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. Fr33th1nk3r

    What's he smoking on in that picture...? Looks an awful lot like a.......home-rolled cigrarette.

    December 1, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Commenter

      It could be hand-rolled, but this picture was probably taken in the 1940s (or even 30s) before filter-tip cigarettes became popular, and they (and the later rolling machines) tended to give the cigarette more shape.

      December 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Jinx

      That explains the Narnia books.

      December 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  2. Elliott Carlin

    Ever wonder why bigots wake up early on Sunday morning to get their bashing started on the CNN Belief Blog?
    Empty lives.

    December 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      It's 5:42 PM Pacific Time, ELLIOTT.....your self-righteous colors bled through.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
      • Elliott Carlin

        I suppose this blog didn't start until you posted, correct? you probably think history is much the same-nothing was going on until you were born.

        Quit being so egocentric.

        December 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
        • Fr33th1nk3r

          Simple answer: NO.
          You came on here and made the accusation at 5:42 PM (stemming from the usual religious delusions of persecution) that people got on here first thing in the morning to body-slam your god. I simply pointed out the time. You must have a guilty conscience....

          December 1, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • bostontola

      Asserting that answer to the question of why a diversity of people engage in discussion is hubris. Are you Christian? If so, aren't you supposed to be humble, not filled with hubris?

      December 1, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
      • Fr33th1nk3r

        Haven't you head? Christians are able to shut their Commandments on and off at will, for the sake of convenience.

        December 1, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
        • bostontola

          Religious people have to be great compartmentalizers. How else could you thrive in the real world while believing in imaginary beings?

          December 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      some folks do it to ridicule the pompousness of believers

      December 2, 2013 at 5:35 am |
  3. Jesus' Beloved

    To CNN Blog Writers:

    The Kingdom of God is not in words(of man), but in Power....

    I hope that in future postings the writers of these blogs will focus on the powerful things going on in the world. For example

    David Hogan and his team have raised over 500 people from the dead.
    Surprise Sithole and his team have raised over 100 people from the dead (people dead for more than 1 day)
    Andrew Wommack – 32 and I don't remember the full number for his team
    Bill Johnson
    Plus the countless other healings they're doing.
    Others include Todd White, Pete Cabrera Jr., Thomas Fischer etc.
    The world is changing around you. Christians are awakening and truly living the Kingdom.

    (Don't be as the people in the days of Noah. Remember, it took as much faith for Noah to believe it was God speaking to Him and for him to obey and build an ark even when there was no evidence of rain. The only difference between Noah and the people, Noah CHOSE to believe God, they CHOSE not to).

    December 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • ME II

      Evidence please.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Citations and pictures, please.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      Rev fafoofnik changed six kids into fish and back again with increased IQs. Fact. Saw it on CNN.

      December 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • CNN Blog Writers

      Dear Jesus' Beloved,

      Thank you for the great ideas. We'll get right on it.

      December 1, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  4. Fr33th1nk3r

    They left out reason #4: There is No Such Thing as God.

    December 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  5. bostontola

    Why we can't forget the Crusades, Inquisitions, etc.? Haven't the men running the churches learned to be better?

    I don't trust that speculation. When the churches were powerful, they abused that power. Their power is currently checked by secular governments, so they have had to behave. I see no reason to believe they would behave if they rose in power. It is human nature, power corrupts. Secular governments separate powers, the churches have retained their concentrated power structure. As long as they retain that, I won't trust them. Churches are run by humans, you can't trust them.

    December 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • lol??

      The Europeans had a lot of leftover Viking fighters that were being used by local royalty for naughty purposes. . They didn't have trade schools in those dayz so, voila, Crusades.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • bostontola

        I'm impressed. The same was true after 1492. The king of Spain had just kicked the Moors out of Spain and had too many warrior leaders to control. He gave them the mission to conquer the new world. It worked.

        December 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • lol??

          In americult some vets are joining gangs in the import export business. Some gangs have members sign up for training for the latest firepower. Americult has had its training involvement with Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana. It's Jesus fault say the socie zombies.

