Alister McGrath on what we can learn from CS Lewis about faith and life
by Sam Hailes
Christian apologist and theologian Alister McGrath enjoyed widespread praise for his biography on CS Lewis (published by Hodder and Stoughton last year).
Alister is back this spring with his second book on Lewis: Deep Magic Dragons & Talking Mice, which makes the bold claim that reading CS Lewis can change your life. We caught up with the Oxford based professor to find out more.
CT: Congratulations on winning the 2014 Christian Book Award for Non Fiction (CS Lewis: A Life). The biography has been very well received. Why do you think people have resonated with it so much?
AM: I think it’s partly that Lewis is so interesting as a person, not just as a writer. Many of those who love his writings have written to me, telling me how much more they now get out of reading Lewis because of their new appreciation of the difficulties he faced in his life.
I think helping people to see Lewis as someone who experienced trauma, rejection, failure, and isolation helps them appreciate his brilliance, and also to relate to him as a person.
CT: Your new book Deep Magic, Dragons & Talking Mice contains biographical details about CS Lewis, so where does it differ from A Life?
AM: My new book is about learning from Lewis, not learning about Lewis. When I was researching Lewis, I kept noticing how many people I spoke to regarded him as a kind of mentor or guide – a sort of spiritual coach, who could help them think about their Christian faith and life.
Deep Magic Dragons & Talking Mice sets out to show how Lewis can give us new insights into some big questions – like the meaning of life, why friendship is so important, and why stories can be so helpful in communicating faith.
Lewis gives us lots to think about! And above all, Lewis helps us connect faith and life – he shows us how what we think affects the way in which we live.
CT: The subtitle claims reading CS Lewis can change your life. How has Lewis changed your life?
“The import thing is to respect Lewis, not idolise him”
Dr Alister McGrath
AM: When I came to faith in 1971, I was faced with lots of questions that needed answering. I had an inquiring mind, and wanted to sort things out properly. Sadly, I never really found someone to help me with these questions until 1974, when someone suggested I read Lewis.
I still have those Lewis paperbacks that I bought back then! I never looked back. Lewis was someone who reassured me that Christianity made sense, and helped me discover its deep logic and imaginative appeal. And the nice thing about Lewis is that you can re-read his works, and notice things that you missed that last time round…
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