At the end of 2009 I found myself teetering on the brink of quitting the ministry. I am not sure I told anyone this at the time – not even my wife. The taste in my mouth had become bitter toward the ministry. Not the gospel, just vocational ministry. It felt like business. The mystic and prophetic elements that drew me in seemed all but missing. So I thought about quitting. Sitting in a pew sounded wonderful. It still does sometimes. I remember praying one night while walking around my neighborhood alone. The air was cool. Christmas lights were lit already. All I could really say was, “help.” This sounds more dramatic now than it was then. Then it just sounded pretty pitiful. Thankfully, he provided that help.
I started reading Eugene Peterson’s books for pastors. And they were refreshing. For the first time in months I could feel my heart warming to the idea of being in ministry again. So I decided to start reading through more of his books and so I gave myself a year of slowly reading through his writings. It has been very rewarding despite the fact that some people literally think he is going to hell for writing The Message. I wish I was young and brilliant again.
This brings us to 2011 and my decision to read through C.S. Lewis. While I am not new to Lewis like I was with Peterson, there is a good bit of his work I have not been exposed to. And there are a few books about him I want to read. I can only guess his sobriety and skill in writing will be helpful. Refreshing even.
My plan is for this to be a little more intensive. Not only do I plan to read about 30 or more books this year – either by Lewis or about him and his work – I also plan on blogging through them. As of now, I am thinking about starting a companion blog devoted specifically to this while linking to each post through this blog. If any readers would like to read through any of the books “with me” they will be able to do so.
(On a side note I plan on reading some classic Greek mythology, George McDonald and all the usual books I read in a given year. All in hopes they will add some interesting insights.)
I do have a request from my readers. Are there any books of Lewis you would recommend as must reads for me? Chances are I am already planning on reading it but I am sure I am missing something someone has read and found interesting. So please send me some recommendations and feedback on what you think about this project of mine. And if you have any ideas on how to make this project better, let me know.
What a good project.Not actually by Lewis, but about his work: Planet Narnia, written by a fellow called Michael Ward, which exegetes the Narniad through the lens of medieval cosmology/astrology. Totally changed the way I read those books as well as the Space trilogy, and was surprisingly helpful for my discipleship as well. Recommended. (www.planetnarnia.com)
A Greif Observed.
I would agree with "A Grief Observed". I would also say "Screwtape Letters". It was required reading when I was in high school in Mr. Erwin's class and I complained about it, but now I'm grateful. I can't wait to read the blog posts for this project!I also empathize with your post. This time off before our church plant starts has been good. We've enjoyed being just a "pew sitter" and observing, participating from a distance and taking notes at different places. We've checked in with each other to make sure we're not enjoying it too much. 🙂 Once we got through the first few months we were back in yearning phase…missing being involved in church ministry and yearning for it again. We're glad to be back in that place…confirms calling all over again
Manders,I just picked it up last week using a gift card. And I am chomping at the bit to get started.Sam,Got and planning on it.Michele,Eeasily one of my favorites of all time.
I have thought about doing this as well. I took a class on CS Lewis by Lyle Dorsett at Beeson. It may be offered in the fall of 2011 and would be a cool way to sit in and end the year. He's done extensive research on Lewis at Wheaton. His short book on Lewis' Spiritual Formation is worth getting. Simple, easy read yet learned some things I didn't know about Lewis. Jack is a good biography I would add. Stay away from biographies by A.N. Wilson. He's out to doubt and discredit Lewis.I would balance his genres out. I would purchase a volume of his letter's written. I have this and it is so amazing to peer into his life as he writes to friends and family, but also see how he counsels people through letters. Lewis made a promise to God to answer every fanmail. He later struggled because of this vow, because he felt like he could have been writing books instead but felt this conviction to stay true to the promise. He would sometimes answer over 200 letters a week I think.Anyway, that is my two cents. Add in a good biography, read his letters to correspondents and to children, and his poetry to get a balance with the popular stuff.- Brian
When it comes to C.S. Lewis, two of his best works – and often overlooked – are "The Great Divorce" and "Until We Have Faces".
make sure you pick up the "Space Trilogy." just found my box set yesterday and will start it again this week.
One suggestion that might be a good companion to your endeavor is to watch "Shadowlands." I haven't seen it, but I want to and I'm pretty sure Sharon owns it and would be willing to loan it out.
The Great Divorce, Til We Have Faces and The Weight of Glory would be my top three.Planning my reading is one thing I get geeky and obsessive about, but I've found if I don't, I read less in quantity and quality. I have a long list of authors I read one of a year (from Wendell Berry to Willa Cather to Chesterton to Walker Percy…) and I usually read through a classic series each year but I've never read extensively from one author's canon in one year. That's worth considering.
Must second (or am I the fourth or so) _Till We Have Faces_, which Lewis thought was his best novel and which definitely is. I'm a huge fan of the Space Trilogy as well, though–the imaginative work in _Perelandra_ is especially provocative. As for books about Lewis, _Planet Narnia_ is a must. And I'd throw in collections of essays (like _The World's Last Night_) and/or sermons (no doubt you must read _The Weight of Glory_). If you want to delve into literary criticism, you should go for _The Discarded Image_ and his _Introduction to Paradise Lost_. Lastly, obviously, Screwtape.