          December 1, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Chad

      You might consider reading "What Hath God Wrought," which is a Pulitzer Prize winning historical examination of the United States after the War of 1812 and before the Civil War. While there are always historical acts of evil committed by those who call themselves Christians, it's also interesting to consider how devout Christians during this period in US history were motivated to fight against the displacement of Native Americans and against slavery (the abolitionist movement leading up to the Civil War was mostly motivated by Christian groups). Obviously such efforts failed to prevent horrible things from happening, but from a rational standpoint, be sure that you don't have tunnel vision as a result of accepting a trite and over-simplistic historical narrative advocated by those who are adversarial to Christianity or by those who simply don't understand it.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
      • bostontola

        I am aware of that. I said that the churches have been relatively well behaved recently. My hypothesis is that is because they are not in power. I'm not talking about Christians, I was talking about the churches. The power structure is ancient and hasn't changed much with what we've learned about curtailing the power of individual men in power.

        December 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
        • lol??

          bosty sayz,
          "..................churches have been relatively well behaved recently.................."

          Shows how ignorant of scripture YOU are.

          December 1, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
        • bostontola

          What do churches have to do with scripture? Churches are run by men.

          December 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Does the book mention the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and what we call the Trail of Tears?

        December 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
        • Chad

          Tom, indeed it does. Did you know that Christian missionaries were imprisoned for fighting against the removal of the Cherokee Indians? And that these same missionaries moved to Oklahoma with the Cherokee after their removal occurred and the Trail of Tears was followed? The book places some interesting historical details together, including Andrew Jackson's responsibility in partially bringing about the Trail of Tears by defying John Marshal's supreme court decision on the matter.

          December 1, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  6. Josh

    If you wish to debate or refute what I have to say, that is completely fine, but Jesus did not come to the earth for any other reason but to redeem humanity and provide relief to a hurting world. If there was no sin or no hurt, there would be no such a thing as compassion, and thus no reason for an altruistic God.
    I want to apologize on behalf of all Christians, myself included, for making Christians out to seem hateful and nonsensical. Christ's message to the world was twofold: to love God and to love others. Unfortunately, just because we accept to follow Christ, we are still sinful, we are just aware that we are forgiven and accept the fact that we are broken and need help.
    All I know for sure is that when I first decided to turn my life around in high school, I have never regretted it. Christ has changed my life. I used to be highly insulting, unsympathetic, liked to fight, etc., but since I accepted Christ, read through the entirety of the Bible multiple times, pray often, and live for others, my life has taken a dramatic turn.
    Anyway, all I am asking is that you AT LEAST give Him the chance to love you. You may hate the idea of religion or God, but please just give it a try. I was once skeptical and hated the idea of God, but now I can't imagine my life without Him.
    If you want to chat at all, please e-mail me! joshuacvance@gmail.com
    Take care everyone.

    December 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      And if your God did not create evil in the world– there would be no need for altruism or such sacrifices.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • Isaiah M.

        Evil is not a thing of itself that was created but is the consequence of the absence of good. Therefore, God did not create evil but all that is good, for He himself by nature is good. Evil was then a product of mans abandonment of that which was good, that being God.

        December 1, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Maani

      Josh: Thank you for your beautiful sentiment. As a minister, I agree with your wonderfully simple assessment of Jesus' mission. Yes, we Christians often give a "bad name" to the Christianity we espouse and try to live. And we should not be surprised when atheists and others take us to task for it. For centuries, we brought it on ourselves. But the "church" does learn, albeit too slowly for many, and that can only be a good thing. Peace to you, brother.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Kay

      Why does anyone need to give your God a chance to love him or her???

      God gets to love anyone God wants...the same way you or I do. Doesn't mean we'll be loved in return...but we certainly don't have any control over the love someone else has for us, any more than they have any control over whether or not we love them!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  7. Mark

    Not sure how you can say F all gods if you don't believe in them. Kinda of psychologically impaired.

