home
RSS
The C.S. Lewis you never knew
C.S. Lewis has become a virtual Christian saint, but his life wasn't as tidy as his public image.
December 1st, 2013
06:00 AM ET

The C.S. Lewis you never knew

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He looked like a “red-faced pork butcher in shabby tweeds,” lived secretly with a woman for years and was so turned on by S&M that he once asked people at a party whether he could spank them.

We’re talking, of course, about C.S. Lewis, the Christian icon and author of classics such as “Mere Christianity” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

It’s tempting to remember Lewis only as the self-assured defender of Christianity who never met an argument he couldn't demolish. His death 50 years ago, on November 22, 1963, was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He has since become a patron saint of American evangelicals.

But the actual man whom friends called “Jack” had a “horrible” personal life, thought he had failed as a defender of Christianity and spent so much time in pubs that his publishers initially struggled selling him to a religious audience, scholars say.

“American publishers worried about offending their more puritanical readers because it seemed impossible to get a dust jacket picture of Jack without a pint or a cigarette,” says Michael Tomko, a literature professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

There are three other parts of Lewis’ life that clash with his image as well:

1. His religious books made him poor

No modern Christian author sells like Lewis. The cumulative sales of his Christian books for adults - not including the Christian allegory and children's fantasy "The Chronicles of Narnia" - now approach 10 million copies, according to HarperOne publishers. “Mere Christianity” sold more than 150,000 copies over the past year alone. Perhaps the only publishing parallel to Lewis' works would be “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, a mythology written by Lewis’ close friend and fellow Christian J.R.R. Tolkien.

But Lewis never got rich from his Christian classics, says Michael Maudlin, executive editor at HarperOne.

“His books left him poor,” Maudlin said. “He had all of this money coming in, but he didn’t take those royalties.”

Lewis vowed to donate all the money he made from his books on Christianity, Maudlin says. He got big tax bills for his Christian books but struggled to pay them because he had given the money away.

Lewis refused to renounce his vow even though his money worries persisted throughout his life, Maudlin says.

“He is a man whose number one anxiety in life was poverty,” Maudlin said. “Because his dad overspent, money was always a worry. He didn’t fix things in his home because he and his brother worried about poverty.”

Lewis’ financial worries stalked him until the end, says Alister McGrath, author of the acclaimed new book “C.S. Lewis: A Life.”

Lewis’ health began to fail near the end of his life, so he wanted to hire a private secretary to help tend to his affairs. His income, though, was so spotty that he told his potential secretary that he didn’t know whether he could pay him, McGrath writes.

Lewis was more worried about losing his teaching salary from the University of Cambridge than his book royalties, says McGrath, a professor at King's College London.

“Lewis was convinced that his books would cease to be popular and thus generate little in the way of income,” McGrath said.

2. He felt like a failure as a Christian communicator

"Brilliant" is one of the most common words used to describe Lewis. He seemed to have read everything, and he could easily write in several genres: children’s fantasy, science fiction, Christian apologetics and autobiography.

“He had an almost photographic memory,” Maudlin said. “He could recite the passage and page of a line from a book on medieval poetry.”

Lewis was not so adept in the ordinary world. He never learned to drive or type because he was too clumsy. And he was a shabby dresser who lived in a house that was falling apart.

He even began to doubt his ability to defend Christianity.

Lewis' breakthrough came as a Christian apologist, one who publicly defends and explains Christianity by invoking logic. He delivered a series of talks on Christianity for BBC radio during World War II that made him famous (you can hear some of those talks on YouTube). His fame crossed the Atlantic in 1947 when he made the cover of Time magazine.

But just as his fame peaked in the 1940s, Lewis began to doubt his persuasive powers, McGrath says.

Debating Christianity in public became “draining” for Lewis, McGrath says. At a 1945 lecture on Christian apologetics, according to McGrath, Lewis said, “Nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate.”

Lewis then lost a highly publicized debate to Elizabeth Anscombe, a young Catholic philosopher who pointed out inconsistencies in his reasoning. They clashed over passages in his book “Miracles,” which he later revised. Lewis’ confidence was shaken further when he realized that his argumentative powers had little effect on some of his closest friends and relatives, who remained hostile to Christianity, McGrath says.

Lewis thought that he had “failed as an apologist towards those who were closest to him,” McGrath writes. “How could Lewis maintain a profile as a public apologist with any integrity in the light of such private failures?”

