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I first encountered C. S. Lewis through his space trilogy. Though perhaps not his best work, it had an undermining effect on me. He made the supernatural so believable that I could not help wondering, What if it's really true? What if there is a God and an afterlife and what if supernatural forces really are operating behind the scenes on this planet and in my life?

I was attending college in the late 1960s, just a few years after Lewis's death. I ordered more of his books from second-hand bookshops in England because many had not yet made it across the Atlantic. I wrestled with them as with a debate opponent and reluctantly felt myself drawn, as Lewis himself had, kicking and screaming all the way into the kingdom of God. Since then Lewis has been a constant companion, a kind of shadow mentor who sits beside me, urging me to improve my writing style, my thinking, and my vision.

Lewis has taught me a style of approach that I try to follow in my own writings. To quote William James, "… in the metaphysical and religious sphere, articulate reasons are cogent for us only when our inarticulate feelings of reality have already been impressed in favor of the same conclusion." In other words, we rarely accept a logical argument unless it fits an intuitive sense of reality. The writer's challenge is to nurture that intuitive sense—as Lewis had done for me with his space trilogy before I encountered his apologetics. Lewis himself converted to Christianity only after sensing that it corresponded to his deepest longings, his Sehnsucht.

Lewis's background of atheism and doubt gave him a lifelong understanding of and compassion for readers who would not accept his words. He had engaged in a gallant tug of war with God, only ...

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hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2008

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