It’s fitting that a book about C.S. Lewis, his attitudes regarding the value of women, and their applicability to our own times would have been the brain child of a woman and then brought to fruition through a remarkable collaboration with another woman. Echoing the way Lewis gathered thinking friends together to discuss the matters that burned in their minds, these two women gathered a body of voices together to discuss a matter burning in our minds. This matter is about so much more than simply what did C.S. Lewis think about women and how did he treat them. It is about more than answering sneering accusations and whispered rumors. This matter is about our own engagement with the questions “What value do women have?” and “How do we – both women and men – best live out that value in the Body of Christ and in our world?”
Carolyn Curtis and Mary Pomroy Key are a perfect example of two people “looking along the beam” in the same direction together for a deeper understanding of these issues. They share a relentless hunger for illumination and a driving desire to educate and empower others. Carolyn is an award winning, career journalist and published author with a long-standing penchant for all things Lewis. Mary, a PhD in Counseling Psychology and the Director of C.S. Lewis Study Center Northfield, MA is steeped and rooted in the idea-base that C.S. Lewis and the Inklings gave voice to. Jointly they have brought to bear their experience, interests, expertise, and wisdom in creating a bold, grace-filled collection of essays from some of the best Lewis scholars and thinkers in our world today.
It is my great privilege to introduce Carolyn and Mary to you and to share their insights into the gender issues being explored here and the story behind the making of Women and C.S. Lewis: What his life and literature reveal for today’s culture.
LES: Carolyn, the book Women and C.S. Lewis was conceived in 2005 while you were visiting C.S. Lewis’s former home “The Kilns” in Oxford which is now the remarkable study center owned by the C.S. Lewis Foundation. You gave an excellent account of this experience in the interview you did with Ian Matthews of Aslan Christian Books. There was a full ten-year span of time between the first conversation that sparked your questions to holding the finished book in your hands. On your website you write regarding the story behind the book: “It’s been a long and winding road to publication of my seventh book, Women and C.S. Lewis: What his life and literature reveal for today’s culture. But the journey makes complete sense to me in view of my career experiences. And God’s hand lit my path all along the way…” Please tell us about how you experienced God’s hand lighting the way for you and for this book.
CC: First, thanks, Lancia, for the depth of your question. It puts the focus on how God prepares and equips those who serve Him through writing. In my case, my university degrees are in journalism. My career evolved from daily newsrooms to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to the presidential campaign trail during election seasons like Americans are experiencing now. Also, I spent decades in corporate communications management for three Fortune 50 companies and two church denominations. I spent two years teaching at a college where I served as head of the journalism department. Along the way, I’ve written seven books and collaborated on many others. (My books are on legislative issues, missionary and celebrity biographical works and others in the Christian marketplace. Apologies to Amazon devotees who might think I’ve authored children’s books; that author and I have the same name.)
God provided the vision, courage, and opportunity to pursue a book intended for a broader readership base than mostly scholars – thoughtful readers such as people leading families and enterprises, even people who consider themselves simply fans of Lewis. For example, recently I was invited to speak about the book to an all-male gathering, which may sound surprising when you consider its title, Women and C.S. Lewis. It’s a noon meeting of Christians who work at a corporate headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, where I live.
They [an all male gathering] see Lewis as a role model for biblical manhood. They care about Lewis’s views on women and his relevance today.
These men probably wouldn’t classify themselves as “scholars,” because, although they are university educated, they don’t work in an academic environment. They are in leadership positions, not only because they are in corporate management, but because they are laymen with responsibilities in their church communities. One reason for the success of these men, who meet weekly over lunch and book discussions, is the fact that they take seriously the subject of understanding gender – and other issues addressed in the Bible.
That said, I should emphasize how much my writing partner, Dr. Mary Pomroy Key, and I value the people we traditionally think of as scholars. Where would Lewis studies be without their extraordinary research, writing, and speaking?! We invited acclaimed scholars (and other thinkers) to participate in the project, and I’m pleased to say readers will find chapters by many people whose names are familiar – Alister McGrath, Holly Ordway, Randy Alcorn, Monika Hilder to name only four of nearly thirty. I’m realizing this first answer goes to “voice” as well as “readership,” so I must lay a bit more groundwork.