    December 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I think people mean it is the category and concept of gods that is fucked, Mark.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Who said that? And in what context? It's hard to gauge meaning without context.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • vinster76

      Mark: you have done yeoman's duty on here today....I have been off this site for a couple hours cuz I had more important things to do than verbally spar with heathens, (like clean my toenails.). I come back to find you are still holding your own against the vile, spiteful, childish remarks of cretins on here......I said earlier that it would be wise not to cast your pearls before swine, (pearls in this context meaning the priceless Word of God). It just gets wasted on them...They enjoy laughing at you.......What really comes out though, if you read enough of their idiotic swill, is the hate and contempt for anything holy......That really does say it all.........And heathen, don't bother blabbering a reply, it is time to go to church.....I shall pray for your tortured souls, that you may find meaning in this life far beyond your desire to hate...

      December 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
      • igaftr

        first, I know fake pearls when I see them, and when your pearls make calims that are false, such as Noah's flood, making striped goats by having mating goats stare at stripes, and you can tell if your wife is faithful by her reaction when she drinks "holy" water and dust, those are false pearls.
        Why is it that a religion that supposedly teaches love thy neighbor calls any who do not buy it swine and fools? Because it is hypocritical.
        Your book and your beliefs have as much to them as any other persons belief. Thinking YOURS is the one true and only belief is just pompuos posturing, and the epitome of arrogance...definitely what I have come to expect from christians.

        Funny the best "pearls" in your book are the paraphrased words of the Buddha, who taught over 400 years earlier...why doesn't your god acknowledge he stole his best stuff from Buddha?.

        December 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
        • cross eyed mary

          Ain't it the truth. Amen, preach it honey!

          December 1, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Yes, f the concept for sure. I don't believe any gods exist but do not know for sure, and if one does, I don't believe it gives a rat's azz about anyone, so f it too. So now everyone's god is well and truly mocked.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
      • cross eyed mary

        Great job. Great great job. U told em!

        December 1, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Who said that and in what context, Mark?

      December 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        I did. Someone below said god will not be mocked so I mocked it, proving that god can be mocked.

        December 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
        • cross eyed mary

          Dig it man. U DA man Sam. Amen. U can do whatever u want. U b DA king baby.

          December 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  8. KK

    This article is ridiculous. It makes a big stink about this so-called private life of C.S. Lewis. The alleged S&M interest was in his youth long before he ever became a Christian. And his goodwill of caring for his friend's mother and sister has been contorted into an illicit affair even though the people who are alleging this admit they have no proof of that. How about some real journalism for a change. Is it all tabloid now?

    December 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  9. PatD

    BS, Renee. If all Christians lived by 'good ways' then the world would be different. It's just PAP for the masses. If you believe it, and are a good person, then more power to you. Don't commit moral crimes against humanity in the name of Jesus.

    December 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Jesus' Beloved

      Christians aren't good because they DO good. Christians are righteous (means believe right) because of Jesus' righteousness.
      Right believing produces right living.
      That's why Salvation is a gift lest any man should boast. Meaning, a person cannot boast of his salvation being due to his hard/good works.
      Salvation is obtained only by believing- by faith you are saved through grace.
      A person who knows and believes he's forgiven much will love much, and will do as God command- to love all. To live the Kingdom- heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead.

      The Kingdom of God is not in words(of man), but in Power....
      I hope that in future postings the writers of these blogs will focus on the powerful things going on in the world. For example David Hogan and his team have raised over 500 people from the dead.
      Surprise Sithole and his team have raised over 100 people from the dead (people dead for more than 1 day)
      Andrew Wommack – 32 and I don't remember the full number for his team
      Bill Johnson
      Plus the countless other healings they're doing.
      Others include Todd White, Pete Cabrera Jr., Thomas Fischer etc.
      The world is changing around you. Christians are awakening and truly living the Kingdom.

      (Don't be as the people in the days of Noah. Remember, it took as much faith for Noah to believe it was God speaking to Him and for him to obey and build an ark even when there was no evidence of rain. The only difference between Noah and the people, Noah CHOSE to believe God, they CHOSE not to).