When the BBC asked Lewis to participate in a discussion on the evidence of religious faith, he declined: “Like the old fangless snake in 'The Jungle Book,' I’ve largely lost my dialectical power.”

Some contend that even Lewis’ faith failed him.

He lost love not long after finding it late in his life: Joy Davidman was an American writer who befriended Lewis by letter and eventually became his wife. She died of cancer at 45 with Lewis at her bedside. Their love affair was depicted in the 1993 film “Shadowlands.”

Lewis had written about God and suffering in a book entitled “The Problem of Pain.” But when he wrote about losing his wife in “A Grief Observed,” he was a different man, says Ivan Strenski, a religious studies professor at the University of California, Riverside.

“The cocky self-confidence is totally destroyed,” Strenski said. “The confident, modern interpreter of Christianity is gone. He’s really a shattered Christian.”

3. He had a "horrible" personal life

When the University of St. Andrews in Scotland awarded Lewis an honorary degree in 1945, Lewis gloomily joked that he preferred getting a “case of Scotch whiskey.”

Lewis needed some escape at the time. His personal life was a wreck. The man who seemed like the embodiment of self-control and virtue in his books had a personal life complicated by dysfunction and deceit.

Lewis’ personal struggles began early. His beloved mother, Flora, died when he was 9; he never really got along with his father, Albert; and he was sent away to a miserable boarding school where a schoolmaster was literally declared insane.

“It was horrible," Maudlin said of Lewis’ personal life.

Then Lewis experienced another horror – trench warfare in World War I - but he rarely talked about the experience.  Nor did he talk much about the promise he made during the war to his fellow soldier and friend Paddy Moore.

Lewis assured Moore that he would take care of his mother if Paddy didn’t survive the war. Moore was killed, and Lewis fulfilled his vow after returning home. Lewis moved in with Paddy’s mother, Janie Moore, and helped raise her daughter, Maureen.

Lewis’ relationship with Janie Moore is still mystery. Some scholars say they became lovers; others say she was more like his mother. Lewis, though, hid the relationship from his father and his colleagues at Oxford University.

“There was an attraction between the two of them from the very beginning,” said Warren Rochelle, an English professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.

“When he first met her, she was 45, almost the exact age when Lewis’ mother died, and it’s clear from correspondence that they found each other attractive and engaging,” Rochelle said.

Lewis had another complicated relationship at home with his brother Warren, or “Warnie," an alcoholic who moved in with Lewis and Janie Moore. Warnie couldn’t stand her.

As Janie Moore grew older, she lapsed into dementia. The demands of caring for an alcoholic brother and a disabled woman proved so difficult for Lewis that he was hospitalized for exhaustion at one point. Yet Lewis took care of Janie Moore and her daughter even as she presumably stopped being his lover, scholars say.

“She gave him stability, a family and a mother figure,” Rochelle said. “She gave him a lover for a while, but no one can prove it.”

Lewis’ sexual proclivities also clash with the images of the reserved Englishman who touted the virtues of abstinence before marriage in “Mere Christianity.”

Lewis displayed an interest in sadomasochism during his youth. He read the writings of the Marquis de Sade; once became drunk at a party and begged people to allow him to whip them; and signed three letters to friend Arthur Greeves with the closing “lover of the whip,” according to McGrath’s biography.

Lewis befriended Greeves during childhood, and the two remained close throughout his life. Greeves was gay, but that didn’t seem to bother Lewis.

“Lewis was aware of Greeves’ homosexuality and made it clear that this would not be a problem within their friendship,” McGrath said. “He also made it clear that he didn’t share Greeves’ orientation.”

Despite Lewis' personal hardships, those who've studied him say his kindness was as impressive as his intellect.

Lewis didn’t try to hide from a public that sought his counsel after he became famous. He made no attempt to conceal his phone number. He rose at daybreak to answer letters from people seeking spiritual advice.

He even made personal visits.  A priest once wrote Lewis that he didn’t know whether he believed in a loving God anymore. Lewis met the man and spent an afternoon talking to him about his problem, wrote A.N. Wilson, author of, “C.S. Lewis: A Biography.”

“The priest, who had expected the author of 'The Problem of Pain' to look pale and ethereal, was astonished by the red-faced pork butcher in shabby tweeds whom he actually encountered,” Wilson wrote.

Lewis is still surprising people 50 years later. His ability to reach people long after his death is astonishing, some say.