Most times, I see through the lens of a journalist…sometimes as a manager…occasionally as a scholar. I’m now in my sixties feeling blessed with a career that’s been so varied. But it was my instincts as a journalist that were sparked when I was visiting The Kilns and heard a conversation that Lewis might have been a sexist, even a misogynist. I knew the basics of Lewis’s life story. I knew God changes people (He changed me!), so I was incredulous at the thought that God might have allowed Lewis to indulge in the narrow (and dangerous) attitudes that the descriptions “sexist” and “misogynist” imply.
Back to “voice” and “readership.” I’ve spoken at numerous writers’ conferences, so I’m passionate about both. I’m smiling as I think of your own devoted readers, Lancia, who recognize the artistry in writing and who value the enthusiastic community of Lewis scholars and fans. I’ll speak directly to them: I felt that God led the way to pursue a book with a voice that was accessible to as wide a range of readers as possible, because the subject of whether Lewis denigrated half of the population is relevant and urgent and needs to be addressed in a way that appeals to many. Looking ahead, I see other good questions providing opportunities to flesh this out, because the book’s voice and readership are specific aspects of God’s leading, a question I appreciate… and so will your readers.
LES: Mary, what difference do you think it makes to understand what one British author who has been dead for 50 years now thought about gender values? Why does how he lived out his values matter now?
MPK: Why is Shakespeare still so popular? Why do we continue to wrestle with the teachings of the fledgling Christian church of 2000 years ago?
At some point, people seek a mooring – an anchor, a true north, a light for their path. Lewis addresses heart issues, common to all ages – hope, fear, shame, grace, forgiveness, self-image, pride, cowardice, submission and strength.
Lewis was able to express his ideas in a variety of genres – through poetry, fiction, myth, thus appealing to many and reasserting to all that we have worth in the eyes of… If anything, Lewis reminds today’s “me” generation that we are part of a bigger world, a bigger purpose – he expands our appreciation for not only women but men as well. We can respect someone who, though imperfect, makes honest efforts to live what he “preaches” – increasingly we are becoming aware of the fabric of his life, his heart of service within his own home and to those hurting in his community. We learn of his anonymous donations, his letters of affirmation and encouragement, his genuine friendships with those who didn’t always share his convictions. I believe today’s culture yearns for authenticity, a genuine (not virtual) reality, a true (not fabricated) identity – and Lewis’s life was an accurate reflection of his proclaimed values. It matters to today’s generation, and that’s a significant part of his appeal to the present day audience.
LES: Carolyn, you and Mary have a remarkable spectrum of contributors to this book. How did you choose among the tremendous range of authors who are engaged in various ways in Lewis studies or who have been deeply influenced by him?
CC: Women and C.S. Lewis was to be a compilation book, so we built its architecture around five sections: 1) Lewis, the man – and the women in his life; 2) Lewis, the fiction author – how girls and women are portrayed in his novels; 3) Lewis, the poet – surprises from his poetry; 4) Lewis, the influencer – how his life and literature impact the 21st Century discussion about women; 5) Lewis, the mentor – how his views on women impact mine.
I’m thankful to my brilliant writing partner, Mary, who is Director of the C.S. Lewis Study Center in Northfield, Massachusetts (a new property owned by the C.S. Lewis Foundation in addition to The Kilns). Her work with the C.S.Lewis Foundation provides many insights, including this one: In its work to carry on the legacy of Lewis, the Foundation has a core value of seeking and supporting newer thinkers, as Lewis himself did in spades – sometimes quietly, sometimes openly, occasionally even with financial help. Lewis was not an elitist, one of his endearing personal qualities.