      Open your eyes... your spiritual eyes... if you don't know how... a simple prayer of "God, please open my spiritual eyes and help me to understand" is good enough. He answers ALL prayers.

      God Bless.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
      • Fr33th1nk3r

        "Christians aren't good because they DO good. Christians are righteous (means believe right) because of Jesus' righteousness.
        Right believing produces right living"

        Yep– sounds like nonsense to me. Why do religious people always have to talk in metaphors? Why can't they ever deal with facts at face value?

        December 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
      • Kay

        Sorry, but no. None of those people have risen a single person from the dead. And the fact that you believe they have simply because they've claimed they have truly diminishes the value of your faith. It just makes you come across as incredibly gullible. Remember...*they* aren't who you're supposed to have faith in.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  10. sybaris

    Christians worship Lewis for his authority on christianity,........... about as meaningful as worshiping Dr. Seus for his authority on Whoville

    December 1, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      True o so true!

      December 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • Charming Dork

        I worship tom the idiot, some Buddha, a little Horus and don duck

        December 1, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Mark

      Christians don"t worship Lewis they appreciate his insight, and quite frankly Seuss had great insight too. Check the trufula trees so pertinent.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  11. bostontola

    "Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive."
    C. S. Lewis

    Great quote. Doesn't it apply perfectly to religion?

    December 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      Hail myth gawds! Can u dig it?

      December 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      Thanks swanny! Preach it babe! I'm feelin it.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      It do it do! That old time religion is wow, man. Thanks bosthwanna

      December 1, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That fits well with Lewis's thinking on punishment as opposed to rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is something I think he would equate with tyranny for one's own good. He objected strongly to it, saying that unlike punishment, which he felt should be entirely pre-determined and applied equitably, rehabilitation is open ended and oriented towards objectives unique to the individual that may never be attained. People may be in rehabilitation forever and never free again.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
      • bostontola

        Here's the whole quote:
        "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

        More like the moral of A Clockwork Orange.

        December 1, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  12. sybaris

    If you need to worship a god in order to keep you from doing crimes then you have larger issues. Believe it or not, you don't need religion or to worship any god to be a good person.

    December 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • ed dugan

      He wrote books filled with BS, lived a lie, was crude and a huge phony. Sounds like the typical christian to me.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
      • cross eyed mary

        Can I get a big AMEN? AMEN!

        December 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
      • Mark

        So judgmental Ed.

        December 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
      • PatD

        eddugan, sounds like you're right.

        December 1, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mark

      No just to be forgiven for them.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Jesus' Beloved

      This is a TOTAL MISUNDERSTANDING of why God is Praised and Worshipped.

      We praise and worship him because He all that we are is because of His goodness, mercy, and grace. As the Psalmist David writes: Give thanks to the Lord- who heals thy diseases, forgives our sins, His loving kindness is forever. We thank Him for Joy, Love, Peace that surpasses all understanding...
      Praise him in his Temple, and in the heavens he made with mighty power. Praise him for his mighty works. Praise his unequaled greatness. Praise him with the trumpet and with lute and harp... Let everything alive give praises to the Lord! You Praise him! Hallelujah!

      Even if you refuse to praise the Lord, the rocks, and trees and animals will praise Him.
      His glory is awesome!

      December 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
      • G to the T

        "Why would god need a starship" – Captain Kirk (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

        December 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  13. Jesus' Beloved

    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."

    The devil has done a sly job in convincing many that these things do not exist. If this msg. is posted please watch this video when you have time, and perhaps you'll have a better understanding of the universe you live in.


    December 1, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Hearsay is not evidence.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Christina

    I just watched "The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe" movie on television yesterday afternoon, for the 1st. time in my life. I am 62. WOW. Hours later I was still feeling beautifully stunned by it. And I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ more strongly and clearly than ever, as a result. I feel mightily renewed. I feel liberated. Because I used to work in a Bible bookstore, I had a general idea of the plot & purpose of the story, but never expected to react to it like I did.

