Saturday, August 16, 2008

Remembering C S Lewis

If you have yet to read C.S. Lewis Remembered (2006 Zondervan), you are missing some great insights into the enigmatic author of such diverse books as The Chronicles of Narnia series, Mere Christianity, and English Literature in the Sixteenth Century excluding Drama. Remembered is a compilation of interviews with and essays by those who had contact with Lewis through the years as colleague, student, acquaintance or friend. It also includes a reprint of an interview on Science Fiction Lewis did for SFHorizons Magazine shortly before his death.

The picture that emerges of "Jack," as his friends called him, is of a highly intelligent scholar relentless in the pursuit of truth, yet winsomely jovial and generous to a fault. The contributors for this book do not all share Lewis's faith, but they are all admirers. Those who are believers are not all of the same "stripe" of Christianity. Many comment how Lewis, while living out his Faith, did not try to "ram it down their throats."

In the 1950's Dorothy L. Sayers*, author of the play The Man Born to Be King, wrote an essay for the magazine World Theater (Winter 1955-56) titled "Playwrights are not Evangelists." Her argument was that Christian playwrights should above all strive to produce good plays, rather than merely seek to evangelize. "A drama (or any other work of art) will not by itself make anybody a Christian. It can provoke attention and stir the heart..." but not convert the soul.

What Sayers wrote about playwrights applies equally to the works of Lewis, including his so-called theological works. When he set out to write a novel, I do not think he was thinking of the best way to manipulate people in order to turn them to God. He was seeking to write a good story. Nor did he assume that his non-fiction would create Christians. Certainly his desire was to be convincing, but he knew that intellectual persuasion and emotional manipulation are not the same as conversion. Salvation comes by the Word of God through the power of the Spirit of God. (1 Peter 1:23, Romans 10:17, Titus 3:5)

Perhaps the most persuasive argument for Christianity is a life well lived. C. S. Lewis lived his faith, as testified by those who knew him. Christians should strive to be the best they can be in whatever vocation in which they find themselves. If you are a playwright, be the best playwright you can be. If you are a novelist, be the best novelist you can be. I make my living as a welder. Living the Christian life, for me, means being the best welder I can be. Good craftsmanship will not convert the soul. but hopefully it will "provoke interest" so that I can be an influence. Whether my writing "provokes interest" I leave to you to decide.

*Sayers was an Oxford graduate who was friend of Lewis, mostly through written correspondence, and admirer of Charles Williams, a member of the Inklings--a writers group that included Lewis and JRR Tolkien. She is famous for her "religious" plays performed during World War 2, and her earlier Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories.

Monday, August 4, 2008 Birthday Present or Cybersquatting?

Wow! It's hard to believe that it's been a month since I made a Blog entry here. For those of you who follow my Narnia News Blog on Hollywood Jesus, you will know about the complaint that was filed by the C S Lewis Company against a Scottish couple who purchased the domain name I will not go into all the details here. You can read about it yourself on HJ by going to these articles: Birthday Present Leads to Web Dispute, Decision Due Tomorrow, Narnia Domain Name Decision. Be sure to read the comments attached to the articles, as these were used to update the information.

When the news first came out about the decision of the C S Lewis Company to file a complaint against the Scottish couple who bought the domain name, I was rather indignant. To take action against someone for wanting to provide an extra-special birthday gift for their child seemed rather uncalled for.

But as Proverbs 18:17 reminds us: "The first speech in a court case is always convincing—until the cross-examination starts!" [The Message Bible] It seems that the Saville-Smiths were not exactly forthcoming with all the significant details when they were interviewed by the Press. In fact, it appears that the story about wanting to give their son a birthday present was just that--a story. The conclusion by the experts at IPKat was that

...their actual motives had very little to do with simply getting a nice birthday present for their son. Instead, their acts of registering so many domain names now makes them appear like classic cybersquatters, but perhaps with a particular talent for tales of fantasy.

Jesus told His followers that we are to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." [Matthew 10:16] Rather than this being a case of The Man oppressing the little guy, as this has been presented in much of the Press, perhaps it would be much more accurate to portray this as discerning followers of Christ practicing wisdom. Let's look at a couple facts.

First of all, the testimony presented in this case overwhelmingly shows that the Saville-Smiths' intent was to make money off a protected trademark, not to buy their son a birthday present. It is true that while C S Lewis was alive he gave most of the proceeds from his Narnia works to charity, but this is certainly different than allowing someone to steal copyrighted material. The Saville-Smiths certainly are not a charity case!

Secondly, the C S Lewis Company is not in the habit of filing litigation against those who use the "Narnia" name. Those who follow the law, and use the name for a legitimate non-commercial purpose, have been left alone. A quick search of the Internet bears this out. Here are some examples:,,, and

So, where are all the royalties that are paid to the Lewis estate going? That seems to be a bit of a mystery. Besides lawyer's fees, apparently the money is put in trust. (See this article in the November 6, 2005 Sunday Times.) What the money is being used for seems to be a mystery. I certainly hope that Lewis's interest in helping the needy is being carried forward.