Friday, November 22, 2013

ST. C.S. (JACK) LEWIS AND PUMPKIN PIE


St. Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898, in Belfast, Ireland. He was an Oxford and Cambridge Don (professor) specializing in medieval and renaissance literature, a WWI wounded veteran, a dear friend and faithful pen pal to many, and an author who shared in prolific writings his journey from childhood Christianity to atheism and slowly back to Christianity. His legacy overflows with works written as a defender, explainer, and joyful follower of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Author of over 30 books, his most popular are THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, MERE CHRISTIANITY, and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. He died on November 22, 1963, and is celebrated as a saint on this day only in the Episcopal Church. He is, however, honored in many other Christian denominations throughout the world, loved by his readers, and appreciated by anyone with the slightest imagination who has ever explored an attic or “Spare ‘Oom.”

November 22, 2013, was the 50th anniversary of the death of Clive Staples Lewis, and he was commemorated with a memorial in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. Learn more at the C.S. Lewis website.

He was baptized on January 29, 1899, at St. Mark’s, the local Anglican parish church. His father, Albert James Lewis, was a solicitor and his mother, Florence (Flora) Augusta Lewis, a rare female graduate of Queen’s University, was a homemaker. Warren (Warnie) Hamilton Lewis was his elder brother by three years.

He was a precocious child who mastered spoken language quite early. He referred to himself as “Baby” until at around age four, he announced to the family that they were to call him “Jacksie.” He didn’t like his given name, Clive, and chose instead the name of the family dog that recently died in a horse and cart accident. From then on, his family and friends called him “Jacksie” while he was a child, then later “Jacks” or “Jack.”

Jacksie

Young Jack and Warnie spent a lot of time indoors due to the consistently rainy weather of north Ireland and the parental fear of tuberculosis. Their nursery window looked out over beautiful mountains that they could reach only through their imaginations. They wrote, drew pictures, and told stories together of this far away land. One day, Warnie showed Jack a tiny garden that he had created on the inside lid of a biscuit (cookie) tin. Jack was especially moved by this creation as it inspired him imaginatively and spiritually.

The boys were taught reading, math and French by Flora. When Jack was six years old, they moved to their new home called Little Lea. It was a large house with lots of rooms and secret hideaways. When Warnie left for public school (private boarding school), Jack deliciously occupied himself with the reading of all sorts of books that were shelved in every room.

Flora loved to travel and took Jack and (Warnie during school holidays) on many trips either to the shore, or France or inner Ireland to visit ruins and other sites. Sometimes Albert came along and grumbled about being away from his routine, but mostly he stayed home to work as he feared financial ruin at any moment even though he was a quite successful businessman.

When Jack was nine, Flora became ill. Sadly, she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. After an operation, she had a six-month remission in which she was able to take her sons on one more trip. As hard as young Jack prayed to whom he later described as God the Magician, his mother was not magically cured. Flora died on August 28, 1908.

To say that Jack was devastated is the least of it. Albert, deep in the misery of his own grief, couldn’t see how much his sons needed him. In his autobiography, SURPRISED BY JOY, Jack wrote:

We were coming, my brother and I, to rely more and more exclusively on each other for all that made life bearable; to have confidence only in each other . . . We drew daily closer together (that was the good result) – two frightened urchins huddled for warmth in a bleak world.                                Page 17

With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of Joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis. 
                                       Page 19

With no help from his father, other grieving relatives, nor anyone from their church, he clung to his brother as well as to the Shakespeare quote on his father’s calendar on the day of his mother’s death, “All men must endure their going hence.”    

One month later, he was sent with Warnie to boarding school. Although, Albert researched extensively before selecting the highly recommended Wynyard School in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, he didn’t realize that the headmaster was spiraling into violent insanity. Also, Albert had a habit of interpreting anything his sons told or wrote to him into his own reality. So he didn’t believe anything they said about their cruel headmaster. Finally, after student after student dropped out, the headmaster closed the school and Jack went home. (Warnie had already aged out and was elsewhere.)

