C.S. Lewis was not a Mormon. But, Mormons love C.S. Lewis. We love to read his books [the Chronicles of Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters always top faves], and we love to quote him. He’s one of the most oft-quoted non-Mormons by Mormons [**rivaled only by his best friend and fellow author, J.R.R. Tolkien, whom I have previously blogged about**]
Tomorrow commemorates the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death (which happened to coincide on the same day as JFK’s assassination). November is also Lewis’ birth month. So, it’s high time for me to pay homage.
Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly called C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as “Jack“, was a novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist. . . best known both for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.
C.S. Lewis is regularly quoted by Latter-day Saints everywhere. He is oft-quoted by General Authorities and prophets in published articles, and over the pulpit during General Conferences. Most recently, the October 2012 session by apostle Quentin L. Cook:
“Commitment and repentance are closely intertwined. C. S. Lewis, the striving, pragmatic Christian writer, poignantly framed the issue. He asserted that Christianity tells people to repent and promises them forgiveness; but until people know and feel they need forgiveness, Christianity does not speak to them. He stated, “When you know you are sick, you will listen to the doctor.” [Mere Christianity]
– Elder Quentin L. Cook, Can Ye Feel So Now?
And now, here are my…
6 Reasons Mormons Love C.S. Lewis
1. His Conversion
We are inspired by his powerful conversion story from a confirmed anti-religion/Atheist/Intellectual into a devout Christian. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) are great believers in the power of God to convert anyone to Christ! [Mormon missionaries, *fistpump*!] 🙂
2. His Balance:
We revere the way he could perfectly reconcile the importance of exercising faith weighed with using our God-given power to reason with our “sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).
“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. … You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.”
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
3. His Intellect:
The concept of pursuing life-long education and gaining knowledge is a hallmark of the Latter-day Saints. We believe that “The Glory of God is Intelligence” (D&C 93:36), and that men and women are “God’s in embryo“. Thus, the more intelligence (truth & light) each of us can gain in this life, the farther along we may progress toward our fullest, divine, potential in the next life. In a very real way, C.S. Lewis is a ‘poster child’ for Mormon intellectualism. At times, he expresses Biblical concepts key to LDS doctrine that many Christians often overlook.
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. . . it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit —immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
4. His Words of Wisdom:
Not all of his doctrines match up perfectly with ours, however, Latter-day Saints give C.S. Lewis (aka “Jack”) a pass – recognizing he did not have the fullness of the Gospel as we know it. We treasure his ability to so beautifully articulate the cause for being a modern disciple of Christ.
“Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You.’ I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
5. His Perspective
C.S. Lewis inspires us to “keep going”. He reminds us that all of our effort fighting temptations, striving to be better, and enduring through trials has a reason, and is worth the price.
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”
– C.S. Lewis, letter circa 1943 included in Yours, Jack
6. His Storytelling
C.S. Lewis embodied the principle of “loving God with all your heart and all your mind” – understanding that a very important part of our mind is the power of imagination. He had a gift for using allegories and stories to excite the imagination and then creatively teach truth and faith. He understood that The Gospel of Jesus Christ relies on the telling of stories, and parables to enlighten and help convert us.
C.S. Lewis gave us the magical, beloved parable of Narnia!
“You think I am trying to weave a spell, perhaps I am. But, remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them, and you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found – to wake us from the evil enchantment of the worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a Century. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Yep, we Mormons love C.S. Lewis!
I really enjoyed watching a short documentary called “C.S. Lewis: Why He Matters Today”, sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation. I had to share it here! OK peeps, don’t go away! It’s ONLY 24 minutes. I realize that 24 minutes may seem like an “eternity” sometimes during our busy day, but I really hope you will pause and take the time to watch. Or, at least bookmark this page and come back soon. It’s so well done and enlightening.
If you didn’t know & love C.S. Lewis before, I hope you will now! – MoSop
MoSop, I enjoy reading your blog, and usually learn something or just get uplifted by your beautiful music and inspirational words. I’ve been so sorry to hear of your daughter’s illness. I am praying for her full recovery.
While reading this blog about C.S. Lewis, when I read the quote about how we consider the unpleasant things that happen to us to be interruptions in our life, it really hit me. I’ve been dealing with an “interruption” of my own. This quote inspired me to think of it differently. I write poetry to inspire and comfort people. This quote inspired the following poem. I hope you like it:
Life won’t always cooperate,
though we think it’s in our hands,
We may have it all mapped out,
but God has other plans,
Sometimes it may be illness,
that brings us to our knees,
Or unexpected circumstances,
that cause us much unease,
We may be at a loss,
to try and understand,
Why things happen as they do,
these things we never planned,
We think of them as accidents,
or at the least intrusions,
The timing’s inconvenient,
we call them interruptions,
But if we’ll only step back,
and examine them more closely,
There is a reason for each one,
I think you’ll see that mostly,
They take you by surprise,
you never see them coming,
And sometimes cause us such turmoil,
they can leave you fuming,
Instead of getting angry,
and losing all control,
Remember, God’s in charge,
in it all, He plays a roll,
So try to figure out,
just what He’s teaching you,
We all can learn so much,
if we seek God’s point of view.
