I referenced C.S. Lewis earlier this week. I am always surprised by how much people like C.S. Lewis.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that I own and have read almost every book that is out. When I was an evangelical youth pastor, he was my go-to voice for apologetics and devotional material.
I bought the “Year with C.S. Lewis” the week it came out (ironically, at the Borders bookstore that had just opened in my town). I took a year off reading the Bible for morning devotions (I needed a break) and spent my quite times with his thought of the day. I have bought a dozen copies over the years as gifts for friends that I thought might like it.
So I just found out that they have released a C.S. Lewis annotated version of the Bible. That’s fine. I won’t be buying it. But I get why it would seem like a good idea to a publisher to make a product like that. The NY Times had an article on it.
There are two funny parts to the article. The first is that Lewis’ name will be bigger that the word “Bible” on the front cover. The second is that C.S. Lewis himself may not have liked the idea of the product.
“Lewis, who converted to Anglicanism in his 30s, would worry that this attention put him at risk for pride, which he saw as the worst sin.”
Now this is funny for two reasons. A) I don’t think that Lewis’ font size on the cover means that he is “overshadowing” the Bible (a phrase used in the article). B) I don’t think it will cause C.S. Lewis to be tempted by pride.
Lewis is dead. As I understand it, it is difficult to be prideful when you are dead.
Some would say that is the case because the affairs of mortals no longer impact your constructed reality. Others would say that since you are in the presence of the infinite divine or Ultimate Real (or just ‘the Ultimate’) that the dealings of your publishing house would seem insignificant by comparison.
Yes, Lewis may not have liked this idea when he was alive. Why? Because of the potential for pride. But since he is dead, and pride is no longer an issue for him … I’m not really getting the apprehension that is being voiced by some.
It seems to me that we often put the horse before the cart in these conversations. The better question would be “Is this the best way for people to engage the text?” Is it valid to pair quotes about modern life with passages in the Bible that the Lewis quotes are in no way intending to be commenting on?
For instance – pairing Noah’s one time drunken celebration with a commentary on 1950’s teetotalers. That’s the best we can do? I think that teetotalers actually use that passage about Noah’s drunkenness as a proof text. They are not trying to get alcohol out of the Bible – they are reacting to the alcohol in the Bible (and their family).
It just seems like an odd pairing to me. Maybe this is something that the students at C.S. Lewis College in Northfield, Massachusetts can work on when it opens in 2012.
March 6, 2011 at 6:42 am
Lewis is one of my all time favorite authors. He is one of those guys that makes me feel like a gibbering idiot whenever I read his work (in a good way). A few years ago when we visited Rob in merry old England, we went to Oxford and had a pint at the Eagle and Child, the pub where the Inklings would meet. It was great! Anyways. Excellent point about Lewis being dead and therefor probably not caring very much.
BUT I do want to say that there is some merit to respecting the wishes of a person regarding their intellectual property and what is done with their name even if they are dead and their property isn’t their property anymore. I think the whole idea of a CS Lewis Bible is a little ridiculous, and feels like a gimmick to sell Bibles to A) Probably already own Bibles and B) Probably own a few seminal works by Lewis. This just feels like money making, and considering that had Lewis been alive, he wouldn’t be too happy about this, maybe that IS something to be considered.
March 9, 2011 at 8:40 am
Hey – I love CS Lewis also – but I don’t think he would be happy with this idea of a CS Lewis Bible either. If your job is to market new Bibles – great idea – it will probably sell MANY Bibles. I guess a good question is – Will these new Bibles have any impact on the Kingdom?