Not counting school holidays, Jack spent two horrible years there in which academically he learned nothing except what he discovered on his own through reading. He did enjoy being on board ship to travel back and forth from Ireland to England. And he also got more out of the mandatory church attendance at the school’s local Anglican parish, St. John’s, than he ever did from his home parish of St. Mark’s.

So much so that he came to understand that God was not a magician. Inspired by sermons given by those with conviction of what they preached, he began to pray in earnest. But again, with no one to guide him and answer his personal questions about God and prayer, he tried too hard and tired himself out.

Jack had gotten it into his head that the lines he prayed didn’t count unless he truly meant them at the time of praying. So he’d pray a line and then stay up seemingly all night determining whether or not he meant it. The only way he felt he could escape these prayers of endless introspection and perfection seeking was to give up on the existence of God and finally get a decent night’s sleep.

He kept his budding atheism a secret from his father mostly because he feared Albert's overly emotional reactions.

Warnie, Albert, and Jack 

After a brief stay at a local boarding school, Campbell College in Belfast, from September to December, 1910, Albert pulled Jack out due to respiratory problems which may have had something to do with Jack’s new secret smoking habit. Jack spent the rest of the school year happily reading his home’s vast collection of books.

The next September, Albert sent Jack, along with Warnie, to Malvern College, England (a private boarding high or prep school). Jack had many classmates who shared his atheistic beliefs. Books and reading continued to play a large part in Jack’s life and the forming of his ideas. He had given up Christianity, but he didn’t give up his love of imaginative fiction, poetry, and mythology.

Meanwhile, Jack suffered under the “tyranny” of the English boarding school hierarchy in which the lower classmen were made to do errands and chores for upperclassmen whom were essentially bullies. Also, the students were judged by their peers by athletic performances not their academic accomplishments. Although, this school social system “made men” of many English boys, it simply exhausted Jack. Finally, after much pleading from Jack along with insightful letters from Warnie, Albert agreed to send Jack to a private tutor.

During the school holiday, elated at this turn of events, Jack agreed to visit a neighbor boy, Arthur Greeves, who was recovering from an illness. Jack was astonished upon entering Arthur’s room to see the book, Myths of the Norsemen by H.A. Guerber on Arthur’s bedside table. Not only was it the new favorite of both of them, they also shared the same favorite passages. They remained life long friends and Jack’s future letters to Arthur fills volumes.

Warnie had been tutored privately by W.T. “The Great Knock” Kirkpatrick and received high marks on his army entrance exam and began military training. This training was cut short and his service began right after Germany invaded Belgium on August 4, 1914, and Britain declared war. (At this time in history, Northern Ireland was not yet part of Britain, so Irish men were not drafted into service. However, many of them volunteered.) Warnie was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Army Service Corps and was based in France.

Shortly thereafter, Albert sent Jack, age 15, for private tutoring with W.T. Kirkpatrick in Bookham, England. The villagers took in war refugees and Jack, along with the Kirkpatricks, participated in caretaking and visiting them. Kirkpatrick was an excellent teacher, letting Jack state nothing that he couldn’t back up with facts. He quickly caught Jack up on everything that was missing from his previous education. He also taught Jack how to translate Greek literature and was amazed at Jack’s photographic memory.

During the Christmas holidays, Jack returned home and allowed himself to be confirmed at St. Mark’s church while disbelieving the faith. As he wrote in SURPRISED BY JOY:

My relations to my father help to explain (I am not suggesting they excuse) one of the worst acts of my life. I allowed myself to be prepared for confirmation, and confirmed, and to make my first Communion, in total disbelief, acting a part, eating and drinking my own condemnation. 
                                     Page 155

At age 19, Jack did extraordinarily well on the entrance exam to Oxford except for the math portion which he failed. Even after remedial algebra classes, he again failed it. But because he was to serve in the British Army before beginning his college studies, he was exempt from having to pass the math portion of the entrance exam. He had done so well on the other parts of the exam that he earned a full scholarship. His father sent money for incidentals throughout his student years.

