If CS Lewis, who died 50 years ago last Friday, had become Catholic he might never have written some of his best-loved works, reports The Catholic Herald.
The reaction to the death of C S Lewis, on November 22 1963, was far more muted than might have been expected. The assassination of President John F Kennedy had eclipsed all other events, including the death, on the same day, of the writer and essayist Aldous Huxley. Even though Lewis was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, the media of the time naturally focused on the major event.
Lewis’s brilliant career as Fellow and Tutor at Oxford and the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge included also the writing of more than 30 books, of which The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters were probably the most loved. For Christians, however, Lewis was the great apologist, who set out the doctrines of Christianity and the joy of Christian living in what he himself called a 'popular' or 'familiar' tone. The series of broadcasts that he made where he described himself as a 'very ordinary layman of the Church of England' were said to have brought solace and encouragement to many during the anxious years of the Second World War.
Lewis was adamant that it was basic or 'mere' Christianity that he was anxious to defend, arguing that he did not have the theological training that would allow him to discriminate between denominations that were in the 1940s and 1950s much more polarised. For example the 'delicate' subject of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a highly controversial one which Lewis, with his great sensibility, felt incompetent to undertake.
Clive Staples Lewis was born in November 1898 in Dundela a suburb of Belfast. In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, Lewis (always known as Jack) tells of his years of atheism. 'The trouble about God, he wrote, is that he is like a person who never acknowledges your letters and so in time you come to the conclusion either that he does not exist or that you have got his address wrong.'
FULL STORY C S Lewis came so close to Catholicism