“It’s odd that someone has been so popular for so long,” Maudlin said. “Lewis’ books are still in front of the bookstore. We grew up with him, so we lose touch with how unusual that is.”

The Christian icon whose image we see in bookstores may first seem distant. He spoke and dressed like a prim Englishman from another time. But his life was messy, contradictory and tarnished by thwarted dreams.

Perhaps Lewis still speaks to us because we when we look closer at his life, he’s really not that unusual.

We see ourselves.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Books • Christianity • United Kingdom

soundoff (1,513 Responses)
  1. Dennis

    An interesting take, though I don't understand what is supposed to be un-Christian about any of the things presented here. A promise made to a fellow soldier .. a promise kept. Just because there were whispers of illicit activity, the author can give no evidence of it .. because none exists. He was friends with someone who was gay? Again, not un-Christian. He spent time in pubs? Jesus spent a lot of time with people that "religious" folks didn't approve of. I would imagine if we're honest, most Christians have hurt & doubted their ability to impact their world for Jesus – including those we are closest to.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you. It's great to see a christian on this blog who understands that truth is not a personal insult.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • Ecal

        tallulah13,

        And what you call all the attacks that you have made throughout this blog? Are they not insults? It sounds like a double standard to me. Besides, my answer was not meant to insult anyone. What a better way to realize how empty we really are than by listening to our own empty hearts displayed trough our empty words that thirst for answers?

        December 1, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • tallulah13

          There are many christians on this blog who seem to think that an article telling the less-than complimentary truth about a christian person is an attack. This is hypocrisy, plain and simple. My comment has nothing to do with any responses beyond the criticism leveled at the author by christian respondents.

          So I missed your answer on the previous post: What do you mean by "empty vessel"? When someone calls me something, I would like to know what they mean.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • tallulah13

          I searched back and found your non-answer. You call people who don't what believe what you do "empty vessels". How very presumptuous. Is that one of the morals you learned in your church?

          December 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Ecal

          talluah13,

          What I said is that for most of my life I used to be just like you, an "empty vessel." You see, we are all made to be not only physically beings but also spiritual beings. Well, whenever we live apart from God we are by default spiritually inept and thus empty simply because we are living just half a life rather than a full life. So, whenever I see you here making the same comments about Christianity that use to make, that would give me the indication that you are as empty as I was. Besides, my initial comment wasn't directed at you, it was never meant to insult no one, but to simply point to the truth of the matter.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
        • tallulah13

          So basically what you are saying is that because I don't believe exactly what you do, I am an empty vessel. How presumptuous.

          I'm sorry that you had an unhappy life and had to turn to religion for comfort. It's a common enough story, but not universal. I am not empty or unhappy. I find fact and reality much more fulfilling than belief in a god. The simple truth is that I cannot believe in your god (or any god) because there isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of gods, and I was raised to be honest.

          December 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  2. James

    Bob,
    If you really want to learn more about the answers to your questions, why not read "Mere Christianity"?
    Its easy to make snarky comments on an anonymous forum. Its much more difficult to actually read and understand his works before dismissing them. Keep an open mind and read, really read the book.
    I think if you make an honest attempt to understand Christianity, and still find it "pathetic" you will still have grown closer to God (even if you think He doesn't exist).
    That may not make sense to you right now. But hopefully it may someday.
    Merry Christmas!

    December 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • G to the T

      I've been making an honest attempt for the better part of 20 years. Used to be a christian, but I don't believe anymore. Indeed, the more I've learned the firmer my conviction (though I'm not an absolutist by any means).

      December 1, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  3. cross eyed mary

    C Debra Winger and Anthony Hopkins in shadowlands. Not a dry eye in the theater

    December 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  4. Kevin

    " The C.S.Lewis you never knew". Mr. Blake, it is quite apparent through your feeble hatchet job, that you "knew" him even less.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      A true christian would have lied about the flaws of C.S. Lewis. Heaven forbid any christian be perceived as less than perfect.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • Kevin

        Projecting perfection has nothing to do with it, it's about the tone and intent of the article. Keep trying.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • tallulah13

          You perceived a tone, therefore this is a hatchet job? Keep trying.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Mark

        true Christian recognizes fallibility in life and his or her sins aplenty. Bottom line. Cs Lewis knew it too.