Jack spent some months at Oxford studying and waiting to be called up to serve and did his best to distract himself from the real possibility of his death. He socialized with the family of his roommate, Paddy Moore. Paddy’s mother, Mrs. Janie King Moore, was separated from his father and living nearby with his 11-year-old sister, Maureen.

Over a short period of time, Jack became close especially to Mrs. Moore. She was vivacious, warm, and intelligent. Paddy and Jack promised each other that if either of them were killed in battle, the other would take care of his family.

Jack was drawn to Mrs. Moore as he seemed to be not only without his mother, but also without his father. Albert didn’t make an effort to visit Jack before he shipped out, while he was convalescing from trench fever, or later after he was wounded.

Alas, Paddy was killed in battle on April 15, 1918. Jack was wounded in the Battle of Arras in December, 1918. Although he recovered, he carried shrapnel in his chest for the remainder of his life. He also carried the emotional and domestic responsibility of Mrs. Moore until she died 30 years later.

Jack was honorably discharged from the army and returned to University College, Oxford, and his studies from January, 1919 until June, 1923. His goal was to earn a fellowship to an Oxford college in which he’d be both tutor and lecturer. He studied and earned high honor degrees in Greek and Latin literature, Philosophy and Ancient History, and English.

He was extremely grateful to his father for his financial support of himself and secretly of Mrs. Moore and Maureen for all those years of study and was desperate to obtain a paying teaching position at Oxford. After a year substituting for a philosophy teacher who was abroad, Jack was appointed English Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he taught English Language and Literature. His rooms at Magdalen contained an office, a comfortable sitting room, and a bedroom. He stayed there during the week and spent the afternoons and weekends at the rented home he shared with Mrs. Moore and Maureen.

He remained an ardent atheist for years and had many friends and colleagues whom were also atheists. At this point, Jack considered Jesus and the gospel stories to be just another dying god myth of which there are many. In one late night discussion about the gospels, a friend and “militant skeptic” said, “All that stuff of Frazer’s about the Dying God. Rum thing. It almost looks as if it had really happened once.”      SURPRISED BY JOY, Page 223

Jack had become aware of the possibility that Jesus’ life on Earth fit so snuggly into mankind’s ancient myth template that the truth of Christ on Earth would resonate down through the ages due to the familiarity of ancient beliefs. While his imagination chewed on that meaty concept, his rational mind was shocked by the possibility that a fellow atheist could, upon research and questioning, change his beliefs.

Significantly, on May 11, 1926, Jack met J.R.R. Tolkien for the first time. Tolkien was a Roman Catholic and professor of language and language origin at Cambridge. Throughout the years of their friendship, they had many lively conversations questioning each other's beliefs.

Jack was called home to Belfast in the fall of 1929 as Albert was dying of cancer. Jack and his father had always done their best to be amiable to each other. Albert loved his son very much but was set in his ways and wasn’t the best listener or communicator. Jack desperately appreciated all his father did for him, but he regretted that he could never be truly honest with him regarding his beliefs and his relationship with Mrs. Moore.

If Jack’s mother had not died when he was so young, would he have had such a desperate need for his father to take on a maternal role, and when he failed to do so, would Jack have turned to Mrs. Moore to fulfill that role for him after her son died? 

Nobody is ever told what would have happened. . But anyone can find out what will happen. 
                                                                                Aslan, PRINCE CASPIAN, page 142

What did happen was that Albert died peacefully at home on September 24, 1929, and Jack continued his reading and conversations with his friends all the while trying to avoid a persistent presence. Soon, he opened up himself up to the possibility of that presence while riding on a bus. And then:

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at least come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. 
                             SURPRISED BY JOY, Page 221

Jack abandoned atheism and converted to theism, a general belief in God. His in-person and written conversations with all types of intelligent friends with varying beliefs, plus his own copious reading and studying continued. Along with his lecturing and tutoring, he wrote and published two books of poetry. Also, because Jack felt his belief in God should come with an act of faith, he began attending church but did not receive Holy Communion.

