According to For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations (Second Edition), edited by Heather Josselyn-Cranson, November 22 is the day we remember C.S. Lewis. The following was written by O. French Ball:
C.S. Lewis, scholar, teacher, writer, philosopher, debater, and reluctant Christian, was born in Belfast, Ireland (now Northern Ireland) in an ostensibly Protestant home. Educated in England, the young Lewis disavowed the faith into which he had been baptized, becoming, so he thought, an atheist. He remained in England most of his life, studying and teaching at Oxford, and later accepting an appointment as professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Lewis is best known in America as the author of a series of children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia, and a science fiction trilogy, all reflecting his journey into the Christian faith.
Lewis’ life was characterized by a kind of angst that always placed before him a vision of the unattainable. In his book The Weight of Glory he began using the German word Sehnsucht (longing, hunger) to describe this feeling.(320) He eventually began to understand Sehnsucht as a longing for God. In 1929 he “admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”(321) He discovered that his longing was no longer pointless, but was leading him God-ward. He came to believe that Sehnsucht is characteristic of all humans – a vision of something attainable only in another realm or on another plane of existence.
Lewis’ life was lived surrounded by scholars and academics. He was good friends with J.R.R. Tolkien; together, with several other friends, they formed a society they called the “Inklings,” a society of “persons of ink” – that is, writers – who hadn’t an inkling of what they were doing. Apparently this was a very congenial and boisterous group. In 1956 Lewis, up until that time a confirmed bachelor, married an American woman, Joy Davidman Gresham, a Jew by birth, who had converted to Christianity partly through Lewis’ writing. Based on Lewis’ appreciation for double meanings of words, one wonders whether the title of his 1955 book, Surprised by Joy, was in any way influenced by meeting his future wife. Their happiness was cut short by her death, on July 13, 1960, of bone cancer. Lewis never fully recovered his own strength following Joy’s illness and death.
Lewis’ death, in 1963, was overshadowed by the assassination, that same day, of President John F. Kennedy. Writer Aldous Huxley also died that day.
In addition to his popular writings, Lewis was known, particularly in England, for his theological works. A debater by inclination and training, he never tired of questioning his life, his faith, and his environment. His work is an example of the Christian faith examined through the intellect and imagination of one of the giants of twentieth century.
320. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 12.
321. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,