    Maybe some people won't see the symbolism, but if you do...again, wow. I don't know why portrayal of the Son of God, his death and resurrection, spiritual warfare, and His victory! using a mythical land & creatures, etc. should so impact me. But it did. So, I thank God for giving us a C.S. Lewis, and placing in him the desire & ability to craft such beauty.

    Anyone who has issues with Lewis' humanity only needs to remember that He places His treasure in earthen vessels. This holds true for all of us.

    December 1, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      We have no problem with his humanity (atheists are not ashamed of their humanity)– we have a problem with his belief in talking trees and invisible men in the sky.

      December 1, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  15. Renee

    Some people always try to demolish Christians or Do away with God all together. Christians are no different than anyone else except we Accept the Lord into our heart and lives and WANT to live for God instead of continuing in our wicked old ways. Matter of fact Christians have it worse than most. So many things to deal with and are attacked by satan and his demons all the time. I get sick of stories like this but I know it will only get worse as the Lords second coming is getting closer. The devil is out there folks trying to take down all the people he can before the Lords return. Hold strong to your faith and continue to do good.

    December 1, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • bostontola

      Christians are not much different than the 4 billion people of other religions, they believe the precepts of their religion.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • sybaris

      faith is not truth, if it were there would be only one god, one religion.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
      • cross eyed mary

        Say what? Whachoo talkin bout? My fait ain't fo shor? Nah. Fait is trute

        December 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Mark

          I'll pray for your eyes to straighten

          December 1, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
      • Mark

        One God one son of God.

        December 1, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Thousands of gods all with the exact same evidence of existence – not a single shred. Every true believer of every one of those gods felt the exact same surety that you do. Your god really isn't that special.

          December 1, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
        • Mark

          Maybe not to you, but to me He is and I will meet him, you will languish.

          December 1, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • cross eyed mary

      Oh dodo, that twar beautiful. I'm gettin a little misty.

      There is no evidence refuting the existence of god. The infidels stay true to form when they lie like that

      December 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  16. Anna


    December 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  17. Robert Leonhard, Ph.D.

    What a wonderful collection of stories about a truly great man! I don't quite understand the writer's attempt to say that any of it was contradictory to Christianity. If Lewis dabbled in immorality as a young man (no proof, but let's say he did), well, folks, who among us is untarnished? That's why we need a Savior! Christianity is not about snooty do-gooders looking down on people. It's about the redemption freely offered to sinners based on the Person and Work of Jesus. Lewis understood that well, and his writing remains intriguing, thought-provoking, honest, and encouraging.

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

      according to the myth some spirit came to earth, rented some flesh for a while, rid itself of the flesh then returned from where it came.

      yeah, some savior, some sacrifice

      December 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
      • morrissey53

        Be careful- God will not be mocked.

        December 1, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Fuck all gods!

          December 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • Mark

          Another potty mouth atheists.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
        • Dandintac

          This is what believers say when they want to shut down debate and criticism of their gods. If a god existed who actually heard and cared about the mockery, he could easily smite HotAirAce down with less than a glimmer of a thought–but he never ever does. Such a god obviously does not exist.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • sybaris

          no mocking, it is what it is in a nutshell

          December 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • Mark

          God works in his time. He will not be mocked, and he will have his moment, Good luck with that.

          December 1, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • ME II

          "Be careful- God will not be mocked."

          Idle threats. This is obviously not true. If He exists, He may be able to punish people for mocking, but the mocking has already happened and will happen again, ergo He will be mocked.

          December 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • doobzz

          "God works in his time. He will not be mocked, and he will have his moment,"

          Any day now. Aaannnnnyyyy day now.

          December 2, 2013 at 12:34 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Still here and kicking. So gods, you know, the alleged but never proven supernatural beings, in concept and in delusional peoples' "reality," here's another heartfelt wish for you to FUCK OFF! I bet I can repeat this every day for the rest of my life with no retribution from any god. Some mentally ill believer might try to harm me, but almost assuredly, no alleged god.