In September, 1931, after 18 years of military service, Warnie retired at the age of 37. He accepted the invitation of Jack and Mrs. Moore to pitch in to purchase a home together called the Kilns. Located in the country near Headington with an easy train ride to Oxford, it was a lovely home with eight acres including gardens, a large pond and a wooded area.

Jack and Warnie

On September 28, 1931, the family set out to visit a new zoo. Jack was riding in the side car of Warnie’s motorcycle. Jack wrote:

I was driven to Whipsnade one sunny morning. When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and when we reached the zoo I did. 
                                                                                 SURPRISED BY JOY, page 237

Thus, Jack began attending church every morning at Oxford and receiving Holy Communion regularly. His friends remember how truly happy Jack was after his conversion. He wrote THE PILGRIM'S REGRESS, OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET, and THE PROBLEM OF PAIN. He continued with his lecturing and tutoring at Oxford, his domestic responsibilities at home, and his ever delightful social gatherings with friends. He later wrote in THE WEIGHT OF GLORY, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  Page 140

Then Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war on September 1, 1939. Jack and most of his contemporaries were exempt from serving due to their WWI service and wounds. Warnie, however, was recalled to service.

Another notable beginning occurred on April 25, 1940, with the first weekly meeting of the Inklings, a group of Christian writers and thinkers who met regularly to read out loud and critique each other’s written works in progress. There were core members and whomever they felt like inviting as well. Here’s Jack’s description of a typical meeting:

On Thursday we had a meeting of the Inklings . . . I have never in my life seen Dyson so exuberant—“a roaring cataract of nonsense.” The bill of fare afterwards consisted of a section of the new Hobbit book from Tolkien, a nativity play from Williams (unusually intelligible for him, and approved by all), and a chapter out of the book on the Problem of Pain from me.
                      COLLECTED LETTERS, VOL. II.




(It’s amazing to understand how influential these authors were to each other in the writing of their great works. For example, Tolkien’s overall future critique of the Chronicles of Narnia were that they were too blatantly Christian unlike his own Lord of the Ring series where an epic battle of good and evil plays out with no direct mention of the divine. Another critique was that he was adamantly against the appearance of Father Christmas in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE as inconsistent and a crossover of mythology. Jack struggled over that one, asked many others their opinions and ultimately decided to keep Father Christmas in the story. And to think that most of these meetings took place at the local pub -- so casual and yet ultimately so profound in the decisions that continue to affect generations of readers.)

Jack fought in WWII on the home front as a member of the Home Guard patrolling the neighborhoods at night under the threat of invasion via paratroopers. When Warnie was discharged from service, he too served on the Home Guard patrolling the waters in his boat.

Jack wrote a series of “letters” for a British Anglican Christian weekly newspaper, The Guardian, in which a managerial demon gives advice to a low-level demonic clerk on how to turn a typical British man to the dark side. They were later published in a book called, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS, a brilliant work of satire in opposite.

Many people believe that these ideas of what keeps a person away from God and headed in the wrong direction came from Jack’s copious scholarly study, but they mostly came from his own life experiences. Americans absolutely loved THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS if for nothing else than the humor. He began receiving letters from American fans which he faithfully answered.

THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS were a way for Jack to help with the war effort with the underlying message being that suffering was to be endured and morals adhered to no matter how easy it seemed not to.
 
Jack was also asked by the BBC to broadcast talks on Christianity for regular (not scholarly) folks. These talks were later published in book form as MERE CHRISTIANITYAs a scholar and former atheist who came slowly and far from easily to Christianity, he was the perfect person to write a book-long thesis that rationally explained and defended Christianity because he deeply understood the arguments against it.

Importantly, he states in the introduction that he is writing about all denominations of Christianity and that there should be no squabbling between them.

