The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis (book review)

The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. LewisC.S. Lewis wrote the first books I fell in love with as a kid, and he continues to be my “go to” author as an adult. One of the things which makes Lewis so widely read and appreciated is the variety of genres in which he wrote. This is the subject of an insightful book by Jerry Root and Mark Neal—The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis.

Lewis wrote satire, poetry, literary criticism, autobiography, apologetic, children’s literature, and science fiction, to name just a few of the genres. Scholars who study his works point to seventeen literary genres in which he was adept. The fact that he could write so eloquently in this many genres is amazing, but what’s even more amazing, say Root and Neal, is that he could stick to one genre, even when it would be so tempting to shift to another mid-book.

Lewis was fond of talking about the time he felt his imagination had been “baptized.” That is to say, when he was aware of the power of using imagination to open others’ minds to new worlds and ideas. Those who have read the Narnia books or the space trilogy books know how imaginative Lewis’ writing can be. But what Root and Neal point out is that this amazing imagination was on full display in all of the different genres in which Lewis wrote.

The Surprising Imagination Of C.S. Lewis would be a great pre-read the next time you are going to read something from C.S. Lewis. Each chapter in this book zeros-in on a particular Lewis book, so reading that chapter prior to reading the corresponding C.S. Lewis book will prime your mind to spot the brilliant imagination that was on display in every book he wrote.

I am an Abingdon Press book reviewer.

Links & Quotes

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“You cannot secure the life of the church by any particular system. History shows that churches have prospered, as well as failed, under different systems. The fact is that forms of government have very little to do with the vital principle of the church. The reason why the church of God exists is not her ecclesiastical regulations, her organization, her formularies, her ministers, or her creeds, but the presence of the Lord in the midst of her; and while Christ lives, and Christ reigns, and stands and feeds His church, she is safe; but if He were once gone, it would be with her as it is with you and me when the Spirit of God has departed from us; we are weak as other men, and she would be quite as powerless.” ―Charles Spurgeon

“For this is what it means to be a king [or any leader]: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.” —King Lune in C.S. Lewis’ A Horse And His Boy

Another Bible study help from the great folks at The Overview Bible Project: a cool look at the book of Jude.

[VIDEO] The amazing story of Lizzie Velasquez―

Links & Quotes

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These are links to articles and quotes I found interesting today.

I love C.S. Lewis’ interaction with children: “As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer! Reepicheep in your coloured picture has just the right perky, cheeky expression. I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I have never set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, ‘Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.’”

[VIDEO] Sarah Palin has a wonderful Dr. Seuss-like poem for Washington, D.C. insiders.

Frank Viola gets it right in Christianeze Revisited.

I love this reminder from Max Lucado’s book Grace: “Muhammad does not indwell Muslims. Buddha does not inhabit Buddhists. Influence? Instruct? Yes. But occupy? No!” You can read my review of Grace by clicking here.

Did you hear about the pastor who died from a rattlesnake bite while handling one during a church service? Check out What’s With The Snakes?

“Oh! my brethren, it were well if this commendation, so forced from the lips of enemies, could also be compelled by our own example. If we could live like Peter and John; if our lives were ‘living epistles of God, known and read of all men;’ if, whenever we were seen, men would take knowledge of us, that we had been with Jesus, it would be a happy thing for this world, and a blessed thing for us.” —Charles Spurgeon

Helpful post for parents, coaches, and teachers from Dr. Tim Elmore: What’s Trending In Kids Today

Un-Dragoned

I love the scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader where Eustace is changed back from a dragon into a boy. Not changed back into the same person, because he was surely different from that point on.

Eustace was desperate to be un-dragoned, but despite his best efforts, he couldn’t do it himself. He had to let Aslan do it for him. Eustace said,

Then the lion said, “You will have to let me undress you.” I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back and let him do it.

Have you ever been where Eustace was? So desperate to lose something dragon-like in your life, but unable to do it yourself?

The problem for many of us comes after we pray to God for help. We pray, and God shows up. But after He shows up, we want to tell Him how He should take care of us, instead of just letting Him do His work. Listen: if I could have done it on my own, I wouldn’t have called on God. Once I’m desperate enough to cry out for His help, why do I then still want to be in control?!?

God is so gracious to us! After we’ve been undressed from our dragon-like state, He covers us in clothes He Himself has fashioned for us. Eustace explained,

“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me–“

“Dressed you. With his paws?”

“Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes.”

Don’t let any dragon-ness in your life keep you from everything God has for you. And don’t try to un-dragon yourself (because, honestly, you can’t do it!). Let our gentle God un-dragon you, and then dress you in new clothes He’s made just for you.

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