        December 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Dave & Buster

      Hatchet job? I don't think so.
      Sounds like you have more of a problem with John Blake himself than anything he wrote about C.S. Lewis.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  5. cross eyed mary

    Donkey puncher

    December 1, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  6. Stonewall

    We're all imperfect. I wouldn't point out that his personal life was "horrible". I think he lived the best life he could, just like everyone else. No one is without sin and we all fall short.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  7. cross eyed mary

    He entertained believer and heathen alike. Little kids especially loved his children's books.

    Screwtape was his least favorite and most popular. It drained him spiritually to focus on the evil of the spirit world. Tell me about it!

    December 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  8. Sim

    Ahh, the smell of bs in the morning, courtesy of Communist News Network. You guys are really on the Christian bashing bandwagon aren't you? How about writing an Op-ed piece about how gays introduced AIDS to the US and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths?

    December 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Dave & Buster

      How is this article Christian bashing? Go to Fox. They're known for their "Good Christian Values".

      December 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • John

      How about getting some mental health?

      December 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • doobzz

      " How about writing an Op-ed piece about how gays introduced AIDS to the US and are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths?"

      Probably because it's not true.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  9. cross eyed mary

    CNN is about as predictable ad dodo. He raised joy's kids, too.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      A multi-multi-multimillionaire who lived like he was starving.

      The most influential man in christendom in the twentieth century.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Blah-blah-blah Trollcakes.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    I am a fan of C. S. Lewis though I am a German (my hero should be Bonhoeffer). According to my taste Lewis' most impressive work are "The Chronicles of Narnia." I suppose that many people only know the volume "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." In order to get the whole Christian message of "The Chronicles of Narnia" I consider it as necessary to know all volumes of The Chronicles.

    I want to emphasize that Lewis never rejected the ecclesiastical sacraments, and therefore he actually is not the hero of the evangelicals (the evangelicals deny the sacral character of baptism and the Lord's Supper). In the volume "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" a boy called Eustace converts to Christianity (in the Narnia-World he joins Aslan). Eustace had been a stinker. Aslan (Jesus in our world) had to educate him. In Narnia Eustace suffered a very accident (but that belonged to Aslan's plan for him) – by bad magic he was transformed into a dragon having a ring at one of his legs which was too small, and caused him much pain. Furthermore he was very lonley as a dragon. His suffering led him to repentance. In Lewis' book repenting Eustace is sent into a pool of water by Aslan where he is re-transformed into a boy (kind boy). This pool depicts the Holy Sacramental Baptism where a sinner gets new life in Christ. Regretably in the latest movie this scene is depicted wrongly so that the viewer doesn't get any hint on baptism – but that was what Lewis intended on.

    Eustace, the stinker, became a kind boy through faith in Aslan (Jesus) and sacramental baptism (sacramental power of our world is Aslan's magic power in Narnia).

    The evangelicals have reduced Holy Baptism to a mere symbolic act, and an act of obedience and public confession of faith after conversion. Yet, actually baptism is much more than a symbolic act, or a public confession of faith. Baptism is sacral or sacramental, that means at Holy Baptism somebody dies for the sin, and enters Christ in a spiritual way. Through daily remembrance of being dead for the sin, and being in Christ through baptism one can overcome his degenerated nature which he has inherited from the fallen Adam. Therefore faith together with baptism is the only way to become a loving man overcoming his egoism.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    Reepicheep, the brave mouse, and servant of Aslan: If we don't have the faith, we have nothing at all.

    Bonhoeffer: As long as we struggle against our bad, selfish old nature, we keep the faith. As long as we struggle we can believe that Jesus died and rose for us, and acquired free forgiveness for us.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Jill

      Rainer Braendlein, porcupines in your salad!. Don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently.

      So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea.

      Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.

      Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.

      Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

      And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • Shane

        Jill, you actually sound like you got more in tune with CS Lewis and understood him better than Rainer B does. Fine, intriguing writing too, unlike that of the root comment.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  11. Jill

    Rainer Braendlein, don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries and conjugate your petunias only in purple cattle. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent. Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Ever the bastille notches the orchestra but Wendy is not green and horses will capitulate. Filter out the log from the turnstile and cry prevalently. So there brown stare. Feed your inner walnut and resolve. Subject your lemon to the ingenious door in the presence of snow and animals. Aisle 7 is for the monetary cheese whiz. Faced with the kitchen, you may wish to prolong the sailboat in the cliff. Otherwise, rabbits may descend on your left nostril. Think about how you can stripe the sea. Regale the storm to those who (6) would thump the parrot with the armband. Corner the market on vestiges of the apparent closure but seek not the evidential circumstance. Therein you can find indignant mountains of pigs and apples. Descend eloquently as you debate the ceiling of your warning fulcrum. Vacate the corncob profusely and and don’t dote on the pancreas.