His ultimate message is that God created his Son on Earth as his perfect creation and an example of what we should strive to be, his sons (and daughters) on Earth. So far from feeling too humble to aspire to sainthood in our daily lives, we are to work toward exactly that goal. But we shouldn’t worry that by giving ourselves up to Christ and allowing Him to work through and with us; we’d be giving up our individuality:

Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Sameness is to be found most among the most ‘natural’ men, not among those who surrender to Christ. How monotonously alike all the great tyrants and conquerors have been, how gloriously different are the saints. 
                                                                                   MERE CHRISTIANITY, Page 226

(By “men” Jack, following a literary norm of his time, means “humans” or “men and women.”)

This work and many others define C.S. (Jack) Lewis, as a lay theologian and Christian apologist, one who defends the faith against objections.

There’s one more help-on-the-home-front deed that Jack and Mrs. Moore did for the war effort. As the nightly bombings of London began, children were shipped out to the country to anyone who could take them in. The Kilns was a temporary home for children who explored the house’s many rooms and the large and varied grounds. One girl remembered Jack’s kind face and his booming laughter when upon meeting him for the first time, she mistook him for the gardener due to his shabby clothes.

Jack endured WWII. He suffered and did his part along with everyone else. The war with Germany ended in May, 1945. Jack continued to receive many letters from the United States. At least one pen pal even sent food parcels as the food rationing and shortages in Europe continued well after WWII ended.

Although, he continued to write many books in rational essay form, he discovered that his audience was not limited to whom he originally believed his audience to be, fellow well-read philosophy scholars. Jack realized that he need not separate his imaginative from his rational writings. God wanted him to mix his imagination in with his Christianity in written form to spread His messages to a wider audience.

Jack became even more prolific in his writing and published title after title. Most of his books remain in print. Their titles and descriptions can be found here. Throughout his life, Jack donated most of his royalties to the poor via a charity he had set up.

Jack received recognition for his great literary works. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of St. Andrew’s on June 28, 1946. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine in the U.S. on September 8, 1947, and he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1948.


His popularity seems to wane after this a bit as he becomes bogged down with the self-imposed duty and obligation of caring for Mrs. Moore in her difficult and declining years. Maureen, married and living elsewhere, often came home to the Kilns to give Jack a respite in the caretaking. Finally, Mrs. Moore was placed in a nursing home where Jack visited everyday.

Somehow in the midst of all this domestic chaos, scholarly work, literary pursuits, and social engagements; a Lion bounded into one of Jack’s imaginative, but static, landscapes containing a lamppost in the middle of a snowy wood and a simple story began to grow.

Jack would later argue against the belief of the apparent simplicity of his Narnia books, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” – Three Ways to Write for Children

To the argument that Jesus should be Jesus and not a lion, Jack responded in a letter to a mother, whose nine-year-old son was worried because he believed he loved Aslan more than Jesus:

Laurence can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Alsan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus; and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.  
                                                                              LETTERS TO CHILDREN, Page 52)

And then one day (January 10, 1950), in the pile of the day’s mail appeared a letter from Mrs. Helen Joy Davidman Gresham, an award-winning American poet. It was better than a fan letter because she asked intriguing questions about his writings. Jack was impressed with her style and his response impressed Joy. They became pen pals.

Jack published THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE on October 16, 1950. Mrs. Moore died on January 12, 1951.

Joy visited in the autumn of 1952. She wanted to meet her intellectual and spiritual friend in person. Both Jack and Warnie were quite taken with Joy’s American forthrightness and her sense of humor. She confessed to Jack the real reason for her trip was that she needed to get away. Her alcoholic husband wanted a divorce so he could be with another woman. She was at a loss over what to do because she still loved him and he was the father of her two young sons. She also described to Jack a moment when she felt God in the kitchen with her for about 30 seconds one night when she was home alone with the babies and her husband was nowhere to be found.

Joy returned to New York State and agreed to a trial separation. She soon came back and moved into a London flat and then later to a home in Oxford with her sons, David and Douglas, who began attending school. Joy finally gave the divorce to her husband. He immediately married her cousin.

Joy and Jack’s friendship remained platonic for years. Meanwhile, his diligent work at Oxford continued and he was passed over again for a position of chair (department head) at Oxford. Finally, Tolkien could stand it no more and recommended him for a chair position at Cambridge. Jack was offered and accepted the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge and left Oxford in 1954. His career continued to thrive at Cambridge.