So in that spirit we invited a range of contributors, some whose thinking is often in the public eye and others who are more up-and-coming but whose views need to be voiced. (We also did this with our choice of endorsers/commenders.) We had the goal of introducing the book’s readers to many thinkers, so we provided biographical information about them and even photographs to further personalize their chapters. In other words, much like your blog, we value the process of casting a big net to enlarge the community of Lewisians.
I’ll add that in both my Introduction and my Conclusion, I introduced readers of Women and C.S. Lewis to five remarkable people whose lives and work reflect Lewis’s high view of women. In short, we were only limited by the word count of our contract with our Oxford publisher, Lion Hudson.
An editorial note: Out of respect for the “voices” of our many contributors, we provided both latitude and guidance as we asked our contributors to write in what’s known as the “popular” voice to keep the writing accessible, breezy, even personal. I was surprised how many thanked us for inviting them to use that voice! Others squirmed a bit, I suspect, but were game to try it; they worked closely with us (and worked hard, I might add) on their pieces. The result, in my opinion, is a delightful mosaic (or cacophony, depending on your preferred art form, because not all contributors agree with one another, nor in the same way). Again, Women and C.S. Lewis is a different kind of book that bridges genre categories as well as audiences.
I’m thrilled with the enthusiasm for the project from our contributors and others associated with the project.
LES: Given the many nuances to this complicated and often controversial issue of gender perception and value specifically in the field of Lewis studies, what are some of the core concerns that you most hope to address with this book? What ‘myths’ or misconceptions do you want to set straight?
CC: Hmmm, “set straight.” I’ll let readers judge, when they close the book, whether they conclude Lewis is relevant today, because – for me – the subject of his relevance, even fifty-plus years after his death, was at the heart of my reasons to write this book. Many other fine authors (who happen to be alive, some who wrote for Women and C.S. Lewis, in fact) are providing entertaining fiction, explaining the life of Christian faith, and inspiring today’s readers – should we really continue reading Lewis along with other (contemporary) giants of the faith?
If his harshest critics are correct – that Lewis devalued women and girls in his life and in his literature – then my answer would be, “No, let’s move on to other thinkers, scholars, and authors, and let’s quietly assign Lewis to the dustbin of history.”
However, for me, there were deeper questions. After Lewis converted to Christianity from atheism (even dabbling in the occult), could he have retained a blind spot in this area? A more disturbing question: Would God have allowed it? And would He have allowed Lewis to become so successful? How could Lewis have been so effective at explaining the life of faith? Why do his books continue to sell in the millions? What if these critics are wrong? Why would they pounce on Lewis with such venom? Is it a form of Christian-bashing – trying to discredit and marginalize a thinker who seems to have been used mightily by God? Do those of us who were influenced by Lewis’s life story and who love his writings need a reality check?
These are reasonable questions and lines of thought, especially when associated with gender, a subject with widespread implications, not only for people who follow Christ but for the culture at large.
LES: Your tagline is intriguing. With so many voices chiming in on this, how do you sum up an answer to what Lewis’s life and literature reveal for today’s culture?
MPK: Borrowing from Lewis’s dear friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, we are, in essence, asking with Eomer, “How shall a man judge what to do in such times?” to which Aragorn replies, “As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
Truth is timeless and permeates all divides, even among the sexes.
Lewis’s voice of truth reveals the eternal, abiding presence of our Creator, the One who breathed life into the human race, creating each person in His own image. When we reclaim, as a culture, the value and sacredness of life itself, and learn once again to treasure the many facets of our Creator’s personality that shine forth from each individual – we see not “mere mortals” but the “immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit,” as Lewis describes in The Weight of Glory. Our true appreciation and enjoyment of each other, our “merriment… exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” This one concept, thoroughly integrated into the fabric of our personal, community and corporate lives, would revolutionize gender relations.
CC: Great question! Our tagline to Women and C.S. Lewis is: What his life and literature reveal for today’s culture. On the surface that tagline may sound innocuous. At one point during my work on the book I thought it even seemed insipid. However, I will quote from one of our book’s endorsers, Marjorie Lamp Mead of the Marion E. Wade Center: “In reading Women and C.S. Lewis, we are invited to be part of an important conversation. Attitudes and resulting actions towards others matter greatly, and this is certainly no less so, when they are informed by understanding based on gender.”