    Next up, control your wood. Have at the cat with your watch on the fore. Aft! Smarties (12)! Rome wasn’t kevetched in an autumn nightie. (42) See yourself for the turntable on the escalator. Really peruse the garage spider definitely again again with brown. Now we have an apparent congestion, so be it here. Just a moment is not a pod of beef for the ink well nor can it be (4) said that Karen was there in the millpond.Garbage out just like the candle in the kitty so. Go, go, go until the vacuum meets the upward vacation. Sell the yellow. Then trim the bus before the ten cheese please Louise. Segregate from the koan and stew the ship vigorously.

    And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  12. Thor

    If Christians are wrong then nothing lost. We'll just go into non-existence at death. But if we're right we'll enjoy heaven and everyone who did not believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their wrongs will be in torment in hell forever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever, for eternity.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • doobzz

      Pascal's Wager is popular today.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Is your screen name supposed to be ironic? Thor and the christian god are just two of thousands of gods worshiped by humanity throughout history, and there isn't a shred of evidence for any of them. Therefore you have no way of knowing which is the correct god. By your rationale, you would have to worship all of them. Just in case.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      is that the best argument you have, thor?

      go home and get your fvcking shinebox, boy

      December 1, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • elliott carlin

        Are insults and profanity the best you have?
        Apparently.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • sam stone

          fair enough

          thor, that is a weak argument

          it implies that there are only two possible outcomes, either no god or the christian god

          it implies that god values blind faith over reason

          it implies that an omniscient god would not know if you are truly believing, or to just cover your a$$

          good enough, elliot?

          December 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • sybaris

      There is no free will in this heaven you claim you will enjoy. There couldn't be. Your idea of joy that was learned while on earth would have to be removed from your consciousness as well as all your memories in order to enjoy an eternity of doing nothing but worshiping a god. Who honestly would want to spend an eternity doing that?

      December 1, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • elliott carlin

        well, me for one.
        Plus it beats the alternative, that's for sure.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • sam stone

          which alternative, elliot?

          December 1, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
        • sam stone

          And, if you want to spend eternity worsphipping god, what is keeping you here now? Why not get a jump on forever?

          December 1, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Dave & Buster

          Considering he took the username of the plainly insane patient on "The Bob Newhart Show", (all drink!) anything elliot says is to be taken with a grain of salt (and lime, if you drink is a shot of tequila.)

          December 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • cross eyed mary

        U r not free. U r bound by the chains of sin.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Eternity spent worshiping a childish bully or an eternity of suffering? Not much difference, is there? Good thing there isn't a shred of evidence that any god, devil, heaven or hell actually exist.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  13. moo

    How did CS Lewis feel about Chuckles the God-Eating Penguin, who's existence be definition precludes the existence of the Christian deity?

    December 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      U believe in a christian deity?

      December 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  14. srichey321

    Most people are lucky to live in a "gray" area when trying to fit into society's strictures.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  15. Fiona

    Having spent too many years among "Christians," I can assure you that there is no such thing as pure faith and truly Christian behavior. Many so-called Christians are in it for the big prize at the end, and they live their lives as they please. I had a relative tell me, when I chastised her son for a racist remark he made, that they - fundamentalist "Christians" - did not have to behave perfectly because they were "forgiven." You see...you get this sort of promissory note when you "accept The Lord as your savior." It's just as true in the Catholic Church as it is in all these fundamentalist sects. And as with any religious congregation, many enter into it for the social camaraderie. I have met few people in my life with what I judged to be true faith, and I have met no one among them who was humble and Christlike.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I agree. When reading the comments on the article on Dave Ramsey on this blog, it becomes obvious that many christians are not interested in the words and acts of Christ, but instead consider him as little more than the means to get into heaven. They rationalize their personal wealth, they whine about paying taxes, they blame the poor for being poor, they use the bible as an excuse to hate. Yet they think they deserve to live for eternity in paradise. If these are the people who are going to heaven, then hell seems like a much better neighborhood.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Jesus' Beloved

      When you encounter a hypocritical Christian, it is your duty to demonstrate the Kingdom, and show that perfection in Christ can be attained.
      You be the light in the dark. Do you know in extreme darkness, just the flicker of a light dispels that darkness. You be that light.