Always one to invite friends to influence his writings, Jack took much advice from Joy that appeared in the final version of TILL WE HAVE FACES; A MYTH RETOLD about Psyche and her sister which was published on September 10, 1956. Jack dedicated the book to “Joy Davidman.” This was the same year that Jack married Joy on April 23, 1956 in a civil ceremony so she could obtain citizenship status. They lived separately.

In the autumn of that year, they learned that Joy had inoperable cancer. The diagnosis came without warning and they were both deeply shocked. Jack couldn’t help but see himself in Joy’s sons who were about the same age as he was when his mother died of cancer. The diagnosis walloped Jack in his heart as well. He was now able to see that the love he felt for Joy was the love of a husband.

Their secret civil marriage was no longer a secret, and he moved the boys into the Kilns right away. He then arranged for a Christian wedding to take place at the hospital as soon as possible.

(A word on “Joy” -- In his autobiography, SURPRISED BY JOY, Jack named what he first believed to be glimpses of God, “Joy.” He later realized that these moments of “Joy” were really experiences of longing for God. The fact that “Joy” showed up as the romantic love of his life is another one of those wonderful coincidences also know as a gift from God.)

Peter Bide, Jack’s former student and an Anglican minister agreed to conduct the bedside service in the hospital on May 21, 1957. Before he did so, he laid hands on Joy and said healing prayers. 

They were blessed with a 2 ½ year remission during which her son, Douglas Gresham remembered:

As mother became more and more a healthy, active woman, she became more and more a wife. Now The Kilns became a happy home, filled with riches of life . . . Guests began to come ever more frequently . . . and discussion at our dinner table was full of life, jollity, fierce debate and profound philosophy. 
                                                                                       LENTEN LANDS, Page 154

Joy and Jack

David, Jack and Douglas

Joy was able to continue her work while Jack worked at Cambridge on weekdays during the term. Warnie was still a member of the household and delighted in the presence of his sister-in-law.

Joy and Jack enjoyed traveling together. After the cancer returned in the spring of 1960, they took one last trip to Greece. Two months later, at home with Jack by her bedside, she said, “I am at peace with God.” Joy died on July 13, 1960.

One doesn’t have to imagine the grief Jack felt upon the loss of his beloved wife because during the month or two after her death, he kept a diary and poured forth all his feelings. He later agreed to publish A GRIEF OBSERVED under a pseudonym.

The journal is filled with “yelling” and the taking back several pages later of what he “yelled” earlier. As if he were screaming and banging on a locked door that God refused to open, then later realizing that God was on the other side of the door waiting for him to quiet down and step back so He could open it. Toward the end he wrote:

When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’ It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though he shook His head not in refusal but waiving the questions. Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.” 
                              A GRIEF OBSERVED, Page 81

And thus Jack endured, yet again, his going hence after a great loss. He continued his work at Cambridge until ill health forced him to retire in the summer of 1963. A young journalist, Walter Hooper, who had met and interviewed Jack offered to help Douglas box up Jack’s book-filled office.

Jack suffered from kidney inflammation and other ailments but carried on with Warnie by his side at the Kilns.

C.S. (Jack) Lewis died peacefully at home on November 22, 1963.

The newsworthiness of C.S. Lewis’s death was lost along with the death of author, Aldous Huxley, because of the assassination of U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, on the same day.

Warnie was a wreck yet again, but he endured his going hence for ten years until he also passed peacefully away.

With Douglas Grisham’s blessing, Walter Hooper became posthumous personal editor insuring that Jack’s works would continue to be published and republished.

Jack never expected most of his published works to outlast even his own lifetime, so the mere fact that they are still popular and available in published form is an amazing accomplishment for which generations of readers are grateful.