Gender is a huge subject in today’s culture. Legislation…families…business enterprises…even wars. During my corporate management days, I thought the culture wars were in boardrooms; now I realize they are on actual battlefields fought with bullets and bombs. Just think: We live in an age when a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a girl who was shot for trying to get an education.
The “miracle” of this book (and, yes, I think there is one), is that it speaks to such a broad range of issues (one reason I hope it reaches a broad range of readers). And that’s because, when I heard the conversation that some critics called C.S. Lewis a sexist and a misogynist, I was stunned. I thought, If that’s true, that changes everything for me. I’ll try to flesh this out…
My antennae for sexism had been honed during the women’s movement (which I thought had mixed results), and little of what I’d read about Lewis or written by him struck me as sexist. So I was braced for disappointment as I dug into the subject. I knew Lewis had flaws – we all do! – just as we’re all products to some degree of the time in which we live.
However, the disappointment I braced myself for was disappointment that God might not have “fine-tuned” Lewis in this regard as He drew Lewis close and as He changed Lewis into a man He could use mightily. I hinted at this in my previous answer. So imagine my relief as I discovered what I term “a trajectory” in Lewis’s life. I observed Lewis’s changes – his evolution, if you will. And I thought, How like God to allow Lewis to experience this complex personal path, even to lead him through it. I had seen this in my own life, and in examining what I’m calling “Lewis’s complex personal path,” I could appreciate even more the ways of God, the walk of faith in Christ, and the timelessness of God’s Truth.
LES: As you both worked with the material coming in from the contributing authors, did you find your own opinions changing at all? Did you learn things about Lewis that surprised you or “settled matters” for you in ways you did not expect?
CC: I can think of many examples of how the thinkers we invited enlightened me in ways I did not expect, providing aha moments I’m eager for readers to discover. I’ll name a few…
1) Crystal Hurd gave a more balanced view of Lewis’s parenting than I’ve read anywhere else, correctly acknowledging the influence on Jack of both his father and his mother. I’d always known that Lewis’s mother was highly accomplished and a huge influence. However, Crystal drew a more complete picture of the marriage relationship between Flora and Albert, and then she showed how the fractured relationship between Jack and his father played out later and how it influenced Jack’s spiritual growth.
2) Likewise, Paul McCusker gave me new and fresh insights about Jack’s puzzling relationship with Mrs. Moore, rich conclusions I’d never seen elsewhere.
3) Kasey Macsenti and Crystal Downing – coming at their subject matter from different angles – provided new views of Lewis’s fascinating friendship with Dorothy L. Sayers.
4) Ah, romantic love! Until I read the chapter by Don W. King I never knew Lewis had women in his life other than Joy Davidman who might have had an eye on ending his bachelorhood.
5) Monika Hilder’s chapter blew me away with her explanation of Lewis’s literary foundations – showing me a new paradigm for viewing gender.
6) Colin Duriez, Andrew Lazo, Randy Alcorn, Lyle Dorsett, and Alister McGrath described how Lewis related to both genders as friends. They opened my eyes to Lewis’s attitudes and actions he took – exploding the myth that all his close friends were men.
In short, I did not expect the breadth and depth of Lewis’s relationships with women – how they influenced him through their friendships nor how dearly he valued them. One of Jack’s late-in-life tasks was to edit a chapter in a new edition of his book, Miracles, according to criticism by a woman many considered his adversary, Elizabeth Anscombe – yet Jack apparently respected her opinion because he acted upon it.
And, since you are inquiring about my personal reactions, I’d be remiss not to relate something I discovered near the end of my work which gave me a chuckle. One of Lewis’s most quotable essays was also his last. I almost fainted when I read a notation by Walter Hooper that “We Have No ‘Right to Happiness’” was written as an article for The Saturday Evening Post, a magazine in which an article of mine also was published (decades later, of course). I concede that any piece by C.S. Lewis must have been much more widely read than my article!
