– whether God exists?
– whether life has meaning?
– whether suffering and pain have a purpose?
About this book: What if you could ask C. S. Lewis his thoughts on some of the most difficult questions of life? If you could, the result would be Dr. Alister McGrath’s provocative and perceptive book, If I Had Lunch with C. S. Lewis. Best-selling author, prominent academic, and sought-after speaker, Dr. McGrath sees C. S. Lewis as the perfect conversation companion for the persistent meaning-of-life questions everyone asks.
What makes Lewis a good dialogue partner is that his mind traveled through a wide and varied terrain: from atheism of his early life to his conversion later in life; from his rational skepticism to his appreciation of value of human desires and imagination; from his role as a Christian apologist during World War II to his growth as a celebrated author of classic children’s literature. The questions Lewis pondered persist today: Does life have meaning? Does God exist? Can reason and imagination be reconciled? Why does God allow suffering?
Let McGrath be your insightful guide to an intriguing conversation with Lewis about the ultimate questions.
About the author: (from Tyndale Media Center) Alister McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King’s College London and head of its Center for Theology, Religion and Culture. Before moving to King’s College, he was Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University and is currently Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College at Oxford. Dr. McGrath is a bestselling author of more than 50 books and a popular speaker, traveling the world every year to speak at various conferences.
Would I read this book, judged on its cover alone? I find it suggestive of meaningful conversation, classic tomes and English tea. What’s not to like about that?
You’ll want to buy this book if … you’ve ever asked any of the big questions about life; if you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis and his vast legacy of writings.
Why did I read this book? For Tyndale for review.
Would I read another by this author? Sure. I like his respectful yet affectionate treatment of the life and writing of this giant of twentieth-century literature and Christian apologetics.
My take: Since childhood, I’ve admired the stories of C.S. Lewis. Since college, I’ve admired the man himself. What this book crystallized for me are the reasons why.
What If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis reveals most clearly is the way Lewis combined the reasoned analyses of his brilliant mind with his equally sparkling imagination. This…this is a combination that resonates deep within my soul. Both sides of it feel necessary, but together there is a strength that each side alone cannot attain. And Lewis articulates it all so well. As McGrath writes, “Alongside Lewis the cool-headed thinker we find a very different style of thinker–someone who was aware of the power of the human imagination and the implications of this power for our understanding of reality.”
Though the premise “lunch w/ Lewis” strikes me as a tad thin, that’s really irrelevant as the idea merely provides a cohesive scaffolding upon which to build the rest of McGrath’s exploration. Like Lewis, McGrath is Irish-born and atheist-turned-Christian. This gives him a unique perspective from which to address the life of Lewis (who in childhood rejected his given name of Clive Staples, asking instead to be called “Jack.” Yet another reason to like the man.).
I especially like how McGrath shows Lewis’ stories and apologetics to be relevant even today, decades after Lewis’ death. He says, for example, that “Lewis is one of a very small group of people who both learned from life’s challenges and was able to pass his wisdom on, elegantly and effectively.”
Though not every chapter of this book will be equally meaningful to every reader, every reader will nonetheless find much to appreciate. I, for instance, jotted reams of notes as I pored over the chapters on the importance of story. All in all, If I Had Lunch with C.S. Lewis is a worthy add to the library of any Lewis devotee.
Thanks to Tyndale for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
End notes: I like this from Alister McGrath: “I would love to have had lunch with Lewis, not so much to bombard him with questions, but simply to thank him for helping me grow in my faith.” Do you agree? I do. If you are a big reader of C.S. Lewis, which of his writings–his fiction or his non-fiction–has made the biggest impact on you? Or is it too hard to choose…