In 2011, Clive Staples Lewis was added to the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church. According to Frank T. Grisworld, Twenty-Fifth Presiding Bishop:

The men and women commemorated in the Calendar are not simply examples of faithfulness to inspire us; they are active in their love and prayer. They are companions in the spirit able to support and encourage us as we seek to be faithful in our own day. 
                                                                             Forward, Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints

On November 22, we pray:

O God of searing truth and surprising beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike. Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 
                                                                             Collect, HOLY WOMEN, HOLY MEN: CELEBRATING THE SAINTS

What would Jack think about being named a saint in the Episcopal Church? Although, it was his goal and he advised that it should be the goal of all Christians, he never would have predicted it. What he did know and what he shared in a letter written several months before his death, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” COLLECTED LETTERS

……………………………………………………………………….

Sources:

A LIFE OBSERVED: A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY OF C.S. LEWIS by Deven Brown
C.S. LEWIS: A BIOGRAPHY OF FRIENDSHIP by Colin Duriez
HOLY WOMEN, HOLY MEN: CELEBRATING THE SAINTS
BBC SHADOWLANDS, movie 1985 
SHADOWLANDS, movie, 1993

By C.S. Lewis:

SURPRISED BY JOY
MERE CHRISTIANITY
THE PROBLEM OF PAIN
THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS
A GRIEF OBSERVED

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:

BOOK ONE: THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, 1955
BOOK TWO: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, 1950
BOOK THREE: THE HORSE AND HIS BOY, 1954
BOOK FOUR: PRINCE CASPIAN, 1951
BOOK FIVE: THE LAST BATTLE, THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, 1952  
BOOK SIX: THE SILVER CHAIR, 1953
BOOK SEVEN: THE LAST BATTLE, 1956

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA movies:


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Recommendations:

Start with whichever of these three books appeals to you the most:

MERE CHRISTIANITY – While it is written as a book-long essay, it's easily comprehensible, especially if you can transport yourself to the time and place in which it was written. This book is a Pro Christianity rational argument and it kicks arse.

THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS -- First of all, it’s funny:  Hell as a bureaucracy with upper management and lowly interns. When you read it, imagine that Screwtape has the voice of John Cleese. Or, if you prefer, listen to the audio version read by John Cleese.

THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE – A simple, yet imaginatively inspiring tale. Read this one first and if you like it, read the rest in the order of publication date instead of chronologically. And definitely see the movies.

For further information and descriptions of other books written by C.S. Lewis, go to the books of C.S. Lewis. Note that many of these titles are available at your local library.

Cheers!

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Okay, I know you’re thinking C.S. Lewis and pumpkin pie? Really? What could possibly be the connection?

Weeeeeeell, his friends called him Jack. Pumpkins -- Jack ‘O lanterns. Get it? Yeah, that’s all I got. Pathetic, I know.

Even worse, I chose C.S. Lewis as my latest saint to research because I wanted to teach myself how to make homemade pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. Then I searched for a saint that would match. St. Jack jumped out at me.

Later, I decided that this family pumpkin pie recipe was passed down from mother to daughter on my mother’s Ballard side of the family and that all these females counteracted C.S. Lewis’s reputation of not respecting the intelligence of women before he met Joy Davidman. This turned out to be not true. Jack appreciated women and their intelligence including his relatives, friends, colleagues, fellow Inklings, and all those in his reading audience.

Then I thought I’d go with the whole opposite thing in a nod to the oppositeness of THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS. Pumpkin pie is so American as to be anti-British, especially since the Pilgrims originally left England to escape the National Anglican Church of England. I know -- absolutely ridiculous.

Here’s what I settled on:  I imagine that if C.S. Lewis showed up at my house, I’d invite St. Jack in for a meal with my family. He’d probably prefer that we call him Uncle Jack and we would. I’d thank him profusely for all the wonderful written works he left for us and especially for the idea that one can, with the full blessing of the Lord, write imaginative spiritual fiction. 

Depending on the time of day, I’d serve him either dinner with pumpkin pie for dessert or a high tea including pumpkin pie. 

BALLARD PUMPKIN PIE


(Other photos below.)

