faith to the sight of God our great, our chief good."-from Samuel Johnson in the section "The Gleaming of Divine Brightness"-Heaven, Death, and Immortality

C.S. Lewis.  When I hear that name, immediately my mind goes to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I don't remember reading the novel when I was younger, but I do remember watching the cartoon based on the book as a child.  I remember always crying when Aslan died, no matter how many times I had seen it. As a middle school teacher, I read the book to my students.  You can tell so much about a writer by what he writes about, and by the spirit behind it.  When you read C.S. Lewis' writings, especially the aforementioned book, you see into the heart of a man who seeks to promote Christ. 

From the Library of C.S. Lewis is a  look into the life of the writer.  What did he read?  Who influenced him?  James Bell has put together a list and samples of the writers that influenced  C.S. Lewis.  The book is divided into sections based on different themes in Christianity, with each section containing samples of writing from historical figures that influenced Lewis such as Martin Luther, William Cowper, Samuel Johnson, Andrew Murray, Saint Augustine, and many others.  At the end of the passages there is a little bio about the writer, so you get to know them a little better too.

I like the book because it gives insight into one of the world's most well known writers.  There is information in the book on Christians that I have never heard of before which is very interesting to me.  The reader will also come away with a greater depth of understanding of Christianity in a different time period than their own. 

I recommend the book to anyone who wants to deepen their knowledge of the history of Christianity.  I believe fans of C.S. Lewis will be inspired with a greater glimpse into who the man was and what influenced him as a writer and a Christian.  One thing I have taken away from this book, due to some of what I would consider controversial writers in the book, or maybe those considered in Contemporary Christianity to be avoided, is that because you cannot agree with some people on certain subjects or topics, doesn't mean you cannot agree with them on anything.  I think that is really important in the body of Christ right now.
My one criticism about this book, and I realize that this is not the purpose of the book, is that I would have liked to have seen samples of Lewis' as well under each of the sections.  "How Dearly You Have Paid for Me"-The Life and Sacrifice of Christ section as well as many others would have been enhanced by seeing a sample of Lewis' thoughts on the subject alongside those who influenced him.
One final little tidbit of info.  This is not a book to whisk right through.  The writing contained within is through provoking and the language is not contemporary so it requires focus to grasp all the writers are trying to communicate.

Blessings to you as you seek to learn more about one of Christianity's most influential writers!

Disclosure:  I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of a free books for bloggers program.  I was not required to give a positive review.  The thoughts and opinions here are my own.

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