      God Bless you.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • igaftr

        "it is your duty to demonstrate the Kingdom, and show that perfection in Christ can be attained."

        How exactly does one do that when none of it can be verified?

        December 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          It may not be verifiable to you because you reflect the world you're most aware of.

          December 1, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
        • igaftr

          It isn't verifiable to anyone, otherwise there would be need for faith.

          So what you are saying, when you see a hypocritical christian, your job is to re-inforce what your book says, even if it cannot be shown to be real.

          December 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • tallulah13

        You are the believer so that would be your job. I hope to see your screen name on this blog, doing your duty by remonstrating those false christians.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Jesus' Beloved

          I demonstrate by showing love.
          The Holy Spirit convicts and corrects us.

          Let there be no doubt that whatever a man sows, the same he will reap.
          When a believer yields to sin
          1. They're transgressing against God.
          2. They give satan an inroad into their life.
          So even though God isn't imputing judgment for sin (because sin is already punished in the body of His Son Christ Jesus), what the believer has done is stepped out from under the umbrella of God's protection and leaving himself open for attacks from the devil.

          December 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • tallulah13

          So in other words, you just do nothing. Got it.

          December 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Mopper

      You are in conflict with yourself. You begin your comment by assuring us that there is no such thing as pure faith and then you end it by saying that ' I have met few people in my life with what I judged to be true faith'. Christians have been martyred for centuries right down for the present. If this suffering and oppression for what you believe is not evident of 'pure faith', I don't know what is. Perhaps your problem is that like the people you judge , you have a far too comfortable and fat cat life to broach the subject.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Ralph Monkman

      C.S.Lewis said, "Beware the Fundamentalists – in anything." Please do not confuse Fundamentalists with other denominations who realize that true Christianity is a day to day struggle with Self, with spirit over flesh and the total surrender of ego and pride. Fundamentalists claim to have all the answers solely from the Bible. No one has all the answers. Each of us is on an individual spiritual journey according to our understanding and spiritual development and God reveals Himself to us in many ways apart from the Bible. Christ said "The Kingdom of God is within you." Meditation helps one to communicate and interact with that Kingdom and its wisdom. The sole purpose of our spiritual journey is to experience the joy of a personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  16. onepercenter

    Leave it to CNN to find yet another way to bash Christians.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • doobzz

      This is an opinion piece, not a news article.

      December 1, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Fiona

      It's actually rather flattering...if you bother to read it to the end. Or read it at all...which I bet you didn't bother to do.

      December 1, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • TKO

      A typically defensive Christian answer: I don't see this as bashing Christianity at all–it is about CS Lewis, not the Christian faith, and great figures in all of the worlds great religions were flawed human beings. Please work toward becoming mature in your faith.

      December 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Why is honesty an affront to christians? Didn't your god himself command that you not bear false witness?

      December 1, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • OTOH

      onepercenter,

      Maybe this wouldn't happen if Christianity's fantasies weren't so eminently bashable. Odd, we never see articles bashing mathematics or gravity or real things like that...

      December 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
      • elliott carlin

        I suppose you'd prefer more atheistic discussions, such as C. Dick Dawkins' supportive comments of pedophilia, or Larry Krause admitting incest isn't all that bad. Yeah, that sound like enlightening conversation for sure.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • Dave & Buster

          I like how you take things out of context.
          Dawkins was relating anecdotal things about himself, not pedophilia in general, and Krauss' comment was that it's "not clear" to him that incest is wrong, saying that he wouldn't recommend it but may listen to rational arguments.

          In any case, Dawkins and Krause are representative of Dawkins and Krause, and in no way encompasses the views of all atheists any more than Swaggart and Father Porter encompasses the views of all Christians.

          December 1, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • sybaris

      Actually Christians do fine illustrating the absurdity of their religion without CNN's help.