MPK: My appreciation of Lewis grew tremendously – recognizing more fully his breadth in writing styles and the range of audiences to which he appeals. Lewis was a master at conveying truth to his colleagues at Oxford and Cambridge through lectures and essays, to children introduced to Narnia, to an international readership through personal letters, and to the masses via radio broadcasts.
At the beginning of our collaboration, Carolyn and I had some lively conversations about the use of the “popular” voice and the “academic” voice, and the pros and cons of each, both for the integrity of the book and for our targeted audience. Our desire was two-fold: to address a potentially controversial aspect of Lewis’s writings with academic integrity, and also make the text accessible to thoughtful readers seeking either an introduction to or illumination of Lewis’s writings regarding women. We wrestled with issues of quoting (and citing) or paraphrasing Lewis, and with style choices for the chapters – interviews, essays, and/or personal opinion pieces. As you will see upon reading, the interview style in the context of the book dropped away and, with Carolyn’s masterful editorial weaving, the mixture of voices came together into rather a delightful read! I’d like to think that we learned more of the heart and talents of Lewis – that there truly are many mediums in which to convey the message of love and truth and hope to one’s peers, extended family, community and citizenry.
LES: Was there an element in the topic that you wished had gotten addressed but no one specifically spoke to? Has this process answered all your questions about the topic or triggered more questions for you?
CC: You may laugh at my expense as I answer this: I have never read one of my own books after it was published, because – by then – I’m exhausted from the process of thinking about it and developing its premise, writing and rewriting, organizing and re-organizing, editing (lots of editing!), responding to publisher questions, proofreading (at many phases, especially at the end), and so forth. Maybe this book will be the exception.
So at this point I cannot think of areas left unexplored, although I can think of avenues of thinking and useful trails of discussion which I had to negotiate with the contributors either to summarize briefly or occasionally to leave out (because other contributors were covering those angles). Having been on the receiving end of similar editorial discussions in my previous books, I know the angst of such conversations, and I’m grateful that our contributors were willing to engage in these dialogues of what to pursue, what to flesh out, and what to cut. I cannot think of a single contributor who proved the least bit difficult to deal with in this regard, another way God’s hand seemed to guide this project.
Regarding the process, I’ll mention how refreshing it was to discover the variety of thinking and faith experiences in the community of Lewis thinkers. My work of speaking to, emailing with, even meeting our many contributors was an enriching journey for me. As I worked on developing their chapters, I often learned about their own faith journeys, including their discovery of Lewis. And I was overjoyed with their enthusiasm for the project. I expected having to beg several of them to participate. Instead, I received “yes!!!” answers to queries about whether I could count on their contribution, and I received telephone calls with affirmative responses when emails would have sufficed – even international phone calls.
As for my learning process (especially “facts”), I’m grateful that contributors 1) “named the names” of the critics who have tried to discredit Lewis with their charges and 2) refuted the charges with specific information I can use – and so can our readers.
LES: Now that the book is completed, is there anything else you would like to say to your readers that maybe didn’t get covered in this edition of book?
CC: An invitation, a clarification, and a challenge…
I invite readers to dialog about this topic, discussing their own views in addition to what they learn from contributors: 1) facts and, equally important, 2) context to arm them when confronted with what critics have claimed about Lewis regarding gender. Women and C.S. Lewis includes a brief study guide for people who enjoy group discussion or individual reflection. Thanks for this idea by my writing partner, Mary, who is attuned to the needs of home educators and other educational possibilities.
A clarification: My journey to write this book did not begin with journalistic hand-wringing. I did not set out to disprove Lewis’s critics nor to re-cast him as a mid-20th Century feminist. Several contributors to Women and C.S. Lewis point out ways Lewis seemed ahead of his time on the gender issue, but I attribute those examples mostly to how open Lewis was to God’s leading in his life choices after his conversion. In other words, Lewis was not motivated by influences such as a political-correctness movement addressing gender like we experience today. I found it refreshing to discover how he changed – mostly as a result of his relationships.