Wow, Lynnella! I really appreciated your comment and for sharing your beautiful poem. My daughter just read it,and also loves it. So very applicable.
Thank you! Love, MoSop
I enjoyed your article, and also the ‘posters’, where can I get a copy of the last, about it being important where you stand, great advice for the children, and for us all. Thank you, and God Bless.
Thanks Mandi. You can just save the image if you like.
I would appreciate your thoughts about the following quote from Lewis in Chapter 1 Voyage of the Dawn Treader: “THERE was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and masters called him Scrubb. I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn’t call his Father and Mother “Father” and “Mother”, but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotallers and wore a special kind of underclothes”. It has always seemed to me a pointedly negative and disrespectful comment about LDS church.
David, a valid concern that some have raised. Authors Marianna Richardson and Christine Thackeray analyzed the Christian apologist / LDS connections in their book “C.S. Lewis: Latter-day Truths in Narnia.” They stated that there is no evidence that Lewis had any connections with Mormons, or extensive knowledge of the church.
Here is their excerpt regarding your reference:
For me personally, I think that Lewis has much too much to offer for me to take offence at the obscure Dawn Treader reference. I’m more than happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. (besides, much worse has been said and written about Mormons by those who do not have all the facts).
That’s my take for what it’s worth.
Thanks for commenting, Cheers! – MoSop
Thanks for your thoughtful reply and the reference to the Richardson/Thackeray book.
I really enjoyed this article and would like to “share” it on FB. When I clicked on the FB “Like” icon it only showed up on my profile as a recently liked site. How do I “share” this article on my FB timeline?
You can either copy thr url and paste it to your facebook or choose Facebook from the “share” dropdown (instead of just “like) hope that helps. Thanks for sharing 🙂 – MoSop
You’ve given a wonderful list of reasons Mormons (and others) love Lewis. I have one more: he shares a birthday with my youngest daughter. (The age difference between them is about 90 years.) I’ve taught a class on Lewis almost yearly at BYU for the past 20 years. Here’s part of what I say on the first page of my course syllabus:
A great arguer, teacher, and scholar, C. S. Lewis had one of the finest minds and was one of the best writers of the twentieth century. (In my judgment, parts of Miracles and Perelandra outdo Joyce or Woolf in terms of sheer style.) He was also a great literary critic, whose challenging and instructive views on myth, on changes in world view, and on Christianity and literature ought to be considered by all serious students of literature. As a convert to Christianity and a deeply religious man, Lewis can serve as a model for Latter-day Saints and other Christians, especially for those who share Lewis’s literary interests. . . . As an honest but imperfect man who was trying to lead a Christian life, sometimes in the face of heart-breaking challenges, Lewis can serve as an example and inspiration for all of us in our own struggles. . . .
Among the outcomes [for this course] I anticipate are: (1) Enjoyment: Lewis’s writings are stimulating, often beautiful, often just plain fun. (2) Mind expansion: Lewis can give you an invigorating mental workout; he can help clarify and expand your mind. (3) Inspiration: Both through his writings and his life, Lewis opens our minds and hearts to deep and eternal realities; I hope that, through this experience with Lewis, we will develop stronger faith, brighter hope, and deeper charity and become truer disciples of Christ.
Bruce, Thank you so much for sharing that!
Your class sounds wonderful.
do you know the lyrics of Oh I had a pretty dream, Mama?
Hi Erva, thanks for your interesting question! I had never heard of this before, but after some digging and research, I have discovered the following info:
“O, I Had Such A Pretty Dream Mama” was a poem by an unknown author set to music by J.S. Lewis (not to be confused with C.S. Lewis). It was published in the “Deseret Sunday School Songs” hymn compilation, copyrighted 1909 by President Joseph F. Smith. The original publication contained 295 hymns and songs, and “Oh I Had Such A Pretty Dream Mama” was hymn #184
Lyrics and sheet music for “Oh I Had Such A Pretty Dream Mama” is available in the public domain and can be handily found AT THIS LINK – CLICK HERE.
That was a very interesting little discovery, and certainly worthy of it’s very own blog post here in the near future!
Thank you so much for link. I had forgotten I had requested this from you and I appreciate it very much. Erva
Sent from my iPad
I was a behive when our branch pianist pulled out her old book and taught us this song for mother’s day. For a long time I kept the index card with the words but that has been long gone. All I could remember was there was an old song in an old hymn book that I loved. Yesterday I down loaded old hymn book to my nook and sterted looking I knew I would recognize it when I saw it. I just burst into tears as I read it. Mom has been gone since 98.