      December 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Vic

    Lewis' life reflected "mere" Christian faith perfectly: Man lives life to the best of his abilities, man falls severely short in more areas than he'd like to admit, man acknowledges as much to the God he believes loves him enough to fill in the gaps, mans life means something in the end because of that belief. No different than the greatest men of the Bible, a cast of characters that includes drunkards, adulterers, murderers, broken families and even IRS agents. Christian faith in a nutshell: God knows life is hard and we make mistakes, He knows bc he became human (Jesus Christ), he wants us to admit we can't do it ourselves and trust that God loves us anyway, He promises this is so and that our lives are eternally meaningful if we believe this. He will restore all things. Pretty good news huh?

    December 1, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Bob

      Vic, your beliefs are complete nonsense, and your god would be a flawed, evil jerk if he actually existed. Your "good news" is really just false news, and the core premise of your religion is complete nonsense. It would be purely bad news if your vengeful murderous, racist jerk of a sky fairy that you call "god" did exist.

      How is it again that your omnipotent being couldn't do his supposedly good saving bit without the whole silly Jesus hoopla? And how was Jesus' death a "sacrifice", when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time with less than a snap of his fingers? Pretty pathetic "god" that you've made for yourself there.

      The mountains of evidence incontrovertibly show your religious beliefs to be sheer bunkum, and the claimed characteristics for your god really are total bullshit. It really is time to just toss them. Into the dustbin of history they should go, just like so many other sky fairy stories of the past.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      December 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Vic

        Yessss...a response! I admit I was waiting for one. Bob- you're opposition to the Christian faith is obviously extremely strong both from an intellectual standpoint, but also if I may presume (sorry if I'm assuming too much), from a gut level as well. For the former, any number of "apologist" texts....even some of Lewis' works... could be a launching pad for the intellectual ping pong or bombardment that would surely follow. But what would probably be shot to bits in the crossfire would be both the essence of who Jesus was and His message that God loves us very much, the message that affirms us or offends us beyond the goopy stuff between our temples. However, both from an intellectual standpoint and heart standpoint, I'm probably woefully deficient, as is the forum of a CNN message board to address these concerns....May I instead suggest Ravi Zacharias and his book Can Man Live Without God? Yeah....suggest a book...the easy way out! Haha. Yikes.

        December 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • Bob

          Vic, you cannot reasonably claim your "god" or his bastard son of your myths to be "loving" when your mythbook AKA the bible contains horrid instructions like these:

          Numbers 31:17-18
          17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
          18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

          Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

          Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

          Leviticus 25
          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
          45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
          46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

          Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

          Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

          And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

          So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

          Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
          Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
          http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

          December 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
        • 116

          Deuteronomy 13:10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

          Numbers 31:15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people.

          Revelation 2:23 her=se xual desire not a person, and the book says God will do it so its not even a command for us to do

          Leviticus 25 God says that you can buy slaves from the neighbors, not go out on some slave-hunting party and take them by force, I do not support slavery, but it was a part of life then and up through the time of Jesus

          We do not need to sacrifice animals to make our God happy, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, he died so we could live, he was blameless, pure, and holy, Untill Jesus died on that Cross (which was predicted before that execution method was even invented) pure animals needed to be sacrificed in order to pay for sins.

          Also your argument would only be relevant If God is real (and he is) and if he is real then the Bible is correct then the word is true since in John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

          Are you saying that God exists?

          December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • For creationists

      and Vic

      Top 10 Questions from Richard's Live Chat on Reddit

      posted on November 27, 2013 04:24PM GMT

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2013/11/27/top-10-questions-from-richard-s-live-chat-on-reddit#

      December 1, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  18. onepercenter

    WOW! This journalist should be given some sort of award for this scoop. He found an imperfect Christian.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  19. christinagavin

    I appreciate this story. Learning that Lewis liked booze and had "doubts" makes his work more authentic for me. Learning that he had diverse relationships with women, had a gay friend, and took care of his alcoholic brother- only deepens my respect for his writing. It's baffling that so many Christians are manic about defending their self-righteousness by shaming and discrediting the work and lives of others. Lewis would have apologized for them too.

    December 1, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • bostontola

      christina,
      I agree. I have always had deep respect for him as a writer and a thinker. I learned some things that deepened my respect for him as a man (taking care of others when he was stressed).

      December 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  20. Kregg

    typical liberal atheists trying desperately to demonize something thinking it gives them credibility. But hey, lets look in your closets and see what we find, eh?

    December 1, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It's funny and very telling that some christians think that being honest and telling the truth about the flaws of an individual are the hallmarks of an atheist.

      December 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Dave & Buster

      Oh! Oh! A Fox partisan flunky! Hi!

      December 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.