Finally, a challenge: I’m interested to see if readers of Women and C.S. Lewis come to the conclusion I did that criticism using harsh words and outrageous imagery like “sexist” and “misogynist” are Christian-bashing – attempts “to discredit Lewis because of his effectiveness in explaining the life of Christian faith,” as one endorser wrote, Carol Pipes, editor of Facts & Trends. I hope readers who have thoughts about this will go to my website and email me.
MPK: A lot of attention is given in our society to the holding onto one’s “rights” – however they may be defined. Regardless of intent or even genuinely charitable actions on the part of a speaker or group, the accusations of “hate speech” abound. I’m reminded of Eustace’s protests upon boarding the Dawn Treader, the attempt to rally all political powers to his personal advantage. I think of the Big Ghost in The Great Divorce, insisting on his “rights” and independence: “I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.” “Then do,” replies his guide, one of the redeemed. “Ask for the Bleeding Charity. Everything is here for the asking and nothing can be bought.”
If anything, Lewis’s works are often about giving up rights, about voluntary humility and service, about quietly speaking truth and the strength of those that choose to do so.
Examples abound: risking her life, Caspian’s nurse bravely imparted Narnia’s true history; Aslan silently endured false accusations and death, knowing the “Deeper Magic” and future outcome; Mark and Jane Studdock’s each experienced the transforming power of submission in That Hideous Strength. When we take each other seriously, in grace and charity, the power of arguments borne of pain, anger and pride diminish. A radical thought, with radical implications. Yes, Lewis’s prophetic voice is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
LES: What are you most proud of in this accomplishment? What has given you the deepest satisfaction through the arduous process of bringing this book into being?
CC: The most pride and satisfaction come from providing readers with specific answers to the charges made by critics of Lewis who try to marginalize the scholar and author whose work so influenced thinking in the 20th Century – and beyond.
I’ll name three more areas of deep satisfaction, with comments from endorsers:
- I’m thrilled readers find the book provocative, enjoyable, and relevant. Dr. Diana Pavlac Glyer, Azusa Pacific University: “Thought-provoking from the very first page, this collection brings together a wide variety of perspectives on a single, significant question: Was Lewis sexist? It’s a lively conversation, and there’s plenty to enjoy.” Dr. J. Stanley Mattson, Founder and President, The C.S. Lewis Foundation: “Rich in truth and wisdom for the 21st century.”
- I’m gratified that others find it holds up to the high standards of literature exploring cultural issues and biographical material. Lisa Coutras, Ph.D. Candidate, Kings College London: “…a thorough and honest exploration into the role of women in the life of C.S. Lewis. Its great strength is found in the diversity, depth, and breadth of perspectives, the range of which offers valuable insight into the nuances of his writing and his growth as a person.” Dr. Bruce L. Edwards, Bowling Green State University: “The stellar cast of thinkers…delivers an astonishing array of insightful essays written with erudition and nuance. This is a substantial, original work of great merit.” And from D. Joy Riley, M.D., Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture: “Does misogyny exist in Lewis’s writings, or in the eye of the beholder? No contributor to this fine volume shies away from that question. What an engaging, delightful read!”
- I smile as I realize the book contributes to the sense of community that we who know and love Lewis so enjoy. Connie Cavanaugh, Canadian book author and conference speaker: “I felt a sadness at turning the last page. Like saying goodbye to a motley collection of old friends after a long anticipated, stimulating, memory-making reunion and wondering if we would ever again gather in the same way.”
LES: Who do you most want to reach with this book and what do you hope its legacy will be for you and for your readers? Where would you direct your readers to pursue more about this topic and others related to it?