          December 2, 2013 at 12:42 am |
      • Mark

        Sybaris..your time is short.

        December 1, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • sybaris

          please elaborate

          December 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Mark

          It speaks for itself..be careful.

          December 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
        • Fr33th1nk3r

          So this "god" of yours– works through physical threats and punishments? And you worship such a one.....why again?

          December 1, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
      • cross eyed mary

        Ain't it DA trut! Glory!

        December 1, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  18. happyprimate

    My take on C.S. Lewis is that he was an intelligent man for his time, but he was also in a lot of inner conflict. He so wanted christianity to be true and correct all the while deeply realizing it was not. But even realizing that fact he wanted the rest of humanity to believe it. He might have even be afraid of what might happen if people actually learned it was nonsense and feared the hoards of poverty ridden people would rise up and demand equal justice in the world that held no promise of a heaven or hell. British intellectuals truly held such fears. His life reflects this conflict, particularly the idea he couldn't accept money from his dishonest religious promoting books. It would be profiting from his biggest lie to himself and the world. I do accept that he was probably a kind hearted person, just really confused and afraid of reality. Further, I would rank Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials far better than the Narnia stories in every respect. I only mention that because they have been contrasted and compared in reviews.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Mark

      You must have been very close to him to have all that insight.

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

        No closer than anyone else who has read his writings, writings about his life and has lived a long life with many experiences including reading many other authors in a wide range of subjects. It isn't that difficult to read between the lines, get the sense of inner feelings of the authors of many books. Most people don't actually read books much anymore, particularly the ones they might not agree with. They simply listen to what other people say and repeat it without any study of it themselves. It's sad that in our culture today it comes down to parroting others views instead of forming one's own views worthy of actual discussion. Today most see things in black or white (no reference to race here) instead of the many shades of grey that actually make up reality.

        December 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  19. shawbrooke

    All of this says more about the author's mind than it does about Lewis. For example, Lewis keeps a vow to friend who dies in the trenches that's usually that's considered honorable, but despite a lack of evidence, the author accuses Lewis of sleeping with his friends' mother. Really.

    Lewis' personal life was consistent with the times, and that does not make it horrible. In that era English kids were routinely sent to boarding schools that were mostly awful in some way, plenty of people served in the trenches, and medicine was not where it is now and so losing spouses was much more common. Other than the author, generally people get that times have changed.

    As to what happened at a party decades ago, one problem with the "evidence" is that the author is depending on witness testimony from decades ago and where there was substantial drinking, plus conflict of interest because people were against his Christian faith.

    In other words, you the author have made a great deal of gossip and innuendo from times long past and a headline that does not represent the content of the article. That's very bad journalism and worse in an opinion piece.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Funny. The article I read seems to be saying that even the most famous christians are humans, too.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Jinx

      "As to what happened at a party decades ago, one problem with the “evidence” is that the author is depending on witness testimony from decades ago and where there was substantial drinking, plus conflict of interest because people were against his Christian faith."
      Doesn't the Bible kinda do this, too?

      December 1, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  20. Simsbury

    Argumentum ad hominem. This article is an attack on the man and therefore bad argument. The actual question is whether or not Lewis is right.

    December 1, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Dave & Buster

      What names were called by the author?
      What is John Blake arguing?

      December 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      How in the world is telling the truth an attack? Your hero wasn't simple and perfect. He was troubled and conflicted, yet he remained true to his faith. How is this an attack? Why do you need the truth to be sanitized?

      December 1, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • PatD

      Maybe THAT is what Christianity is all about. Fulfilling a promise, and taking care of someone who you made a promise to.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • happyprimate

      An attack by your definition is anything that comes from reality. I do agree what is important is whether he was right or wrong. I think he was wrong and after reviewing his books, I think they are based on pretending to know things he can't possibly know and wishful thinking. I also think he knew this himself.

      December 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • sybaris

      an ad hom attack?

      Get a grip

      Typical christian persecution complex

      December 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
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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.