This recipe is my great grandmother Ophelia’s recipe. My mother, Cheerie, and my daughter, Julia, both made modifications to the original recipe and I thank them.

Ophelia Ballard raised her family including my grandmother, Edna, on a farm. This recipe calls for milk (not liquid evaporated milk as is in most other pumpkin pie recipes) because cow’s milk was plentiful on the farm. It makes for a creamy pudding- type pie.

Unbaked, this all-milk recipe is so liquidy, that I highly recommend the use of a glass pie dish. Aluminum ones bend in the middle spilling the contents all over the floor and the inside of the oven. I’ll spare you the photo. Also, make sure you use 9-inch pie dishes for this recipe.

FRESH MASHED PUMPKIN

(Obviously, you can skip this step and use canned [unseasoned] pumpkin.)

Ingredients

One or two, depending on size, Pie or Sugar pumpkins
Small amount vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse pumpkin.
  3. With a large knife, cut in half vertically starting from along side the stem.
  4. Scoop out seeds and inner stringy pulp.
  5. Rub inside with vegetable oil and place cut side own on a baking pan.
  6. Bake until pumpkin is soft when pressed about 45 minutes.
  7. Scoop out flesh and place in large bowl.
  8. Mash with potato masher.
  9. Let cool and drain any extra water.
10. Begin next steps or place in plastic container in refrigerator for up to three days or freezer for up to six months.

Again, this recipe is for two 9-inch pies. One pie to serve and one pie for a friend or the freezer.

DOUGH

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ pound cold butter (1 stick)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

1. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Cut in cold stick of butter with pastry knife or crisscrossing two butter knives. 
3. Mix vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl with the egg. Beat slightly.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in the large bowl.
4. Mix and knead with your clean hands until all the flour is combined into the dough ball.
5. Cut dough ball in half.
6. Take one half and flatten it somewhat between your hands.
7. Place in pie pan and continue flattening and spreading the edges up the side of the plate. Repeat in other dish.
8. Do not overlap the dough onto the outer flat edge of the pie dish. There is not enough to go around and it will burn no matter how many times you try to prevent it from burning as it’s simply too thin. As I discovered, this is a sugar dough, not a pastry dough, and is does an excellent job on the sides and there’s no need to force it up and over where it will only burn to a black charcoal crisp.

FILLING

Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice*
3 cups mashed pumpkin
2 eggs
2 cups whole milk

Instructions

 1. Use electric mixer to blend the dry ingredients.
 2. Add and blend the pumpkin.
 3. Add and blend the eggs.
 4. Add and blend the milk at low speed to avoid excessive bubbles.

Bake Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Pour equal amounts of liquid pie filling into each pie dish.
3. Carefully place pies directly onto oven rack.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Start checking them at 35 minutes or so in case of inconsistent oven temperatures. The filling should seem solid and the dough should appear golden on the sides and underneath.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about ½ hour before serving.

If you will freeze it for later use, make absolutely sure that it has completely cooled. Then double wrap it before placing in freezer. Pies can also be stored, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for three days.

*Recipe for homemade pumpkin pie spice

Makes a quarter cup

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice**
½ teaspoon clove

**Allspice berries are shaped like a peppercorns but taste like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Fascinating.

Enjoy!













4 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you for all of your "made with love" pies! I have always enjoyed reading CS Lewis material and your post made him really come to life. Thank you! Kathy

maleveque said...

As an experience pumpkin pie maker, I have to warn you that a potato masher will just not cut it. You will have lumpy pie. You need to use a food processor or an immersion blender to smooth the pumpkin pulp. Then put it in a cheesecloth-lined colander to drain the excess liquid.
I love the pumpkin-Lewis association - I love both with equal fervor!

Maria Nolletti Ross said...

Thanks, Kathy!

Maria Nolletti Ross said...

maleveque,

I actually used my hands, plus the potato masher and a spoon. Then blended it all with a regular Kitchen Aid blender. Immersion blenders are cool though, I'll put one on my Christmas list. ;) Thanks for the advice!

Maria