MPK: My daughter is 15. She and her peers are bombarded with messages from the social media touting images of the world’s ideas of “femininity” – in fashion, relationships, career choices and politics. But she also grew up with Lucy, Jill, and Aravis and their male counterparts who learned to appreciate them. Like the ladies of Narnia, she, too, is keenly aware of the strength and confidence found in pursuing Truth, of the transformations possible through Love, and of the importance of discerning right from wrong. I see her listening and following the “Aslan” of this world, even when others do not comprehend. Who do I most want to reach with this book? Young women, sorting through what the world offers, and older women wiser through experience, both discovering who they are and who they can be through the grace of God. I’d also like to see both young and older men affirmed and encouraged, challenged to recognize and value the eternal in themselves and the females who inhabit their world. In short, I suppose the legacy that I would like to see is an infectious “merriment” of these immortals!
Lewis’s writings are rich with the complexity of human life – one cannot speak of the feminine in “Women and C.S. Lewis” without consideration of the interplay with the masculine as well, whether as individuals or in shared characteristics, as in the feminine voice within a man’s inner life highlighted by Malcolm Guite in his chapter on the poem, “Reason.” I would hope that our collection of essays would prompt an enthusiastic plunge back into the pool of Lewis texts – the Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces, Letters to Children, Poetry, The Great Divorce, Mere Christianity – alert now to honest and respectful portrayals of both the feminine and the masculine.
CC: I hope Women and C.S. Lewis will connect with the newer generation of readers – both women and men – people likely to have a more nuanced view of gender as the world examines (often with much argument) that subject today. They may be younger in age, people with plenty of contemporary authors from which to choose, and they may have thought, Well, C.S. Lewis was fine in his day but probably irrelevant in the 21st Century. Maybe they are parents who stumbled across the sexism charges and now are reluctant to introduce their children to books they once treasured. Yet they have the initiative to search for answers, which they’ll find in this book.
I expect Women and C.S. Lewis to draw savvy readers, like the group of businessmen I referenced in my first answer, who invited me to their noon study, because, as industry leaders and thinkers themselves, they seek guidance for their lives. (As we anticipated, women’s groups and mixed-gender audiences are inviting us also.)
The book’s legacy? I hope readers see and connect with Lewis’s ongoing relevance in today’s culture. I believe this is because of Lewis’s humanness and his foundation in God’s Word. In fact, I hope readers will not limit themselves to reading books about Lewis. Although salient quotes from him are included in Women and C.S. Lewis, I encourage people to read Lewis’s works in full. And I encourage them to read the Bible, which Lewis read daily (according to his stepson, Doug, with whom I’ve enjoyed emailing), knowing it was the source of his deep and abiding faith.
Again, referencing my first answer many paragraphs above: God prepares and equips those who serve Him through their writing. An examination of Lewis’s view of women is a look at God’s faithfulness as He changes us into people He can use mightily – as He certainly did for C.S. Lewis.
So the question is not so much: Can Lewis be trusted? Instead, it’s this: Can God be trusted to mold us?
Want to know more? Here are three good interviews to continue the exploration!
- An excellent podcast interview by William O’Flaherty of All About Jack – Carolyn Curtis Interview for All About Jack
- In-depth interview with Aaron Earls of The Wardrobe Door – Carolyn Curtis Interview
- In-depth interview with Ian Matthews of Aslan Christian Books – Carolyn Curtis Interview for Aslan Christian Books
All images in this interview except book covers are (c) Lancia E. Smith and are used with permission for Cultivating and the Cultivating Project.
Lancia E. Smith is an author, photographer, teacher, and business owner. A grateful lover of the Triune God, Lancia is passionate about the disciple making. Reflecting that calling, she is the Founder and Executive Director of Cultivating Good | True | Beautiful, and of The Cultivating Project, a discipling initiative for Christians engaged in the arts, with a special emphasis on writers. Lancia is a board member and patron of the Anselm Society, and Regional Representative of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. She is President and CEO of a thriving environmental consulting and construction firm based in northern Colorado which she runs with her husband Peter. They are parents to seven children, and are grandparents to a beloved flock of grandchildren. Lancia loves strong coffee with cinnamon, writing, website design, David Austin roses, Marvel movies, road trips with Peter, and nearly every book she ever read by C.S. Lewis, J.R. R. Tolkien, and George MacDonald.