Thursday, November 29, 2007

Birthday today of C.S. Lewis, Lousia May Alcott, and Madeleine L'Engle

Three of my favorite authors all have their birthdays today, C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott and Madeleine L'Engle. In their own ways, each of these authors have informed my understanding and helped to form me as a person. Recently, I have been thinking much about C.S. Lewis in part, I think because we purchased two wardrobes when we moved into our house. Wardrobes always remind me of C.S. Lewis's wonderful book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in which the wardrobe was an entry point into the magical land of Narnia, so I remember C.S. Lewis today along with authors who shared his birthday, Louisa May Alcott and Madeleine L'Engle

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

From Garrison Keillor's "The Writer's Almanac"

It's the birthday of C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis, (books by this author) born in Belfast (1898), who grew up an Anglican, but he found religion cold and boring. He preferred the Irish, Norse, and Greek myths he read in storybooks. He created an imaginary world called Boxen and wrote stories about it. He said, "My two chief literary pleasures [were] 'dressed animals' and 'knights in armour.' As a result, I wrote about chivalrous mice and rabbits who rode out in complete mail to kill not giants but cats."

He became a teacher at Oxford, where he taught literature and mythology, and it was there that he met J.R.R. Tolkien, a devout Christian, and they would take long walks around the Oxford grounds, debating the existence of God. The morning after one of those walks, Lewis went with his brother to the zoo. He said, "When we set out [for the zoo] I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion."

Lewis went on to become a prominent Christian apologist in the world, recording a series of radio lectures about Christianity, broadcast during World War II. People gathered around their radios to listen to him during bombing raids. At the same time, Lewis was taking evacuee children from London into his house, and they all seemed poorly educated and unimaginative to him.

So he began thinking about how he could give contemporary children what he had gotten from the fairy tales he read when he was a child. One day, one of the evacuee children asked him what was inside the big wardrobe in his house, and that gave him an idea for a story about four children — named Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund — who are staying at a country house during World War II when they discover a secret doorway in the back of an old wardrobe that leads to a land called Narnia. The first of seven books in The Chronicles of Narnia was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950). Today, the Narnia books still sell about a million copies a year

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