[This is a series of biographical sketches of Anglican men and women whose lives have been exemplary in virtue and/or have made significant contributions to Anglicanism’s expression of the Gospel. Written from the perspective of full communion with the See of St. Peter, including such papal statements as St. John Paul II’s encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint, this series will occasionally acknowledge differences between Anglicans and Catholics where they exist and will do so in a spirit of charity and respect. However, the intent is to focus less on differences than on opportunities for mutual enrichment between the Anglican and Catholic traditions and on shared spiritual treasures that already unite us.]
C. S. Lewis
Born 29 November 1898 (Belfast, Ireland) – Died 22 November 1963 (Oxford, England)
Author, Scholar, Philosopher, Theologian – held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925-1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954-1963). Best-known works: The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, The Four Loves, A Grief Observed, Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.
[The image is a photograph of Lewis at the age of 48.]
As with St. John Henry Newman, so with C. S. Lewis: both are so well known and have been so extensively studied and written about that saying less is best. I limit myself, then, to making one observation, which is tied to a similar observation I made concerning Benjamin Britten, who is also remembered on 22 November. There is no indication Britten and Lewis, though contemporaries, ever met. But both made magnificent contributions to Christianity through the Anglican tradition at a time when Anglicanism and the West needed the kind of depth and intelligence both Britten and Lewis were able to provide. There are many Christians, Anglican and non-Anglican, whose understanding of theology owes much to the clarity of Lewis’s writing and to his Anglican theological perspective (which, by the way, seems to have veered towards the Catholic perspective whenever and wherever a choice presented itself).
Brother John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.